Homeporting cruise ship to make 12 trips from Bermuda
A cruise ship sailing from a home port in Bermuda this summer is expected to make 12 voyages from Dockyard, Government revealed yesterday.
Royal Caribbean announced on Tuesday that the Vision of the Seas, docked this week in the British Virgin Islands, would homeport in Bermuda from June 26 to seven-night cruises to a private island in the Bahamas.
The company said the ship’s crew would be vaccinated against the coronavirus, with the cruise catering to vaccinated adult guests. Passengers under 18 would require negative test results for the virus.
The Royal Gazette asked the ministry yesterday what contingency plans were in place if the cruise ship reported a case of Covid-19 on board, and whether it would still be able to dock in Bermuda.
The ministry spokeswoman responded that the “cruise line has a protocol for such an event”.
The Vision of the Seas, which has a regular capacity of about 2,400 passengers, will be starting at 50 per cent occupancy. It is expected that passengers will overnight in Bermuda before sailing.
The spokeswoman said the island had sufficient bed capacity in hotels for guests to stay in Bermuda and that commercial flights will bring passengers to the island, with minibuses and taxis to ferry them from the airport to the West End.
Negotiations were said to be “ongoing” for Royal Caribbean to continue with the arrangement, and the spokeswoman said the Ministry of Transport was “currently in discussions with other cruise lines”.
Stephen Todd, chief executive of the Bermuda Hotel Association, said the industry was “anticipating that with the pent-up demand, potential hotel guests that transition from a cruise will seek hotel room accommodations that are in keeping with their household budgets”.
Despite the loss of Bermuda’s biggest resort with the closure last October of the Fairmont Southampton, the BHA was confident Bermuda could accommodate guests eager to holiday overseas.
Mr Todd said it was expected “across the hotel industry that we have sufficient accommodations to meet their ongoing requirements”.
He added that hotels were counting on a portion of the cruise guests opting to “extend their stay on the island and enjoy the services and amenities of the various hotels”.
“It has not as yet been determined if this will be either in a pre- or post-cruise scenario, as we await further details,” Mr Todd said.
While the BHA has not held direct talks with the ministry on securing homeporting, Mr Todd said the Bermuda Tourism Authority had been “more directly involved and as such would have represented the interest of the hotels”.
Glenn Jones, Interim BTA CEO said: “I expect the island’s late June inventory of hotel rooms and vacation rentals will meet the demand of cruise guests looking to extend their stay in Bermuda.
“The BTA is working now with local hoteliers to prepare rates and packages to leverage this opportunity. In the meantime, we’re talking to Royal Caribbean about the best way to get direct invitations to their customers about extending their stay in Bermuda.
“Airlift is a supply and demand calculation. If demand consistently spikes, airlines will add capacity. We are proactively talking with airlines about the days of the week we expect demand to be highest so they can plan accordingly.”
The move by cruise ships to homeport in Bermuda was revealed in the House of Assembly last Friday by Lawrence Scott, the transport minister.
Mr Scott said the island’s good record on handling the pandemic had drawn the interest of cruise companies.
Last night he said: “The Ministry of Transport will work closely with the Ministry of Health to ensure all safety protocols are in place and carefully followed. We will continue to look for innovative ways to safely invite travellers to Bermuda.
“I am hopeful that as we plan to reinvigorate the tourism industry and put Bermudians back to work, our island becomes centre stage through homeporting. Bermuda's tourism future is bright.”