Viking Cruises’ home port cruise ship to arrive tomorrow
Viking lines’ cruise ship Orion will drop anchor tomorrow to complete quarantine before it homeports in Bermuda.
Lawrence Scott, the transport minister, said today the ship will remain in the Great Sound for six days so the 460 crew members can complete a 14-day quarantine.
Mr Scott said the ship will sail from Bermuda on a series of eight-day cruises and also call in to Hamilton, St George and Dockyard with a reduced passenger capacity.
He added the ship’s normal 900 passenger capacity had been cut by 50 per cent and that only vaccinated passengers and crew will be allowed on board.
Mr Scott said that the test regime used by the cruise line was “superior” and that tough measures would be used to prevent potential spread of the coronavirus.
He added: “The company has spent millions of dollars outfitting each ship to mitigate Covid-19.
“The Orion will arrive in Hamilton on May 27 and the crew is intended to stay on board to ready the ship for the first Bermuda 8-day Escape cruise on June 15.”
The Bermuda Escape cruises are scheduled to end on August 3, but Mr Scott said it was hoped the programme would be successful enough to mean an extension.
Mr Scott added it was also hoped the cruises would boost flights to the island and increase income for a wide range of businesses.
He said that the increased airlift would help tackle the costs of a minimum revenue guarantee for airport operators Skyport.
But he admitted it was expected that the Government would have to continue to make payments, despite the increased number of arrivals.
Mr Scott said: “Any additional airlift, any additional passenger numbers, will help to mitigate that risk.
“It is anticipated that more payments will come out this summer being as the global travel trend is depressed below the 2019 numbers.
“That is expected to continue for the next two to three years.”
Mr Scott added the homeporting scheme had not been tied into the just-announced Covid Safe Key programme, which will allow vaccinated people or those who had recent clear tests to attend larger events or eat indoors at restaurants.
He said: “Things like that will always be an option, but it has not been decisively or definitively planned for or put into the plans moving forward.”
Mr Scott insisted that public transport – alongside private enterprise – would cope with the increased pressure from cruise ships.
He said: “We are anticipating that the public service vehicle industry as a whole will benefit and the public vehicle industry as a whole have the capacity and the resources to make sure travel into and around the country is as seamless as possible.”
Royal Caribbean announced in March that its Vision of the Seas would homeport in Bermuda from June 26 for seven-night cruises to a private island in the Bahamas.
Charles Jeffers II, chief executive of the Bermuda Tourism Authority welcomed the homeporting scheme.
Mr Jeffers said: “After a 15-month dry spell, cruisers from around the world who have been longing for a taste of Bermuda will get their fill.
“And our tour operators, retailers, restaurants, and tourism experience providers are ready to deliver the uniquely Bermudian experiences that they crave.”