Disney Cruise Line Officially Makes Proposal for Lighthouse Point Development

Ahead of the Labor Day holiday weekend, on Friday, August 31, 2018, Disney Cruise Line officials led by President of Disney Signature Experiences Jeff Vahle presented a development proposal for the Lighthouse Point site to the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC). According to multiple reports, this meeting was at the request of Disney. Disney Vice President of Animals, Science and Environment Mark R. Penning and Vice President of Public Affairs Kim Prunty also presented during the meeting.

Castaway Cay is nearly at capacity during the busy season. Disney Cruise Line is seeking to add a second managed destination in the Bahamas at Lighthouse point to keep up with demand when the fleet expands with the at least 2 of the new LNG ships sailing from Port Canaveral in addition to the future deployment of the Dream and Fantasy with one of the ships sailing year-round from Miami.

In a statement from BCCEC to the Nassau Guardian, Vahle presented chamber directors with a preliminary overview of Disney Cruise Line’s plans for Lighthouse Point with specific discussions on the design, development, economic, and environmental impact on South Eleuthera. Disney’s presentation also included plans for public access to the site and conservation objectives.

Sam Duncombe of re-Earth Bahamas suggested to Eyewitness News that Disney should share the existing port at Princess Cay, Eleuthera and for the country to invest in more diverse models for development.

BCCEC chief executive Edison Sumner confirmed the meeting to Tribune 242 and asserted additional meetings with other stakeholders, including Bahamas National Trust and One Eleuthera Foundation.

Earlier this summer, a town hall was held without Disney representation to “Disney’s proposal” for development.

Lighthouse Point Town Hall Handout Conceputal Land Use August 2018

Conceptual land-use at Lighthouse Point

We reached out to Disney for comment on this meeting and will update this article if we hear back from the cruise line. In the meantime, we’d love to hear what you have to think about the potential development of a second managed destination for Disney Cruise Line at Lighthouse Point.

25 Replies to “Disney Cruise Line Officially Makes Proposal for Lighthouse Point Development”

  1. Philip

    I like the idea of a second destination. Would love to do both in one trip, but that is probably too much to hope for. I suspect the blog will light up again with the anti development comments. I understand them, but it is to some extent unavoidable. Better to work with them to get a good compromise.

  2. ProsperityAndCalamities

    Do you know why they wouldn’t develop the rest of Castaway Cay or even just the other side of it? I’d imagine they have really good reasons, like maybe it’s too shallow or wouldn’t work for other reasons but I would think that would have been the easiest/fastest option.

    1. Philip

      I would expect it has something to do with needing a second spot to dock. I am only 2 for 5 attempts at getting on the island. Winds were always a problem for docking in March.

    2. Sean

      I had heard that their contract with Bahamas only allows them to develop a certain % of Castaway Cay, In order to keep the island as natural as possible. Don’t know if it is true, but would explain a lot.

  3. Lars

    Very disappointing if they’ll send additional ships to the Bahamas / Caribbean. Was hoping they’ll use the new capacities to explore new destinations.

  4. Eric

    Those Bahamian and Caribbean cruises are Disney’s bread and butter. You have to think, however, that they would place a ship in Asia or maybe a different European itinerary??

  5. BartmanLA

    Asia I believe is just too cost prohibitive, too expensive to fly to Asia then pay for a Disney cruise then fly home again. Also while cruise lines do operate there, many of them make their biggest profit on those sailings from the casinos, unless Disney would put one on one of their ships the drive to sail with DCL wouldn’t really be there as that is probably the #1 reason most people sail on the ships in Asia or that part of the world.

    1. Kevin

      Asia is a growing cruise market. With three Disney parks in Asia there is a base market for cruises there. I see people from this region on my cruises all the time so it seems man are actually flying here to go on a Disney cruise.

