Royal Caribbean's $200 million dollar expansion plan for CocoCay island in the Bahamas has drawn sharp criticism from environmental activists who say the upgrades could harm the archipelago's ecosystem.
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The founder of Oceanic Global Foundation, Lea d'Auriol, said, “Royal Caribbean’s renovation plan is promoting an influx of tourism without taking proper measures to ensure sustainability and responsible consumption on the island.”
She believes the expansion plan could be “catastrophic” for the surrounding environment due to a significant increase in plastic pollution and marine debris.
Marcie Keever, director of Friends of the Earth's ocean and vessels program, said “What we continue to see is that the cruise lines care about their bottom line and not necessarily about the places they are travelling to and from...A lot of the cruise lines own their own islands in the Caribbean and they’re contributing to climate change. The cruise industry, in general, is a big polluter. The bigger the ships get, the more pollution they generate.”
Scheduled for completion in 2019, Royal Caribbean's upgrades will result in one of the largest water parks and biggest freshwater pools in the region, as well as the Caribbean's most extensive wave pool and the tallest waterslide in North America, according to the Observer. It will also boast a 1,600-foot zip line and helium balloon rides affording visitors a panoramic, bird's-eye view of the island.
The Berry Islands, the archipelago where CocoCay is located, is where developers will undertake the expansion. When complete, the island will be renamed Perfect Day at CocoCay.
Previously called Little Stirrup Cay, Coco Cay has been privately owned by Royal Caribbean for the past three decades and can only be accessed by the cruise ship. It offers white sand and blue sea water as far as the eye can see for affluent vacationers.