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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online
Norwegian Breakaway - a frequent Bermuda visitor
Since 1966, there has not been a regularly-scheduled passenger shipping service to Bermuda, primarily because the nearest landmass, North Carolina, is 620 miles away. Since then, ships serving Bermuda year-round from both the USA and elsewhere in the world have been freight-only vessels. However, there are seasonal cruise ships to and from Bermuda, mostly from/to US ports. Of the seasonal cruise ships, many operate via Bermuda-incorporated and Bermuda-based companies/corporations. They are seasonal because Bermuda, not the Caribbean but 1200 miles north of it, has an appreciably cooler climate in the winter months. Cruises to Bermuda from the USA usually occur in Bermuda's high season, from April through October or November, Bermuda's warmest and most humid months. Larger cruise ships dock at the former Royal Navy Dockyard, the only dock area that can handle them, at either the King's Wharf or the Heritage Wharf adjacent, at the western end of the island. Smaller cruise ships can dock at City of Hamilton and Town of St. George.
The 2017 Cruise Ship Schedule, from the Marine and Ports division of the Bermuda Government, is:
http://www.marineandports.bm/Documents/Shipping_schedules/2017_Cruise_Ship_Schedule.pdf. The new one is published by every January. The schedule shows highlights and later, where in Bermuda each ship will dock in chronological order, with expected time of arrival and departure.
2016. December 14. A Bermudian firm has won a bid to run two ferries between Dockyard and St George for Norwegian Cruise Lines. Cruiseport Ferry Management, owned by experienced mariner Beau Evans, will operate the two 85-foot catamarans from next July. The boats, built by NCL and thought to be worth between $3 million and $4 million each, will carry up to 250 passengers each and run regularly between the two destinations. The service, to be entirely staffed by Bermudians, will provide a massive boost in transport capacity to St George. Senator Michael Fahy, the Minister of Tourism, Transport and Municipalities, said the service would “more than double” the service to the island’s former capital. Mr Evans holds Department of Marine & Ports class C pilot’s licence, as well as having a Standards of Training, Certification and Watch Keeping for Seafarers qualification, which includes proficiency in marine safety, security, firefighting and first aid. Mr Fahy said: “Mr Evans has an in-depth knowledge of the Bermuda marine industry, possessing a long history in the field of marine operations and services as well as experience in cruise ship operations. I am also very pleased to announce that the captains, crews and all of the associated support staff for this venture will be Bermudian.” NCL submitted a request for proposal to run their boats in August. Kenny Bascome, Junior Minister of Tourism, a St George’s MP, said: “This increase in business will provide an important boost to the number of visitors to the Olde Towne. It is anticipated that the catamarans will be based in St George’s during the winter months for repairs and maintenance, providing a further boost to the St George’s economy. This is yet another step forward in improving tourism in St George’s — the jewel in the crown of Bermuda’s tourism product.” Bill Hanbury, CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said earlier this year that the ferries, which will create up to ten jobs, are expected to run on the island until 2022. Mr Hanbury added that the new service would augment to public ferry system rather than supplant it and the investment was not one Bermuda could have afforded on its own. NCL ships from its Regent Seven Seas and Oceania premium lines will also make a dozen calls to St George next year.
2016. October 27. Businesses in struggling St George yesterday welcomed news that the Olde Towne will next year play host to 16 cruise ships. And they said that the callers — up from the four ships that visited the port this year — would bring a boost to the local economy in their wake. David Zuill, co-owner of Davidrose jewellery store in Water Street, said: “I would assume it’s good news — next year is looking like a positive situation for everyone. It’s not just because of the cruise ships, but because of the America’s Cup and the influx of superyachts and megayachts into the town. The extra cruise ships are an added bonus, however, I’m not sure if this will continue up to the following year after the America’s Cup and if we will see more cruise ships coming every year.” Mr Zuill added that the decision by Norwegian Cruise Lines to station two ferries in Bermuda to shuttle passengers from Dockyard to St George would also increase visitor numbers. He said: “That’s a bonus as well — we have a problem with transportation and that will relieve a lot of stress in terms of transportation into St George’s and getting people around. More ferries means more people in the town.” Mr Zuill was speaking after it was announced that Norwegian Cruise Lines would increase calls by its smaller premium brands, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas. Ships from the two lines will visit St George a total of 12 times in 2017. Danny Gogoi, restaurant operations manager at The White Horse pub and restaurant on the town’s King’s Square, said: “To have a captive customer base like that helps tremendously. We have seen in the past that even a small ship makes a huge amount of difference during the day.” Mr Gogoi said that visitors from cruise ships in Dockyard tended to leave in the early evening due to transport restrictions. But he added: “This will improve things tremendously, especially in the evening and for the nightlife, when you might have a thousand people. It just makes a huge difference.” And Mr Gogoi said NCL’s decision to base two 250-capacity shuttle boats in Bermuda was “a brilliant move. They wanted their guests to do more than just be on a cruise ship. To come up with this service over and above the Government ferry service is fantastic. It represents a sizeable increase in visitor numbers and something we’re looking forward to. It encourages us to spend more and invest more. Over the years, we have seen so many businesses shut down, unfortunately, because we didn’t have a captive audience like Dockyard and Hamilton.” Theresa Gibbons, manager of the Island Store in St George’s said: “It’s a 300 per cent increase in cruises — that’s amazing. The NCL cruise ships that are coming in are high-end cruise ships that hold about 700 passengers, which is very good for us. We’re very much looking forward to next year being busy from beginning to end.” Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone, owner of the Bermuda Perfumery, added: “The news of cruise ships to Bermuda for next summer is amazing. We are very happy that the BTA is working for St George’s.” Geza Wolf, of Wahoo’s restaurant on Water Street, said: “Any ship and every ship that comes in is more than welcome. Every little helps — that’s the truth and it helps to create an atmosphere in St George’s. I have no complaints. We will take what we can get and with the America’s Cup, May and June will be just crazy. It looks like it will be an amazing year and we’re very hyped up and getting ready for a very, very busy summer.” Kendaree Burgess, executive director at the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, added: “It’s good news. Anybody who lives and works in St George’s will be happy with the additional cruise ship visitors. With dedicated cruise ships, the restaurants, retail and local businesses will see a huge boost. That’s significant and it will be welcomed. It will also give a lot of the area’s businesses an opportunity to create opportunities and excursions around the extra people who will be in St George’s.
