Nassau, The Bahamas – Minister of Transport & Aviation, Hon. Glenys Hanna Martin, says every effort is being made to strengthen the government’s partnership with ferryboat operators. Mrs. Hanna Martin made the statement during the first-ever training seminar for ferryboat operators and owners held at the Port Department on Monday, July 23.
“The world tourism market has become very competitive. The international traveller can today pick, choose and refuse and other island countries in this region compete with us directly,” she said. “The Bahamas must position itself and distinguish itself by providing a premiere experience. The ferryboat experience must become the talk of the town so to speak internationally: A mediocre, average experience will only continue to limit the economic potential of your industry. To “lift” the experience can only mean increased revenue potential for the ferry boat industry.”
She said that with such an important role, ferryboat operators must commit to maintaining the highest safety standards by effectively policing themselves.
The Minister added that the Port Department will spearhead recurrent training and sponsor educational and refresher programmes such as this one. She explained that the Ministry will undertake a comprehensive review of the regulatory framework for maritime activities in The Bahamas and will seek to modernise legislation by incorporating international best practices throughout the maritime industry.
“This symposium is the first in a series that will be sponsored by the Port Department, other sessions will include other stakeholders such as the water sport operators, cargo vessel operators, Port and Harbour operations, passenger vessels operators, ro-ro vessel operators and internal training for all sectors of the Port Department personnel,” said the Minister.
She said that this first symposium kicks off the government’s campaign to create a culture of safety in all facets of maritime operations, however, she said that the campaign will be sustained and expanded to all sectors in the Ministry of Transport and Aviation including road safety, aviation safety and safety in the workplace.
The ferryboat industry in Nassau Harbour started over 70 years ago with natives from Spanish Wells. The boats were constructed of wood. They all had glass bottoms; and were commonly called and known as “The Glass Bottom Boats”.
There were about 20 boats, at the beginning and they only worked for half year due to the tourism industry, when there were only a few cruise ships calling at the Port of Nassau, like the SS “Yarmouth Castle”, “Oceanic”, and “Rotterdam”. Passengers were transported from Prince George Dock, to the Holiday Inn dock at Hog Island (now called Paradise Island) and return. The transportation between Nassau and Paradise Island consisted of Harbour tour, which included the Sea Garden at the Eastern end of Paradise Island.
Today, the wooden boats have been replaced with fibreglass hulls, with only a few of them still operating with the glass bottom. They now operate all year, transporting passengers from Woodes Rogers Wharf, to their own terminal, The Ferryboat Terminal at Paradise Island.
The new Port Administration Building now stands in the location where the ferryboats originally operated.