More than one port: While Dockyard has become the home for cruise ships calling in Bermuda, Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell said Government is looking at ‘less invasive’ alterations to Town Cut so St george’s could have a regular caller. *Bermuda Sun photo
More than one port: While Dockyard has become the home for cruise ships calling in Bermuda, Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell said Government is looking at ‘less invasive’ alterations to Town Cut so St george’s could have a regular caller. *Bermuda Sun photo

Dredging work on Bermuda’s shipping channels could begin as early as this year, according to Transport Minister Shawn Crockwell.

He told the Bermuda Sun Government was also looking at less invasive modification options to Town Cut to bring a cruise ship back to St George’s.

A series of surveys and environmental studies of the island’s shipping channels have been undertaken over the last 12 months with a view to accommodating a new era of larger liners.

And although Mr Crockwell would not say which of the three dredging models would be followed, he confirmed that work was expected to begin soon.

He added: “We know where we want to dredge, but are waiting for studies to be completed.

“I would expect the dredging to start this year. It has to happen in the off-season.

“We are hopeful that Bermudian companies will be used during this project and it will act as a job-creation opportunity.”

Bermuda recently missed out on the possibility of hosting Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas in 2015 because the current shipping channels could not safely accommodate the vessel.

But Mr Crockwell said he remains confident that the mega-ship will come to Bermuda in 2016.

He told the Sun: “It was disappointing to lose the Quantum of the Seas — but we understand the delay in hopefully bringing the ship to Bermuda.

“Dredging the channels has permanent impacts on our country.

“And although as Minister I would like to see things happen more expediently, sometimes we have to be cautious and err on the side of caution.”

He added: “I am pleased we are moving towards getting things done.

“And I am confident that the required dredging work will be done by 2016.

“I can say that the Minister of Public Works is working closely with Royal Caribbean to make this happen and we are very close to making an announcement.”

It has been several years since St George’s has welcomed a regular cruise liner, but Mr Crockwell said Government was looking to ‘less invasive and disruptive’ modifications to Town Cut to solve the problem.

He told the Sun that the ideal time to look at these options would be when dredging experts were in Bermuda to conduct modifications to the shipping channels.

He added: “We keep saying we are looking but ships that can negotiate Town Cut as it is at present are few and far between.

“We don’t necessarily have to do as much remedial work to Town Cut to make it accessible for some of the larger ships.

“It would require some modification to the bottom of the entrance way rather than removing islands.

“And we are looking at that option. 

“Having all the expertise on island for the dredging of the channels would be an ideal opportunity to look at the options for Town Cut.

“We are looking at a less invasive and disruptive remedy, while recognizing how important it is to get a cruise ship back to St George’s. We will also consider the option of building a new pier on the North Shore near the Oil Docks.”