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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) at e-mail exclusively for Bermuda Online
To refer to this file use "bermuda-online/cruises.htm" as your Subject
Cruise ship Veendam docked in City of Hamilton. Royal Gazette photo
The Island's 2013 cruise ship schedule shows a sharp drop in the number of overall calls to Bermuda. There will be 35 less ships for the season, from 163 in 2012 down to 128. However, there will be 22 calls from the new liner Norwegian Breakaway. She was christened by the famous Rockettes in the first week of May, 2013. On May 15, 2013 this record-breaking mega-ship glided gracefully into Bermuda and its multi-million dollar constructed then re-constructed in May 2013 Heritage Wharf after a two-day maiden voyage from New York. The 4,028-passenger vessel is the largest ship to homeport in Manhattan. Two Rockettes will be aboard each sailing through June 16, and then on the first cruise of each month for the rest of the year. They'll engage in meet-and-greets, Q&A sessions and dance classes. The Breakaway's high-kicking godmothers also have inspired a variety of experiences and amenities available on all the ship's sailings, like specially designed fitness classes and a Rockettes-themed exhibit with costumes and photos. Sporting hull art by pop artist Peter Max, the Breakaway offers an open-air boardwalk called The Waterfront, an aqua park with five waterslides, three restaurants by Food Network star Geoffrey Zakarian and blockbuster Broadway shows, including the five-time Tony nominated "Rock of Ages." Guests are treated to a dazzling fireworks display on the second-to-last night of each sailing. The Norwegian Breakaway currently sails weeklong trips from New York to Bermuda. Starting in October, it will offer seven-day voyages to the Bahamas.
The giant 'city on the sea' - the largest liner ever to call on the Island - was guided gently into Royal Naval Dockyard by a Marine & Ports pilot boat and crew led by pilot Rudy Cann, easing up alongside the newly completed Heritage Wharf on schedule just before 8am. The 18-deck monster, laden with 5,300 passengers and crew, dwarfed the usually dominant twin clock towers of the port.
Norwegian Breakaway's May 15, 2013 arrival in Bermuda at Dockyard
Much of the Island's performance will rise on projected numbers for that vessel which should more than compensate for the loss of the Veendam. That ship, which carried roughly 1,370 passengers per trip and made 19 trips to the Island in 2012 will not return in 2013. Regular caller Explorer of the Seas, a large vessel which this season carried about 3,225 a trip, is expected to make 26 calls, down four from 30. And the Grandeur of the Seas — the replacement of the Enchantment of the Seas, and with the same top capacity of 2,446 — will stop 15 times in Bermuda, down ten trips from 25. Norwegian Dawn will hold steady at 22 calls, as it has since the 2011 season, and the Summit will continue with this year's 19 visits. “Low sales” were given as the reason for the drop in calls from the two Royal Caribbean International services.
In 2013, Bermuda expects to receive about 336,000 cruise ship visitors, about 24,000 less than in 2012. Bermuda’s cruise product generated over $81 million from 360,000 cruise ship visitors to Bermuda’s economy in 2012, including Government fees, cruise visitor and crew purchases while on the Island and shore excursions such as taxi and bus tours, water sport excursions and other excursions popular with cruise visitors. Cruise ships arrive in and depart from Bermuda on a seasonal, not year-round, basis. Most visits are scheduled from spring through summer and the early fall. Bermuda is not the Caribbean but 1200 miles north of it, so has a cooler climate in the winter months than the Caribbean.
Cruises to Bermuda from the USA, generally in the high season and Bermuda's warmest months of April to November, are solely to Bermuda, not any other island. But a major compensation is that cruise visitors often have much more time in Bermuda - days, not just hours - to experience much more of Bermuda than they would have in visiting a variety of Caribbean ports. Cruises to Bermuda from the UK or Europe generally call at other islands first, then Bermuda, and are usually in Bermuda's low season or cooler months.
Cruises from the USA now once gain include the smaller, premium ships which can dock in City of Hamilton and Town of St. George. Larger ships cannot, they are limited to either treating the above two ports as tender ports, or mooring solely at Dockyard.
The great majority of cruise ships arrive in Bermuda directly from the USA. US ports of departure include
Cape Liberty Cruise Port at Bayonne, New Jersey - see http://www.cruiseliberty.com/dirpark.htm.
New York's Cruise Ports are in Manhattan and Brooklyn - see http://www.nycruise.com/terminal.html.
Baltimore's Cruise Port is at http://www.baltimorecruiseguide.com/cruise-terminal.html.
Charleston, South Carolina, Cruise Port is at http://www.port-of-charleston.com/cruises/passengers/getting_to_charleston.asp.
Norfolk, Virginia, Cruise Port is at http://www.cruisesfrom.com/norfolk/.
