Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bermuda Government Welcomes Cruise Ships Again

Over the years, the cruise industry and the Bermuda Government have had a love hate relationship. When the cruise ships sails to Bermuda, the local hotels and restaurants complain because, cruise passengers sleep and eat on board the ships - leaving hotel rooms and restaurants empty. Rightfully so since passengers are using the beaches and attractions but generating very little revenue. The government reacts by limiting the number of ships calling at the island in hopes that hotel bookings will increase. When they restrict the number of ships, a good number of tourists find the hotels and eateries very expensive and opt not to go to Bermuda at all.

After a year or two of lost revenue or reduced tourism, Bermuda welcomes the cruise ships and their passengers back.

Last year Bermuda decided that they no longer wanted ships to call at St. George and Hamilton. All ship calls would be at the Royal Navy Dockyard and passengers would have to ferry to Hamilton or St. George - if wishing to visit those locations. Mid-way through the year, the Bermuda Government, in a turn of events, started a major effort to attract upscale cruise lines back to Hamilton and St. George. This effort did attract some upscale cruise lines to make occasional calls at these locations, but none on a regular basis.

In 2008 and 2009, only 4 ships will regularly call at Bermuda for more than one day. Changing their minds, the Bermuda Government decided that they wanted to welcome the cruise lines back, offering to allow cruise lines to open up their casinos in port after 10:00 PM. Casinos are a major source of on-board revenue for cruise lines. Previously the casinos would need to remain closed until the ship left port.

In 2010, two additional ships will be calling at Bermuda, spending extended time in the port. The Veendam will be the only ship offering calls at both St. George and Hamilton, while Celebrity Cruises will be returning to Bermuda after a 3 year absence calling at the Royal Navy Dockyard. Celebrity Cruises Summit will be sailing from Cape Liberty, Bayonne, NJ and Holland America's Veendam will be sailing from Manhattan.

These 2 ships will be calling at Bermuda, in addition to, the Norwegian Dawn (from NY), Norwegian Spirit (From Boston), Grandeur of the Seas (from Baltimore & Norfolk, Va) and Explorer of the Seas (From Cape Liberty, Bayonne, NJ) which are expected to continue to sail to the port thru 2010.

With 6 ships having extended stays at Bermuda, it is anticipated that cruise fares may drop in 2010 to this popular cruise destination.

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