2016. October 25. A number of cruise ships have been lined up to visit the island during next year’s America’s Cup. And Bermuda Tourism Authority is attempting to lure even more. During the month of June, when most of the America’s Cup races will be held, the Fred Olsen Line will send their ship Boudicca to Bermuda from June 22-25. And the same company, in coordination with the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA), is planning to offer America’s Cup packages for the event. Celebrity Cruise Line’s Celebrity Summit will make an extended stay from June 22-25. All told, the island will see 162 cruise ship visits next year, up from 151 in 2016. This will include 16 for St George’s and 23 for Hamilton, up from four and 16 respectively, according to the Bermuda Government and the BTA. BTA CEO Bill Hanbury said in a statement: “Our stakeholders told us it was important to recruit more cruise calls to Hamilton and St George’s and I’m proud to say we have delivered. Our team went out to create and cultivate important cruise industry relationships over the past two years, then worked with the tourism ministry to close the deals. We know these additional calls may be the difference between make or break for some of our tourism industry partners, particularly in the east end.” According to a press release, Norwegian Cruise Line has planned to provide two tenders to transport their guests between Dockyard and St George’s next year. The carrying capacity of the two tenders is a combined total of 500 passengers. They will work alongside the normal ferry service already operating between the two hubs. The Corporation of St George’s and the Government have also partnered to upgrade the existing cruise and ferry infrastructure at Penno’s Wharf. Senator Michael Fahy, the tourism minister, stated: “With the significant increase in calls and the improvements we’ve made with water transport and maritime infrastructure, 2017 has the potential to be a game changer for the East End. These luxury brands bring to Bermuda exactly the kind of premium traveller we have been pursuing. I expect 2017 to be a year of busy cobblestone streets, active shops and bustling attractions for St George’s. And not far off is a new St Regis hotel which will bring increased air visitors to the old town, perfectly complementing the cruise lines we’ve attracted.” The release says the increase in the number of cruise calls to St George’s was made possible through negotiations with Norwegian Cruise Line which was encouraged to increase the number of times its smaller premium brands visited the island. Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas brands will call on St George’s 12 times in 2017 and on Hamilton twice. Meantime, also in Hamilton, the luxury brand Viking Ocean Cruises will come to Bermuda for the first time, making two calls with its Viking Sea and Viking Sky. Other cruise developments in 2017:
2016. October 25. Passengers scheduled to join a cruise ship in Bermuda were left disappointed at the weekend after the liner cancelled its call at Dockyard due to bad weather. The Anthem of the Seas was due to arrive in Bermuda on Saturday morning for a daylong trip before returning to Cape Liberty in New Jersey the same day. However, the cruise ship diverted away from the island due to an area of low pressure and heavy Atlantic seas and traveled to St Maarten in the Caribbean instead. The liner had looked to bypass Bermuda, sail south first and then stop off in Bermuda this week on the way back to New Jersey. But those plans had to be scrapped as the Norwegian Breakaway was scheduled to be at Heritage Wharf on the days the Anthem of the Seas was looking to berth. The decision by the cruise liner meant passengers hoping to join the ship in Bermuda had to make alternative arrangements.