Cruise visitors exploring Bermuda
In 2012 Bermuda had about 385,200 cruise ship visitors in 162 cruise ship's visits, the second highest number of cruise ship visitors in Bermuda's history They accounted for 60% of all Bermuda's visitors between March 1, 2012 and the season’s December 1 conclusion. Carnival Cruise Lines axed 11 of 2012's 12 planned visits to Bermuda because it couldn’t cash in on the prime time summer spots. Carnival Cruise Lines had wanted to visit during the week from May to September, as this is when ticket rates can match the high demand for cruises. But Bermuda's premium berths, available from Monday to Friday, between mid-May and Labour Day when demands for cruises to Bermuda are at their highest, and cruise lines can charge higher ticket rates, were occupied by Bermuda’s “long-term cruise partners” Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Lines. Other less desirable berths are available for other cruise liners. Carnival Cruises had made the decision when they realized Bermuda’s 2011 cruises were “not meeting their expectations. It also took into account the lack of on-board revenue while in port, public transport problems and Bermuda’s stores being closed on Sundays.
The Marine and Ports division of the Bermuda Government controls every aspect of the cruise ship calls and publishes, usually by every January, a yearly schedule of all cruise ship calls.
Bermuda 2013 Cruise Ship Schedule
Bermuda Government Passenger Cabin Tax Guide - see http://www.gov.bm/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=275&&PageID=231429&mode=2&in_hi_userid=2&cached=true.
Cruise ship off Bermuda
Cruise passengers going to Bermuda should note the following carefully:
Bermuda is certainly a lovely place to go on a cruise. Just be aware of certain things that apply only in Bermuda, as shown below.
Contract cruise ships are those subsidized by the Bermuda Government to come to Bermuda weekly in the season. They include Norwegian Cruise Line (Norwegian), Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises. They offer regular Bermuda sailings in 2013. Norwegian has announced that its newest cruise liner Norwegian Breakaway, built in Germany in 2012, which can carry 4,000 passengers, will debut in spring 2013 with a series of Bermuda cruises. She will depart from New York on Sundays and spend three full days in Bermuda as well as three full days at sea. The schedule for the visits runs from May 12, 2013 to October 6, 2013. Norwegian Dawn, which holds 2,224 passengers, will continue her visits from Boston until 2018.
Cruise ship at Dockyard
Other cruise lines include Aida Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Cunard, Holland America, Oceania Cruises, P&O, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Seabourn Cruises and Silversea Cruises.
Mega cruise ships will be coming to Bermuda until at least 2018 under a 10-year deal between Government and Norwegian Cruise Line. The agreement began in 2009 and was announced in November 2007. It means two state-of-the-art Panamax vessels, usually traveling from New York and Boston, will each make at least 22 extended calls here per season.
See http://www.gov.bm/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=275&&PageID=231429&mode=2&in_hi_userid=2&cached=true .
Bermuda's Cruise ship ports, introduction
Bermuda may be very small - only 21 square miles (56 square kilometers) in total land area - but it has not one but three cruise ship ports.
At this time, none of them are free WIFI enabled - with a free WIFI Hotspot - for visitors and shoppers. This is unlike in numerous established ports elsewhere such as in Spain, Portugal, the Canary Islands, USVI, USA, Canada, etc. where this facilities have been available for some years.
There, cruise ship terminals and/or their nearby shopping centers or malls and principal attractions now routinely offer free WIFI to all who bring their own WIFI-enabled laptops. They carry a sign similar to the one on the right.
But in 2012 a $3 an hour WIFI hotspot became available to cruise passengers and other visitors if they visit qualifying shore-based stores or restaurants at King's Wharf at the former Royal Naval Dockyard. In June 2012 a similar WIFI system was installed in the City of Hamilton.
It is hoped WIFI - ideally, free but if not at least at a reasonable price - will be extended to all Bermuda's cruise ship and other visitors in the foreseeable future so they can send their emails and digital photos home directly from these Bermuda ports.
Bermuda's three cruise ship ports are shown from left to right on the map below:
Bermuda Cruise ship ports - City of Hamilton
Bermuda does not yet offer free unrestricted WIFI access to its cruise ship passengers when going ashore. But since June 2012, cruise passengers and other visitors who go to qualifying shore-based stores and restaurants in Hamilton can get WIFI. It is not free-to-all, there is a charge. Local company TeleBermuda International (TBI) now has a Wi-Fi hotspot. Instead of incurring costly roaming charges to surf and e-mail, anyone visiting the City of Hamilton, including Bermuda residents, can now sign up for TBi Wi-Fi starting at $3 for one hour, up to $29.99 monthly. The new TBi Wi-Fi zone is available to cruise passengers and crew who visit the city. Previously, to access the web they have had to go to internet cafes or pay the high cost of cellphone roaming or using cruise ship satellite internet service. Any Wi-Fi enabled device such as a smart phone, tablet, personal computer or digital audio player, can connect to the network via seamless access points installed throughout the city. The pricing is as follows: $3 for 1 hour; $9.99 for 24 hours; $14.99 for 72 hours; $29.99 for basic monthly. All you need to do is turn on your device, enable Wi-Fi connection, look for the TBi Wi-Fi Zone network and connect, then proceed to the Wi-Fi hotspot login page.
