However, while everything seemed set for the cruise line to begin construction, the company is now receiving inquiries about its green plans from one of the world’s largest resorts.
Environmental concerns raised by Atlantis Resort
Royal Caribbean International plans to open one 17 hectare adventure destination, the Royal Beach Clubin Nassau, Bahamas, in 2025. However, the Atlantis Resort in Nassau has now expressed concern about the project’s plans to mitigate the environment.
According to the tribuneVaughn Roberts, Atlantis’ vice president of government affairs and special projects, confirmed the resort’s concerns about the proposed development of the western part of Paradise Island in the Colonial Beach area.
Atlantis says it’s concerned about how Royal Caribbean plans to defuse potential environmental concerns. In particular, the resort is concerned about how cruise lines have dumped waste into the oceans in the past:
Roberts expressed his concern about the dumping of waste into the ocean by cruise ships, specifically: “So we know there are coral reefs there, we know there must be other environmental habitats there. We just want to make sure everything is done in a responsible way. Cruise lines have reports of ocean dumping and such. We’re not saying Royal Caribbean is guilty, but there have obviously been incidents in the past. We just haven’t seen enough of Royal Caribbean’s plans to know how they will mitigate any risks.”
The Bahamian government does not seem impressed by the concerns raised by Atlantis, instead the Deputy Prime Minister for Tourism, the Honorable Chester Cooper stated that the Royal Beach Club is still subject to environmental assessments:
Minister for Tourism, Investment and Aviation, Chester Cooper: The Bahamas Government notes Atlantis’ concerns regarding Royal Caribbean International’s proposed Beach Club on Paradise Island. In my official statement dated March 7, 2023, we explained that the permit is subject to an environmental impact assessment and an environmental management plan. It stays that way.
“The Department of Environment and Spatial Planning and the Department of Labor are aware of the issues raised by Atlantis and I am satisfied that these issues are being addressed as part of the normal process.”
Adding to environmental concerns, litigation continues between a Bahamian entrepreneur and the local government over how Royal Caribbean’s Crown Land lease was obtained.
Litigation could potentially cause problems for Royal
The legal battle between Bahamian entrepreneur Toby Smith, the government and Royal Caribbean centers on the two Crown Land lots Smith sought for his project.
Smith received a letter of approval for the Crown Land lease through the two tracts from the Acting Director of the Department of Lands and Surveys in January 2020.
However, the minister responsible for Crown Lands did not complete the necessary paperwork by affixing his signature, as Royal Caribbean had competing designs on two acres of Crown Land that Smith had also requested for his own Royal Beach Club project.
The Chief Justice has since ruled that Smith did not have a valid, legally binding lease from the government for the two Crown Land lots he was seeking for his project.
As a Bahamian entrepreneur, Mr. Smith had repeatedly claimed he was sidelined to accommodate a large foreign investor, despite obtaining his permits and legally binding Crown land leases before Royal Caribbean.
The ruling allows the cruise line to proceed with Royal Beach Club, but the ongoing situation adds uncertainty to the project’s future and complicates matters for Royal Caribbean. They now have to contend with concerns about the environmental impact of their development and any legal barriers they may face.
Response from local businesses
Despite Royal Caribbean’s announcements that the Royal Beach Club would be an excellent opportunity for local businesses, general sentiment in Nassau seems to differ from that statement.
Several business owners have voiced concerns that Royal Caribbean will siphon business away from locals and focus solely on sales within its resort.
A local business owner told the Tribune: “Royal Caribbean will suck the business out of Paradise Island. The thing is, no one wants to stay on Paradise Island or even downtown, and Royal Caribbean will simply take all of its guests to their side of the island. A lot of people will also lose their jobs.”
This could very well be why the Atlantis resort questioned Royal Caribbean’s plans. Day trips from Nassau to Atlantis are a popular way to spend the day in Nassau. Cruise lines are a big moneymaker for the resort, at $250 for an adult and $125 for kids for a day pass.
If the largest cruise ships in the world Bringing their guests to the Royal Beach Club instead of the Atlantis would mean a financial hit to the resort.