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Breakaway arrival brings big test for Island

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Although tomorrow’s arrival of thousands of cruise passengers is seen as a boost to a flagging tourism industry, questions have been raised over whether Bermuda’s infrastructure is capable of handling so many visitors at one time.

Government has been working around the clock getting required upgrades to Heritage Wharf completed in time for the arrival of the

Breakaway liner.

It has also been forced to charter a ferry for the summer to provide backup for its fleet of unreliable public ferries, which will play an essential role transferring passengers from the west end to Hamilton and St George’s.

And to add to the logistical headache of catering to more than 7,000 visitors, taxi drivers have expressed concerns that a yet-to-be tested road network at Dockyard will hinder their ability to serve passengers effectively.

In 2011 the Island’s transport network was branded “a joke” by visitors who were stranded at Dockyard because of a lack of transport.

And Chamber of Commerce President Ronnie Viera yesterday said that ferrying visitors around the Island was “a challenge”.

“Everyone involved in transportation really has to work together to do this successfully and if there are any issues, work to resolve them quickly,” Mr Viera said.

Sinclair Samuels of Marine & Ports said he was not aware that the charter ferry had arrived, even though Government announced three months ago that

Millennium had been booked to cover the Dockyard/St George’s run.

“We still have some concerns and I’m not confident that we will be able to handle the load — we are adopting a wait-and-see approach,” Mr Samuels said.

Concrete was still being poured at Heritage Wharf yesterday, and Public Works Minister Trevor Moniz has acknowledged that the facility won’t be fully complete by tomorrow morning.

But he did express confidence that the essential components of the wharf will be in place to allow

Breakaway to dock. The Ministry failed to respond to a

Royal Gazette request for a last-minute progress report last night.

Transport and Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell is also optimistic that services will run smoothly.

Last night he said: “The staff in the Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport are putting the final touches in place for the arrival of the

Breakaway.

“The Department of Public Transportation and Department of Marine and Ports are both ready for the expected visitors and a much improved transportation arrangement in Dockyard involving buses, ferries, taxis, mini buses, train and tour boats is helping get more visitors where they want to go more expediently.”

Taxi industry chief Derek Young said that drivers will be put to the test by the high demand, but added that “all hands will be on deck” to accommodate passengers.

“I’m certain there will be some issues when having to wait for a taxi, which happens worldwide, but we plan to raise the bar when providing transportation needs for our visitors and locals,’ the Bermuda Taxi Owners/Operators Association President said.

“I want to emphasise that this is a first-time event so it will come with some issues and problems.

“But Bermuda’s taxi ambassadors will be putting their best foot forward. Patience will be the name of the game.”

(AP Photo/Norwegian Cruise Line) The Breakaway sports a colourful mural of the city New York City skyline by pop artist Peter Max. Norwegian Cruise’s new ship, Norwegian Breakaway arrives in Bermuda tomorrow.

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Published May 14, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 13, 2013 at 11:01 pm)

Breakaway arrival brings big test for Island

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