  6. Ed Anderson

    Great way to completely ruin one if the most beautiful places on earth. I’m sure the view from the Point to a five story ship berthed to the west would be spectacular though…

  7. Kristel

    I am a long time resident of Eleuthera, where Lighthouse Point is located, and married to a Bahamian. You need to understand what an ecologically sensitive area this is. Locals are petitioning to make this a National Park… and this would be the best purpose for this land. I am a cruiser and have been to Disney World several times, so I am not anti-cruise or anti-Disney. My family also survives off our tour business which interacts with Princess Cays. Lighthouse Point just not the right location for any cruise ship port. In addition, this is a poor area. The locals need jobs. While Disney promises jobs, if you do your research, you will see historically that the jobs offered decrease in volume over time until it is mostly all crew off the ship who are working the port, Also, this spot is so idyllic – and so remote, that guests will not be tempted to venture beyond the port and infuse the locals with their vacation dollars. Whereas a National Park with an eco-lodge and other amenities would provide long term, full time better paying jobs. This is why the locals are fighting it. If this goes through with Disney, it is NOT what the majority of locals and stay vacationers want, it is because Bahamas government has something to gain. Please think of what this means to the local environment and to the local people. If you really want to see the Bahamas that badly, come to our island, stay for a week and really see what it’s like to be in a tropical paradise. http://www.savelighthousepoint.com

  8. Jane

    This is an environmentally sensitive area and a national treasure for Bahamians. As a 24 year visitor and Home owner for 13 years, currently a winter resident, I believe that this is the wrong approach. I have seen the Princess Cay cruise spot and it doesn’t offer the Bahamians much of anything in terms of jobs, and does not offer cruisers a true Bahamian experience. It is arificial and controlled. The One Eleuthera Foundationhas the right idea. The are can be developed. But not with a cruise port, boat slips, or any dredging, the world is loosing area such as this as a rapid pace and the Bahamas has seen too many dreams die here, with wrecks and runs all over. Natural habitat destroyed and then left. This is not what the country needs, although the area could be partially and sensitively developed, providing much needed jobs in this area. This about it. For short term pleasure, do we sacrifice long term heritage?

  9. Katherine

    I agree, Disney would do better going to another place to attract more customers, a place like Cuba or The Cayman Islands. There is no need to destroy a beautiful place, specially since there is so much that they would ruin. I can’t even imagine the ecological impact.

  10. Robin

    I vote with Kristel. Disney’s investment in their new cruise ships make securing a second port in the Bahamas/Caribbean a must. Bahamas is the logical choice because it is so near thus cheap to get to, and because of their expanse of drop dead gorgeous supply of sun,sea and sand. Disney is putting the big time moves on Eleuthera and their residents to win them over, but as Kristel said, these jobs vaporize into thin air down the road. Check out Castaway Cay employment video for example. Disney is simply barking up the wrong tree, and trying to force their way into (and onto) an extremely sensitive ecosystem that supports every plant habitat found in the Bahamas except one. It is home to 8 species of plants that are found only in the Bahamas and no where else in the world. This parcel of land contains within its borders a hyper-saline pond, very rare, which has been used by scientists studying species adaptation. The pond is said to contain stromatolites, earths oldest living organisms. I can go on and on and usually do. I just can’t see 3500 people coming off a cruise ship on an average day and this area not ending up like all the rest: a pretty, if not somewhat sterilized tropical spot that has a sadly desiccated feel to it.

  11. Kelly Arkles

    I am not a cruiser…this is no knock on anyone who is. A good chunk of family and friends love to cruise and I respect that. My husband and I have typically always been stay over vacationers (well, with the exception of some all-inclusives which may not count :). We love the ability to freely roam the land, with no specific agenda. We love interacting with the locals and experiencing the culture…on our own time.

    I grew up going to Disney World (since it was just the Magic Kingdom and I was just a little baby on my dad’s back in a baby carrier screaming bloody murder at the mirrors in the Haunted Mansion), been there many times since, got engaged there, got to be there for the first time my nieces experienced it…I truly have the fondest of memories with Disney. Furthermore, I have a Christmas tree dedicated to Disney ornaments that has taken YEARS to collect.