The city is central (15 miles from the Town of St. George) and has 2 cruise ship berths, the # 1 Passenger Terminal; and # 5 & 6 Passenger Terminal. Both can take ships of up to 750 feet in length - small and medium-size cruise ships. Bermuda's highest-rated port by a huge margin, also the most central, easiest to get to and from, with biggest choice of shopping and facilities. Two Rock Passage has been the entrance to Hamilton Harbour since 1896. A huge advantage here is that passengers can walk off ships docked here and be right in the city. A port city for hundreds of years and Bermuda's single main attraction and main shopping area by a very wide margin. From here there are frequent by-day buses and ferry service going east to the Town of St. George (about 1 hour) and west to the Royal Naval Dockyard (about 1 hour).
From here there are many options. The adventurous cruise ship visitor who seeks other diversions will find a nice variety of places to go, alone or with a spouse or friend or group.
By land from here. For those whose cruise ship docks here. See Bermuda Beaches. By bus or taxi or moped/scooter. John Smith's Bay in Smith's Parish is a lovely public beach about 30 minutes by the # 1 bus every half hour during the day. Other public beaches are ( the public section of) Elbow Beach in Paget Parish, on the # 7 bus route; Warwick Long Bay (another personal favorite) in Warwick Parish, on the # 7 bus route; Horseshoe Bay in Southampton Parish, on the # 7 bus route; Church Bay, also in Southampton Parish, also # 7 bus route. Or, if you prefer a more leisurely pastime, head into Devonshire or Paget, on either side of the city, and walk along a relevant part of the Railway Trail.
By sea from here.
Bermuda Cruise ship ports - King's Wharf/Heritage Wharf/Dockyard
Cruise ship at King's Wharf, Dockyard
free WIFI Hotspots but in 2012 a moderate $3 an hour WIFI hotspot became available to
cruise passengers and other visitors when they go ashore. TeleBermuda International (TBI) manages the WIFI platform on
behalf of the West End Development Corporation (WEDCO).
Visitors can purchase WIFI coupons from a few of the establishments
in Dockyard, but WEDCO will also make free coupons available to their tenants.
Alternatively, the platform is able to process credit card transactions.
At the former Royal Naval Dockyard, at former islands now joined to the mainland in Somerset, Sandy's Parish. This is the westernmost (note that Bermuda is not rural but now largely urban) part of Bermuda, an interesting part of the island if you have plenty of time and opportunity to explore. This is where most cruise ships dock at the express wish of the Bermuda Government. This is the only port in Bermuda where large vessels can berth. There are frequent but often full buses going west to and east from here and ferries to and from the City of Hamilton, Bermuda's capital and major port of commerce. Public-transport ferries are more enjoyable and can be quicker too, than the public transport buses. Shopping is limited, with only the Clocktower Mall locally - within walking distance of the cruise ships docked here - offering realistic options. From this port, the nearest village is sleepy Somerset, going east. Buses go there but ferries do not.
The new pier here was originally supposed to cost $35 million but in the end it was delivered at a $65 million cost to Bermuda taxpayers, 70% over budget.
By land from here. See Bermuda Beaches. A really nice beach - the best in this Parish - is Somerset Long Bay, but it is a fair walk from where the nearest public bus stop at Mangrove Bay. Or, if you prefer a more leisurely pastime, walk along a relevant part of the Railway Trail. Or indulge in one of the many Watersports options within reach.
By sea from here.
Cruise passengers ashore at Dockyard lining up to board a ferry to Hamilton. Royal Gazette photo.
Cruise ship moored at Dockyard
Bermuda Cruise ship ports - Town of St. George
No free WIFI Hotspots. At the East End, or most eastern part of Bermuda (15 miles from the City of Hamilton). (Appears to be north on the map). If small enough, the cruise ship will enter via the narrow Town Cut channel, 220 feet wide - when wind conditions permit. In St. George's Harbor between Gates Fort and Higgs Island. It has been deepened and widened since 1846. But often, if the wind will present a hazard to the ship or passengers or crew, the captain of the small to mid-size cruise ship may elect to avoid St. George's and go to Hamilton instead. The town has berths at Penno's Wharf and Ordnance Island. Both can take ships of up to 750 feet in length. The town itself is within easy walking distance of the cruise ship berth for most passengers. There are frequent buses and less frequent ferries going to and from Hamilton. There are also periodic seasonal daily ferry services all the way west to the Royal Naval Dockyard. The tender Bermudian, a large ferry capable of carrying up to 700 passengers, services ships which due to to their size are unable to dock in the town. Instead, such ships anchor in Murray's Anchorage, an area off of Fort St. Catherine, weather permitting. The tender may take approximately 1 hour each way to ferry the passengers to Penno's Wharf and the tender may have to make more than one trip each way if there are too many passengers for one trip each way.
occupies a unique place in Bermuda's history. Discovery Bay, not far away, was
the first place in Bermuda where in 1609 British colonists landed involuntarily
after their ship the Sea Venture, sank after being destroyed by reefs. Prior to
that, Bermuda had been uninhabited except by stranded Portuguese and Spanish
mariners in New World expeditions. In 1612 it was the first place in Bermuda
where British colonists settled, this time purposefully, as the second English
settlement in the New World, after Jamestown.
