Royal Caribbean International and Music Makers Set to Make Some Music
Cruise Line Executives Visit Junkanoo Group’s ‘Shack’
#TheBahamas, December 20, 2022 – Three years after first meeting, the top executives of a Bahamian junkanoo group and Royal Caribbean International enjoyed time together to gain an even greater sense of appreciation for Junkanoo.
“We’ve been treated to several performances by the Music Makers onboard our ships for special occasions, including our return to service following the pandemic or for inaugural sailings,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International.
“We’ve even flown them to the Berry Islands, to entertain onboard and dockside at our private island destination Perfect Day at CocoCay, but we wanted to see them in their own home grounds, the place where all the magic is created. It was fascinating to listen, to see and to learn how the pieces are made and carried.”
The visit took place at one of two ‘shacks’ occupied by the Music Makers on Fowler Street in the heart of the inner city of Nassau.
Music Maker’s Chairman Gary Russell played host and shared, “a medium piece like this can weigh up to 60 pounds and the larger pieces up to 200 pounds,” explained the attorney, performer and long-time chairman, who has been a member of the Music Makers from his wheelchair since before a tragic accident took his legs, but not his spirit. “Only one man or woman can carry a piece and they have to dance with it, though the largest pieces we now have permission to put on wheels.”
Bayley first met Russell at the Fox Hill Community Centre in 2019 as the cruise line was exploring ways to link with Junkanoo, wanting to lend support to the national cultural phenomenon. Impressed, he and the team began including the Music Makers, retaining them to perform at special events.
The following year, as Bayley was speaking at the grand opening of the Bullock’s Harbour Community Centre funded by Royal Caribbean, he announced a major sponsorship for the Music Makers.
“When Mr. Bayley announced Royal Caribbean would sponsor us for $100,000, I was so excited I leapt up in the air, wheelchair and all,” said Russell. “If someone had not been holding me down, I would have gone up in the air and over, that’s how excited I was and in disbelief. We can never thank Royal Caribbean enough. They have given us new life.”
With the Junkanoo parades back on tap this year for Boxing Day and New Year’s following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Music Makers will return to Bay Street.
“We are going to make Royal Caribbean proud,” he said. “With their permission, we have renamed ourselves the Royal Caribbean Music Makers and we are going to make some music. We’re in it to win it.”
Royal Caribbean Music Makers Chairman Gary Russell, seated, explains how a Junkanoo piece is made to Royal Caribbean International President & CEO Michael Bayley during a visit to the group’s shack on Fowler Street off East Street and Ross and Gibbs Corner.
Bayley examining the craftsmanship on the junkanoo pieces and conversing with Music Makers Chairman Gary Russell.
(Photos by Cay Focus Photography for DPA)
FBI and Bahamas looking into woman’s death
#TheBahamas, March 17, 2023 – The FBI is investigating a woman’s ‘suspicious’ death on a Carnival Cruise ship in February. The unnamed woman and her husband boarded the Carnival Sunshine on February 27th, for a trip to the Bahamas, but she was dead before they arrived in the port in The Bahamas.
The FBI said Carnival’s team had administered life saving measures when the woman was reported unresponsive, but they were unsuccessful. The body and the woman’s husband were released to the Bahamian authorities when the cruise arrived in the country.
In a statement shared with US media houses, Carnival Cruises claimed the death has been a natural one. The Nassau Guardian said a source told them the police findings had concurred with that assessment saying it was a “normal sudden death of a tourist who wasn’t feeling well.”
The FBI was waiting for the cruise and when it got back to South Carolina on March 4th, they immediately boarded and began to investigate the room based on ‘evidence of a crime.’ The FBI also searched the couple’s car.
No updates have been shared to contradict the currently established cause of death.
Why Sargassum Matters
#TheBahamas, March 17, 2023 – “If you don’t like it, go to another beach!” Is what Aaron John, an Education Officer from The Bahamas National Trust jokingly tells our news team about sargassum blooms; his quip, motivated by the necessity of nature when pit against the notion that there is a real threat when the stinky seaweed makes its annual appearance.
John can admit, he says, that Sargassum isn’t very pretty but life isn’t all about aesthetics and in this instance that ugly patch serves a purpose.
“We love our sandy beaches, but in order to keep them we need Sargassum. When storms come, they wash away all the sand off the beach but sargassum acts as a mulch to protect the sand from water erosion. It doesn’t look good, it doesn’t feel good but we need it.”
He said it also provides a habitat for small crustaceans, crabs, and insects that are all necessary to our ecosystem and islanders have found use for the weed.
“Historically, (in The Bahamas) we have been using sargassum as fertilizer, especially in the family Islands as far back as I know,” he said. “Birds don’t go on the beach unless there is Sargassum and what do they do? they feed – it’s beautiful.”
He encouraged residents to just leave it be if they came across it.
Sargassum isn’t harmful to humans, except for people with respiratory issues who may find the rotten egg smell triggers asthma. Despite this, it’s not advisable to walk through the weeds which may hide sharp rocks and bottles or vulnerable animals.
Experts say Sargassum blooms began to increase in size around 2011 and have continued to get bigger and bigger since. This year‘s bloom is around 5000 miles long and 300 miles wide and visible from space.
“I know it’s not a general outlook, but I would like to change the perspective on sargassum,” John said, pointing out The Bahamas National Trust is actively working to decrease alarm over the less worrisome events like sargassum as it raises the profile on the environmentally devastating.
Lease agreement approved for diaspora office
#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – The Turks and Caicos’ Bahamas Diaspora Office is moving closer and closer to opening day, following the Cabinet’s approval for the signing of a lease agreement.
The lease will be signed with FINCEN ltd in the Bahamas. Several weeks ago, Arlington Musgrove, Minister of Immigration confirmed to our news team that the location had been found and was being finalized; now a lease is approved at the Cabinet level.
The interest in the TCI from TC Bahamians was evident in the diaspora meetings held in early February. The two meetings held in Nassau and Grand Bahama were completely full and over-subscribed by hundreds.
It’s interest which the Government hopes will translate to real life population growth, bolstering the local population before the native population ‘goes extinct’.
The Opposition PDM is on the record with what it feels is a far more viable solution to a dwindling native population; seek out the country’s own citizens and bring them back home.
Cabinet did not state when the office will open.
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