2016. August 25. A multimillion dollar investment in two catamarans by Norwegian Cruise Line will create up to ten jobs in Bermuda. Bill Hanbury, CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority said the catamarans, with a 250-passenger capacity each, would be used to transport Norwegian cruise ship passengers from Dockyard to St George. Mr Hanbury added: “As part of the negotiations with NCL and as part of their new five-year agreement, which is now in place, they will provide Bermuda with additional lift between St George’s and Dockyard, which is sorely needed.” He was speaking after NCL advertised for a Bermudian operator with “in-depth knowledge of the marine industry” to run the ferries on behalf of the cruise line. Mr Hanbury said: “They will augment our public ferry system, not supplant it any way whatsoever. “We have a brilliant ferry system which is a huge asset and we put a lot of value on it, but this will accommodate Norwegian’s passengers specifically between two destinations which are a very big part of the Bermuda tourist product.” NCL declined to comment on the move, which will see the ferries run on island until 2022, and referred all questions to the BTA. It is thought the new ferries will cost between $3 million and $4 million each. Mr Hanbury said: “This is a positive thing. This is an investment we could not make on our own. They may help us, particularly when they have very high demand periods, with some lifts which will accommodate other visitors, but this is predominantly for NCL passengers, who sometimes struggle between Dockyard and St George’s. It also frees space on the public ferries, which also accommodates our visitors.” Michael Fahy, the Minister for Tourism, Transport and Municipalities, said: “The ministry welcomes this exciting new partnership ... NCL have agreed to procure the tenders and bring them to Bermuda, where they will be maintained by NCL. While it is expected to provide between six and ten new jobs for Bermudians to operate the tender service, it may also breathe new life into the town of St George. Increased vibrancy for the Olde Towne should create jobs in restaurants, retail stores, at the beaches and at various east end attractions. We also expect an increased number of fares for taxis and minibuses as a result.”
2016. May 12. Twelve extra cruise ships are to call on St George from 2017 to 2022 as part of a deal announced yesterday with Norwegian Cruise Line. The agreement with the Bermuda Government includes bringing two catamaran ferries to the island for a run from Dockyard to the East End, along with a yearly investment of $150,000 by NCL to sponsor tourism enhancement in co-operation with the Bermuda Tourism Authority. The deal was welcome news for the Olde Towne, which for years has been penalized by the trend for ever-larger cruise ships. Announcing the deal, Michael Dunkley described NCL as “one of our most respected and longest-serving partners”, and noted that cruise passengers spent about $45 million in Bermuda last year. “Both the Government and NCL believe that if we are to continue to prosper, then maintaining a strong, lasting and mutually beneficial partnership is a must,” the Premier said. At a press conference at the Cabinet Building, Mr Dunkley was joined by Frank Del Rio, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Lines, and Colin Murphy, senior vice-president of destination and strategic development. “We recognise that the global cruise industry is an ever evolving one and for many visitor markets, like Bermuda, it is a key economic contributor,” Mr Dunkley said. “We understand that in the face of increasing competition from other visitor markets, as a destination we too must adapt to the current industry trends, or risk getting left behind.” The boosted service to the Olde Towne “will aid greatly in the revitalization of St George’s”, he added. The commissioning of two new ferries, both their construction and delivery to the island, is taking place in consultation with the Department of Marine and Ports Services. The Premier said other agreements were potentially in the works. According to Bill Hanbury, the CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, there are 23 calls on Hamilton set for next year. Mr Dunkley said that in discussion with NCL “we will continue to look at opportunities to bring more into Hamilton”. Hailing the collective effort between the Government and the BTA, Mr Hanbury said it was “very important that we continue to focus on the cruise line industry, which provides a tremendous boost to the overall economy”. St George has long been hampered as a port by the cruise industry’s trend towards increasingly bigger vessels, but Mr Del Rio said NCL would be directing Oceania and Regent Seven Seas Brand luxury vessels to the East End, with roughly 700 passenger capacities. This will include a new Seven Seas Explorer, which he described as the “most luxurious cruise ship ever built”, and which could call on Bermuda by the winter of 2017/18. Calling the deal a favorable one for NCL as well as Bermuda’s economy, Mr Del Rio added: “They will spend two to three days on the island — and they have got deep pockets.”
2015. November 18. Cruise calls and passenger numbers are expected to increase significantly next year. An additional 15 cruise calls will be made to the Island compared with last year, while both St George’s and Hamilton will see an increase in cruise visitors during the season. Next year will also see the maiden voyage of the Royal Caribbean International liner, Anthem of the Seas, which carries 4,365 passengers — a handful more than the Norwegian Breakaway, which had previously held the record in Bermuda for the ship with the largest passenger capacity. According to the 2016 cruise schedule, which has just been released, there will be 151 cruise calls next year — the highest figure since 2012. The five regular callers — Summit, Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Breakaway, Anthem of the Seas and Grandeur of the Seas — will make 98 visits to Dockyard in 2016. Meanwhile, 53 visits will be made by “occasional callers” — an increase from 36 in the previous year. St George's is scheduled to host five different ships during the season, while Hamilton will welcome 14 liners, including four trips by the Holland America Line vessel, Veendam. Between March and April, four liners — Minerva, AIDAavita, Albatros and Balmoral — will dock at Penno’s Wharf, while in October the Sirena will call into the town. Mayor Quinell Francis told The Royal Gazette: “We see this as a step in the right direction. It’s pretty much a 100 per cent increase on what we had last year, and we remain hopeful that in the future we can secure a regular cruise ship in St George again. We are looking at all the options. Furthermore we have already been told that for 2017 there will be a permanent cruise ship with 500 rooms based at Penno’s Wharf, so that will obviously be a big boost to the town as well.” Meanwhile, as well as hosting the Veendam on four trips, Hamilton will welcome more than a dozen liners throughout the season, some of which, such as the Balmoral, Sirena, Insignia, Adonia and Viking King, will be visiting Bermuda for the first time. Kendaree Burgess, the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are happy to see an increase in the number of cruise ships and passengers. The Hamilton stores and the Harbour Nights retailers and vendors will appreciate the extra visitors. Naturally the chamber is supportive of the increase in visitor numbers.”
