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Blow as cruise line suspends more sailings

Bermuda's tourism sector suffered another blow yesterday after cruise operator Royal Caribbean International suspended all voyages to the island until November.

The move added 17 more sailings to those the company has already called off in response to the Covid-19 pandemic — and means that more than two thirds of all scheduled cruise ship visits this year have been called off.

The total number of cancelled trips by all operators is at least 132, out of 192 cruises scheduled before the coronavirus crisis.

Bermuda will miss out on about $120 million that would have been injected into the economy, including $31 million in government revenue from cruise ship passenger tax and transport infrastructure tax, and an estimated $89 million that visitors would have spent on the island.

The decision by Royal Caribbean, which operates Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises, came a few days after the Cruise Lines International Association said its members had agreed to freeze US cruise operations until September 15.

The company said that after further consultation with the CLIA, and in conjunction with the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, it had decided to extend the suspension of sailings for its global fleet until September 15, but aimed to resume operations on September 16.

But it added that Bermuda sailings were suspended until October 31.

Carnival Corporation, which operates Carnival Cruise Line, on Monday cancelled cruises until the end of September.

In addition, all sailings of Carnival Sunrise, a regular visitor to Bermuda, have been called off until October 19.

Norwegian Cruise Line, which also operates Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises, last week halted cruises until the end of September.

The lost revenue figures for Bermuda were calculated on the projected loss of just over 397,000 cruise visitors, the expected average passenger numbers from the cancelled ships listed in the 2020 schedule, and from the Bermuda Tourism Authority's 2019 estimated average spend on island of $224 per passenger.

Reacting to Royal Caribbean's decision, Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Tourism and Transport, said it was disappointing, “however, we fully understand”.

He added: “We have continued to meet regularly with Josh Carroll and his team at RCCL over the last 100 days, and we know how difficult this decision was for RCCL to make.

“Right now, our focus remains on the resumption of commercial airline services at LF Wade International Airport. We look forward to welcoming back Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines when the time is right.”

Extended suspension: Royal Caribbean has suspended sailings to Bermuda until November. At least 132 cruise ship visits to the island this year, by all operators, have been cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published June 24, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated June 24, 2020 at 9:08 am)

Blow as cruise line suspends more sailings

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