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Bahamas now requires all cruise ship passengers who are 12 years old or older be fully vaccinated

19 Aug 2021

It appears The Bahamas has passed a new emergency order that would prohibit cruise ships from visiting any port, including private islands, unless everyone who is at least 12 years old or older is fully vaccinated.

Bahamas Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis signed an emergency powers order that will not allow a cruise ship to to enter a port in The Bahamas, including a private stop beginning September 3, 2021, unless certain conditions are met.

The new order seems to require anyone over the age of 12 to be fully vaccinated in order to visit any part of The Bahamas by cruise ship.

Known as Emergency Powers (Covid 19 Pandemic) (Management and Recovery)(No.2)(Amendment)(No. 8) Order, 2021, the order has the potential to pit cruise lines that allow adults to be unvaccinated to sail, in a problematic situation.

These conditions include:

  • The ship transmits a full passenger manifest which discloses the vaccination status of all persons onboard
  • All passengers who are twelve years old and older were fully vaccinated prior to embarking on the cruise ship at the start of the voyage
  • The health protocols previously submitted to the Bahamian government have been complied with.

The order has three exceptions:

  1. The crew, contractors and any non-revenue passenger of that cruise ship and whatever protocols that were previously agreed to between the Government of The Bahamas and each cruise line in relation to its crew, contractors and non-revenue passenger shall remain in effect
  2. A cruise ship attempting to call at a port in an emergency, or in other exigent circumstances approved by the Government of The Bahamas
  3. An unvaccinated passenger who is ineligible for the COVID-19 vaccination due to medical contraindications. 

Royal Caribbean, as well other cruise lines, operates a private island destination in The Bahamas.

UPDATE: Royal Caribbean announced for cruises departing from any U.S. port and visiting The Bahamas on and after Sept. 3, guests who are 12 and older must provide proof of vaccination in order to sail. 

Perfect Day at CocoCay, located in the Berry Islands chain of The Bahamas, has been the centerpiece of Royal Caribean's North American restart process, with nearly every ship on the eastern shore of the United States making a stop there.

While Royal Caribbean requires all passengers to be fully vaccinated over the age of 12 on sailings from Seattle, Bayonne, and Galveston, sailings from Florida allow unvaccinated passengers due to Florida's law that prohibits companies from denying service to someone based on their vaccination status.

Adventure of the Seas has been sailing from Nassau, Bahamas since June, and also requires all guests age 12 and older must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to sail.

Earlier this month, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) challenged that law and won a preliminary injunction against the State of Florida.  Florida is appealing the verdict, and it is unclear if NCLH's victory applies only to that company or if other cruise lines need to would have to file a motion to intervene and become involved in the lawsuit which NCLH filed.

The U.S. Virgin Islands passed a similar law earlier this month to require all cruise passengers ages 12 and older to be fully vaccinated in order for the ship to be allowed entry into the port.

As a result of the Virgin Islands' law, Royal Caribbean requires all guests ages 12 and older to provide proof of vaccination in order to sail on itineraries visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands. Guests unable to show proof of vaccination on sailings visiting the Virgin Islands will not be allowed to sail.

Guests under the age of 12, who are currently not eligible for the vaccine, will be able to sail with a negative test result at boarding and must follow certain protocols.

Royal Caribbean's Royal Beach Club in Nassau is almost a done deal

30 Apr 2021

It looks like Royal Caribbean's deal to build a beach club in Nassau, Bahamas is nearly complete.

At a virtual town planning meeting in Nassau, a Royal Caribbean representative said the deal is waiting final signatures to be completed.

According to Eyewitness News, Royal Caribbean Group Vice President of Private Destinations, James Black, told the meetings attendees, "all terms for the development have been agreed to, approved and are awaiting signature for final execution of the contract."

The beach club will be built on 7 acres on the western end of Paradise Island.

According to Mr. Black, Royal Caribbean had originally wanted more land, but negotiations brought it down to seven, "The crown land lease is seven acres. Royal Caribbean had originally requested 21 acres including the lighthouse and the government negotiated own from 21 to 10 acres and now to seven acres under submission."

A report earlier this month pegged the project at 13 acres.

Royal Caribbean believes the new beach club will bring an additional 1.2 million visitors to Nassau annually by 2030, with 3,500 daily visitors.

Mr. Black also repeated the same targeted opening date as previously reported, which is a 2023 opening.

Construction would begin "later this year".

The meeting also brought up concerns from other attendees who had competing projects, as well as other concerns.

Some other landowners in the area are concerned about how Royal Caribbean's project may impact their own operations.