    I could never imagine that I would be fighting so hard against Disney. BUT I AM!

    Here’s why…these Out Islands of the Bahamas are truly the most beautiful places I have EVER been to (been to Eleuthera, where Lighthouse Point is located and to Exuma). And that is just two of them! Their environments are still so very innocent, untouched and yet so very majestic. They are their own form of magic with no further alterations necessary…in fact, any alterations would be devastating. I have read that astronauts claim the Bahamian waters to be the most beautiful that they see from space. Yet, the Bahamas is now being overrun with cruise line expectations, acquisitions, developments…I feel it needs to stop somewhere and Lighthouse Point is where it needs to STOP! If big money takes over the Bahamas, I promise you…you will miss out on something so spectacular. Most importantly, the Bahamians will lose so much of their land, their freedom to create their own economic prosperity and their heritage. They already have…this proposal would just multiply their loss.

    I stand strong…Lighthouse Point is NOT worth losing! Not to Disney…not to any big corporate machine only wanting to make profits for themselves and their stakeholders. It belongs in the hands of the Bahamians and available for ALL to enjoy. Every…single…inch of it!

    I agree with Kristel above, please PLEASE look at http://www.savelighthousepoint.com. Watch the videos, see what this all means to people (both locals and visitors)…STAY there as a true visitor exploring the entire island. You will NOT regret it. Eleuthera is simply stunning!

    Another supporting site is https://lighthousepoint-pc.org. It is a central location where news and research is being maintained for public education.

  12. linda a knowles

    As a resident of Eleuthera and a strong opponent of Disney’s proposed plan I can say with certainty there is alot of mounting Bahamian opposition to it. There is a growing signed petition of 26,000 persons This is in addition to a number of respectable local Bahamian civic organizations . Our high school is also another vocal opponent. Disney tried to wrangle into another Eleutheran Island: Egg Island, a much smaller island a few years ago and abandoned this venture due to negative ecological consequences. Now, they’re back trying again here with promises of very limited jobs. The fact is Lighthouse point is a spectacular site that needs be maintained for the Bahamian people and those visitors that are awed by its natural beauty . Sustainable ecological development is possible on a small scale without the proposed dredging, destroying sea beds, filling in mangroves for a golf course ,etc. etc .Eleuthera is a very unique place for its natural beauty. These large developments do not belong here. It goes without saying that Disney has alot of resources, however at what cost to us?

  13. Sharon Culmer

    Sharon Pinder-Culmer. Sept 14/2018

    I am a Bahamian & I live in Eleuthera, so I see firsthand the hardships of Eleutherans having a job to support their family..it’s tough! I agree with Kristel that Lighthouse Point is absolutely not the right place for a cruise port. There is all the marine life, important reefs & breeding grounds in the Mangroves for Grouper, Crawfish just to name a few species. It is against our law to remove or damage mangroves for the reason that they are breeding grounds & are sacred to Bahamians. So many micro organisms live in the reefs & are vital to the survival of other marine life..it’s the chain of life! Disney is going to dredge to accommodate their huge ships & from experience of the devastation they created & abandoned at Great Guana cay in Abaco, within the first few minutes of dredging, the reefs, Coral heads & marine life will start dying. Once the reefs are DEAD, they are dead forever! This means no marine life left in the area, fishing tours will stop.. no fish!
    The jobs that Disney promises for our people in South Eleuthera will likely be menial eg sweeping, cleaning, as per how Disney treats the Bahamians at Castaway Cay in Abaco. The job will only be for a couple days a week, minimum wage, whereas if One Eleuthera is allowed to develop a National Park, the jobs will be in a higher wages bracket & for the whole week.
    Lighthouse Point is an historical place for Bahamians & is a sacred, spiritual place if pristine beauty that would be desecrated & destroyed by being a cruise port.
    Remember we have Disney’s history in the Bahamas to show us that once they obtain what their greed dictates, they change the plans they started with, & the Bahamians & the area they have ruined suffer greatly!
    I would prefer Disney forget about the Bahamas, but if they insist, then make a deal with Princess cruise line to enlarge & share their dock at Princess Cay, a little distance away from Lighthouse Point. Please come to Eleuthera, stay in one of our delightful Settlements & visit the whole island & really see why we love our island, see the Glass window Bridge, Queens baths, Ocean Hole, Blue Hole, Caves, pristine beaches & so much more than you will experience in a plasticized cruise port.

