Renewing what has been a mutually beneficial arrangement for several years, Norwegian Cruise Line and the Bermuda government yesterday confirmed the cruise line’s weekly summer presence at the island for a further five years, from 2017-2022, according to a report on the local Bernews website (www.bernews.com)
While the company will still sail their large,contemporary mega ships from both Boston and New York to King’s Wharf in Bermuda, the real news here is that Norwegian will also guarantee a dozen additional calls a year at the port of St. Georges, on that north east corner of Bermuda. The original capital of Bermuda has been largely starved of cruise ship calls for several years- a consequence of both increasingly larger ships being deployed here, and the limitations imposed by it’s own, very narrow approach channel.
Speaking yesterday, Norwegian CEO, Frank Del Rio, implied that these calls may actually be made by the smaller ships of Oceania and Regent cruises, the two affiliate members of the group. Certainly, ships in excess of 50,000 tons cannot navigate the narrow channel entrance at St. Georges, and this would physically rule out any of the current Norwegian fleet from sailing through the channel, unless it were to be significantly widened. This is a process that would cause considerable environmental concern if it ever came to pass.
In any event, Del Rio is promising a return to the two and three night stays in St. Georges that were once a staple of the company. I have fond memories of just such cruises to Bermuda on board the old Norwegian Majesty (see photo at header), and these were immensely popular at the time.
Going even further, Del Rio has promised to finance construction of a pair of local, inter island ferries, designed to link the popular King’s Wharf area, where the mega ships dock, to the town of St. George as well. With much of its public transportation dependent on water ferries that sail around the island, this exercise should help boost the long overdue renaissance of Bermuda’s original capital quite considerably.
Also coming to St. George- and long overdue- is a new luxury hotel, built on the now vacant headland once occupied by the demolished Holiday Inn. This area has been desperately in need of a quality hotel for many years, if not decades.
It all adds to the feeling of renewed momentum for this hugely popular island and it’s ancient, very beautiful capital. And, after around a decade, it is also very gratifying to see Norwegian Cruise Line once more renewing links with the former capital.
Interesting times. Stay tuned for updates as they come through.