Royal Caribbean Cruises into Patron Sponsor Role, Bahamas Chamber of Commerce

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Royal Caribbean International executives called on the leadership of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) recently, anchoring its position as patron sponsor. Cruising is big business with Royal Caribbean’s annual spend in the country some $300 million, including its 40% ownership of the Grand Bahama Shipyard. Pictured l-r, Russell Benford, Royal Caribbean Vice President, Government Relations, Americas; Krystynia Lee-Darville, BCCEC Director, Michael Bayley, RCI President & CEO; BCCEC Deputy Chairman Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson; and Jeffrey Beckles, BCCEC CEO. (Photo by Cay Focus Photography for DP&A)

Royal Caribbean International, the world’s largest cruise line and operator of megaships that delivered more than 1.6 million passengers to The Bahamas in 2018, cruised into a new role this week– patron sponsor of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation. The agreement between the voice of business and the cruise line that generates some $300 million spend in The Bahamas annually was sealed with a courtesy call between Royal Caribbean President & CEO Michael Bayley and Chamber CEO Jeffrey Beckles along with leaders from both organisations on March 7 at Chamber headquarters, Collins Avenue.

“This is a giant step toward an important relationship with the cruise industry and opens a new realm of possibilities,” said Beckles. “We are happy to have Royal Caribbean International as an official patron partner of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation and we look forward to working closely together to maximize benefits for Bahamian businesses and for the cruise industry and your guests.”Bayley, along with Royal Caribbean Vice President, Government Relations Americas, Russell Benford, used the face-to-face March 7 meeting with Beckles, Deputy Chairman Khrystle Ferguson and Director Krystynia Lee-Darville to discuss how the cruise business can interact more directly with the business community, boosting local benefits. Bayley described the cruise company’s 50-year love affair with The Bahamas.

“Our inaugural visit to The Bahamas was 50 years ago. The ship was the Song of Norway and it departed Miami and came to Nassau, our very first port of call,” said Bayley. “Last year, in 2018, we brought nearly 1.6 million guests and we believe that by 2020 we will be bringing nearly two million. Nassau remains a popular destination and as we introduce new ships to the fleet in coming years we expect to bring even more visitors to The Bahamas.” “We are excited about the endless possibilities,” said Ms. Rutherford-Ferguson who made the partnership official, putting a Chamber of Commerce pin on Bayley as Lee-Darville pinned Benford, predicting that the new relationship would be “a synergistic partnership of the Chamber of Commerce, an important part of the community.”

Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation Deputy Chair Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson pins Royal Caribbean International President & CEO Michael Bayley, making the patron sponsorship and membership official. Royal Caribbean has been voted “Best Cruise Line Overall” for 15 consecutive years by Travel Weekly readers. (Photo be Cay Focus Photography for DP&A)

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