Carnival Cruise Line breaks ground on private Bahamas destination – Orlando Sentinel

After delays from both COVID and the recovery from Hurricane Dorian, Carnival Cruise Line has broken ground on a new private destination in the Bahamas.

The new project for Grand Bahama Island, which will be located on the south side of the island, will be the first private destination dedicated to the cruise line in the Bahamas. Its construction, which had originally targeted mid-2020 after completing environmental assessments and permitting now commences two years later.

Cruise line president Christine Duffy and parent company Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald were on hand at a ceremony this week with Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis and other government officials for the shovels-in-hand photo op.

“With the start of this Carnival project, Grand Bahama is now on the better side of reaching its true economic potential,” said Davis. “This investment will provide much needed jobs but will also signal new hope for the island’s recovery.”

The site will be the third Bahamas destination run by the Carnival Corp. brand. Sister lines Princess Cruises and Holland America Line have hosted Carnival ships over the years at their private destinations Half Moon Cay and Princess Cays.

When originally proposed, it was referred to as the “Grand Port” project, and a website at was launched, although it has not been updated since February 2020. It does identify the area to be developed as the Sharp Rock site, about 18 miles from the island’s capital of Freeport, which is where cruise lines dock when visiting Grand Bahama.

Carnival said details on the design, features and the official name of the port destination would come at a later date.

The Bahamas has several other private islands run by cruise lines including Disney’s Castaway Cay, Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day at Coco Cay, MSC Cruises’ Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Great Stirrup Cay. Disney Cruise Line is pursuing a new destination on the southern tip of Eleuthera called Lighthouse Point while Royal Caribbean is developing a small private beach club in Nassau.

Carnival’s 369-acre development is expected to open in late 2024. It will feature a pier able to accommodate two of the line’s largest class of ships including the new Mardi Gras that began sailing from Port Canaveral last summer. Its sister ship in the Excel Class, Carnival Celebration, is slated to begin service from Miami this fall.

Visitors to the beachfront destination will be able to explore Grand Bahama via shore excursions from a dedicated dock or travel by vehicle from the ground transportation hub. Carnival is developing part of the land but keeping part of the property as a nature reserve. The site will also have an interior pool feature as well as the standard Bahamian-operated retail, food and beverage options on site.

While it won’t be generally open to the Bahamian public, it will offer up to 1,000 jobs for locals.

Hoping to offer an economic boost to the northwestern Bahamas, officials had previously targeted the project to come at a cost of $100 million, but that was before the pandemic. Officials did say it will be designed to withstand the impact of a Category 5 hurricane like Dorian.

“A project of this magnitude is only possible through genuine collaboration,” said Grand Bahama Port Authority acting chairman Sarah St. George. “Grand Bahamians have withstood life-changing challenges, particularly in recent years. Despite these, Carnival never wavered in their commitment to building their next cruise port in Freeport.”