‛Homeporting’ provides many opportunities for Bermuda
“In the cruise industry the term home port is also often used in reference to the port in which a ship will take on/change over the majority of its passengers while taking on stores, supplies and fuel.”
“A cruise ship company yesterday announced that it will homeport a ship in Bermuda, offering seven-day cruises to a private island in the Bahamas. A report in The Maritime Executive says that the move by Royal Caribbean International will start on June 26 and run to August.”
— The Royal Gazette, March 24, 2021
“Bermuda ... would offer cruise ships the chance to sail to any of the private islands in the Caribbean and back again within one week cruise or offer cruises to nowhere.”
After much behind-the-scenes work, phone calls, videoconferences, then more work, more phone calls and more videoconferences, the Minister of Transport, Lawrence Scott, aided by his permanent secretary, Jasmine Smith, and Stacy Evans, was able to proudly announce that Bermuda would become the home port for at least two cruise lines.
Royal Caribbean, which is synonymous with Caribbean cruises, will base at least one ship in Bermuda within a few months.
Another cruise line will also base at least one ship here for a few months.
What does this mean for Bermuda and Bermudians?
The goal is that on a weekly basis a minimum of 2,300 visitors, all of whom would have to be fully immunised, will fly into Bermuda to set sail on each cruise line for seven-day cruises.
These cruises will have different destinations.
Royal Caribbean will head to its private island, Coco Cay in the Bahamas.
All along the way, Bermudians will benefit economically, directly and indirectly.
Every passenger landing or leaving Bermuda will have paid some form of passenger tax within their airline ticket. This revenue will be used to pay Aecon/Skyport, which in turn means the taxpayers will have to fork out much less in expense to meet the minimum revenue guarantee from the airport.
As soon as these thousands of visitors step out of the airport, they will be in need of ground transportation, which means both taxi drivers and minibus drivers, starved of work for more than 12 months, will finally see some much needed income.
Bear in mind that the visitors will need ground transport before and after each cruise.
Inevitably, there will be those who will wish to spend time on our island before or after a cruise. This means that hotels, guesthouses and Airbnbs will begin to get bookings.
Other direct beneficiaries will be restaurants and bars.
Indirect financial benefits will be derived via several different taxes generated in the following ways:
• Head tax from cruise lines
• Tax on fuel used by cruise ships and ground transportation
• Payroll tax of service providers
• Tax on food and goods imported to stock up each ship weekly.
Bermudians must take the opportunity to go one step further and seek opportunities to actually work on the ships whilst they are operating out of Bermuda.
There are literally hundreds of people needed to keep these vessels “ship shape”.
Whether it be in the dining rooms, in the engine rooms or cabin rooms, there are jobs that young Bermudians can take up in order to broaden their professional careers.
Additionally, Bermudian entertainers can seek to ply their craft on the waters.
Local group Hindsight, have had decades of experience working on cruise lines around the world.
The reality is that the world we knew and all the norms that we have become used to have changed.
We have to seize every opportunity that we have, in order to not just revive but transform our hospitality industry and as importantly, our Bermudians must position themselves to be a part of this new normal.
Let us be eternally thankful for the long and hard efforts of all those involved in making Bermuda a home port.
• Christopher Famous is the Government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him on WhatsApp at 599-0901 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org