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Royal Caribbean looking to restructure Freeport port deal due to Coronavirus impact


The plan for a $300 million cruise destination in Freeport, Bahamas may need to be adjusted given the major changes in the cruise industry.

The Bahamas tourism and aviation minister told Tribune Business that the sale of the Grand Lucayan resort and redevelopment of Freeport is still a go, but the deal will need to be adjusted from what was originally planned.

Dionisio D’Aguilar said the Royal Caribbean joint venture, Holistica, "still seem to be interested" in the redevelopment, but need to restructure the terms of the deal because of the major blow to the cruise industry COVID-19 and associated shutdown have had on the cruise industry.

Holistica is a new company formed between Royal Caribbean and ITM Group that seeks to develop cruise ports around the world.

“It may not be the deal we had prior to March 3, but to say it’s not going anywhere would be an incorrect conclusion. They [the Holistica partners] still seem very interested, and you have a wiling seller and a willing buyer negotiating terms. The willingness is still there.”

Mr. D’Aguilar did not disclose details on the ongoing negotiations between the government and Holistica.

In early March, Royal Caribbean announced a multi-phase project 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.

He did say that Royal Caribbean and ITM may be adjusting their valuation and projections given COVID-19’s continued devastating impact on the cruise business and tourism in general.


"Obviously August 2020 is not the same as February 2020, so obviously you are going to change some terms to take into consideration the facts have changed. It’s very unfortunate, but it is what it is."

Mr D’Aguilar also conceded that talks on the Freeport Harbour component of the deal, which are taking place between IBM/Royal Caribbean and the Hutchison Whampoa-controlled Freeport Harbour Company, “need to be concluded”, although he added: “I’m advised it’s moving in the right direction.”

#With the Bahamian economy shut down for four to five of the past six months, the minister said Royal Caribbean/ITM’s construction start still remains delayed by around six months.

Royal Caribbean's Freeport, Bahamas port project looking for next steps to proceed


It appears Royal Caribbean's joint venture for port development is looking to discuss timelines with the Bahamian government on the development of a $300 million project in Freeport, Bahamas.

Holistica Destinations CEO Robert Shamosh told Tribune Business it has “secured the required liquidity” for the project.

There was no timeline for when construction or other milestones will occur, but Hollistica was already in talks with banks and other lenders to secure the necessary project financing, according to Mr. Shamosh.

“Holistica Destinations confirms that we remain committed to, and are moving forward with, the proposed development on Grand Bahama. BPI, Holistica’s subsidiary, recently announced it has secured the required liquidity to develop the Grand Bahama project and is currently working with several financial institutions to secure the financing,” the statement added.

“BPI will be meeting in the next couple of weeks with The Bahamas government to further discuss project details and timelines.” 

In early March 2020, Holistica announced the $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.

Bahamian officials, however, seem less optimistic that the project will move forward anytime soon.

Dionisio D’Aguilar, minister of tourism and aviation, last month told Tribune Business he was “on his knees” hoping both projects pull through. He acknowledged that both Carnival and Royal Caribbean were likely to adopt a “wait and see” approach to those investments once the COVID-19 pandemic eases due to the major financial blow they have suffered.

And, disclosing that the Government “hasn’t heard anything yet” on either development, the minister said his “whole arms are crossed” in the hope both cruise lines will eventually proceed - albeit with some delay to construction and opening schedules - once the global health crisis has abated.

Bahamas Deputy Prime Minister K. Peter Turnquest expressed similar sentiments in a Zoom conference with Old Fort Bay Rotary members. “As we understand it, today those projects are still on although admittedly delayed, and we just hope they come through and we come to the bottom of this economic challenge relatively quickly,” he said.

Royal Caribbean announces new $300 million cruise destination in Freeport, Bahamas


Royal Caribbean's new joint venture, Holistica Destinations, announced today 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.

Grand Lucayan resort today

The new project will span two locations including the enhancement and expansion of the port terminal, to be called Harbour Village, and the Lucaya Property, which will be situated at the current Grand Lucayan resort. 

The first phase of the Lucaya Property will be a world-class beachfront destination with a 526-room hotel, shopping village, spa and wellness center, water-based family entertainment including a massive water and adventure theme park, a 40,000-square-foot convention center, adventure activities such as zip lines and off-roading, restaurants and bars, entertainment and lively nightlife. 

Freeport Harbor

Harbour Village will be nine miles west of the Lucaya Property, at the cruise terminal in Freeport Harbor. Here, visitors will be able to enjoy numerous spaces with multiple shopping and dining venues, beach areas, shore excursions and more. There will also be engaging activities for visitors to experience.

The new project is slated to be finished in winter 2022.


With the participation of Bahamian companies, development plans for Freeport also include a multi-modal transportation hub with infrastructure for water ferries and ground transportation including buses, vans and jeeps. Holistica Destinations will work closely with local business owners and entrepreneurs as partners with opportunities both at Harbour Village and the Lucaya Property as well as additional shore excursions in Grand Bahama.

