The Veendam, seen here docked at Front Street for Harbour Nights, dispensed relatively high-spending cruise passengers and its withdrawal from Bermuda after next season signals another body blow to local businesses already reeling from the economic downturn. *Photo by Moongate Productions
The Veendam, seen here docked at Front Street for Harbour Nights, dispensed relatively high-spending cruise passengers and its withdrawal from Bermuda after next season signals another body blow to local businesses already reeling from the economic downturn. *Photo by Moongate Productions

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 16: Cruise giant Holland America will pull the plug on the Veendam’s visits to Bermuda after next year.

The cruise ship, which made 24 trips from New York to the island this year, will not make a scheduled visit to Bermuda in 2013.

The move comes just weeks after Carnival Cruises announced it would be slashing its service to the island from 16 trips by four ships this year, to just one in 2012.

And it is another major blow for Bermuda’s struggling retailers and hospitality businesses.

Buddy Rego, president of the Chamber of Commerce, last night described the move as a “big blow to the island’s economy”.

He added: “If this means there will be around 30,000 fewer people coming into Hamilton then it will obviously have a significant effect on all retailers.”

Holland America told the Bermuda Sun it was severing the link as “other destinations are being considered as part of our overall global deployment”.

Transport Minister Derrick Burgess said he understood the Veendam schedule was not meeting Holland America’s revenue projections.

He told us: “It is unfortunate that Holland America Line is withdrawing the ‘Veendam’ from Bermuda in 2013.

“Apparently, the New York to Bermuda schedule was not meeting their revenue projections, and they have decided to deploy the ship to another location.

“We continue to pursue the availability of small cruise ships for St. George’s and Hamilton, but the reality is that those ships which are available are mostly Luxury and Premium cruise brands and they are doing worldwide itineraries or are no longer competitive in the North American market”.

The Veendam first started sailing to Bermuda in 2010 and was supposed to dock in St George’s.

But simulation tests revealed she would not be able to safely negotiate Town Cut so she dropped anchor at Murray’s Anchorage and passengers were tendered into the Old Town.

In 2010 and 2011 the ship and her 1,300 passengers made weekly trips to the island from New York.

This year the Veendam has visited Bermuda 24 times, but has often been forced to bypass St George’s due to bad weather. She is one of the few ships that visits the capital city and is renowned for bringing in comparatively bigger spenders.

Next year her schedule has been reduced and she will only visit the island 19 times.

A statement released by Holland America stated: “The Veendam will not be returning to Bermuda for the 2013 summer season, however we will continue to call in Hamilton occasionally on other itineraries.

“The 2012 season will mark three years of Bermuda cruising round-trip from New York and in 2013 other destinations are being considered as part of our overall global deployment.

“Specific details of 2013 itineraries will be announced throughout the next year.

“We sincerely appreciate and value the partnership of the Bermuda government, tour operators, vendors, local businesses and the people of Bermuda for welcoming our guests and sharing their beautiful country.

“We look forward to a successful 2012 season in Bermuda.”

What do you think? E-mail your feedback to reporter Simon Jones: sjones@bermudasun.bm