One-off: The passenger-owned luxury cruise ship The World docked in Hamilton yesterday. Next year Bermuda will see far fewer cruise ship visits. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
One-off: The passenger-owned luxury cruise ship The World docked in Hamilton yesterday. Next year Bermuda will see far fewer cruise ship visits. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 24: Cruise passenger arrivals look set to drop by nearly eight per cent next year, the Bermuda Sun can reveal.

It is another blow to an already flagging economy, traders told us yesterday.

In 2012 around 357,000 visitors arrived on the island by cruise ship and there was a total of 162 cruise calls.

But next year’s draft shipping schedule suggests that only around 330,000 cruise passengers will visit the island, despite the arrival of the new4,000-passenger capacity Norwegian Breakaway.

And there are currently scheduled to be 126 cruise calls in 2013.

The news that there will be around 27,000 less cruising tourists coming to Bermuda is a blow to businesses across the island.

Phil Barnett, who runs the Island Restaurant Group, told the Bermuda Sun: “Right now we could do with every extra visitor we can get.

“So to see this reduction in cruise arrivals is certainly not good and does not bode well.

“It is sure to have an impact and depress sales.

“When you look out the window and see a ship like The World in Hamilton it has a huge effect. Even though it is a small ship there is a buzz about the town and the shops and restaurants are busier.”

“I hope we can work on getting a cruise ship into Hamilton for 2014 and increasing the air arrival numbers. We also need to increase our residential population and put a focus back on the friends and family visitor category that can provide us with excellent business across the board.”

Next year there will be just five regular cruise callers, compared to the six that visited the island on a weekly basis this year.

These five ships; Explorer of the Seas, Summit, Norwegian Dawn, Grandeur of the Seas and Norwegian Breakaway, will make a total of 104 trips to Bermuda throughout 2013.

This year’s six regular callers, including the Veendam, made a total of 140 trips to Bermuda between them. The number of trips that will be made by occasional or ‘one-off’ callers in 2013 remains roughly the same as this year.

Rick Olsen, who runs The Bermuda Bistro at the Beach on Front Street, added: “That is a big number of people to lose.

“A lot of the passengers come down to Hamilton from Dockyard so we are all going to feel this. Another thing to consider is that with less visits there are less occasions when cruise ship crews are coming to the island and they provide a great deal of valuable custom to restaurants and bars when there is a ship in port.”

“The difference when we have a cruise ship like The World in Hamilton is just huge. We have had a very busy day just thanks to this ship and its crew.”

The draft schedule for 2013 also suggests there will be even fewer cruise visits for St George’s. Three liners; Wind Star, Regatta and the Seven Seas Navigator, are expected to call in at Penno’s Wharf in April.

But there will be no further cruise calls in the East End for the rest of the year. St George’s MP, Kim Swan, said: “This just adds insult to injury.

“Especially when you consider St George’s used to enjoy two cruise ships coming in on a regular basis. We need to make a concerted effort about marketing St George’s as an exotic port and enticing a smaller exclusive shipping line into the East End.

“If there is a boutique cruise ship that could come into St George’s we need to go after it and bring it here. The mindset needs to change and we need to market the town properly.”

We asked Government for comment, but no response was forthcoming by press time.