  14. Sadly gamble

    I am a Bahamian and am hoping that no one ever ruins Lighthouse Point.
    A cruise port or any big development will forever change this place of natural beauty, history and culture.
    Over 26,000 people have signed a petition asking the Government of the Bahamas not to approve this … Please this is our home.

  15. Claire Cash

    Please leave my country alone Disney. Each time you have come here and done this destination crap u have left a complete disaster behind. Particularly the ones involving the horses that had to be rescued by locals and at our expense. Leave lighthouse point alone. U cannot improve upon perfection.

  16. Valerie Nathan

    As a frequent visitor to the Bahamas, and to the island of Eleuthera, I am disapppinted to learn that Disney wants to develop Lightthouse Point. It is a pristine coastal wilderness and should be preserved as a national park. Improve the road system to this spot so that more people can visit it and treasure it as it is, not via a cruise ship infracstructure with all the commercial development and shoreline destruction that accompanies it. I live in a cruise ship port. The air pollution alone from these beasts is a huge issue and the people who visit from cruise ships are here to grab aa few pictures, buy some trinkets from tourist shops and then then never spend another moment thinking it about one of the most beautiful places in earth as they head off to the next port and do the exact same thing . Please do not grant Disney’s wish in the name of economic development. Embrace environmental tourism by making it possible to see and value nature as it is meant to be.

  17. Robin Carson

    Hey there Scotty!! How about you post all the replies to this topic. I’ve noticed that a number of posts are not showing up, all seemingly in the “no” camp, against Disney’s plan. Didn’t you ask for opinions? Is this not a topic that allows debate or the freely sharing of opinions?

    1. Scott Sanders Post author

      Robin, I’ve approved every single comment that has been submitted for or against development at Lighthouse Point and even Egg Island. The only comments that do not get approved on this website are those that are truly spam. The pending comments for this article and a few others unrelated were all submitted to the website after 6PM on Friday. I apologize for being away from my computer this weekend, but I do like spending time with my family. If you read through the comments across the various articles, you will see most are against development and that I am not withholding or deleting comments. All comments to this website are placed in a pending status unless the user has already had previous comments approved, this is a spam protection policy I have in place. I can only assume there is a group submitted comments considering the awareness of unpublished comments, please let everyone know the comments have been approved and that I welcome everyone’s opinion.

      1. Robin Carson

        No problem. I appreciate the explanation and apologize. It was simply looking a little questionable. I don’t deny anyone their right to their own time and especially with family. Appreciate both the reply and the evenhandedness in dealing with the replies.

  18. Matthew

    As an international traveler and Eleuthera visitor (visiting Eleuthera every year for 8 years), I have witness corporations like Disney robbed the nature, destroyed the authentic culture, and abandoned the damages on local residences. That’s why I avoid these tourism area. This lighthouse property should be a National park and marine reserve because of its cherished beauty and unique. Kudos to Kristel’s comment above. She nailed everything and we are on same page.

  19. davisson2

    I would certainly be a crime to loose the beautiful Lighthouse Beach to Cruise ship development which really doesn’t do much for local employment and restricts the area from public access. Maybe they could rekindle the old Cape Eleuthera location to the north which has deep water and some existing infrastructure including an abandoned airstrip and golf course.


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