Tribune Business noted environmentalists wanted to know how the land, which is currently zoned as  "low density" residential, would have to be rezoned and the associated impact.

Royal Caribbean said was waste management would be handled through a partnership with local vendors, "Our plan to handle solid waste is to work with a local vendor to make use of existing recycling and solid waste management that’s available in Nassau currently."

"There will be a commercial barge operated by local vendors that will address the solid waste."

What is the Royal Beach Club?

Royal Caribbean first announced intentions to build a private shore excursion option in Nassau in March 2020, but has provided no official updates since the cruise industry shutdown shortly thereafter.

Royal Caribbean said the beach club would be built at the western end of Paradise Island, and would be cruise line guests.

Details on what would be offered to guests have not been divulged, but paperwork filed with the Bahamas seems to indicate the club could feature dining pavilions, a 26,000 square foot pool, 4,000 square foot “splash pad” for children, 14 beach bars; restrooms and cabanas.

Royal Caribbean has not publicly commented on any kind of timeline for the Royal Beach Club, nor have they given any update on it since acknowledging they purchased land for the project in early 2020.

Bahamas Prime Minister says Bahamas will drop Covid testing requirement for fully vaccinated travelers

21 Apr 2021

Going to the Bahamas is about to get easier if you are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Bahamas Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced his country is easing restrictions for international travelers flying into the Bahamas.

Beginning May 1, EW reports the Prime Minister announced international travelers will be exempted from RT-PCR testing once they have been fully vaccinated and have passed the two-week immunity period — in line with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

Anyone that has not been fully vaccinated will will still be required to obtained a negative RT-PCR test to enter The Bahamas.

The goal, according to the Prime Minister, is to expand its vaccination program across the country.

Prior to this change, all international guests had to provide a negative test result at least 5 days before arrival.

The change comes a month before Royal Caribbean is scheduled to begin sailings from Nassau, Bahamas on Adventure of the Seas.

Adventure of the Seas will sail 7-night cruises from her new homeport Nassau, The Bahamas

There has been no update by Royal Caribbean or The Bahamas about the Prime Minister's announcement yet.

Details on additional health and safety measures to be implemented by Royal Caribbean will be announced at a later date.

On April 2, the CDC announced that people who are fully vaccinated with a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized vaccine can travel safely within the United States.

The CDC also suggests waiting to travel outside the United States until you are fully vaccinated with an FDA authorized vaccine.

The CDC added you do not need to get tested before leaving the United States if you are fully vaccinated unless your international destination requires it. 

More information:

Report: Royal Caribbean targeting January 2023 opening of Royal Beach Club in Nassau, Bahamas

14 Apr 2021

It looks like Royal Caribbean's private beach club for cruise guests in Nassau, Bahamas isn't a dead project.

In March 2020, Royal Caribbean announced it would build a new beach complex at the western end of Paradise Island in The Bahamas.

Built for Royal Caribbean International guests, The Royal Beach Club is the cruise line's take on a private shore excursion. 

Shortly thereafter, the cruise industry shutdown due to the global health crisis, and the cruise line has not talked about the project publicly.

Tribune Business is reporting that Royal Caribbean will begin construction in July 2021 so that it can open by January 2023.

The Bahamas' Department of Physical Planning revealed the plans as part of an upcoming virtual public consultation to be held on April 28 on its bid for site plan approval for the Royal Beach Club project.

Documents filed with the Department of Physical Planning confirmed the $50 million project has a maximum capacity of 3,500, with the 13-acre Royal Beach Club’s amenities including two 35,000 square foot dining pavilions capable of accommodating 1,500 passengers each.

Other features listed in the plans include a 26,000 square foot pool; 4,000 square foot “splash pad” for children; 14 beach bars; restrooms and cabanas; and support infrastructure that includes a reverse osmosis plant, waste water plant, waste management facility, storage building and fuel storage all contained on two acres.

Royal Caribbean has not publicly commented on any kind of timeline for the Royal Beach Club, nor have they given any update on it since acknowledging they purchased land for the project in early 2020.

Royal Caribbean has steadily amassed around 13.5 acres on Paradise Island’s western end by buying out private landowners in the area, but it is also seeking to lease some ten acres of crown land in the Colonial Beach area to complete its development.

Royal Caribbean is working to get more flight options to the Bahamas

09 Apr 2021

Royal Caribbean will restart cruises this summer from The Bahamas, and is working on making getting to and from Nassau easier.

Flights to Nassau are not necessarily as plentiful as some would like, and Royal Caribbean is working to secure "bulk rate sales of seats" for cruise passengers.

The Nassau Guardian Business is reporting Bahamasair Chairman Tommy Turnquest confirmed his airline and Royal Caribbean are working together.

