Viking Orion drops anchor in 'watershed' moment for recovery
The first cruise ship to come to Bermuda in more than a year, anchored off Dockyard yesterday in what was hailed as a landmark moment in the island’s recovery from Covid-19.
The Viking Orion, which arrived off St David’s on Friday, moved to Grassy Bay around 9.30am, but will remain offshore through Wednesday so the 460 crew members can complete a 14-day quarantine.
Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier and acting transport minister, said the Orion’s arrival was a watershed in the battle back to normality.
He said: “The sight of a cruise ship returning to our shores brings with it the promise of much needed economic activity. Many sectors depend on business from cruise passengers and crew and through the successful realisation of homeporting for Bermuda, the Government has taken another important step to get Bermudians back to work.”
The Viking Orion will stay at anchor until the quarantine is up on May 27 and will steam to Hamilton to prepare for its first Bermuda Escape cruise.
Mr Roban added: "It was good news to hear that Viking had arrived in Bermuda waters.
“We were all a bit concerned with the weather conditions, but the ship has made it safely to our shores, and we look forward to welcoming the first passengers on the island.
"We are pleased that homeporting in Bermuda is officially under way, with a number of other ships planning to make calls to the island later this year.
“This is an exciting time for Bermuda, and we anticipate that homeporting will provide a boost to our local tourism economy."
The ship will sail from Bermuda on a series of eight-day cruises from June 15 and also call at Hamilton, St George's and Dockyard, but with a reduced passenger capacity.
Lawrence Scott, the transport minister, said last week the test regime used by Viking was “superior” and that tough measures would be used to prevent potential spread of the coronavirus.
He added the ship’s normal 900 passenger complement had been cut by 50 per cent and that only vaccinated passengers and crew will be allowed on board.
Mr Scott said: “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 get an extension.
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