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Event Recap: BCCEC Power Brunch with Royal Caribbean International

The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC), in partnership with Royal Caribbean International (RCI), hosted a lively and informative Power Brunch on board the Freedom of the Seas on June 27th.

The event gathered around 200 attendees who learned about the opportunities to participate in RCI's $100 million Paradise Island Beach Club development.

BCCEC Chair Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson emphasized that such events foster greater dialogue by making information more accessible to the business community. She also highlighted that the Power Brunch coincided with MSME (Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises) Day, designated by the United Nations to recognize the contributions of small businesses.

Rutherford-Ferguson stressed the significance of MSMEs, which represent 90 percent of all businesses and contribute two-thirds of global business. She noted that when adequately supported, they can drive sustainable economic growth, promote job creation, and contribute to equitable economic development.

Rutherford-Ferguson expressed the BCCEC's long-standing belief in the vital role of MSMEs in the Bahamian economy. She emphasized the need for a paradigm shift and working together with other stakeholders to provide opportunities that spur growth, expand businesses, and support local communities. Mrs. Rutherford-Ferguson expressed her satisfaction with the BCCEC's partnership with RCI, which has been a patron sponsor of the BCCEC for the past five years.

Russell Benford, Vice President of Government Affairs in the Americas for the Royal Caribbean group, highlighted RCI's commitment to growing its business in The Bahamas. He stated that RCI brings more cruise passengers annually to The Bahamas than any other cruise line.

Samantha Rolle, the Access Accelerator’s Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) executive director underscored the significance of the partnership between the SBDC, BCCEC, and Royal Caribbean. is highly significant. She noted that along with other stakeholders the SBDC has provided access to business training, advisory services, networking, and capital amounting to $78 million to date. She noted that the SBDC has its reach across 40 plus industries and 15 islands in the country.

Jay Schneider, RCI’s Chief Product Innovation Officer provided attendees with a compressive overview of RCI’s plans for the beach club and emphasized the importance of The Bahamas as a destination for Royal Caribbean. The company which has a relationship with The Bahamas dating back 50 years plans to open the beach club in the summer of 2025.

According to Schneider, RCI is currently focused on securing its environmental clearance and hopes to commence construction in its beach club development in the second quarter of 2024. Royal Caribbean International (RCI) has appointed well-known businessman Philip Simon as president of its proposed Royal Beach Club project.

“We are thrilled about the development and growth of Royal Caribbean in The Bahamas,” said Schneider. Schneider noted that RCI plans to increase the overall number of cruise visitors it brings to Nassau to 2.5 million by 2027. Of that, one million will have the option to visit the beach club, leaving 1.5 million to explore other attractions.

Royal Caribbean International has announced that its newest Oasis-class ship, Utopia of the Seas, will have a dedicated sailing itinerary to The Bahamas, bringing 15,000 passengers per week.

According to Schneider, there will be numerous opportunities for local businesses during construction and through the long-term operation of the beach club for local businesses and entrepreneurs to participate and manage the beach club experience. Royal Caribbean is also committed to helping scale up businesses interested in participating in the development.

For more details on the Royal Beach Club development visit

Check out the BCCEC Photo Gallery for photos of the event >>>

Pictured from left to right:

Samantha Rolle - Executive Director, Access Accelerator SBDC, Russell Benford - Vice President, Government Relations, Americas Royal Caribbean Group, Wendy McDonald -Regional Vice President, Government Relations, Caribbean Royal Caribbean Group, Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson -BCCEC Chairman, Timothy Ingraham - BCCEC Vice Chairman, Antoinette Russell - BCCEC Director and Charnette Thompson - BCCEC Director

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