The town also played a role in the American Revolution. Bermuda depended on the American Colonies for food, and when the war began, supplies grew dangerously low. Defying and ignoring the town-based British governor, George Washington and prominent British Bermudian but pro-American legislator and landowner Henry Tucker and his friends agreed that Tucker and his supporters would steal a large quantity of town-based British Army gunpowder for food under the cover of night and roll it down the hill to nearby Tobacco Bay from where it was loaded on to American ships, in the very first action by a group of American sailors and militia who later became the US Marine Corps. During the war of 1812-14, this time when Bermudians were seen to be more openly pro-British, the town again played a significant military role, both as a depot for British prison ships moored at Convict Bay housing American prisoners-of-war and again as the capital of Bermuda from which the Attack on Washington DC was planned from the Royal Navy's main command post then at Mount Wyndham nearby.
From here there are many options. The adventurous cruise ship visitor who seeks other diversions will find a nice variety of places to go, alone or with a spouse or friend or group.
Go fishing, on a licensed commercial fishing boat operating a whole day or half-day service. Some fishing boats, by prior arrangement with you and your cruise line, will meet you where your cruise ship docks. Or go by sea, rent a boat - a Boston whaler or personal watercraft - for a day or half day.
By land from here. By bus or minibus or taxi or moped/scooter. See Getting Around for Visitors. Arrange with the cruise ship to supply you with a packed lunch and towels. Wear your swimsuit under your clothes. Bring a camera and sun tan lotion. Go by mini-bus to not-far-away places such as:
By sea from here:
World's 10 best cruise ports. See http://www.aarp.org/travel/cruises/info-12-2012/which-cruise-vacation-port-trips.html?cmp=NLC-TRVL-NMCTRL-031913-TS3#slide1.
Cruises are the easiest way to see that part of the world you most want to see and often offer more value for the dollar than any other international vacation option.
Unpack once and - except in Bermuda - wake up every morning in a uniquely different fascinating destination.
Receive comfortable, well-maintained accommodations with twice-daily
maid service, 3+ meals, a full slate of shipboard activities and nightly
entertainment included, with your only extras being for optional items including alcoholic and possibly soft drinks and
juices, beauty treatments such as hair salons, buying at boutiques or other
stores of the ship, casinos, excursions, Internet connectivity, luxury choices of dining venues,
ship's photographers prints purchased and spas.
Cruise lines provide outstanding value because of the efficiency with which they deliver their service.
The typical cruise ship has teams of room stewards, chefs and waiters working 7 days a week to clean all cabins per day and prepare and serve three or four meals a day to hundreds or thousands of passengers, with provisions always made before sailing for the full complement of passengers.
Every cabin, table and employee is usually fully utilized, every
It's much more efficient and less wasteful than the system land-based hotels
and restaurants must employ to serve a smaller group of customers who vary
in number daily.
Cruise ships have gotten larger and cruise lines have grown into billion-dollar enterprises. On most cruise lines, a significant percentage of the crews' compensation comes from gratuities. Venues or services such as casinos, spas, boutiques, photographs taken by cruise staff and excursion desks are completely dependent on onboard purchases, which are directly related to the number of people onboard. Larger cruise ships will usually offer world-class theatrical shows of singers and dancers, in two shows timed to be after 1st and 2nd restaurant sittings.
Non-smokers. If you don't smoke and can't stand the smell of third-party cigarette smoke, make it clear when you book you want to be well away from and not have to pass through any smoking areas.
For cruise ship special deals or regular cruising.
Extras can easily cost much more than the cost of tickets. Extras such as per person, not per cabin rates; all beverages, whether water or wines or beers or cocktails or liqueurs, plus a 15% gratuity each time you order; exclusive onboard specialty restaurants, with a 15% or minimum of $90 per person gratuity; spas and treatments; bingo; use of gyms and fitness centers; photographs taken by cruise staff; casino; art auctions; golf lessons; tuxedo rentals if appropriate; flower delivery; shore excursions.
In their own interests, before they book cruises, prospective passengers should always ask their cruise lines if gratuities and tips included or excluded? Some better cruise lines include them. If excluded:
Instead of cruise ship special deals or regular cruising.
If offered this as an option by the cruise line (Note that some of the best cruise lines offer all-inclusive pricing which will include most if not all the following Luxury Cruise tariffs below)
Defined as cruise fare plus on-board spending. Passengers may be surprised to know that this may end up being a better overall cruise ship deal than cruise ship bargain price or regular cruising. If offered the option of one or the other, consider costing the whole cruise experience (namely, cruise fare plus on-board spending for extra-pleasurable moments such as fine food and exotic cocktails and much more at an all-inclusive cost). Doing things this way avoids what could be a considerable shock of a final cruise ship bill/check. Your final cost of a cruise is not what you pay to get on the ship but what you pay to get off.
