Minister eyes possible new cruise ship for Bermuda

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Transport Minister Terry Lister is in talks to attract “a new and exclusive” cruise ship line to Bermuda next year.

He told the House of Assembly he met with two executives from the unnamed cruise ship line last week.

The men were “very impressed with everything they saw”, Mr Lister said.

He showed the two bosses the “smooth-running” of Dockyard as passengers disembarked from cruise ships and boarded buses and ferries.

Mr Lister let the details of the secret talks slip when Opposition MPs put him on the spot about the “chaos” of bus and ferry schedules.

But he kept tight-lipped about the details, saying: “I’m not going to say anything more … not yet anyway.”

He would only tell members of the House that the cruise ship line would be a new name for the 2012 season.

Mr Lister said he met the executives in Dockyard on June 13.

He said they had flown to the Island the previous evening.

Mr Lister said: “We were discussing a deal that would be very attractive to Bermuda.

“They were walking around and taking notes. They were totally impressed.

“They said everyone has been so nice to us, everyone speaks to us so nicely.

“Of course I couldn’t have pre-arranged that, that’s just what happens, that’s what us Bermudians do best.”

A total of 385,200 cruise ship passengers are expected to visit Bermuda this season. Dockyard, Hamilton and St George are already served by Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, and NCL cruise lines and there are occasional visits from others.

Mr Lister said passengers were constantly telling him “the Bermuda cruise experience is superior to that anywhere else”.

He told the House he got goose bumps when he read the “very positive” comments about Bermuda on the Cruise Critic website.

He said many visitors praised the work of Gene and Dennis Outerbridge who “do a great job in organising everyone” as they disembark the cruise ships at King’s Wharf and Heritage Wharf.

When questioned further about what he had said in the House, Mr Lister said it would not be appropriate to say anything more, but he expected to make an announcement in due course.

He said yesterday: “On Friday my intention was to share the fact that cruise lines have very serious interest in Bermuda. I further wished to impress upon Members that the cruise ship operators have a very high level of confidence in the Bermuda product.”

On April 1 the bus service had its budget reduced by $1.3 million and the ferry service suffered a $2.3 million cut.

This led to various problems with bus and ferry cuts. A report on the USA Today website prompted an angry backlash from tourists threatening to stop visiting the Island and take their money elsewhere.

Shadow Transport Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin yesterday welcomed the news of an additional cruise ship line, but questioned whether a new ship would be better placed to dock in Hamilton rather than Dockyard.

The One Bermuda Alliance MP said: “I’m very pleased that cruise ships are willing to come to Bermuda and negotiations are taking place.

“But surely we need to be looking at attracting a new ship to Hamilton, that would be my main concern.

“Hamilton has effectively become a ghost town so my hope is that this new cruise ship line has a small ship that is available to come to Hamilton.

“If we are going to see another cruise ship in Dockyard we surely have to examine the breaking point of the infrastructure. We are struggling to get people from A to B as it is.”

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Published Jun 21, 2011 at 8:29 am (Updated Jun 21, 2011 at 8:27 am)

Minister eyes possible new cruise ship for Bermuda

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