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Royal Naval Dockyard burst into life yesterday as thousands of cruise passengers from two luxury liners — including the record-breaking mega-ship Norwegian

Breakaway — 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.

Breakaway had glided gracefully into Bermuda in the early 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.”

Joyce Joell-Hayden was one of a team of senior Visitor Ambassador volunteers on hand to direct visitors 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,” the Premier said.

Mr Crockwell thanked everyone who had worked “extremely hard and made today a reality”.

“They have made a magnificent effort of 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 wharves before flooding into the open areas of Dockyard. Queues of passengers quickly formed to take ferries to Hamilton and St George’s, while an almost continuous line of buses and taxis whisked through the busy roads heading out of the base.

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,” Mr Poole said, referring to the voyage. “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.

Sarah Platt, 27, from Suffern, New York, was impressed with Breakaway, but was still looking forward to exploring Bermuda. “There’s a whole lot going on on-board the ship, with restaurants, and museums, and shows, and shopping,” the legal secretary said.

“But Bermuda itself was a pretty big reason why we took this trip, so we’re definitely glad to be here, and are looking forward to enjoying this part of the trip.”

Breakaway and

Summit will remain in Bermuda for three days before returning to New York on Friday evening.

* Did you take pictures or video of the Breakaway? We’d love to see them. Or are you on board the Breakaway and want to tell us all about the trip? E-mail news@royalgazette.com

Warm welcome: Sunrise Construction general manager Bernard Kunst greets the Norwegian Breakaway with open arms as she makes her first arrival to the Heritage Wharf yesterday morning (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Big and bigger: The Norwegian Breakaway alongside the Celebrity Summit yesterday at Heritage Wharf. (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Reception committee: Pictured (from left) are Tourism and Transport Minster Shawn Crockwell, Premier Craig Cannonier, Norwegian Breakaway Captain Evan Hoyt and Public Works Minster Trevor Moniz. (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Colourful arrival: Stevedores secure the ropes to bollards for the Norwegian Breakaway at Heritage Wharf yesterday morning. (Photo by Akil Simmons)

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Published May 16, 2013 at 9:40 am (Updated May 16, 2013 at 9:43 am)

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