Each ship may offer an All-Inclusive or Luxury Cruising package or combination of packages to give passengers various options. Items to consider per person may include:
|Regular 7-day Cruise||Luxury or all-inclusive 7-day Cruise|
|Cruise fare||from say $1200||from say $1600|
|Gratuities/tips||say $100||may be included|
|Specialty dining||say $50||may be included|
|Wine with dinner||say $120||may be included|
|Cocktails or after-dinner liqueurs||say $90||may be included|
|Drinks service charge||say $70||may be included|
|Shore excursions||say $150||may be included|
|Spa treatments||say $90||if also offered|
|Bottled water||say $15||may be included|
Queen Mary 2 in her new Bermuda-registered livery
P&O cruise ship Arcadia (see below), also registered in Hamilton, Bermuda.
Instead of Southampton (England) on the ships' hulls Cunard vessels now show "Hamilton," Bermuda. Earlier, there had been speculation this would occur in either Malta (Valetta), from where many of the Cunard ships' crews come, also a major ships' registry like Bermuda, Bahamas, etc. or Bermuda. Being registered, or flagged, in the U.K. means that Cunard lost out on the lucrative business of weddings at sea. UK law, which governed until the change in registry of the three Cunard ships, states that couples can only wed when the ship is in port and the service is conducted by a minister or other notary -– a less romantic proposition than exchanging vows in mid-ocean. But on ships registered in Bermuda or Malta, which include the fleets of Cunard's sister lines, Princess Cruises and P&O Cruises - all already Bermuda-flagged - couples can marry at a service officiated by the captain, in port or at sea. Weddings at sea are now big business. Cunard options included simply keeping the ships registered in Southampton; creating one ‘wedding ship' with Bermudian (never "Bermudan") or Maltese registry; or changing the registration of all three of the line's ships. Cunard elected for the latter. This development has brought Bermuda hundreds of thousands extra in annual fees, to a registry that already takes in about $3 million a year. However, in the UK there was huge disapproval in Southampton following the announcement in the UK. Cunard had been UK-registered for the last 171 years, but has said it will continue to use Southampton as its home port.
There was another reason for Cunard flagging its ships outside the UK, involving a change in European law. The enactment of Britain's Equality Act 2010 requires that staff from countries in the European Union must be paid wages equal to those of British citizens when working on British-registered ships. While many other lines use more crew from countries outside of Europe to save on operating costs, Cunard had been using mostly Europeans or Maltese in the dining rooms and bars. Now, Europeans and Maltese are likely to be replaced by others.
Cunard. All were Bermuda-registered in October, November and December 2011.(Queen Elizabeth October 24, Queen Victoria October 27 and Queen Mary 2 on December 1). Cunard has been UK-registered for the last 171 years, but has said it will continue to use Southampton as its home port.
P&O Cruises. Ships became Bermuda-registered in years shown. Arcadia (2005); Artemis (1984); Aurora (2000); Azura (2010); Oceana (2002); Oriana (1995); Ventura (2008)
Princess Cruises. Ships became Bermuda-registered in years shown. Caribbean Princess (2004); Coral Princess (2002); Crown Princess (2006); Dawn Princess (1997); Diamond Princess (2004); Emerald Princess (2007); Golden Princess (2001); Grand Princess (1998); Island Princess (2003); Ocean Princess (1999); Pacific Princess (1999); Royal Princess (2001); Ruby Princess (2008); Sapphire Princess (2004); Sea Princess (1998); Star Princess (2002); Sun Princess (1995).
Always prudently take out travel insurance, spare money and have adequate hospital and medical health insurance to cope with possible unexpected problems in a foreign country, such as Bermuda. In emergencies, contact the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital - note its rate of charges for visitors - in Paget Parish. If you are hospitalized in Bermuda, you or your insurance, if valid in Bermuda, will always be responsible. Unlike Canada, United Kingdom and Ireland, Bermuda has no National Health Service and no free clinics or free medical or surgical or prescription for visitors. Bermuda now no longer gives free hospital and surgical benefits to visitors from USA who claim they have no health insurance. Sorry, but if you ignore warnings not to hire a scooter or moped unless you are thoroughly used to driving them on the left hand side of the road and don't have healthcare/major medical insurance, you won't get much sympathy, your consulate will be told and you will have to pay. The Overseas Family Help Committee of the Hospital Auxiliary organization in Bermuda, chaired by John Gilbert, is at telephone (441) 236-2488.The Committee has only two rooms available to house your family at the Nurses Residence of the hospital, from US$ 35 per person per day per room. Affordable local accommodation in Bermuda for spouses or friends or families who come to visit you in hospital, is difficult or impossible to find, especially in the cruise ship or tourist high season from April to November.
The Revenue Amendment Act 2007 obliges ships and aircraft to provide the Collector of Customs with electronic lists of passengers and crew prior to arrival in Bermuda when required. Government anticipates that this will assist local security officers in pin-pointing high-risk individuals and cargo items. The information to be listed will include sex, date of birth, passport number and country of issue. The bill also obliges ships and aircraft to provide electronic data in advance on cargo including the marks, numbers and contents of every item of goods on board.