"Holistica Destinations knows how to build destinations that bridge an area’s authentic culture for the enjoyment of cruise and land-based travelers in a way they long for, while simultaneously allowing destinations to stay true to themselves in an environmentally conscious way," said Robert Shamosh, CEO of Holistica Destinations. "Our overall vision for this new endeavor is a long-term relationship with the community and the government of The Bahamas; essentially a marriage where we will grow together in prosperity welcoming millions of visitors to the destination for years to come."

In March 2019, Royal Caribbean signed a letter of intent with the government of The Bahamas for the purchase of the Grand Lucayan resort and redevelopment of the Freeport Harbor.

Royal Caribbean CEO hints at future plans for recent Freeport, Bahamas resort purchase


Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley made comments recently that hint at what the cruise line has planned for its recent purchase of the Grand Lucaya resort in Freeport, Bahamas.

In March 2019, Royal Caribbean signed a letter of intent with the government of The Bahamas for the purchase of the Grand Lucayan resort and redevelopment of the Freeport Harbor.

Tribune 242 reports Michael Bayley spoke to members of the Bahamian press at an opening ceremony for Perfect Day at CocoCay, "telling members of the press his company was positioning itself to spearhead a multi-million dollar, multi-phased project on par with CocoCay in Freeport if negotiations with the government are successful."

Mr. Bailey went on to say, “Just the fact that we are going to redevelop those hotels and beach, that whole area, it is going to be in the hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. The amount of work that will be underway to regenerate that destination, it is going to be a few years, hundreds of millions of dollars, massive project work, and I think the economic impact is going to huge.”

State Minister for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson said the joint venture between RCI and its investment partner, the ITM Group, will not only combine the redevelopment of the Freeport Harbor as a cruise port of choice but will also transform the Grand Lucayan resort into a theme park, featuring water-based family entertainment, with dining, gaming and entertainment options and five-star hotel accommodations.

The development will take place over a 24-month period, with $65 million of the purchase price for the Grand Lucayan Resort.

Mr. Bayley did note RCI’s full project specs could not be revealed publicly until a finished deal is worked out between the two sides, and there is another 30-40 days of negotiations remaining.

Royal Caribbean purchases resort in Grand Bahama for development project


Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and ITM Group have signed a letter of intent with the government of The Bahamas for the purchase of the Grand Lucayan resort and redevelopment of the Freeport Harbor.

Tribune242 reports the letter of intent was signed and an initial $195 million investment. The development will take place over a 24-month period, with $65 million of the purchase price for the Grand Lucayan Resort.

The government expects an additional two million cruise passengers will be brought annually to Grand Bahama island. Once complete, a theme park and five-star hotel will be part of the redevelopment effort.

The Grand Lucayan suffered significant damage more than two-and-a-half years ago following Hurricane Matthew, which forced the closure of two-thirds of the property.

Royal Caribbean working on plans for port in Freeport, Grand Bahama


It looks like Royal Caribbean is exploring the possibility of developing a cruise port in Freeport, Grand Bahama.

Photo by DandA

Tribune Business quoted Bahamas Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar, who indicated Royal Caribbean in partnership with Mexican port developer, ITM Group, is looking to acquire the Grand Lucayan and develop a proposed water-based, adventure-type theme park at both the resort and Freeport Harbour.

It looks like ITM Group and Royal Caribbean are looking to develop a new port in Freeport that can handle four new cruise ship berths in Freeport Harbour, which would double the port's current capacity.  The proposal has generated some concerns that the new port would come at the expense of cruise ship visits to Nassau.

D’Aguilar dismissed these concerns by stating, “Nassau will always stand on its own.”

Tribune Business quoted D’Aguilar, “I disagree with the view that, because Royal Caribbean and Carnival are building ports in Freeport, that will have a negative impact on Nassau. There are 90 ships in construction, and demand is growing significantly for cruise vacations."

Over 800,000 passengers to visit Bahamas thanks to Royal Caribbean in 2011


Royal Caribbean Vice-President of government relations for the Caribbean and Latin America, Michael Ronan, told Bahemian newspaper The Tribune, that in 2011 Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines will "be back up over 800,000 passengers" brought to the Bahamas.  That figure is over 100,000 more than in 2010, thanks in part to the anticipated delivery of Allure of the Seas.

These figures include stops in Nassau, Freeport and its Bahamian private islands.  The news comes after a report that Oasis of the Seas was rumored to be ending stops in Nassau, but Ronan said the change was merely due to a difference in Western and Eastern Caribbean itineraries, where Oasis of the Seas only stops in Nassau on it's eastern Caribbean trips.  Ronan went on to explain that once Allure of the Seas became operational, it would start rotating Nassau calls with the Oasis of the Seas on a schedule that would be maintained through Spring 2012, with one of the ships stopping in Nassau opposite the other.

"With the Oasis vessels, we are significantly increasing the number of passengers that are going to be coming," Mr Ronan told Tribune Business. "We will be back up over 800,000 passengers in 2011. This year, I think we will be in the 700,000 in change, because we're still waiting for the arrival of the Allure, which will put us with a full year of Oasis class ships in Nassau every week. Last year, 2009, we bottomed out."

For the people of the Bahamas, the more cruisers that stop by, the better for the local economy.  For cruisers, a better economy in the Bahamas typically means less crime and better upkeep of the city (that's a generalization).