Cruise lines could 'homeport' in Bermuda - Minister
Cruise companies have expressed interest in the ’homeporting’ of ships in Bermuda, the transport minister Lawrence Scott told the House of Assembly yesterday.
The minister said that there had been interest from a “small luxury line” drawn by the island’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and that other cruise lines had also expressed an interest in the idea.
He said three ships could homeport, adding that it was estimated the initiative could put more than $40m into the economy and create up to 60 part-time jobs.
However, the minister said that no contracts had been signed and that discussions are still ongoing.
He told MPs that the homeporting concept meant that a cruise line would use Bermuda as its home base for a cruise to nowhere or their private island to Bermuda’s south, for three or four months.
All passengers and crew would be fully immunised and subject to Bermuda’s Ministry of Health Covid-19 protocols.
Passengers would fly into Bermuda to pick up their cruise and have the option to book a pre-and/or post-hotel stay and enjoy Bermuda longer.
“This concept is new to Bermuda and was introduced to us by a small luxury cruise line who were so impressed with Bermuda’s handling of Covid-19 – they expressed interest in homeporting a ship in Bermuda.
“Thus, the concept of homeporting in Bermuda was born out of the travel restrictions in other jurisdictions. Since then we have other cruise lines interested in the homeporting concept as well.
“However, discussions are ongoing, and no contracts have been signed yet.”
He added: “The Ministry of Transport, being ever so excited about this opportunity and the potential economic stimulus from the cruise ship industry to our economy, has diligently worked with the Ministry of Health to create a framework and response plan to restart the cruising industry safely – ideally starting in June this summer.
“We have estimated a potential economic impact of over $40m into Bermuda’s economy from this initiative to homeport three ships in Bermuda, not necessarily at the same time.”
Mr Scott said up to 60 additional “local part-time jobs on the ground” could be created to offer additional services to support homeporting.
Bermuda got just four out of 196 cruise ship calls scheduled last year, while the 189 originally expected for this year had been hit with “daily cancellations”, MPs heard.
In response to questions from the One Bermuda Alliance, Mr Scott declined to name companies.
But he said three were involved: one that could bring a passenger capacity of 900 and another with a capacity of 1,400.
Mr Scott said the Government was in talks with one additional company.