Two cruise ships moored in Bermuda
Visitors may bring in, duty free for personal use only while they are here, their clothes and articles like cameras, golf bags, 50 cigars or 200 cigarettes or 0.454 kilos (1 pound weight) tobacco; 1 liter of liquor or wine and a $30 gift allowance. Returning residents are allowed an allowance of US$ 100, no longer per person but per household (until 1989 it was US$400 a person, reduced in 1990/91 to US$250 a person and subsequently reduced yet again to the present US$100 per person) before they pay duty on items they bring but visitors are not entitled to such an allowance. Items brought in by visitors and residents that are not within their duty free category incur a stand import duty rate of 35% of purchase cost. Produce receipts from a retail store satisfactory to the Customs Department of actual purchase price of the items or be prepared for the Customs Department to assess items for your payment of duty at much higher Bermuda prices. This is applied vigorously. To avoid being arrested and having goods confiscated, do not try to import goods into Bermuda without paying the duty.
Most Consumer and electronic goods can be imported if determined to be free of narcotics, but be prepared to pay a heavy import duty on them if they exceed your per-trip duty-free allowance of $100 per household if you are a Bermudian or approved resident. If with nothing illegal and with no items to declare, you may be waved through.
If you are bringing any foodstuffs with you, be sure to check yourself with Bermuda Customs to know what is legal and dutiable. Only Bermuda Customs can be the definitive source of information. Write in advance to Bermuda Customs at Hamilton Hall, 40 Front Street, Hamilton HM 11, P. O. Box HM 2084, Hamilton HM HX, Bermuda.
Owners of arriving animals, plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables must have proper documentation approved earlier by the Bermuda Government's Department of the Environment. Only prepared fresh, frozen or cooked fish or shellfish can be brought in providing the packaging is free of algae or seaweed.
Cruise ship passengers are strongly recommended to read, learn, inwardly digest and pay strict heed to the webfile above. It applies to those who arrive by air or cruise ship or yacht. The full list of the hundreds of banned narcotics are in the Bermuda Government's Misuse of Drugs Act 1972 and Misuse of Drugs (Controlled Drugs) Order 2001 enacted on August 1, 2001. It is not an excuse if you fail to make yourself familiar with the contents of the full list. Penalties are very severe for those who ignore this warning. Locals, tourists and visitors are not given any breaks. It is wrong and misleading for cruise ship passengers caught with drugs and fined very heavily to claim they are not given any warning. The claims they invariably offer that they do not have the money to pay the fines are routinely ignored. They are remanded in custody or are put on bail with their transportation tickets impounded until they do. Also, there are many other repercussions.
If beaches are your idea of heaven, or combining them with sightseeing, be sure to take a picnic lunch, drinks, camera, swimsuit and towels. For tourists arriving by cruise ship from March through May and September through February, please note only you and possibly a few hardy local souls will want to use the beaches. Most Bermudians won't use them then, they consider the water too cold until late May and after Labour Day.
Visitors to Bermuda will notice that unlike in the USA and US Virgin Islands, Bermuda stores:
No off-the-shelf duty-free liquor is available, such as in the Caribbean.
If your cruise ship will be in Bermuda on a day coinciding with a Saturday or Sunday or other religiously-significant day and you would like to be able to attend Mass or a service ashore, expect the on-board cruise director staff to have full information on what churches and other places of worship are in or near the Bermuda port at which you dock and times of their services. When passengers let cruise staff know ahead of time, it may be possible to arrange to meet as a group if you are all going to the same church and share a taxi if a particular church is not within walking distance or if a regular public transportation bus or ferry is not available.
Disabled Facilities on Cruise Ships
Physically challenged or blind or hearing impaired or mobility-restricted prospective passengers should always make a point of checking in advance or having their caregivers do so, what facilities are available for them on the cruise ships of the cruise lines they favor or, when not available, on competing cruise ships. These can vary considerably. Matters of particular importance may include:
Those sailing from US ports to Bermuda are required by US laws have between 15 and 25 disabled cabins and staterooms, more roomy than for the non-disabled. But be aware of the fact that some cruise lines and their travel agents don't check to see that people really are disabled - wheelchair confined, blind, deaf or ambulatory with a stick - and are registered as such with their state or provincial government agencies, they allow persons who are not disabled to occupy staterooms intended solely for the disabled and their caregivers or carers. Disabled persons, if denied a cabin specifically for the disabled, under American laws have specific legal remedies if such cabins are instead given by cruise ship operators to persons not officially registered as disabled and don't have appropriate ID documentation to prove it.
Cruise ships sailing from US ports to Bermuda are required by US laws have between 15 and 25 cabins and staterooms for the registered disabled/physically handicapped, more roomy than for the non-disabled. But they don't always check to see that people really are disabled - wheelchair confined, blind, deaf or ambulatory with a stick - and are registered as such with their state or provincial government agencies. So they allow persons who are not disabled to occupy staterooms intended solely for the disabled and their caregivers or carers. Disabled persons, if denied a cabin specifically for the disabled, under American or British or European laws (the latter two for ships leaving from the UK or Europe) have specific legal remedies if such cabins are instead given by cruise ship operators to persons not officially registered as disabled and don't have appropriate ID documentation to prove it.