"I can tell you that Bahamasair is working with Royal Caribbean on Saturday flights. We’re going to have two flights out of Miami, one flight out of Fort Lauderdale and one flight out of Orlando to coincide with when the ship will arrive at 7 o’clock on a Saturday morning and leave 9 o’clock that night."

"We have begun negotiations with them and we’re very pleased with how that’s going. We will provide them with some airlift. We think it’s an opportunity to get out of the doldrums and we are very optimistic about that."

While cruises from the United States remain at a standstill due to regulation of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), places like the Bahamas are now homeports.  However, the logistics for cruisers to reach this area is still somewhat difficult.

Read moreWhat you need to know about visiting Nassau on a cruise ship

Royal Caribbean sells guests airfare through its Air2Sea program, which is actually offering discounted rates to guests in order to spur sales.

When Royal Caribbean announced cruises from Nassau, they knew demand for flights would be strong and possibly even outpace supply.  So they worked with select airlines to not only secure seats but actually subsidize prices.

Royal Caribbean pushed back the departure time of Adventure of the Seas in order to provide guests more time to get to Nassau.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley told Bahamian media that he estimates almost 2,000 people could travel to/from Nassau's airport every weekend when cruises begin.

Doing some "back of the napkin math", Adventure of the Seas can accommodate about 3,300 passengers at double occupancy or 4,000 at maximum capacity.  This means "almost 2,000" suggests somewhere around 45% - 60% of ship capacity.

Bahamas wants cruises to return to Nassau, not just private islands

13 Aug 2020

The Bahamas Tourist Minister wants cruise ships to not only visit private islands, but the major cities of the Bahamas as well.

Dionisio D’Aguilar told Tribune Business that cruise lines will initially only visit private islands in order to limit exposure risks, but he hopes once the new policies are in place, cities can be visited too.

Obviously when they start cruising again they will not want to come to the population centres,” he conceded. “They will want to go to their private islands because they can control the environment. As minister of tourism I’m going to encourage them to come to the population centres because that’s where they will make the most economic impact.

Mr. thinks a 3-night cruise that includes a stop in Nassau, along with a private island is a great short sailing opportunity.

According to Mr. D’Aguilar, cruise passengers account for 11% of pre-pandemic tourism spending in The Bahamas, which amounts to $540 million in lost revenue for the country.

The thought that cruises will resume with short sailings to private islands echoes comments made by Royal Caribbean, including CEO Michael Bayley just last week.

"I think when we resume service, our thinking is that will probably we'll probably start with short product, Perfect Day, and that'll be the how we'll start phasing in operations."

Bahamas closes its borders to cruise ships

20 Jul 2020

The Bahamas is one of the most popular Caribbean countries for cruise lines, and it announced they will not welcome cruise ships to their countries due to the global health pandemic.

The Bahamas had reopened their borders earlier this month, but announced ocean-going vessels with commercial passengers will not be permitted to enter the Bahamas starting Wednesday.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis made the announcement on Sunday, citing a spike in cases in the United States, "Regrettably, the situation here at home has already deteriorated since we began the reopening of our domestic economy. It has deteriorated at an exponential rate since we reopened our international borders."

The Bahamas added any cruise ships that allow passengers to board without a required mask or health visa will face a fine of $500 per passenger in violation.

The Prime Minister's address did not include when the new prohibition would expire.

The announcement by the Bahamas to prevent travel by air or sea to their country follows the CDC's extension of the "No Sail" order through the end of September.

The Bahamas is one of the busiest countries in the Caribbean for cruise ship traffic, and home to one of Royal Caribbean's private destinations in Perfect Day at CocoCay.

In addition, Royal Caribbean had recently invested quite a lot of resources into two new projects in the Bahamas. In March, Royal Caribbean announced it would build a new Royal Beach Club property at the western end of Paradise Island in The Bahamas.

Royal Caribbean also has plans for a $300 million investment in Freeport, Grand Bahama that will redevelop the Freeport cruise ship terminal to bring a new world-class destination with a one-of-a-kind hotel, convention center, water adventure park and more.

The current health crisis sidelined both projects for the time being, but they appear to be still planned for the future.

Royal Caribbean will build new Royal Beach Club in Nassau, Bahamas

10 Mar 2020

Royal Caribbean's second Royal Beach Club property will be built at the western end of Paradise Island in The Bahamas.

Built for Royal Caribbean International guests, The Royal Beach Club is the cruise line's take on a private shore excursion. 

Built exclusively for Royal Caribbean guests, The Royal Beach Club will combine the island’s striking beaches with the cruise line’s signature service and amenities.