2015. October 22. Dredging work on the North Channel will begin before the end of the month so Bermuda’s shipping ways can accommodate the latest generation of cruise ship next year. The dredging and widening of the channel that runs from off St George’s towards Dockyard is expected to take a month to complete, but will not affect cruise liners calling in the West End. Specialized equipment that will complete the operation has already begun to arrive in Bermuda, with more vessels arriving today and tomorrow in Dockyard and Hamilton. The material collected from the dredging project will be moved to the South Basin in Dockyard where it will be used in the America’s Cup village project. Nearly 600 corals have already been relocated from the North Channel to adjacent reefs and are being monitored. Joe Simas, vice-president of marine operations for the Meyer group of companies, told The Royal Gazette: “Jan de Nul Group will be conducting the North Channel dredge. Suction dredger Niccolo Machiavelli along with two Splithopper barges Astrolabe and Boussole will be working in North Channel and The Narrows widening the channels. This will be a 24-7 operation and weather depending should be completed by end of November. The material from the dredge operation will be landed at South Basin for the America’s Cup Village project. Jan de Nul Group are experts in this field of work.” A statement released by the Cabinet Office last night confirmed that the dredging work was being done to accommodate Royal Caribbean International’s quantum class of ship that are expected to call in Bermuda in 2016. The beginning of the project comes after the Government held a series of town-hall meetings to gauge the public’s opinions on the dredging options. The Ministry of Public Works also commissioned an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to explore the positive and negative impacts of each option. The latest October update on the Bermuda Channel Study website states: “Dredging will commence in late October to avoid main coral and fish spawning season. A turbidity monitoring plan developed by the Department of Environmental Protection is being implemented with stringent action thresholds for turbidity excellencies. Deployment mobilization of the buoys has commenced.”
Cruise ship off Bermuda
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. Those on contract ships get to spend several days in Bermuda and thus have the chance to see Bermuda in some depth. Other cruises last only part of a day, 12 hours or less.
Other cruise lines include Aida Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Cunard, Holland America, Oceania Cruises, P&O, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Seabourn Cruises, Silversea Cruises and Windstar Cruises.
Norwegian Breakaway's arrival in Bermuda at Dockyard
Baltimore, Maryland, Cruise Port and Cruise Terminal. Baltimore, MD 21230.
Bayonne, New Jersey, Cape Liberty Cruise Port. 14 Port Terminal Boulevard, Bayonne NJ 07002-5038.
Boston, Massachusetts, Cruiseport Boston/ Black Falcon Cruise Terminal, 48 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116.
Charleston, South Carolina, Cruise Port, Union Pier Terminal, 32 Washington St. Charleston, SC 29401.
New York, NY. Cruise Ports in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Manhattan Cruise Terminal. Piers 88, 90, 92, 711 12th Avenue at West 55th Street New York, NY 10019. Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, Pier 12, Building 112, Bowne Street & Imlay Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231.
Norfolk, Virginia, Cruise Port, Nauticus National Maritime Center, One Waterside Drive Norfolk, Virginia 23510.
UK and Europe. Cruises to Bermuda generally call at other islands first, then Bermuda, and are usually in Bermuda's low season or cooler months.
Cruise visitors exploring Bermuda;
Bermuda cruise passengers should be aware of the following:
Bermuda Government Cruise Ship 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.
The Bermuda Government's 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. This assists local security officers in pin-pointing high-risk individuals. The information includes sex, date of birth, passport number and country of issue. Illegal imports. Arriving Cruise passengers are warned not to use narcotics on the cruise. They should read, learn, inwardly digest and pay strict heed to this web-file 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. You cannot bring in any drug or narcotic, even for medical purposes. All cruise passengers who have ignored these warnings have been caught, imprisoned or fined hugely, missed their ship when it left and are on an international Interpol register.
