Disney Cruise Line (DCL) has entered an agreement with the Bahamian government to develop a second private Bahamas cruise destination, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Disney has operated a private island, Castaway Cay, since 1998. Plans to grow the cruise line’s fleet from four to seven ships by 2023 spurred the company to seek a second private Bahamas destination. Disney has now purchased Lighthouse Point, a 700-acre property on the island of Eleuthera. The cruise line’s development plans are expected to represent a $250 million to $400 million investment.
Balancing Tourism with Local Concerns
Lighthouse Point is projected to open between 2021 and 2023. The destination will incorporate awareness of Bahamian culture in the design and experiences offered to guests. As well, it’s been reported that local residents will have access to the area instead of just cruise line passengers.
Disney agreed to donate nearly 200 acres of the land purchased to the Bahamian government, including the southernmost tip of the island, to become a national park. A statement released by Bahamian Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis values the donated land at more than $6 million.
The terms of the agreement call for low-density development, sustainable design, public access and as well as jobs for Bahamians both during and after construction. Disney will partner with Bahamian agencies to offer professional training and development programs. The cruise line also agreed to give priority to Bahamian owners and operators for excursions and entertainment for Disney passengers visiting the island.
Disney’s plans for the new private Eleuthera destination will not result in the cruise line abandoning existing Bahamas ports. As part of the agreement, the cruise line intends to increase its calls to Nassau and/or Freeport by 30-40% from 2018 numbers. Currently, 75% of Disney voyages visit the Bahamas.
Preparing For a New Class of Disney Ships
The second Bahamian port represents just one facet of widespread onshore preparations for DCL’s preparations for the introduction of their new Triton class of ships in 2021. We wrote recently about Disney’s role in the planned expansion of Galveston port.
In January, officials at Port Canaveral announced a projected $46.5 million refurbishment of Disney’s terminals there. At least two of DCL’s three new Triton-class ships are expected to homeport in Port Canaveral. The new vessels are said to outweigh Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream (140,000 gross tons compared with 130,000 gross tons) but like those older ships, will offer 1,250 staterooms.
Have you visited Disney’s existing private Bahamas destination Castaway Cay? What do you hope Disney repeats – or changes – from that destination for Lighthouse Point? Let us know in the comments below.