Staying put: Bad weather forced the Seven Seas Navigator to cancel its trip to St George’s and to remain in Hamilton for the duration of its stay. *Creative Commons photo by Softron
Staying put: Bad weather forced the Seven Seas Navigator to cancel its trip to St George’s and to remain in Hamilton for the duration of its stay. *Creative Commons photo by Softron

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 9: Tour operators and traders in St Georges were left “devastated and demoralized” at the weekend after bad weather forced a cruise ship to forgo its planned stop in the Old Town.

Dozens of walking and carriage tours as well as boat trips had to be cancelled after the Seven Seas Navigator made the decision to stay in Hamilton for its entire stay on the island.

The cruise ship was due to transfer from the capital to St George’s on Saturday morning.

But rough seas forced the vessel to remain in Hamilton until she left the island on Saturday afternoon.

Businesses in St George’s say this year has been the worst on record and described the Seven Seas Navigator’s trip as the “last gasp”.

Gill Outerbridge, who runs walking tours of St Georges, told the Bermuda Sun the cancellation was a major blow to the town.

She added: “The last minute cancellation of the ship visit was devastating and demoralizing for the Town.

“We were all geared up with excitement for days prior, ready to make the most of an influx of cruise ship passengers, finally!

“It was a huge let-down but I have to say that St George’s has been disappointed so often in the past we have developed a sort of negative philosophy of ships bypassing us.

“The Navigator is a great ship for excursions as they are included in the cruise price so we had masses of bookings for St George’s.

“My daughter Alison and I had 48 guests booked for the Walking Tour of St Georges.”

Ms Outerbridge added: “The shops were eagerly anticipating some income as these passengers are traditionally good shoppers.

“I understand Bronky Minor’s carriage rides were booked for the entire day.

“We realise the weather was understandably a factor in the cancellation but in a sense it would have been the last gasp of the year for St George’s.

“It’s been another long depressing summer for a town accustomed to having two ships alongside with the subsequent air of energy and liveliness.

“If, as it appears, Bermuda is to become a ‘cruise ship destination’ then St George’s has a lot of serious considerations ahead.”

Gerry Corriea of Ocean Breeze Sail Charters had prepared to take 78 cruise passengers out on Sail and Swim tours before the weather stepped in and the Seven Seas Navigator changed its plans.

He told the Bermuda Sun: “You cannot do much about Mother Nature but it was very disappointing for us and other businesses.

“We were expecting three full boats out on the water but of course none of that happened when the cruise ship decided to stay in Hamilton.

“My business partner did take out 27 people from Hamilton when the weather broke but we did not take anyone out in St George’s.

“I don’t blame anyone but we could have really done with the trade. It has been a tough year in St George’s and this was an opportunity we really needed.”

In 2011 only two cruise ships have sailed through Town Cut into St George’s.

And often the Veendam, which was scheduled to drop anchor at Murray’s Anchorage just off St George’s, bypassed the East End and sailed straight in to Hamilton.

Next year the Veendam has no plans to stop in St George’s.

Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone, who runs the Bermuda Perfumery, told the Bermuda Sun her business is down over 30 per cent compared to last year.

She said she had been forced to cut hours and lay off staff.

“We were very lucky to find out early enough that the Seven Seas Navigator would not come to St. George’s,” she added.

“I had an extra staff scheduled for that day and cancelled her at the last minute. Needless to say, many of my neighbour stores did not get this information in time.”

But she hit out at the transportation laid on to take visitors to St George’s this summer and branded it “appalling”.

She added: “ We had more than half less ferries from Dockyard than in 2010 and every time there was a ferry to cancel, they always cut the service to St. George’s first.

“I advertise on the cruise ships that come to Bermuda. Countless times this summer, my reps on these ships could not make it to St. George’s because the ferries were full.

“The Bermudian, the additional ferry that supplemented when there were two cruise ships at Dockyard was a joke. It took about 90 minutes to get to St. George’s and docked at the other end of the town. It was just complete chaos and confusion all the time.”