Is the 2013 cruise season under threat?
Stakeholders in the cruise industry are concerned that essential modifications to the Dockyard wharf will not be completed in time for the new Breakaway class cruise ship that is scheduled to arrive for its first call on May 15.
Sources who are familiar with the Dockyard wharves revealed that the seawall on which the Heritage Wharf sits has also been destabilised by marine construction work undertaken to create Marine and Ports docking area for their vessels on the basin side of the north arm. In addition there is damage to the other side of the sea wall that has been caused by cruise ship thruster engines.
Local agents for the cruise industry are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach, but stakeholders acknowledged privately that there is deep concern that the wharf will not be ready in time, because of the scope of work that needs to be done.
One said: “The Breakaway is scheduled to come in on May 15. It has got to be done by then. They are selling tickets for that cruise ship now.”
The new ship is operated by Norwegian Cruise Line, which is represented by Meyer Agencies. Vice president of marine operations Joe Semos said: “It’s cutting it really close — fingers crossed that the wharf will be ready in time.”
He said there were concerns about weather delaying the completion date for the construction work, which other sources had said could take as long as six months, depending on the scope of the work.
Bermuda cruise industry stakeholders attended a meeting yesterday to conduct a post mortem on the past season and to begin to look forward to the 2013 season.
Reportedly, there were assurances by Transport Ministry officials that the wharf would be ready in time.
And Blair Simmons, who heads up Princess and Aide cruise lines agency Bermuda Ship Agencies said: “At this stage it is too early to say what the impact will be on the season.”
He explained that it is the Government’s responsibility to ensure that the wharves are in good condition. “But we’ll keep pushing for answers,” he said.
A Ministry of Public Works spokesman had said last week that the firm Mott MacDonald Ltd has been commissioned to undertake a structural assessment of King’s Wharf and Heritage Wharf in Ireland Island to determine the docks’ capacities to accommodate the latest cruise ships in production by NCL and the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.
He said: “In accordance with provisions set out in its contract with the Government of Bermuda, Mott MacDonald Ltd will carry out investigation reports, full detailed structural assessment, (a) feasibility study for modifications and detailed design of the improvement works with respect to both Heritage and Kings Wharf.
One Royal Gazette source felt a damage assessment of the wall was not part of the Mott MacDonald scope of works, however another thought that it was.
A $148,750 consultancy contract to Mott MacDonald Ltd for the Dockyard wharves was announced in the Official Gazette on November 28, and the contract itself was dated September 11.
Government officials from The Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Works and Engineering would not comment for this story yesterday. There was no response from NCL at press time.