WEDNESDAY, DEC. 7: Carnival Cruise Line’s decision to cut its service to the island had nothing to do with the “Bermuda product’, government stated last night.

The Ministry of Transport said the move, which saw Carnival reduce the number of calls in 2012 from 12 to one, was due to the “lack of prime berths being available for their deployment requests”. It said 2012 was still expected to record the second highest number of cruise visitors, behind the record 363,000 that visited the island in 2011.

A statement said: “It should also be noted that Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) will be increasing their number of cruises to the island considerably. Looking forward to 2012 the number of regular calls will be 140 – the same as 2011.  

“However, the number of visits by the regular callers RCCL, Celebrity and Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) will increase significantly.

“The regular calls to Bermuda by RCCL, Celebrity and NCL remain bullish on the Bermuda cruise market, so much so they have dramatically increased the number of calls and visitors to the island year-over-year.”

RCCL’s Explorer of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas will visit the island a total of 55 times next year compared to 41 in 2011.

But the number of occasional cruise callers to the island will fall from 40 in 2011 to 22 in 2012 primarily due to Carnival’s decision to pull back.

European market

The statement said: “The number of occasional calls varies from year-to-year and is based on variables such as the strength of the European market.

“Many of the occasional callers are repositioning to and from Europe.”

The Ministry of Transport said Carnival’s decision came down to potential profits.

The statement added: “Due to contractual obligations with RCCL, Celebrity and NCL, prime berths are not usually available for occasional callers wishing to arrive in Bermuda on Mondays to Fridays [and between] May and Labour Day.

“These are the times when cruise lines introduce higher ticket prices because it aligns with school breaks in the US, Canada and Europe.

“RCCL, Celebrity and NCL occupy these prime berths on a weekly basis, making it difficult to accommodate all of the requests the Ministry receives from other cruise lines.

“In respect to Carnival, five of their 16 cruises in 2011 occurred in April and eight after Labour Day. Furthermore, seven of Carnival cruises in 2011 were weekends. These are not considered peak days for berthing. 

 “Carnival’s request for 2012 would have followed a similar berthing pattern, with only a few cruises arriving during the peak days and months.

“As a result, Carnival came to the conclusion that they could generate more profits going elsewhere rather than sailing to Bermuda at the less profitable dates and times.”