Cruise lines told Heritage Wharf will be ready
Officials in Bermuda have told Norwegian Cruise Line that the Heritage Wharf will be ready in time for their new Breakaway cruise ship, which is scheduled to dock there for the first time on May 15.
And in a Progressive Labour Party press conference yesterday, Transport Minister Walter Roban did not address the Heritage Wharf construction issues.
He said of the two-year-old facility: “We created the new Heritage Wharf which has brought in over $100 million in revenue, meeting our expectations and earning revenue well beyond what we paid for it.”
But deep concern was expressed by cruise industry stakeholders at the end of last week after news broke that modifications to the wharf had not commenced, and in addition the seawall on which the wharf sits is unstable.
The work to modify the wharf could take as long as six months and cost as much as $10 million according to sources close to the marine construction industry, but that did not include the work to fix the sea wall.
Sources who are familiar with the Dockyard wharves revealed that the seawall on which the Heritage Wharf sits had been destabilised by marine construction work undertaken to create a Marine and Ports docking area on the basin side of the north arm.
There is also erosional damage to the other side of the sea wall caused by cruise ship thruster engines.
NCL was contacted by this newspaper last Friday, and a response from them about the Heritage Wharf problems arrived yesterday afternoon.
AnneMarie Mathews, vice president of public relations at Norwegian Cruise Line, said: “Bermuda officials have assured us that improvements being made to the pier for Norwegian Breakaway will be done in time for the ship’s arrival in May 2013.”
She did not respond to the news that the sea wall on which the Heritage Wharf sits is unstable, and its impact on their plans for the NCL’s Bermuda-bound cruise ships and the upcoming cruise ship season.
Stakeholders in the cruise industry are worried that the modifications and repairs to the Dockyard wharf will not be completed in time for the Breakaway’s scheduled first call.
One had 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.”
And in a stakeholders meeting Transport Ministry officials assured those in attendance that the wharf would be ready in time.
However, stakeholders acknowledged privately that there is still real concern that the wharf will not be ready in time, because of the scope of work that needs to be done, and local agents for the cruise industry contacted last week that they are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach.
The new NCL cruise ship is represented by Meyer Agencies, whose vice president of marine operations Joe Semos had said: “It’s cutting it really close — fingers crossed that the wharf will be ready in time.”
The Royal Gazette reported last week that a Ministry of Public Works spokesman had said last week that the firm Mott MacDonald Ltd will do a structural assessment of King’s Wharf and Heritage Wharf in Ireland Island to determine their capacities to accommodate the new NCL and the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ships.
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.
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