For Bermuda's only complete A-Z of facilities and services for the disabled, see the extensive notes in the Bermuda Physically Handicapped Association web file, written by a local disabled journalist.
This website deals in detail with all the forms of public transport available to visitors and what they can and cannot carry.
Note how each course is shown with nearest Bermuda port for cruise ship passengers, how best to get there, how close public transportation will go of you do not have your own clubs; and whether public or private. Always check yourself with the course what the rates are as they can vary significantly by time of day and time of year.
Cruise visitors who are blind and have their own guide dog are advised to get their caregivers or family members who are not blind to apply as long as possible in advance, as all animals including guide dogs must be approved. The same applies to blind newcomers with their own guide dogs who are not working including those who may be dependents of those on Work Permits. Bermuda does NOT have a quarantine period. You can personally import and export animals, usually from the USA but also from Canada and the UK, with sufficient notice (which can be as high as 6 months). A proviso is that they must be licensed and micro chipped and are free from any problems. For all personal importers of pets, there is a strict import and export procedure for their documentation and certification. In all cases, including for cruise ship visitors, a formal application must be made in advance to the Ministry of Environmental Protection. See ApplicationForPermitToImportSmallAnimals.pdf.
Re prepaid international cellular calling, it is recommended cruise passengers get their service in the USA or Canada or UK or Europe or beyond to confirm Bermuda calls can be received and sent when they visit here. Some cell phone services may not be represented in Bermuda.
Cruise ship off St. George's
Bermuda does not yet offer free unrestricted WIFI access to its cruise ship passengers when going ashore. But since 2012, cruise passengers and other visitors who go to qualifying shore-based stores and restaurants in the King's Wharf/Dockyard areas can get onshore WIFI, possibly free if they patronize a restaurant or store, or for a moderate charge, in the City of Hamilton and Dockyard. (See details in the ports mentioned). This author recommended to the Government of Bermuda which operates the pier at Dockyard and to the authorities in Hamilton and St. George's, that they all have free WIFI sites, as part of the services for which they charge all passengers in passenger taxes, to give passengers a break from those super-expensive but invariably dead-slow systems aboard ship. Any WIFI sites found accidentally by passengers will not be free to all, are usually reserved for specific homes or businesses, may be strictly limited in operating times and can't be relied on to serve their non-customers.
Some passengers who may in the past have been able to get free WIFI in 2010 or earlier on their ships when approaching places such as the Bermuda Maritime Museum and other Bermuda-based employers will find they can no longer do so in 2012. All local WIFI systems have undergone significant security protection changes to limit them to their managements, employees and guests who pay for admission - to protect against unauthorized piracy. They no longer offer free WIFI from an insecure site.
See http://www.cruise.co.uk/images/Cruise//cruise_gallery/1/Wifi%20Jan%202011_0.pdf for a 2012 guide on which cruise lines offer WIFI and at what prices.
All cruise ships, big and small, irrespective of where they sail, now use pinpoint satellite navigation. (Inmarsat satellites provide voice, data and broadband services to most cruise ships and aircraft in conjunction with LightSquared, a Virginia-based corporation which wants to build a coast-to-coast WIFI network and has won regulatory approval to do so. Inmarsat plc global HQ is at 99 City Road, London EC1Y 1AX. There are also main offices in Dubai, Singapore, Miami, Washington DC and one in Bermuda). The captain, his senior staff, their hotel managers and more, depend on reliable internet satellite navigation to plan their duties, issue daily ship's reports in several additions depending on where the bulk of their passengers come from - USA, UK, Canada, Australia, etc. Their passengers, who pay dearly for their cruises, should have the same service.
In an article published in the UK's Daily Telegraph of Saturday, March 19, 2011 Thomas Mazloum, senior vice president of operations of Crystal Cruises was quoted as stating that to provide passengers with an internet service on board, cruise ships rely on a single feed from a satellite, and the signal can vary according to where the ship is in relation to the satellite. He also said that performance may also be affected by the number of people on the ship accessing the web and the type of sites they are viewing - for example, image-heavy ones or those playing video or music which take longer to load. As none of these factors are under their control it is impossible for the cruise company to guarantee passengers a consistent service. But providing on-board internet access for passengers is a top priority at Crystal Cruises and their people are constantly assessing the situation and applying new technologies. For example, they have improved connections and downloads by installing web accelerator software, which compresses data in transit between ship and satellite, optimizing communication and transmission time. Because of this, executives and business people prefer to cruise with Crystal Cruises.
