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Cruise deal ‘a renaissance for Olde Towne’

News that St George would again play host to a regular cruise ship next year has been roundly welcomed by the town's business community.

Community leaders also hailed the deal between the Bermuda Government and Norwegian Cruise Line that will see at least 12 liners in the East End each year between 2017 and 2022 as a huge boost for the Olde Towne.

Under the agreement NCL has pledged to invest $150,000 a year to enhance the cruise visitor experience in the town, while also sponsoring two catamarans from Dockyard to St George as part of the package.

“This is just wonderful news for the town,” Theresa Gibbons, manager of The Island Shop said. “It's going to bring hope back to St George's.”

Ms Gibbons, who has managed the store for more than a decade, added: “To have a regular cruise caller again and get the people in the town at night will be awesome.”

David Rose, who opened Davidrose Jewellery four years ago in St George, told The Royal Gazette: “There's already a feeling of excitement, anything to help the town is beneficial to us.

“I grew up in the town when the roads were packed with people. This announcement will help us return to those days and see the town popping again.”

For the last five years just a handful of cruise liners have visited the East End annually, while Dockyard has enjoyed a steady increase in cruise traffic attracting the newest and largest generation of cruise ship.

This year five different ships are expected to berth in the East End, a significant increase from previous years.

Marion Paynter, manager of Frangipani, said: “A regular cruise ship would provide a great deal to the town and 12 extra calls a year is excellent news. We have been crying out for this kind of news from some time.”

Denise Trew, who runs All About Eve ladies boutique, added: “We would be delighted to welcome a regular cruise ship back to St George's.

“The town has not been making money for a long time, but when we had a ship at Ordnance Island and Penno's Wharf we did make money, so more cruise ships and more visitors is good news for the businesses in the town.”

Meanwhile other business owners in the town expressed a more guarded optimism about the boost to cruise arrivals.

Tara Cassidy, who owns La Garza art studio, said: “It's good news and I'm also very pleased that Town Cut will be left as it is.

“But we need to make sure our passing sailors are taken care of as well as they provide a lot of income to the town. I would like to see the money invested by NCL go towards improving the town's infrastructure and a more community centred approach.”

Debbie Loader, manager at the World Heritage Centre, added: “It should be great for the town, but it will be interesting to see how they handle the ferry situation from Dockyard. At the moment we get four ferries a day and four set of visitors who spend money in the town.

“I would like to see the cruise ship dock at Ordnance Island so we keep the ferries from Dockyard coming into Penno's Wharf.”

Past and present community leaders in the town praised the work of Government and NCL for their commitment to St George.

MP Kenneth Bascome described the announcement as the beginning of St George's “renaissance” as a destination.

He said “I would like to give my praises to the former minister Shawn Crockwell who led discussions along with his permanent secretary and congratulate the Bermuda Tourism Authority for their part in the process. I'd also like to thank the Government and NCL for making this deal happen.

“This is an opportunity for a renaissance for the town and the town's business people. We all need to get on board with it and do positive things so that when the visitors come here they go home and tell their friends and family about the wonderful town and Unesco site that is St George.”

Former mayor, Henry Hayward, added: “NCL has shown great commitment to St George's over the years and this is good news for the business community of the town. This is the right way to go about it and will have a hugely positive effect in the future.”

Reacting today, Progressive Labour Party Senator Renee Ming said in a statement: “Any increase in cruise visitors to the Olde Towne is welcomed and will surely benefit St George's merchants and residents alike.

“With so many Bermudians out of work, and Bermudian businesses struggling to stay open or being forced to shut their doors, this represents a positive step forward.

“My main concern as a St Georgian is that we have a thriving economic environment in the East End where entrepreneurs can thrive and where our St George's residents can find opportunities to work. In that regard, I have no problem welcoming this news.”

Shadow Tourism Minister Jamahl Simmons stated: “We encourage the government to continue pushing for more cruise arrivals to St George's.

“We must ensure that Bermuda's transportation services are coordinated to ensure that passengers in Dockyard and Hamilton are given the opportunity to spend quality time within the Town of St George and that we are prepared at all levels to give our visitors the Bermuda experience that they have paid for and deserve.”

Good news: excitement is building over the prospect of the Olde Towne hosting a regular cruise ship again. This 2010 picture shows the cruise ship Deutschland at Penno's Wharf (File photograph)

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Published May 12, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated May 12, 2016 at 12:24 pm)

Cruise deal ‘a renaissance for Olde Towne’

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