Long-term commitments from Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line are keeping traffic relatively stable in Bermuda as the companies operate ships from the Northeast. Norwegian Cruise Line will bring more passengers than in 2012 as the Breakaway enters service this May and a 10-year agreement with Norwegian runs through 2018.
However, with ships leaving on the same days of the week and only two berths for big vessels on the small island, Bermuda has more or less hit its ceiling in terms of what it can support.
“We have such a commitment and long-term relationship (with Norwegian and Royal) that it does not leave much room during the prime and peak times of the year,” said Larry Jacobs, a consultant to the ministry of transport.
Smaller piers allow for premium and luxury ships in Hamilton and St. George’s with calls booked this year from the likes of Azamara, Regent, Windstar and more.
Carnival Cruise Lines tested the market in 2011, sailing the shoulder seasons, according to Jacobs, but made a business decision to leave. After a three-year commitment, Holland America Line followed suit with the Veendam after 2012.
A recently elected government will have some big decisions to make, ranging from berthing to onboard revenue.
The big issues: casinos are still closed on ships staying multiple days in Bermuda. Discussions are again afoot to open the tables and slots as cruise lines voice concerns over onboard revenue numbers and threaten to move ships.
Furthermore, the new government has combined the roles of the minister of tourism development and transport.
There has been talk about where to put another megaship pier, but Jacobs noted it must be away from the current berths due to possible congestion.