Veendam in Bermuda
Presently, there are no gambling casinos in Bermuda but there will be from late 2015 or 2016 when new hotels are built and others are refurbished. Cruise ship gambling casinos are no longer closed, as they had been for many years until October 2013. In that month, Bermuda's Members of Parliament changed the law, to allow them to remain open, after prolonged intensive lobbying from cruise ship lines who had pointed out that this restriction applied nowhere else in the cruise ship world. MPs enacted Bermuda's Cruise Ship (Casino) Act 2013. On-board casinos can now operate between 9pm and 5am, in return for a license fee per ship payable to the Bermuda Government. Cruise ships have to be in port for one night or more to qualify. The use of the casino is to be limited to passengers on board the ship only. No local residents or visitors to the ship will be allowed to participate in casino activities. Most cruise ships derive their on-board revenue mainly through their casinos and shops.
Internet in Bermuda. No free unrestricted WIFI access to its cruise ship passengers when going ashore (unlike in the Caribbean or Europe or Canary Islands with nearby shopping in shopping malls). In the latter part of 2015 to date, the cost, payable by credit card, is 1 hour $4.99; 24 hours $9.99; 72 hours $14.99. 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. 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. See Internet in Bermuda.
Internet on Cruise ships. See the following for a 2015 guide on cost of Internet on cruise ships: http://cruiseline.com/bonvoyage/cruising-101/cheat-sheet/what-is-the-cost-of-internet-access-on-cruise-ships-
Another view of the Veendam moored in City of Hamilton
Shopping ashore. Unlike some ports in the Caribbean over 900 miles to the south, Bermuda stores are not duty-free, especially now with significant new import duty rates announced in February 2012 - see http://www.bermuda-online.org/Bermudadutyfree.htm - that impose a 25% wholesale duty-rate on everything imported, meaning an effective 50% or more retail extra cost for most items. Most ( 99.99%) of all consumer goods in Bermuda are imported. There was a time - but no more - when tourists to Bermuda delighted in the bargains they found on Front St. returning back to the USA, Canada, etc. with cashmere sweaters, Liberty scarves, Harris tweeds, perfumes along with china, glassware, cameras and jewellery. Bermuda advertised itself as a place where goods were cheaper than in the USA and elsewhere and, as a further incentive to shop in Bermuda, there was no sales tax. There still is none, but most goods available in Bermuda are now appreciably more expensive than those bought in USA, Canada and UK. As merely one example of this, consider a pair of shoes retailing in the USA for $59, but costing $112.94 in Bermuda, with the additional $53.94 once all the additional costs — customs duty, shipping according to weight, insurance and fuel surcharge and local mark-up — are factored in. Are not routinely open on Sundays. There is no requirement for them to do so as Sunday is regarded as a public holiday. But Government encourages them to do so. There's an almost complete absence of all major American, British UK or Canadian or other-country department and smaller regular stores and supermarkets. There are no Aldi, B&Q, Costco, Curry's, Dollarama, Dollar Giant, JC Penney, John Lewis, KMart, Kohl's, Lidl, Marshall's, Macy's, Meijer, Neiman Marcus, Nordstom, Sak's, Sam's Club, Sainsbury, Selfridge's, Target, Tesco, T. J. Maxx, Zeller's, Walmart, W. H. Smith, or any of the expensive, exclusive international stores now seen in many world financial and/or fashion centers. However, there is a locally-franchised Marks and Spencer's. You'll also notice an almost complete absence of typical American, British, Canadian and other chainstore diners or restaurants. There's a reason for this. Bermuda stores must by local law be independent of any foreign-owned (including British-UK) majority holding and be at least 60% overall beneficially owned by Bermudians (not a local requirement in most other cruise ship and offshore or onshore business jurisdictions). Once, especially before the 1990s, two superb Bermuda stores, now both extinct, H. A. & E. Smith and Trimingham Bros, side-by-side, albeit both locally-owned, were the principal ingredients of a once-local but of world-standard international shopping mecca. No longer.
Bermuda's City of Hamilton is the most central by far of Bermuda's three cruise ship ports but the city's harbour and docks can only accommodate up to medium-size cruise ships, no mega-ships.
Cruise ship Veendam docked in City of Hamilton. Royal Gazette photo
The city is in the center part of Bermuda, 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. By land. 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. 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 either where your cruise ship docks or elsewhere convenient to you. Go by ferry to Dockyard and/or Town of St. George, a gorgeous way - and the least expensive of all trips by boat - to see the western and eastern parishes. Marine sightseeing tours. There are a number of options, all leaving from Albouy's Point near the Ferry Terminal. Rent a Boston whaler. Ask for a map and directions. A special recommendation, if you or a member of your family or group or a friend can handle such a boat is go to Paradise Lake - not served by ferry - passing a number of islands, for gorgeous swimming, a picnic and sightseeing of a type most cruise ship visitors won't experience.
King's Wharf (and Heritage Wharf adjacent) are the most westerly of Bermuda's three cruise ship ports, the only ones in Bermuda that can accommodate large cruise ships. From here, there are frequent public transport ferries and buses to the major shopping areas of the City of Hamilton and historic St. George's.
