The Bahamas: Undisputed Lead Flag For Cruise Ships

The Bahamas fleet reads like a *”Who’s Who”* of international shipping. Cruise operators include well-known names such as Disney, Crystal, Radisson, Carnival, Seabourn, Holland-America, and Silver Line — and now Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, one of the world’s leading cruise companies.

Currently there are more than 1400 international ships, with over 30 million gross tons flying the Bahamian flag. Of these, 80 are cruise ships, 350 are tankers and 70 are container vessels. The growth of the Bahamas Ship Register has been phenomenal; in 1983 there were less than 100 ships
of just one million gross tons.

According to the lead article in the latest issue of “The Bahamas Flag”, the newsletter of the Bahamas Maritime Authority, owners of cruise ships are particularly sensitive to public perception. A high quality managed register is therefore integral to maintaining their profile in the market place.

Whilst quality and service are key to the Bahamas Maritime Authority’s success, the wider appeal of The Bahamas as a major tourist attraction and financial center has enhanced the flag’s popularity. Quality is also the central focus of the Bahamian Government’s policies for tourism, finance and shipping.

The Bahamas recently consolidated its cruise ship lead with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines flagging eight of its vessels to the Bahamas Ship Register, confirming the BMA’s position as the number one choice for the world’s leading cruise ship operators.

The vessels include three of the largest cruise vessels afloat, the Voyager Class *”Adventure of the Seas”*, *Explorer of the Seas”* and *”Voyager of the Seas”*. Each vessel is more than 1000 feet in length and has a gross tonnage of about 138,000 tons, a total passenger capacity of 3,838 and a crew of 1,181. Two more ships of this class are under construction in Turku, Finland.

Nassau is now one of the most popular stops for cruise ships, not only because of its close proximity to Florida, but also because it is an ideal port for large ships. Freeport, the second port of The Bahamas, is rapidly developing as another popular cruise ship destination, with the added attraction of having excellent dry dock facilities that can handle the largest cruise ships in the world.

In commenting on the recent decision to join the Bahamas Ship Register, Harri Kulovaara, Senior Vice President of Royal Caribbean, said *”We are very glad to have completed the reflagging of our international fleet. We researched and reviewed the various international registries very carefully. Our final decision was driven by the overall professionalism demonstrated by the Bahamian Registry. We were especially impressed by its commitment to the continuous safety-improvement process.”*