Everyone wants to be on a cruise ship. It’s a dream vacation of a lifetime, with food, lodging, entertainment, and of course, fun. But the real work begins when you get on board. Many cruise ship companies are facing a crisis of declining passenger demand, due to an increase in competition.

A year ago, the Bahamian government passed new legislation requiring ships docked in its capital of Nassau to spend at least 2 days in the port of Nassau. The reasoning was that this would help the struggling cruise business in the region. What it did was cause a mass exodus of cruise ships, which left only seven left to visit the island. Now, the Canadian-based cruise line Royal Caribbean is back, but this time, helping businesses that make Bahamian tourism possible.

Royal Caribbean is coming to the aid of struggling small-business owners in the Bahamas with a new program. Under the “Rebuild and Reshape” initiative, Royal Caribbean is providing loan and technical assistance to ten Bahamian cruise lines with the hopes of helping them turn things around. The cruise lines were selected based on the degree of difficulty they face, with most of the funding going toward debt restructuring and logistical support.. Read more about cruise restrictions 2023 and let us know what you think.

Thousands of small companies that serve to cruise passengers in ports across the globe have suffered billion-dollar losses as a result of the global health crisis. Royal Caribbean has discovered a method to assist in the Bahamas.

The Royal Caribbean Group and the Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre have teamed together to create the ‘Royal Caribbean Programme.’ 

The program will provide $500,000 in financing and training opportunities to small tourist sector companies on New Providence, Grand Bahama, and the Berry Islands via a mix of grants and low-interest loans. 

The Royal Caribbean Group contributed a total of $250,000 to the project. The Bahamas government-funded Access Accelerator will match that sum, for a total of $500,000.

Royal Caribbean Helps Struggling Bahamian Cruise Businesses

Grand Bahama Island’s Freeport

Existing companies may apply for up to $15,000 in funding, which will be distributed as a 50/50 loan (at 3% interest for five years) and 50/50 grant. 

READ ALSO: Royal Caribbean CEO Calls Delta Variant a “Big Bump on the Road”

“It’s a lot easier to get back on your feet when someone has offered a hand to assist pull you up,” said Josh Carroll, vice president of Royal Caribbean Group’s Destination Development.

“We wanted to provide small companies the tools they needed to become self-sufficient and sustainable in the long run, and to help the tourism-dependent economy recover. This initiative, together with the guidance of the Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre, gives many people the boost they need to get back on their feet.”

With the aim of helping micro, small, and medium-sized companies, the financing structure is split into three categories (MSMEs).

  • Group A is for firms with annual sales of less than $250,000, and it allows them to seek up to $5,000 in financing. 
  • Group B includes businesses with yearly revenues ranging from $250,001 to $500,000. This organization has the opportunity to apply for financing of up to $10,000. 
  • Group C is for companies with annual sales of $500,001 to $1,000,000 and financing of up to $15,000.

The initiative has some legs since it will continue to support itself – when companies return their loans, the money will be used to fund new applications to the program.

Royal Caribbean Helps Struggling Bahamian Cruise Businesses

Perfect Day in CocoCay, a Berry Island owned by Royal Caribbean (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

READ MORE: New CDC Guidelines Are Already Being Met or Exceeded by Cruise Lines

When the initiative was launched earlier this year, Access Accelerator’s Executive Director, Davinia Bain, spoke about how important it is.

“This collaboration has the potential to be the most significant connection between Bahamian SMEs and the worldwide market. It provides local businesses with direct access to grow their services in order to appeal to the millions of tourists that vacation in The Bahamas, including those sailing with one of the world’s biggest cruise companies,” Bain added.

The program will offer training on topics such as hospitality and entrepreneurship, eco-friendly products and services, production/tour scheduling, quality controls, liability insurance, pricing strategies, forecasting, brand identity, digital marketing, and export readiness, in addition to grants and loans.

The Royal Caribbean Program is already accepting applications, and companies will be approved bimonthly until money runs out.

You know it’s bad when one of the most famous cruise lines in the world is pulling out of the Bahamas. Royal Caribbean, one of the world’s top cruise line operators, is leaving Nassau’s capital, Freeport, which is 70 miles up the West Indies coast from Florida. The company blamed the decision on the area’s burdensome tax rate which is six times higher than Florida’s.. Read more about princess cruises and let us know what you think.

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