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BAHAMAS: Royal Caribbean ‘Homeporting Opens Doors to Boost Local Revenue’

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PRESS RELEASE (April 21, 2021): With Royal Caribbean International’s Adventure of the Seas on target to set sail June 12 on its historic inaugural Nassau homeporting voyage, the company’s vice president today predicted a boon to a variety of local businesses in Nassau and Grand Bahama.

“We at Royal Caribbean are excited about this next step in our journey,” said Russell Benford, the Royal Caribbean Group vice president responsible for government relations in the Americas, “not just because we will be able to sail again in The Bahamas which remains our number one destination, but because of the opportunities that homeporting unfolds for so many Bahamian businesses and attractions including our many Bahamian partners. We also look forward to forging new friendships in the hospitality sector as a result of guests arriving ahead of their cruise or having the opportunity to stay in Nassau or travel to one of the Family Islands after their cruise.”

Royal Caribbean received approval from the government to homeport Adventure of the Seas in Nassau through mid-September. The 3,800-passenger ship will sail with vaccinated crew and guests over the age of 18 as well as with all COVID preventative protocols in place, including allowing only those with negative COVID test results to board. 

Royal Caribbean International President & CEO Michael Bayley predicted recently that the anticipated response to the initial offering to board in Nassau would be warmly received after a year of lockdowns, curfews and travel restrictions that have whet the appetite, he said, “to just get out and have fun.”

Royal Caribbean says the arrangement holds promise for the Bahamian economy. 

“We were bringing in approximately 1.5 million guests a year to the port of Nassau prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” explained Benford. “In 2019, we extended our length of stay in port, yet operators of attractions, merchants and other businesspeople urged us to stay even longer. Now, our guests who fly to Nassau to board Adventure of the Seas will have the opportunity to enjoy the historic city even more. They will have more time to shop, try different restaurants. They may choose to book a hotel for a night or a week before or after their cruise. They may take taxis to parts of the island like Clifton Heritage National Park or explore more of the Bahamas National Trust’s parks, book a charter fishing trip or go diving.”

Homeporting, says Benford, “opens up doors that we hope will help Bahamian businesses prosper, including in Grand Bahama where Adventure of the Seas will be refueling and provisioning, introducing countless opportunities especially in the farming and agriculture sectors.”

Royal Caribbean’s spend in The Bahamas prior to the pandemic that suspended sailing was $300 million annually, according to officials. That includes dockage fees, National Insurance payments, staff salaries at its private island destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Berry Islands, contracts with tour operators, small businesses, suppliers and vendors, ship agent fees and government taxes. 

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Leslie Gibson, first Bahamian to land in Royal Caribbean’s Corporate Offices, looking for others to join the company he praises for diversity and inclusion

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Job fair to fill open positions at the cruise line’s Perfect Day at Coco Cay resulted in 62 offers

 

MIAMI, August 10, 2022 – When Leslie Gibson accepted a position on Royal Caribbean International’s Perfect Day at Coco Cay during the height of the COVID pandemic, he didn’t imagine the opportunity would lead him to his dream job.

“The craziest thing is that what I’m living now, I dreamt about,” said Gibson, who is now based in Miami. “I studied engineering, but I prayed for a job where I would be traveling and working outside of where I’m from. I love The Bahamas and I’m always ready to go back home, but I’ve always wanted to get more exposure, see the world and all it has to offer. And Royal has been able to provide me that.”

Gibson said he found his footing in human resources after friends and family saw his natural affinity for working with people and problem solving.

Gibson began his journey with Royal Caribbean as a human resources specialist on Coco Cay in June 2020, where he worked for 11 months before he was selected to move to corporate and take on a larger scale of recruiting for private island experiences around the world, a role that has expanded to include shipboard recruiting.

Gibson’s promotion reflects a corporate culture of promoting from within. Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, started as a purser onboard the company’s ships before rising through the ranks to head the cruise line that now has 26 ships and more than 77,000 employees.

In just two years, Gibson has helped to recruit more than 300 people to work in The Bahamas, along with another 100 for Labadee in Haiti and more than 1,000 to work on Royal Caribbean’s ships.

“I think that’s why I love being a recruiter, because of the fact that I’m able to help people find their dreams,” Gibson said. “Some people who don’t even know they’re good at certain things, I’m able to help them navigate through that by giving them the opportunity to work with us.”

Gibson recently traveled to Dominica and St. Vincent as part of Royal Caribbean’s recruiting efforts, and he was on the ground for the job fair in Nassau recently when Royal Caribbean made offers to dozens of people in the hopes of filling several different positions on Coco Cay.

The exercise was part of a larger regional hiring effort to attract more Bahamian and Caribbean talent for Royal Caribbean’s private destinations and its ships. Royal Caribbean’s Director of Talent Acquisition Cindy Williams, said the company is coming back “better than ever.”

“We have a strong employer brand, and we are committed to making our return to service better than ever by bringing new crew members to Royal Caribbean,” she said.

Gibson said the magnitude of the post-pandemic boom is evident in Coco Cay’s guest numbers.

“We went from seeing as little as 2,000 to 3,000 guests a day at Coco Cay to now up to 10,000 guests and two ships a day,” Gibson said. “So, that went from our head count being 350 to 450 employees to now almost 600 who are needed for a call day.”

