Twelve extra cruise calls for St George’s
Twelve extra cruise ships are to call on St George from 2017 to 2022 as part of a deal announced yesterday with Norwegian Cruise Line.
The agreement with the Bermuda Government includes bringing two catamaran ferries to the island for a run from Dockyard to the East End, along with a yearly investment of $150,000 by NCL to sponsor tourism enhancement in co-operation with the Bermuda Tourism Authority.
The deal was welcome news for the Olde Towne, which for years has been penalised by the trend for ever-larger cruise ships.
Announcing the deal, Michael Dunkley described NCL as “one of our most respected and longest-serving partners”, and noted that cruise passengers spent about $45 million in Bermuda last year.
“Both the Government and NCL believe that if we are to continue to prosper, then maintaining a strong, lasting and mutually beneficial partnership is a must,” the Premier said.
At a press conference at the Cabinet Building, Mr Dunkley was joined by Frank Del Rio, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Lines, and Colin Murphy, senior vice-president of destination and strategic development.
“We recognise that the global cruise industry is an ever evolving one and for many visitor markets, like Bermuda, it is a key economic contributor,” Mr Dunkley said.
“We understand that in the face of increasing competition from other visitor markets, as a destination we too must adapt to the current industry trends, or risk getting left behind.”
The boosted service to the Olde Towne “will aid greatly in the revitalisation of St George's”, he added.
The commissioning of two new ferries, both their construction and delivery to the island, is taking place in consultation with the Department of Marine and Ports Services. The Premier said other agreements were potentially in the works.
According to Bill Hanbury, the CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, there are 23 calls on Hamilton set for next year.
Mr Dunkley said that in discussion with NCL “we will continue to look at opportunities to bring more into Hamilton”.
Hailing the collective effort between the Government and the BTA, Mr Hanbury said it was “very important that we continue to focus on the cruise line industry, which provides a tremendous boost to the overall economy”.
St George has long been hampered as a port by the cruise industry's trend towards increasingly bigger vessels, but Mr Del Rio said NCL would be directing Oceania and Regent Seven Seas Brand luxury vessels to the East End, with roughly 700 passenger capacities.
This will include a new Seven Seas Explorer, which he described as the “most luxurious cruise ship ever built”, and which could call on Bermuda by the winter of 2017/18.
Calling the deal a favourable one for NCL as well as Bermuda's economy, Mr Del Rio added: “They will spend two to three days on the island — and they have got deep pockets.”