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LUXURY BAHAMAS ESCAPES: Q&A WITH JOY JIBRILU, DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE BAHAMAS MINISTRY OF TOURISM

One-of-a-Kind Experiences in the Islands of The Bahamas

Like many of our guests, we have been waiting for the day our ships can return to the seas and explore the world’s special places. After more than a year of anticipation, waiting and planning, we are at the beginning of a bright and promising future, and it’s as bright as the Bahamian sunshine. Crystal Serenity recently celebrated the relaunch of its cruise operation on July 3rd with the carefully crafted Luxury Bahamas Escapes itinerary. We have been working with our Bahamian partners to design shoreside experiences that explore these treasured destinations in line with each island’s unique culture and environment.

One key person in the partnership is the Director General of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Joy Jibrilu. Since 2014, she has dedicated herself to promoting The Bahamas and the unmatched tropical experience the islands have to offer. In 2019, Joy was recognized for her impressive achievements after hurricane Dorian struck The Bahamas and was named Caribbean Tourism Director of The Year by the Caribbean Travel Awards. Over the last year, Joy and her office have continued to work tirelessly through challenging times, partnering with key tourism stakeholders to determine the most successful and safe approach to receiving visitors during the pandemic.

After a yearlong hiatus and months of planning, Director General Joy and her colleagues are thrilled to welcome Crystal Cruises back to The Bahamas – with Crystal Serenity’s Luxury Bahamas Escapes cruises depart round-trip from Nassau every Saturday and round-trip from Bimini every Sunday from July through November 7, 2021. We are so happy to have Joy share her insights as Director General of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism on the return to travel and what it means for the islands of The Bahamas.

  • Nassau, Bahamas

Q: How has tourism been impacted in The Bahamas over the last year, and how has it affected the islands?

DG: In 2019, we welcomed a record-breaking 5.4 million visitors arriving by cruise. Therefore, the shutdown of the cruise industry has naturally contributed to a significant reduction in our tourism business. That said, The Bahamas continues to show its resilience in the face of challenges and is very well positioned as travel restrictions ease, travelers have greater access to vaccinations and the groundswell of pent-up demand for vacation experiences hits a fever pitch. 

Q: How has The Bahamas adapted to safely receive visitors who travel to the islands?

DG: To protect the health and safety of citizens, residents and visitors, The Bahamas has implemented on-island guidelines, protocols and preventative measures to help curb the spread of COVID-19. These measures are comprehensive, have proven effective, and have been well received by consumers and tourism partners alike. Our measures continue to be revised and updated as the pandemic evolves. Most recently, it was announced that fully vaccinated travelers no longer require a COVID-19 PCR test to enter the country, which we expect will further open the door to an increase in tourism.  

Q: How will Crystal Cruises’ reentry into the Caribbean Sea impact The Bahamas?

DG: Crystal Cruises will operate in a Bahamas bubble, so to speak – meaning that the itinerary is exclusive to islands within The Bahamas, including Nassau, Bimini, Great Exuma, San Salvador and Long Island – we are optimistic that each sailing will go a long way toward helping local businesses, including excursion and tour operators, to get back to work offering experiences that showcase our beautiful islands.

Q: What elements of the Crystal Serenity’s Luxury Bahamas Escapes itinerary are most exciting to you?

DG: There are so many exciting elements that it is hard to name just one. I am most excited for guests to see the unique personalities of our Out Islands. Many people don’t know that The Bahamas is an archipelago with 16 major islands and over hundreds of cays. There are hidden gems to be discovered as passengers visit various islands on the itineraries, and they’ll quickly find out that they are each special in their own way.

Q: Can you tell us something about each of the islands on the Luxury Bahamas Escapes itinerary?

DG: Absolutely – as I mentioned, each island has its own unique personality and different experiences for which it is known, with so much for guests to explore:

  1. NASSAU: Nassau/Paradise Island is the tourism hub of The Bahamas booming, with numerous luxury resorts, casinos, dining, shopping and a vibrant nightlife, yet still holds true to the authentic Bahamian culture.
  2. EXUMA: Visitors flock to The Exumas for yachting, sailing, fishing, scuba diving and exploring the blue holes, as well as its shallow waters, spectacular reefs and shipwrecks. Not to mention, a visit to Big Major Cay is not to be missed – as it’s the official home of the swimming pigs, where visitors have a once-in-a-lifetime experience to swim with The Exumas’ most famous four-legged animals.
  3. SAN SALVADOR: SanSalvador is a premier scuba diving destination – offering diverse terrain including rolling hills, secluded beaches, salt-water lakes and lively reefs, which make for ideal diving sites.
  4. LONG ISLAND: Long Island is one of the most scenic hideaways in The Islands of The Bahamas, offering excellent fishing, diving, boating and natural beauty. Long Island is perhaps most known for Dean’s Blue Hole, which draws free divers from around the globe to compete to see who can dive the deepest in what may be the deepest landlocked blue hole in the world.
  5. BIMINI: Bimini is a peaceful, quaint getaway with a hint of adventure. North Bimini Island and South Bimini Island make up the two main islands, and the destination is known as the “Big Game Fishing Capital of the World”.

Q: How do you feel about the future of tourism in The Bahamas?

DG: Travel has a higher purpose as we continue to emerge from this past year – to help heal the travelers. Our country has so much to offer to travelers with varied interests and comfort levels as they decide where to go in the brighter days ahead. The Bahamas is well-positioned as the closest Caribbean destination to the United States, perfect for short escapes as vacationers toe-dip back into travel, and its many islands feature unique vacation offerings to suit each traveler’s unique needs, spanning varied budgets and experiences. We are very optimistic about the future of tourism in The Bahamas and excited to welcome visitors with open arms to remind them why It’s Better in The Bahamas.

Crystal is committed to helping revive tourism in The Bahamas as the world begins to explore once again. Our presence in the islands of The Bahamas is carefully planned together with our Bahamian partners to ensure the very best experience for both Crystal guests and local communities.

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Posted on May 26, 2017

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