Cruise ship at King's Wharf, Dockyard
Cruise ship at Dockyard
This is the only port in Bermuda where large vessels can berth. At the former Royal Naval Dockyard, at former islands now joined to the mainland in Somerset, Sandy's Parish. This is the westernmost part of Bermuda, interesting if you have plenty of time and opportunity to explore. 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. Building and subsequent modifications to Dockyard’s two cruise ship wharfs, Heritage Wharf and King's Wharf, needed to enable them to accommodate new, larger cruise ships, cost millions of dollars. Heritage Wharf was first opened in 2010 at a cost of $60 million, after originally being budgeted at $35 million. Government also had to repair for a multi-million $ sum, a broken thruster wall. The hole was caused by the thruster engines of the cruise ship that had moored there, and it has been eroded to such an extent that major repairs were necessary. Dockyard is both a Historic Preservation Area under the Planning Act and a Marine Heritage Site under the Historic Wrecks Act, because of the numerous artifacts that have been found in the basin. There are historic wrecks still lying in the mud. It is believed they include a couple of historic convict hulks. British convicts were sent to build the Dockyard for Britain's Royal Navy in the early to mid 1800s. 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. Go by ferry to City of Hamilton and/or Town of St. George, a gorgeous way - and the least expensive of all trips by boat - to see the central and eastern parishes. 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. Rent a Boston whaler. Ask for a map and directions. Then go, keeping to the 5 knot limit in the harbour. Take a day or half day exploration of Ely's Harbour and then a relaxing swim after the harbour to the small beaches of the Daniel's Head Village hotel. To stay legal, go on any beach up to but not beyond the high water mark. Go at high tide to give you the best chance of evading reefs and shoals.
Cruise passengers ashore at Dockyard lining up to board a ferry to Hamilton. Royal Gazette photo.
Cruise ship moored at Dockyard
St. George's, right, is the most eastern of Bermuda's three cruise ship ports. It can only take smaller cruise ships at its two docks and that depends on whether wind conditions will allow them to enter the narrow Town Cut channel shown below.
2016. October 14. A new ferry stop for St George, including berths for an extra cruise passenger service, is in the works for the Olde Towne. Plans to move the stop to Hunter’s Wharf, which can be viewed at the Department of Planning office, include adding a 2,200 square foot open shelter, landscaping and six parallel parking spots for pick-up and drop-off on Penno’s Drive, opposite the historic Hunter’s Building. The work will extend to the edge of the Penno’s Wharf site, including the rubble seawall lining the harbourside property. Along with a docking space by the southern edge of the wharf, plans show a gangplank jutting from the eastern corner for the bow loading of passengers. Quinell Francis, the Mayor of St George, said the stop would help to accommodate two new Norwegian Cruise Line ferries bringing passengers to and from the town. According to a letter by Michael Kirkos of engineering firm Brunel Ltd, the project requires the creation of two ferry berths — one for bow loading and a second for side loading. The existing marine structure from Works and Engineering will likely be relocated, with the exception of the piled foundations, for the ferry berths. Proposed works include a new reinforced seawall, concrete or paving stone walkways, and sitting areas. In the letter, Mr Kirkos requested an “expedited processing” of the application, explaining that work must be completed by March in time for the America’s Cup. Twelve extra cruise ships are to call on St George each year from 2017 to 2022 as part of a deal between the Bermuda Government and Norwegian Cruise Lines. The agreement also includes bringing two catamaran ferries to the island for the run from Dockyard to the East End, along with a yearly investment of $150,000 by NCL to sponsor tourism enhancement in co-operation with the Bermuda Tourism Authority.
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 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. Government is considering plans for a new cruise ship terminal in St George's. Pennos Wharf would be the likely location for a new terminal. Commercial activity currently taking place at the wharf could be shifted to Marginal Wharf once that had been upgraded. But the Town Cut channel will first have to be widened to allow larger cruise ships access to the town. From here, 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 public beach Tobacco Bay; private beach Achilles Bay half a mile away; public Fort St. Catherine Beach. See Beaches. By sea from here: Ferries don't go to Paget Island. Residents and visitors can, but always check in advance from where you rent a Boston whaler. Be sure to ask for a map and directions. Then go, keeping to the 5 knot limit in the harbor until you get to the Paget Island beach. Take photographs with no problem but be sure not to litter the beach in any way. Find a little-known-to-tourists island beach, such as those on Paget Island, 10 minutes away by water from the Old Town. It is owned by the Bermuda Government but is accessible by water (only) up to the high tide mark. (Only when you trespass beyond the high water mark will you see the sign telling you not to access without permission). The author recommends it as a lovely romantic getaway, but pick a day when the water is calm. Ferries don't go Castle Harbour. Residents and visitors can, but always check in advance from where you rent a Boston whaler. If Be sure to ask for a map and directions. Then go, keeping to the 5 knot limit in the harbor. Go west from the Town of St. George's via Ferry Reach and under Swing Bridge and then east again under Longbird Bridge into Castle Harbour, for sightseeing or beaching. For best results, go when the tide is low. In Castle Harbour, stop first on the sea side of the small beach exposed at low tide at Cable End, then moor off Castle Island. For more extensive touring, ferries go from here, depending on their timetable, to the City of Hamilton and Dockyard.
