Ferry suspension ‘distressing’, say St George’s businesses
East End businesses voiced frustration about the abrupt suspension of ferry service to St George’s in the middle of the summer cruise ship season.
The St George’s Stakeholder Committee, a group of East End business operators, said that it was very disappointed by the decision to suspend ferry service to St George’s this week.
The suspension — intended to allow the installation of a bow-loading ramp at Hunter’s Wharf — was announced on Sunday and came into effect on Monday with no announced end date.
The Ministry of Transport indicated last night that it was expected to finish later this month.
The St George’s group said that the lack of ferry service last year had been a major challenge for the town and businesses had benefited from this summer’s service.
"When the ferry schedule was announced, we were grateful the Orange route was included,“ a spokesman said. ”Even with only three days of service a week, the positive impact was immediately felt in the town.
“Thus, it is distressing that, with no notice and at the height of the season, the service is no longer operating, with no timeline offered about when we can expect it to resume.
“We haven’t been told why the bow-loading ramp must be installed right now, instead of the ferry staff continuing to use the gangplank as they’ve done for the last few months.
“Is it a safety issue? A staffing issue? We welcome any clarification and communication.”
The Corporation of St George also voiced disappointment about the cancellation of the service.
A spokeswoman said that the corporation hoped for a “speedy installation” of the new equipment to minimise the disruption.
“We are hopeful that the rest of the cruise ship season is not negatively impacted,’ she said. “We are thankful that the Spirit of St George tender that services NCL passengers will continue to bring NCL passengers to St George’s.
“Other visitors to the town should utilise available ground transportation, such as minibuses, taxis and public bus systems.”
A spokesman for the Department of Marine and Ports Services confirmed that the St George's ferry bringing cruise passengers from Dockyard would “remain suspended pending the completion of works at Hunter's Wharf”.
He added: "This is a safety issue. To ensure maximum safety for passengers and crew, we need a bow-loading interface at this popular wharf.
“The department has considered other locations in St George’s, but the challenges are the same due to the rising tides and elderly passengers walking up and down a narrow gangplank.
“Ideally this work was planned for earlier in the year but has been delayed both by Covid-related delays and planning approvals.
“Once completed, this will be achieved, and we look forward to again running this service."
He said that the planned works were expected to be done by the end of this month.
A spokeswoman for the Bermuda Tourism Authority said: “Our colleagues at the Ministry of Transport have kept us abreast and will update us with their solutions.”