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2004-08-26 16:01:26

MOON Wants Approval For Cruise Port

There have been some who suggest that a new cruise facility might do wonders for the island's tourism product.

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – Michael Henderson, chairman of the proposed MOON project for Grand Bahama, recently told the Bahama Journal he hopes his project will be the answer to what he sees as Freeport's need for a new cruise ship facility.

His comments come as Grand Bahama Port Authority officials consider the possibility of building a new cruise facility in order to accommodate plans to incorporate the Tractebel energy company into the island's industrial harbour.

Mr. Henderson wants that consideration to point toward MOON.

“The new cruise terminals that will be built around the rim of MOON we will be building ourselves,' he pointed out. “So we would envisage a situation where the cruise ships that currently dock in the [industrial harbour] would move and end up docking at MOON itself.'

Mr. Henderson said such a prospect would be subject to ongoing talks with the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA).

But no GBPA official has confirmed whether or to what extent the group is considering the idea.

There have been some who suggest that a new cruise facility might do wonders for the island's tourism product, since the current facility is in the heart of the island's industrial centre.

Mr. Henderson echoed those sentiments, saying, “Clearly the cruise ship industry wants to dock at the nicest possible venue, therefore we would think that the cruise ships would end up docking at MOON.'

Mr. Henderson's company, RJH Holdings, recently announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Grand Bahama Port Authority to build a $4.5 billion resort and real estate development off the north cost of Grand Bahama.

With regard to the island's current cruise port and the GBPA's plans to court Tractebel, government officials, including Prime Minister Perry Christie, have expressed their concerns.

Trade and Industry Minister Leslie Miller recently said the government might look more favourably on the Tractebel project if a new cruise facility is built.

Government officials have expressed concerned about having a liquefied natural gas terminal built in the same area where cruise ships dock.

Mr. Henderson's comments about his plans for the island's cruise industry are the latest to send tongues wagging, since he announced that Freeport could be the site for the biggest tourist development the world has ever seen.

Mr. Henderson told the Journal his company is now awaiting government approvals that would permit his MOON team to begin the potentially one-year-long task of conducting environmental and feasibility studies of the proposed project.

Major cruise lines have long since commented on the location of the Lucayan Harbour, noting that the area provides no tourist-related sites for disembarking passengers.

Passengers who disembark from cruises destined for Freeport have to drive several miles into the city for shopping and other visitor amenities.

Sharon Williams, The Bahama Journal

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