Premier: Cruise arrivals signal a 'truly epic' day for Bermuda
Royal Naval Dockyard burst into life this morning as thousands of cruise passengers from two luxury liners flooded into the historic fortress port.
On a day described by Premier Craig Cannonier as "truly epic", the old Royal Navy base was transformed into a carnival of colour as disembarking passengers were greeted with complimentary cups of rum swizzle, while calypso music pumped out from the quayside and gombey dancers performed energetic routines.
The record-breaking mega-ship Norwegian Breakaway glided gracefully into Bermuda this morning after a two-day maiden voyage from New York.
The giant 'city on the sea' - the largest liner ever to call on the Island - was guided gently into Royal Naval Dockyard by a Marine & Ports pilot boat and crew led by pilot Rudy Cann, easing up alongside the newly completed Heritage Wharf on schedule just before 8am.
The 18-deck monster, laden with 5,300 passengers and crew, dwarfed the usually dominant twin clock towers of the port.
Breakaway was joined shortly after by Celebrity Cruises' Summit, which berthed alongside her at King's Wharf. She was carrying an additional 2,100 passengers and 1,000 crew.
Despite the early hour, Dockyard was already teaming with activity before the first passengers had stepped ashore. An armada of taxis queued up for fares, while tour operators and concession stands were already open for business.
"This is a blessing for Bermuda," taxi operator Renalda Bean said as the first of an estimated 5,800 passengers from the two liners stepped ashore just before 9am.
"It's been a very slow winter so we're definitely looking forward to a busy day."
Fellow driver Millard Lightbourne, who has worked in the tourism industry for more than 50 years, was also eager to get to work.
"Some of us have been down here since five or six o'clock this morning so that we could get ahead in the line," Mr Lightbourne, 71, said.
"We've got two cruise ships in at the same time so we're going to be busy. But the new layout here will help us out a lot. There were some problems with it early on but with everyone working together we're off to a good start."
Joyce Joell-Hayden was one of a team of senior visitor ambassadors on hand to direct tourists and answer questions.
"I'm a people person. I just love talking to people so I'm really looking forward to the day," Mrs Joell-Hayden said.
Premier Cannonier led a welcoming party which included Tourism and Transport Minister Shawn Crockwell and Public Works Minister Trevor Moniz.
A clearly ecstatic Premier said: "You can just feel the enthusiasm and excitement that this maiden voyage brings. It's a fantastic thing." He urged visitors to "enjoy what we consider to be the most beautiful people in the world".
"Enjoy them and the natural beauty of our Country.”
Mr Crockwell thanked everyone who worked "extremely hard and made today a reality".
"They have made a magnificent effort which everyone in Bermuda can be proud," he said.
"I would like extend a warm welcome to the passengers and crew of the Breakaway. You are the most important people in this whole day. I encourage you to come ashore and explore our lovely Island, experience our attractions, and see why Bermuda is so much more."
By 10am a steady stream of visitors was snaking its way from the two wharfs before flooding into the open areas of Dockyard. Queues quickly formed as passengers lined up to take ferries to Hamilton and St George's and roads became choked with buses and taxis.
Nancy and Bob Poole, from New Jersey, were looking forward to getting to know the Island once again.
The retired couple last visited 15 years ago, and once sailed here in their own boat.
"The food was a lot better this time around," joked Mr Poole.
"We just love Bermuda - its friendliness and its charm. Bermuda has class, not crass."
Another couple were delighted to make it on to dry land without having to take a tender from offshore.
"We've been following the progress of the wharf for months and are just glad that it's ready on time," Don Reantillo, 49, from Long Island said.
"The voyage was awesome - just phenomenal," his wife Carolyn added.
Breakaway and Summit will remain in Bermuda for three days before returning to New York on Friday evening.
For more pictures of her arrival click here
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