Switch: The Oleander’s move New York to Philadelphia has compounded the problems raised for customers by ACL’s decision to end its Europe-to-Bermuda route. *File photo
Switch: The Oleander’s move New York to Philadelphia has compounded the problems raised for customers by ACL’s decision to end its Europe-to-Bermuda route. *File photo

One of the main shipping lines to service the island from the UK and Europe has pulled out of the Bermuda market.

The move by Atlantic Container Line (ACL) means customers in Bermuda will have to make alternative plans and wait longer for goods to arrive.

And it follows Bermuda Container Line’s decision to shift its ship, Oleander, and operations from New York to Philadelphia.

ACL’s decision may also increase the cost of shipping in cars and buses as only the Oleander is fitted with a ramp.

And now the vehicles would have to be transported from New York to Philadelphia before they are shipped to the island.

The announcement that ACL had withdrawn from the Bermuda trade was officially made yesterday.

A statement released by ACL’s local agents, Container Ship Management, said: “The difficult decision was made with BCL moving to Philadelphia at the end of February 2014.

“ACL will continue to provide Bermuda customers with transatlantic Roll-on and Roll-off service to New York.

“From there it will be up to the customer to make arrangements to transfer to their preferred carrier for onward carriage to Bermuda.”

The statement sent to all ACL’s customers yesterday added: “CSM will still provide assistance in setting up these transfers.

“Unfortunately, this will increase the cost to ship Roll-on Roll-Off cargo to Bermuda going forward. CSM will do everything possible to keep the increases to a minimum.”

Customers told the Bermuda Sun they were disappointed to hear ACL had pulled out of the Bermuda market.

Willie Forbes, Vice President of International Services for Bermuda Forwarders said: “It’s not very convenient. We have been working with them for many, many years and received a very good service.

“It will now take longer to get goods from Europe and the UK.

“We are looking at a solution at the moment where goods from the UK, which currently at best could take 16 days, will now take 25. While goods from Europe are likely to take around 22 days instead of the 19 that we can currently expect if everything goes well.

“However the increase in price will be negligible and we believe there will be more reliable times.”

One construction customer, who asked not to be named, said: “We have been a customer for 20 years and could always expect our cargo to arrive in two weeks from Liverpool.

“The system worked well and it’s disappointing it won’t continue.

“Now we are looking at a 19 days wait as the best we can expect to bring goods in from the UK. This obviously means we have to do a lot more planning ahead which is difficult at the moment in the construction industry.

“The big thing is the cost.”

Marion Bishop from Paget Freight added: “ACL has been on this route for a long time.

“It is always sad when you are used to dealing with someone for a long time but there are other lines that service Bermuda.”

Barry Brewer, president of Neptune Ltd, which owns BCL, told the Sun he was hugely disappointed with ACL’s decision.

He added: “Other options are available to customers in Bermuda like Mediterranean Shipping Company which has been serving Bermuda for a number of years.

“We are also investigation whether Maersk, the largest shipping company, will come back into the business and we should know more in a few days.

“We told ACL that we thought they were making a mistake in leaving.

“We moved to Philadelphia to cut costs and find a port that gave our importers as many options as possible and we feel there are enough alternatives.”

George Butterfield from Meyer Freight told the Bermuda Sun: “BISL (Bermuda International Shipping Ltd) and ICL (Independent Container Line) have provided regular, reliable service to Bermuda from the UK and Europe. 

“Realizing the need for out of gauge cargo and vehicles, BISL is now positioning its own specialized equipment overseas to support those customers in Bermuda.

“BISL will also begin positioning empty reefers overseas to support the new demand.

“BISL’s vessel Bermuda Islander, sails from New Jersey late on Mondays and arrives in Bermuda on Thursday mornings.

“MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company), the world second-largest shipping line, provides container service from all the world’s major ports into Philadelphia and Baltimore where cargo is transshipped to Bermuda.”

 Customers who are finding challenges are free to contact Meyer Freight at freightteam@meyer.bm for assistance.