But the fact remains that Internet Access on most cruise ships are hugely expensive, slow, poor, restrictive and unreliable. Some cruise ship loyalty programs now include free internet for qualifying repeat passengers but this benefit is virtually useless. On cruise ships, there is usually no notification of the general unreliability, usually because of infuriatingly slow speeds, of internet access. WIFI, when offered at cost or for free on cruise ships, may be OK for small handheld devices but is usually so low powered that it is impossible to send photographs or other attachments via a laptop or notebook. Costs should be reasonable when service is not good. But some cruise lines offer as some of their optional services classes and courses in internet and website methodology which are outrageously high-priced for internet access ranging from slow and frustrating to completely useless. Cruise ships are the worst and most expensive places to get familiar with this technology. Ever noticed how, when travel writers write about their cruises - presumably often paid for by the cruise lines to get publicity - they never mention this aspect of their cruise? Or invite comments on their articles and give their email addresses? Or state that because of the poor quality and huge expense of Internet access on board many cruise ships, many who habitually or occasionally cruise on these ships and bring their own laptops or notebooks don't depend at all on them for this service. Instead, they prepare their notes and comments in advance, wait until they reach a port or a port's shopping centre with free WIFI access, such as is now common in Lisbon, Cadiz and some Canary Islands. This author has personally seen how most crew with laptops and frustrated passengers wait for the ship to dock then immediately make a beeline for the nearest Free WIFI shopping plaza to log on to the websites they use and send and receive their emails, attachments, any ftp files, etc. Passengers are not told about this by pursers or other ship staff, they have to find this out for themselves.
Prospective cruise ship passengers who are internet savvy should make a point of checking this out thoroughly well in advance. It can be hugely important that their cruise ships have good, fast wireless Internet as a standard or an optional extra throughout the ship, not just in public rooms, giving passengers the ability to send and receive entirely at their convenience not only emails but ftp files and attachments including digital photographs. It's now been accepted in all of the United Kingdom and Europe that unrestricted free WIFI on inter-city trains is not a luxury optional extra but a good-business essential. Many cruise passengers assume wrongly that when they go on an expensive holiday or vacation they will have at least the same, if not better, abilities and Internet facilities on their ships as they do ashore in their homes and places of employment, and at the same price. But this is rarely the case. Some cruise lines don't have ship-wide wireless Internet access but limit their service to Internet rooms for passengers to send and receive text emails only, no attachments such as photographs, with no ftp facilities as are now common in most good hotels worldwide for those who have or want to send ftp files. Viking River Cruises, AMA Waterways and other European river boat operators now state they offer free WIFI to all their passengers, throughout their ships, in every cabin, not just in public areas. That sounds great, it should give them a huge marketing advantage over ocean-going cruise ships which levy obscenely high prices in comparison. Problem is, as this author and many others discovered to their acute dismay, most recently in May 2012, it is so slow, so poor, it's completely unusable, hugely frustrating. But AMA Waterways, alone it seems among riverboat operators, at least offers a stateroom where wired Internet (done through a TV screen and attached wired keyboard) is free, to receive and send your email (but not to send or receive) any large photographs or attachments. It's better than nothing. Riverboat passengers are not told about these shortcomings by cruise staff, nor are they told to look for a place in one of the river ports (such as Cologne) that have reliable (reasonably fast) free WIFI for up to 2 hours, at Starbucks or selected fast food places or restaurants, where, for the price of a cup of coffee or beer or light food, they can bring their laptops or notebooks and send pre-sized digital photographs to their friends and families all over the world.
If you are on any ocean or river cruise ship in the Atlantic, Caribbean, Bermuda, Mediterranean, Pacific or elsewhere and need to get your email from say the USA or Canada or UK or wherever you live, you may not be able to do so at all, or may have to wait. If, like any prudent user on Internet banking you need to go online everyday just to check your balances against the possibility of any banking fraud or attempt of identity theft, or check your investment portfolio, you can't, not unless you take the time and trouble of searching out any local non-ship cafe or restaurant in a local port that might offer free WIFI with a meal, or an internet cafe where it will cost you. Passengers who travel to wonderful places want to be able to email photos back home to their families, friends and colleagues, at no cost. If they cannot, it's a significant opportunity wasted for both passengers and the cruise line in terms of publicity and more clientele.
Note also that all cruise lines cruising between New York and other American ports and all from the UK to Bermuda may block Skype.
See Getting around for Visitors. Also Transport Options for Residents.
Marriages/Weddings at sea
Celebrity Cruises, see http://www.celebritycruises.com/onboard/tabLanding.do?pagename=onboard_special_occasions&tab=onboard_weddings_tab.
NCL Cruises, see http://www2.ncl.com/freestyle-cruise/wedding-and-romance
P&O Weddings, see http://www.pocruises.com/wedding/termsandconditions.asp.
Princess Cruises, see http://www.princess.com/learn/onboard/gifts_services/celebrations/wedding/index.jsp
Royal Caribbean Cruises, see http://bookings.royalcaribbean.co.uk/findacruise/experience/html.do?exCode=622&wuc=GBR
Marriages on board a cruise ship are conducted by either the captain or staff captain. Bermuda-registered ships such as Cunard, P&O and Princess Cruises mean that wedding certificates will be issued by the appropriate Bermuda Government agency.
Last Updated: May
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