Royal Caribbean President Michael Bayley earlier this year announced the company’s intention to hire more Bahamians.

Gibson said that goal is just a microcosm of the company itself, which maintains diversity and inclusion as key priorities.

“I have coworkers from all around the world,” he said.

Recalling Royal Caribbean’s swift response to Hurricane Dorian in 2019, Gibson said the company’s passion for its employees was a considerable factor in his decision to accept his first job with the cruise line.

“I chose Royal because of some of the things they have done,” he said. “When Hurricane Dorian hit those islands, Royal Caribbean were some of the first people on the ground. I wouldn’t even talk about the people who were employed by Royal Caribbean — they spent millions of dollars helping employees get back on their feet.”

And although Dorian made history as one of the most powerful Atlantic storms ever recorded, Royal Caribbean’s response — rushing in to provide food, water, shelter and medical supplies for those impacted — was not particularly unusual for the company.

“When I say this, I mean throughout any disaster,” Gibson said.

“In 2020, there was a typhoon in the Philippines,” he added. “We assisted so many of our team members with helping their families back home. And this happens all the time. Our company is always about putting its employees first.”

 

Photo Caption: Leslie Gibson, 30, is the first Bahamian to have landed in Royal Caribbean’s corporate offices, but pledges to be far from the last. At a job fair held recently in Nassau, Gibson and his team of recruiters sought to fill a wide range of openings at Perfect Day at Coco Cay, the cruise line’s private island destination in the Berry Islands.

Release: RCI / DPA Media

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Bahamas News

Scores of Students Equipped with Supplies to Return to School

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NASSAU, BAHAMAS, AUGUST 13, 2022 – As the new school year approaches, Sandals Foundation Ambassadors at Sandals Royal Bahamian have embarked on a back-to-school drive, donating school supplies to local schools and communities in Nassau as part of their commitment to education and community development.

Recently, a team of over 15 volunteers from the resort traveled to Gambier Primary School, where students and teachers were gathered for summer school, and distributed over 40 packages with school supplies that included notebooks, pencils, crayons, pencil cases, erasers, sharpeners, reading books, rulers and glue sticks and warm meals.

Public Relations Manager at Sandals Royal Bahamian, Renee Deleon, shared the impact that these donations will have on families and schools across the island.

“Education is pivotal to the growth of a nation and it is something that we are committed to at Sandals. We know that back to school expenses here like anywhere else in the world can be quite strenuous so we want to play our part in helping to ease the financial burden that this may present to families as schools look to reopen.”

Deleon further added, “Thanks to the support of our guests who packed for a purpose, we were able to collect these items that will allow students to be equipped with the essential tools they need to make a better transition to the classroom when they return to school.”

The gesture was met with song, dance and echoes of ‘thank you’ as the Sandals team made the presentations to the children. Principal Forbes explained how this donation will help to improve the teaching and learning process.

“I am tremendously grateful to the Sandals Foundation and their team members from Sandals Royal Bahamian for gifting my students with school supplies. This donation will go a long way toward allowing teachers to execute lessons and students to participate.”

Forbes also noted that the school has had a longstanding relationship with the Foundation.

“Over the years we’ve had a good relationship with the Sandals Foundation and I am happy that we still have them in our corner.”

In addition to this donation to Gambier Primary School, the Sandals Royal Bahamian team has distributed school supplies to the Community Touch Group. Donations were also made to children at the Nazareth Centre as well as some children from the Okra Hill community. Later this month the Sandals Foundation ambassadors will be giving back to children from the Nassau Village and Grove communities.

 

Photo Captions: 

Header: These Sandals Foundation Ambassadors from Sandals Royal Bahamian were captured with bag packs filled with school supplies moments before they donated the supplies to the Nazareth Centre.

 1st insert: It is always a joyous occasion when Sandals Foundation Ambassadors go out to give back.

 2nd insert: Volunteers from Sandals Royal Bahamian were a picture of joy when they stopped by Gambier Primary School to donate school supplies and issue lunches recently.

 Release: Sandals Resort

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Bahamas News

GBPA Statement from Ian Rolle, President

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Re:  GBPA’s Response to fire in the International Bazaar

 

#TheBahamas, August 10, 2022 – The Grand Bahama Port Authority is aware of the recent fire at the International Bazaar.

The GBPA has engaged, and continues to engage, with operators of the International Bazaar, which include representatives of the Bazaar Association and several property owners, so that we can continue demolition exercises on the dilapidated structures and buildings.

The GBPA is acutely aware of the need to demolish derelict structures within the International Bazaar for the safety of all businesses and visitors. We have performed demolitions in the past at our own cost, most recently in February 2022 when we, in partnership with owners, demolished fire-damaged buildings in the Oriental Section. We have also written to numerous property owners of dilapidated structures over the years to sensitize them to the need to repair or demolish their buildings.

In addition, we have engaged the Government of the Bahamas in advance discussions to approve our requested amendments of the Building and Sanitary bylaws, which would enable GBPA to execute more demolitions in a timely manner and recoup the associated costs.

With the requested bylaw amendments in place, GBPA can continue to make consistent efforts to address the remainder of derelict buildings in the International Bazaar and other dilapidated structures within the city.

The GBPA itself has never owned any part of the International Bazaar but has historically subsidized the Bazaar for many years when owners were no longer maintaining its communal areas.

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