Hopes high that Ritz-Carlton cruise ship could home port in Bermuda
Home porting could return to the island in 2024, according to the Minister of Transport.
Lawrence Scott, delivering his budget brief for 2022-23, said that while there were no home-porting cruises expected for this year, the Government was focused on a return to home porting as more small, luxury cruise ships come onto the market.
Mr Scott noted that the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection is scheduled to visit the island for a cruise in 2023, and Ritz-Carlton would home port in Bermuda once in 2024.
The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection website highlights a cruise from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Lisbon, Portugal with a stop in Bermuda in April 2023.
Meanwhile, the cruise line has listed a cruise from San Juan to Bermuda in March 2024, and a second cruise setting out from the island to Lisbon in April 2024.
Mr Scott said: “We are going to do everything within our powers to show them Bermudian hospitality, show them the worth, show them how valued their product would be here in Bermuda during home porting.”
He added that Ritz-Carlton had yachts that could visit all three of the island’s ports, and it was hoped that the company would do so in the future.
Mr Scott also said that cruise operators were interested in investing in Bermuda’s cruise ship infrastructure, but talks were still at a very early stage.
He said: “The seeds have been planted and the green shoots are sprouting through the soil right now.“
Mr Scott said the ministry intended to schedule the Orange Route ferry service, which links Dockyard and St George’s, around the cruise ships to make sure that the East End can make the most of the cruise ship season.
He added that the Orange Route would use ferries that are already in the Marine and Ports fleet rather than bring in a ferry from overseas.
Mr Scott also highlighted the introduction of electric buses to the island, and noted that further vehicles would be ordered this year.
He said: “By 2023, more than 50 per cent of the operational fleet of buses will be electric, and the average age of the fleet will be reduced from 12 years to six years.”
Mr Scott added that as the island transitions to “learning to live with” Covid-19 and the fleet grows, the ministry would stop providing independent transportation to school students once the number of operational buses reached 88.
He said that the digital fare system for the island’s bus system is still in the RFP process, but the ministry was “cautiously optimistic” about its potential.
Mr Scott said that in addition to allowing customers to easily pay for the bus, but it allows better data collection for the ministry.
He said: “Passenger counters are a game changer for DPT. Passenger counters will allow us to compare and contrast the different routes.”
Mr Scott said that while the new electric buses are not wheelchair accessible, the ministry is working with the Ministry of Social Development and Seniors to create a “paratransit network” for the island to provide on-demand service.
He said: “It's not something I anticipate coming this fiscal year, but it is something we are actively working on.”
Mr Scott said that the Government was also considering electrifying the island’s ferry service, although he said such an initiative was still in its infancy.
He said that while the budget for the Ministry of Transport Headquarters had increased from $15.5 million to $30 million — an increase of $14.5 million, or 94 per cent — much of that increase was due to the minimum revenue guarantee at the LF Wade International Airport.
Mr Scott said $11 million had been allocated for the MRG, while $4 million had been earmarked for air service development.
He said the goal was to spark “transformational change” in air service to the island by expanding into new markets while protecting existing markets such as Boston.