Anchors aweigh for Viking Orion cruise
Passengers said yesterday they were happy to be guinea pigs for the cruise ship industry as it emerged from pandemic restrictions as they embarked on the Viking Orion.
The ship is one of the first to sail since the pandemic started and a couple boarding in Hamilton Harbour said the itinerary was “fluid”.
Passengers were at first told they were only permitted to leave the ship on group excursions.
But they were told on Monday evening by Viking management that they will be allowed to roam independently.
A visit to St George’s was cancelled because of a Bermuda Industrial Union work to rule, which affected tender boat availability in the East End.
Terry and Jim Goldman from Georgia, who flew in on Monday and have visited the island before, said they were pleased to at last be able to relax on vacation.
Mr Goldman added: “It is very fluid and depends on what Bermuda says it can do – you kind of have to go with the flow.”
The Goldmans said that they hoped to be able to visit St George and other favourite spots around the island.
Mr Goldman added: “We don’t know if there will be buses to St George’s, but we are supposed to have excursions.
“This is the first cruise anywhere, so they are working hard to work out the details.”
The couple, who decided to come to Bermuda after another Viking cruise to France was cancelled, said they were looked forward to visiting the Crystal Caves as part of an excursion and hoped to be able to visit some beaches on their own.
Joann King and Joe Duke from Philadelphia, also flew to the island on Monday.
Ms King, a travel agent, said: “We had something planned a little later but then Viking became open.
“It’s a ship that my clients like – I have not had the opportunity to sail on the ocean cruises yet, so I wanted to have that opportunity.
“Bermuda is the one place in the Caribbean region that my husband absolutely loves.”
Mr Duke added: “Our last trip to Bermuda was in August 2019 for my 60th birthday. We stayed at the Hamilton Princess and rented a Twizy – it killed my back, but it was fun.
“Bermuda is one of the Caribbean-esque islands even though it is not in the Caribbean – it is beautiful and civilised.”
The couple said that they were not put off by Bermuda’s strict Covid-19 rules.
Ms King added: “Actually, that thrills me. I find it very comforting.”
Don and Deborah Anderson from Florida said they were on their first trip to Bermuda.
Mr Anderson added: “This was one of the first cruises open available and we had a credit on our previous Viking river cruise that was cancelled.
“This was a very attractive price so we decided to take up the offer and come here.”
He added: “We had to test to get on the plane, and take another to get back into the US and we have to show proof of our negative tests – we have been vaccinated since January.”
Mr Anderson said: “Bermuda is clean. We had lunch – businesses are anxious to open up again.
“I am sure everybody is tired, like in the United States, with lockdowns and lack of business. A lot of Americans are anxious to travel and are chomping at the bit.”
Torstein Hagen, the chairman of Viking, said yesterday: “Today is an extraordinary milestone as the world continues to reopen for international travel.
“On behalf of the entire Viking family, we are delighted to welcome our loyal American guests back on board.”
Mr Hagen added: “We applaud the Government of Bermuda for its collaboration and support as we have restarted our operations.
“Bermuda has been a favourite destination among our guests since our ocean ships began calling there in 2017 and we look forward to introducing even more Viking guests to the island’s history, culture and phenomenal natural beauty.”