Royal Caribbean International has announced its newest mission: delivering the ultimate beach day. We’re kicking this off with the first Royal Beach Club launching for your clients in Antigua in 2021. And we’ve also secured land for this new feat at the western end of Paradise Island in The Bahamas.

The news was shared with travel agents that confirms Royal Caribbean's recent land acquisition on Paradise Island will become the second Royal Beach Club location.

The first Royal Beach Club is slated to open in Antigua in 2021.

Royal Caribbean is investing heavily in The Bahamas, having just completed a $250 million makeover of its private island, CocoCay, along with a $300 million cruise terminal, resort and destination in Freeport, Bahamas.

There is no timeline for when this Royal Beach Club on Paradise Island will open, nor what features or amenities it will include.

Royal Caribbean CEO visits hurricane relief effort in The Bahamas

08 Sep 2019

Royal Caribbean's top management met with Bahamian officials and its charity partners earlier today in Freeport, Bahamas to discuss its hurricane relief efforts.

Richard Fain, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Chairman and CEO and Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley arrived in Freeport as Navigator of the Seas helped distribute thousands of meals and supplies to continue the food relief effort in Grand Bahama in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

Volunteers from Royal Caribbean’s offices in South Florida joined the effort by boarding Navigator of the Seas this week to assist with hurricane relief. Known as “Go Team” the group is assisting unload relief supplies and evacuee efforts.

Royal Caribbean crew members unloaded relief supplies and meals for distribution at Grand Bahama as part of the company’s disaster relief operation to bring relief supplies and 20,000 daily meals to the impacted community. Meals include sandwiches, proteins with rice and fruits and snacks. Navigator of the Seas is one of many Royal Caribbean ships that will visit Freeport until they can equip a field kitchen to continue the work from there.

As part of its relief efforts in Grand Bahama, Royal Caribbean worked with Bahamian officials to transport evacuees from Freeport, Grand Bahama, to Nassau, Bahamas onboard its ships.

“We can’t make every bad memory of Dorian go away. But we can start making things better—today,” said Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

First-hand look at Royal Caribbean's Hurricane Dorian disaster relief in The Bahamas

07 Sep 2019

In the days since Hurricane Dorian rolled through The Bahamas and inflicted a great deal of damage to many islands, Royal Caribbean has assembled a colossal relief effort by having its ships deliver much-needed supplies.  

Royal Caribbean invited us to join them on Mariner of the Seas to get a first-hand look at the hard work their crew, volunteers and staff are doing on a near daily basis across many ships to assist Bahamians who have had their lives disrupted by the storm.

From her homeport of Port Canaveral, Mariner of the Seas sails three and four night sailings to The Bahamas, and while many cruise guests are enjoying a fantastic cruise vacation, a veritable army of volunteer crew members from all types of roles across the ship report to the main dining room to assemble 10,000 meals.

Dancers, technicians, servers, officers and more prepared sandwiches, proteins with rice and fruits and snacks so that they can be distributed in a few short hours to locals in The Bahamas who desperately need it.

These crew members took a break from their personal time to join in the effort and ensure these meals would be ready for delivery on-time.

Beginning at 10:30pm, crew members worked tirelessly to assemble the meals, while occasionally breaking out into a song, cheering a crate being filled and otherwise sharing a smile with each other.  

Fast-forward a few hours later, and at daybreak carts after carts of food was standing by to be delivered into Freeport, Bahamas.

Royal Caribbean is working with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to help distribute the food to those that need it the most.  NEMA is part of The Bahamanian disaster management effort, and essentially Royal Caribbean provides the disaster relief supplies, as well as the manpower to load it for NEMA to distribute. 

A convoy of buses, trucks, and other private vehicles arrived to pick up the supplies. In less than 12 hours, food went from storage to packaged to on a vehicle to be delivered. 



In addition to the supplies delivered, Royal Caribbean also brought aboard hundreds of evacuees so that they could be taken out of Freeport and brought to Nassau, Bahamas. Evacuees enjoyed breakfast, beverages and a movie screening during the short voyage to Nassau. 

Earlier today, Mariner of the Seas became the third ship in Royal Caribbean International's fleet to provide such aid, and there are a number of other ships prepared to do the same in the coming days and weeks.

Royal Caribbean is committing $1 million to Dorian disaster relief and matching every dollar of guest and employee donations. To make sure those donations go where they can do the most good, they are collaborating with the Bahamian government and its non-profit partner, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), and a network of Bahamian charities and other local organizations, including the Bahamas Feeding Network.

You can donate money by visiting the PADF site.

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