Cruise ship recovery expected next year, draft schedule reveals
More than 180 cruise ship visits are scheduled for next year, the draft schedule has revealed.
The draft included just two more cruise ship visits than were expected this year, but the figure was much higher than the 36 visits actually recorded in 2021.
Charles Jeffers II, the chief executive of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said that the island would not return to pre-pandemic 2019 level arrivals next year, but it was expected that there would be a “reasonable increase”.
He added that he was optimistic that, because people did not appear to get as sick with the Omicron variant because of vaccination, there would be more people prepared to visit Bermuda.
Mr Jeffers said: “I don’t think any of us have a crystal ball. I think with every variant we all hope that it is the last variant, but I think what we’re finding is that, while people may be getting sick, they’re not getting as sick as they were a year ago before we had the vaccine.
“I think we all have to be optimistic about the future — if not, I think we can all go home and pack up, and I don’t think that’s what we want to do.”
“I’m hoping for all of those cruise lines to come in safely, and I’m hopeful that we’ll see air passengers coming in and approaching the 2019 numbers.
“Is that realistic? Not sure, but I don’t think anyone knows.”
The draft schedule listed 104 “regular” visits to the island, with Norwegian Cruise Line representing almost half of them.
The Norwegian Joy is scheduled to make 27 trips to Bermuda over the course of the year and the Norwegian Pearl is expected to make 23 calls.
The Norwegian Joy, which can accommodate 5,000 passengers and carries 1,700 crew, will also be one of the largest ships to visit the island, although coronavirus restrictions will cut the numbers.
Other regular visitors will include the Enchantment of the Seas, scheduled to make 22 visits, the Adventure of the Seas, listed for 19 visits, and the Celebrity Summit, which will visit the island 13 times.
The schedule also features 77 visits from occasional callers, including ten from the Carnival Magic, eight from the Carnival Legend, seven from the Disney Magic and seven from the Mariner of the Seas.
The first ship of the season, the Seven Seas Navigator, is scheduled to make a short visit to Hamilton on January 26 and the Norwegian Gem will close the year with a December 20 visit to King’s Wharf in Dockyard.
July is expected to be the busiest month with 27 scheduled visits, followed by October, which will feature 26 scheduled visits.
Stephen Todd, the CEO of the Bermuda Hotel Association, said that the cruise industry helped to support island businesses — and could inspire visitors to return to the island as air travellers.
He added: “Our hope is that once a cruise passenger sees the beauty and the amenities that the island has to offer they’ll consider coming back and spending time in our hotels and vacation rental properties and having a full Bermudian experience.”
“The cruise schedule is clearly an indication that the cruise industry is confident in Bermuda’s ability to accommodate their needs and that of their passengers, but also our health and safety protocols have served us well and have, in a number of instances, made us the envy of a number of other international destinations.”
The majority of ships are scheduled to visit Dockyard, although some will berth in St George and Hamilton.
St George is expected to get 12 visits this year, with stops by the Club Med 2, the Seven Seas Navigator, the Insignia, the Star Pride, the Silver Whisper and the Sirena.
Hamilton will get 13 visits from a combination of the Seven Seas Navigator, the Seven Seas Voyager, the Insignia, the Star Pride, the Silver Whisper, the Sirena and the Viking Sun.
The 181 visits included in the draft schedule is comparable to pre-pandemic numbers — 180 visits were listed in the 2018 schedule and 193 were listed in 2019.
But Covid-19 restrictions will place significant limits on the number of passengers on Bermuda-bound cruises.
The 2021 schedule included 179 visits, but only 36 visits were recorded.
There were 196 visits scheduled in 2020, but the onset of Covid-19 forced all but four to be cancelled.
Lawrence Scott, the Minister of Transport, said in October that the Government expected a “very close to normal” cruise ship season in 2022.