March 12, 2019
(4:05 p.m. EDT) -- The Bahamas' Prime Minister Hubert Minnis has signed an agreement with Disney Cruise Line to develop a cruise port and entertainment facility at Lighthouse Point in Bannerman Town, South Eleuthera -- an island in the Bahamas.
As Disney Cruise Line expands its fleet from four to seven ships between now and 2023, the line is looking to expand itineraries.
The new, Disney-run port -- purchased through a private seller -- will join Castaway Cay, the line's current private Bahamian Island.
"We are pleased to have finalized an agreement with the Government of The Bahamas that will enable us to create new and sustainable economic opportunities for the people of Eleuthera while celebrating the natural beauty and culture of this special place with our guests," said Jeff Vahle, president of Disney Cruise Line, in a statement.
"Over the past few months, we've spent time in Eleuthera exploring its unique sites and culture, continuing to build relationships with current and future business owners who have an interest in working with us, and supporting philanthropic initiatives that benefit children and families. We have also been focused on the field work necessary for completing a comprehensive environmental impact assessment and management plan. We expect to complete this work over the next few months in close consultation with Government."
Approximately 190 acres of the land purchased by Disney Cruise Line, including the southernmost point of the property, will be donated to the Government of The Bahamas for a national park and conservation effort.
Disney Cruise Line also will directly employ a minimum of 120 Bahamians during the construction of the port, and offer as many as 150 permanent, sustainable jobs with health benefits once construction is completed.
The port will be developed to have an authentic feel, employing Bahamian vendors, entertainers and excursion operators in addition to local art and design elements, according to the prime minister's March 9 statement.
Despite being a private port, local Bahamians will have access to Disney Cruise Line's facilities, in a partnership that will also extend into community project funding and investments.
"The Government of The Bahamas is satisfied that it made the best decision in the interest of the Bahamian people, a sustainable future for the people of Central and South Eleuthera and the economic development of the country," said Prime Minister Minnis in the statement.
"The implementation of this project supports the government's plan of expanding the economy of our country and economic opportunities for our people by promoting development in the Family Islands."
Under the agreement, Disney Cruise Line will increase the number of calls in Nassau and/or Freeport by 30 to 40 percent.
No projections have been announced regarding the port's completion. Construction is dependent upon the approval of the project's Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management Plan.