Mayor: cruise ship interest in Hamilton and St George
Two major cruise lines have made overtures for a return to Hamilton and St George’s, the Mayor of Hamilton revealed yesterday.
Charles Gosling said he was told by a Government source that two companies, including the Disney Cruise Line, had “declared that they want to come into Hamilton Harbour and the immediacy of our city”.
Bigger cruise ships have made Dockyard the port of choice, but this year’s schedule has the Olde Towne booked for nine visits, Hamilton for four, and four scheduled to put in at both ports
The Seven Seas Navigator is scheduled to kick off the season, berthing at Pennos Wharf in St George’s on May 28.
Mr Gosling said the reintroduction of “regular, multi-night cruise lines into both Hamilton ” would bring “immediate” improvements to the economy.
He added he had first learnt of a push for smaller vessels that offered a more intimate cruise experience in early 2019.
Mr Gosling said he was told of the two cruise lines’ interest just after the Municipalities Reform Act 2019 was tabled in the House of Assembly – legislation designed to abolish elected corporations and install Government quangos instead.
Mr Gosling said yesterday he had been “led to believe by those more involved in the industry” that the North American market could see an influx of smaller ships.
The cruise ship sector has been torpedoed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bermuda had 196 cruise visits scheduled last year – but just four ships made it to the island before the world locked down.
The Marine and Ports schedule for 2021 lists 159 cruise visits, starting with the Carnival Pride at King’s Wharf, Dockyard on April 1.
Mr Gosling said he had shared his views on the need for smaller ships to visit with David Burt, the Premier, whose portfolio includes tourism.
He added: “I have told him I am willing to get on my hands and knees to thank him for bringing in any new contracts for cruise ships.”
Mr Gosling was speaking after he said last week that the cruise industry was too valuable to “allow a microbe to destroy it”.
He added that, before the coronavirus outbreak, there had been a “rebirth of smaller vessels, catering to a more financially robust consumer, wanting a more personal experience”.
But Mr Gosling said the Corporation could not sign contracts with cruise lines, or even give permission for ships to dock in Hamilton.
Lawrence Scott, the transport minister, said yesterday: “What I can say is we are in very close contact with the cruise lines.
“We’re doing everything we can and working closely with them to ensure we have as robust a cruise season as we can, given the circumstances.”
Mr Scott declined to discuss Mr Gosling’s claim of interest in Hamilton as a destination.
He added that numbers were “not on our side” because of the lack of smaller ships.
Mr Scott said: “There are 20 to 25 of these cruise ships that fit into Hamilton or St George’s and they are being competed for globally.”
Mr Scott said the cruise industry was expected to show “a slow and phased” recovery from the pandemic.
He added: “The ministry is looking at other ways, for a plan A, B and C, to make sure we get that necessary traffic for Hamilton and St George’s.”