Going elsewhere: The lack of movement on the initiative contributed to RCL’s decision to send it newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, to China instead of Bermuda in 2015. *Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean
Going elsewhere: The lack of movement on the initiative contributed to RCL’s decision to send it newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, to China instead of Bermuda in 2015. *Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean

The price of dredging Bermuda’s shipping channels could be shared between Government and a major cruise line.

At present, Government and Royal Caribbean (RCL) are paying for investigative studies to determine how Bermuda could accommodate bigger ships. The possibility of a further partnership with RCL to help fund the dredging work is still under discussion.

High-level talks with dredging contractors to determine the availability of equipment were entered into ‘some time ago’, according to Government.

A final decision over what form these channel modifications could take is expected this summer.

A Works and Engineering spokesperson said: “These investigations require significant investment and take time to complete but are an essential element to ensure that the right decisions are made for Bermuda.

“They include surveys of the seabed material, channel depths and breadths and the natural environment.

“We are pleased to be able to say the RCL are partnered with the Government to share in the costs of these studies.

“Government has been in discussion with RCL with regards to their assistance in the development through some form of financial partnership in the construction. At this stage we have negotiated a partnership in the investigation works and both parties are pleased with the progress that is being made. Discussions are in hand with respect to the next phase.

“The nature and extent of cost-sharing in the construction, if any, has not as yet been determined and is dependent on many economic and commercial factors.”

Meanwhile, Government defended the progress of the project to modify the island’s shipping channels.

The Sun understands the lack of movement on the initiative contributed to RCL’s decision to send it newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, to China instead of Bermuda in 2015. But the spokesperson said: “While both the Government and RCL would of course have liked to have seen the arrival of the Quantum of the Seas in Bermuda in the 2015 season, consideration for channel development must consider many factors.

“These include minimizing disruption to cruise ship passengers during the season, weather conditions during the construction period, environmental factors effecting relocation of sea ecology.

“Unpredictable elements meant that the arrival of the Quantum of the Seas in the 2015 season could not have been absolutely guaranteed.

“Commercial considerations of our partners at RCL dictate that they market with confidence in advance of the season and so it has been proposed that the Quantum would start her visits to Bermuda in 2016. 

“However, RCL has not confirmed this to date.”