The world's largest cruise line, Royal Caribbean International, has committed to a multi-year agreement with the island nation of The Bahamas that will help grow tourism to the destination, rapidly increase the cruise line's employment of Bahamian nationals and invest in hospitality training to develop talent in the country. At a signing ceremony attended by Perry Christie, Prime Minister of The Bahamas and Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International, the cruise line confirmed plans for a significant investment in major enhancements to CocoCay—its private island destination in The Bahamas—which will include the construction of a pier, additional guest features and amenities, and new opportunities for vendors and craftsmen to promote the culture of The Bahamas to visitors.
"Royal Caribbean has been a long-standing partner of the islands of The Bahamas and their plans to significantly increase tourism to our country as well as to develop the talent of our youth and expand employment opportunities for Bahamians is commendable," said Prime Minister Christie.
As part of the agreement, Royal Caribbean plans to work with The Bahamas government to develop a training program to provide those who aspire to a career in hospitality with a unique opportunity to participate in innovative training and development. The cruise line will create a curriculum that will prepare many thousands of students for careers at sea on board one of Royal Caribbean's ships. The classes will be facilitated by dedicated instructors who will provide students with theoretical and practical knowledge to help them develop valuable and marketable hospitality skills. In addition to the classroom experience, students will receive on-site guidance and training from shipboard professionals. Royal Caribbean has committed to rapidly growing the number of Bahamian nationals employed by the cruise line in the next five years. In addition, they have joint ownership of the Grand Bahamas shipyard in Freeport at which major revitalizations and drydock maintenance of its ships take place.
"Tourism is an important engine of growth for the economy of destinations in the Caribbean and The Bahamas, and we are excited to bring more visitors on our newest and most innovative ships to this popular vacation spot," said Bayley. "Our commitment to The Bahamas is multifold. It is our responsibility to contribute to the country's economic diversity, to its employment base and the training of Bahamian youth as well as the protection of the environment. We are excited about the continued growth of tourism in The Bahamas, and look forward to doing our part to keep that growth and progress moving along in the years to come."
Operators of the world's largest ships with an additional two mega ships under construction and four on order, Royal Caribbean currently brings 1.7 million visitors a year to The Bahamas, with plans to significantly expand that number in the next decade as they add capacity in the region. With its strategic location and proximity to the United States, Bahamian destinations are already marquee ports of call for 13 of Royal Caribbean's ships and are consistently highly rated by guests.