Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean have recently obtained authorization for a game-changing expansion project at Grand Bahama Shipyard Ltd that will change the maritime landscape in the Bahamas.
An investment of hundreds of millions of dollars aims to reestablish the shipyard as the number one cruise ship repair facility worldwide. It should return billions of dollars to the Grand Bahama’s economy over the next 25 years.
A 600-Million Dollar Investment at Grand Bahama Shipyard
Cruise Giants Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Group have teamed up to bring the Grand Bahama Shipyard Ltd. in Freeport, The Bahamas, back to being one of the most modern shipyards for cruise ships.
Currently, cruise lines often choose shipyards in Europe for dry-dock operations due to the facilities and the knowledge available on the continent. However, the new partnership between Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Group, and the shipyard aims to change this.
Estimated to cost around 600 million USD, the transformation includes the conception, delivery to Freeport, and commissioning of two world-class floating docks. The project will enable the shipyard to service an array of cruise ships, both operational and under development, alongside a vast segment of the global commercial shipping fleet.
The repercussion of this project on the Bahamian economy is anticipated to be in the billions, marking a new future for Grand Bahama.
Minister for Grand Bahama Ginger Moxey said: “The $600 million dollar transformation of the Grand Bahama Shipyard marks a monumental investment for Grand Bahama. The shipyard has always been an important contributor to Grand Bahama’s economy, and this ambitious project will continue the revitalization of our local economy.”
The shipyard is The Bahamas’s largest private non-tourism employer. With the investment, the shipyard expects to create hundreds of jobs for Bahamians, local enterprises, and contractors. This includes hundreds of full-time positions at the shipyard once it achieves full operational capacity.
Cruise Companies Set to Make Heavy Use of Improvements
The fact that Royal Caribbean Group and Carnival Corporation have decided to invest heavily in the Grand Bahamas shipyard is not surprising. Currently, cruise ships from both companies often perform dry dock operations in Europe, making use of shipyards in France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands.
Having a state-of-the-art shipyard near the world’s largest cruise ports will enable the cruise giants to save billions of dollars in expenses related to increased downtime, higher dry-dock costs, and fuel costs involved with repositioning ships to Europe.
It also enables the cruise companies to further their relationship with one of their most important bases of operation, The Bahamas.
Josh Weinstein, CEO and Chief Climate Officer of Carnival Corporation: “For half a century, we have worked side-by-side with The Bahamas and Bahamian businesses and contributed to the growth of the Bahamian economy while delivering unforgettable cruise vacations to millions of people.”
“The success of our enduring partnership is built on our shared conviction that people must always at the forefront of our thinking. That mindset is evident in the Grand Bahama Shipyard transformation project, which invests significantly in local businesses, creates jobs, and contributes to a legacy of economic vitality in the country.”
Jason Liberty, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group, believes the investment his company is making will drive economic growth in the Bahamas, one of its most important partners.
“We are proud to expand our longstanding partnership and see establishing Grand Bahama as a premier maritime destination for repair and revitalization of all kinds of vessels as a project that will drive economic growth for the Bahamian industry and create a positive impact for the people of The Bahamas for generations to come,” said Liberty.
The cornerstone of the transformation project is the construction of two new floating dry docks in Qingdao, China, with expected delivery in 2025 and 2026.
Upon completion, these docks will be among the largest floating docks in the Western Hemisphere. One of the docks will boast the largest lifting capacity worldwide, capable of servicing all existing and planned cruise ships globally, along with a diverse array of other vessels. It will enable the shipyard to have five vessels in dry dock simultaneously.
With the new docks, the project includes supporting marine works and infrastructure development in Grand Bahama, slated to commence in the last quarter of 2023 and wrap up in 2025.
The shipyard will also increase its apprenticeship program, targeting 16-20 new apprentices each year who will undergo a four-year training program. This will create a knowledgeable base of people, enabling the shipyard to be at the forefront of cruise ship dry docking for the foreseeable future.
The Grand Bahama Shipyard is ideally located. Located just a few miles from PortMiami, Port Canaveral, and Port Everglades, it has historically been performing 85-100 dry docks yearly. With the upcoming expansion, it’s expected to considerably increase the number of dry docks, including ships from Carnival and Royal that would have turned to Europe for their regular maintenance schedules.