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. Cruise ships 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 continues to use Southampton as its home port. The following Cunard corporate entities were earlier Bermuda-registered and remain so: Cunard-American International Cruises, since 3/20/2992; Cunard Line, since 8/20/1999; and Cunard Line Limited (Amalgamated) since 4/30/1998.
P&O Cruises. Cruise ships became Bermuda-registered in years shown. Arcadia (2005); Artemis (1984); Aurora (2000); Azura (2010); Oceana (2002); Oriana (1995); Ventura (2008). The following P&O corporate entities are also Bermuda-registered; P&O (Bermuda) Ltd, since 12/13/1996; P&O Bulk Carriers, since 10/18/1965; P&O Containers (International) Ltd, since 8/16/1996; P&O European Ferries (Bermuda) Ltd, since 12/13/1996; P&O Oil Trading Ltd, since 1/17/1962; P&O Services (Operations) Ltd, since 5/29/1968; and P&O Ship Management (Bermuda) Ltd, since 11/4/1996.
Princess Cruises. Cruise 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). Corporate entities include Princess Cruise Lines Ltd, since 5/5/1999.
Viking River Cruises. Their river cruise ships don't sail to Bermuda, cruise only on European and other rivers. Their ships are not registered in Bermuda but in Germany. etc. However, a good number of Viking corporate entities are Bermuda-registered including: Viking Bermuda Ltd, since 3/27/2013; Viking Cruises Ltd, since 8/21/2012; Viking Holdings Ltd, since 8/21/12; Viking Ocean Cruises Finance Ltd, since 9/26/2012; Viking Ocean Cruises Ltd, since 12/20/2011; Viking River Cruises Ltd, since 9/23/2005; Viking River Cruises (Bermuda) Ltd, since 11/30/2010 and more.
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 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 will have to pay. 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.
If you visit them, 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. There is an optional ($16 per person round trip) minibus service specifically for cruise ship passengers to go to/from Horseshoe Bay.
The Bermuda Government imposes a cabin and/or individual charge per night to all cruise ship lines for every night or day they are in a Bermuda port. It exceeds $60 a day. This is usually included in a cruise line's up-front pricing paid by individual passengers. Bermuda charges in this respect are understood to be the world's highest.
If your cruise ship will be in Bermuda on a Saturday or Sunday or other religiously-significant day and you want 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 nearby, with times of services, and what public transportation or taxi services are available.
Cruise ship passengers who either arrive in Bermuda or who are on Bermuda-registered cruise ships anywhere else in the world should know in advance they can only get married in Bermuda or on a Bermuda-registered cruise ship if they are members of the opposite sex. See Marriages in Bermuda. Same--sex marriages are not allowed in Bermuda or on any Bermuda-registered cruise or other ship or vessel.
Cruise ships can materially help improve Bermuda Disability concerns. But cruise lines sailing to Bermuda from American ports don't require Bermuda to have facilities similar to those relevant to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). See this extract of a July 24, 2013 email from a disabled resident of Pittsburgh PA: "It is disappointing you don't yet have and regrettably are not likely to get any Bermuda laws similar to those in the USA specifically for the disabled and handicapped. But there is something the cruise ship lines can do, especially Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), owner of the Breakaway. I understand Its corporations are Bermuda-registered, so it has a greater reason and far more international clout than we as disabled individuals do to press the Bermuda Government to pass meaningful laws to bring services for the disabled up to international par. I recommend that before family members who include a disabled traveler go ahead and pay a high cruise price for a Norwegian Breakaway cruise to Bermuda, they should contact NCL directly instead of dealing with a travel agent. They should tell NCL they know its home port, New York, and all other US ports are required to have full compliance with American disability laws. They should expect NCL to confirm that when it accepts passengers with disabilities on its cruises, it requires governments of all places where it sails including Bermuda to enact similar disabled-friendly laws, so that its disabled passengers get equal value for money instead of being disadvantaged in public transport and other ways."
It's a constant problem for the disabled, not only in Bermuda but in Caribbean and other ports too, where cruise ships visit but port and shore excursion facilities for the severely disabled are scarce or don't exist. However, disabled cruise ship passengers visiting American ports are usually pleasantly surprised by ADA laws applicable there.
Physically challenged or blind or hearing impaired or mobility-restricted passengers should check in advance or ask 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. cruise lines and their travel agents should 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 But not in other countries) 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 disability and ID documentation to prove it.
Cruise lines don't tell you, but should be required to, that if you are disabled in a wheelchair or using crutches or walking sticks or walkers (Zimmer frames) and/or are otherwise in any way mobility-impaired, you will encounter some substantial difficulties both on and off your cruise ship (on shore excursions). Here are some of the problems:
Cabin bathrooms especially on ocean-going cruise ships, also on riverboats. Many are so tiny and narrow that those who have a mobility or balance problem and don't ask for a disabled-friendly cabin will suffer, especially in the showers seemingly designed for half-grown children. They are awful.
Using a cruise-ship's elevator (lift). Although many cruise ships have them you will probably have to wait for many minutes to get one. Most often, they are packed.
Getting seating for the ship's shows. You'll miss out because by the time you get via wheelchair or by walking slowly due to your reduced mobility to the night club or venue, you may find that all seats are taken.
Shore excursions. You'll possibly go to some exotic ports, but in the Caribbean especially you'll have a problem. Why? Because cruise lines calling at Caribbean and other ports don't require those ports, for the business the cruise lines give them, to have disabled-friendly transportation. You won't be able to go on many shore excursions even though you may have pre-paid for them. Only in American and American-Caribbean (for example, Puerto Rico or St. Croix or St. Thomas or the other US Virgin Islands), or American-Pacific ports will you find these facilities, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In only a very few ports can ferries, when available, take wheelchairs and when they can most - except in US ports - don't have priority reserved seating for the elderly and/or disabled.
Cruise ships arriving in Bermuda with blind other otherwise disabled passengers with their own guide dogs should see "Guide Dogs for the Blind or Disabled" below.
Accessible Cruising, see http://www.cruise118.com/cruise-holidays/disabled-passengers.html
Carnival Cruises with a disability. See http://www.carnival.com/legal/guests-special-requirements.aspx
Carnival Cruises Special Requirements Questionnaire, see http://www.carnival.com/cms/fun/images/Special_Requirements_Information_Form.pdf
Celebrity Cruises Special needs, see http://www.celebritycruises.com/onboard-celebrity/cruise-activities-special-needs?cS=Footer&ICID=Cel_10Q4_web_hp_ftr_accessibility.
Cruising with a disability. See http://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=9.
Cruise ships not classified as disability-friendly despite having some accessible facilities, see http://cruise-international.com/qa-emma-sanger-why-are-some-cruise-ships-not-classified-as-having-disabled-access-when-some-of-their-cabins-are-wheelchair-friendly/
Cunard Disabled Cabins, see http://www.disabledcruiseclub.com/about/disabled-cunard-cabins.html
Disabled Cruise Club (UK) - see http://www.disabledcruiseclub.co.uk/
Holland America Facilities and Services for Guests with Disabilities, see http://www.hollandamerica.com/assets/news/SpecialNeedsTravel_FactSheet.pdf.
NCL Accessibility Assistance, see http://www.ncl.com/about/accessible-cruising
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) Disability Accessibility Policy. See http://www.ncl.com/nclweb/cruiser/cmsPages.html?pageId=Accessibility. Note how it states its compliance with ADA.
NCL Disability Cruises, see http://www.disabledholidaydirectory.co.uk/about/ncl-cruises.html
P&O Cruises Accessible Cabins, see http://www.cruise.co.uk/images/Cruise//cruise_gallery/1/PO_Accessible_Cabin_List_0.pdf.
P&O Cruises disability and reduced mobility policy. See http://www.pocruises.com/Legal-Mobility-at-Sea/.
Princess Cruises Accessibility for disabled passengers, see http://www.princess.com/news/backgrounders_and_fact_sheets/factsheet/Princess-Access-Makes-Cruise-Vacations-Accessible-For-Passengers-With-Disabilities.html#.Ugi08btwZD8.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises Accessibility. See http://www.specialneedsatsea.com/about-us/cruise-lines/regent-seven-seas-cruises/.
Royal Caribbean Disabled Acessibility Cruises, see http://www.royalcaribbean.co.uk/why-cruise/accessibility/.
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.
Blind cruise and other visitors who have guide dogs should get their sighted caregivers or family members to apply as long as possible in advance, as all visiting animals including guide dogs that go ashore must be pre-approved. In all cases, including for cruise ship visitors, a formal application must be made in advance to the Ministry of Environmental Protection. The guide dogs must be licensed and micro chipped in their normal place of residence and be free from any problems that could potentially affect Bermuda. See ApplicationForPermitToImportSmallAnimals.pdf. The same applies to blind newcomers who are not working, with their own guide dogs and dependents of those on work Permits.For all personal importers of pets, there is a strict import and export procedure for their documentation and certification. 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). Bermuda does NOT have a quarantine period.
Cruise ship passengers who either arrive in Bermuda or who are on Bermuda-registered cruise ships anywhere else in the world should know in advance they can only get married in Bermuda or on a Bermuda-registered cruise ship if they are members of the opposite sex. See Marriages in Bermuda. Same--sex marriages are not allowed in Bermuda or on any Bermuda-registered cruise or other ship or vessel.
Marriages to members of the opposite sex 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.
In accessibility to cruise visitors, note the challenges faced.
See Getting around for Visitors. Also Transport Options for Residents.
January 7, 2017.
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