Attractive: Derrick Burgess said that on-board casino operation would not only make Bermuda more  attractive to cruise lines, but that some would consider extending their  stay on the island for an additional night, boosting income for the  island as well as the ship. *Photo by Raymond Hainey
Attractive: Derrick Burgess said that on-board casino operation would not only make Bermuda more attractive to cruise lines, but that some would consider extending their stay on the island for an additional night, boosting income for the island as well as the ship. *Photo by Raymond Hainey
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MONDAY, JANUARY 9: Casinos on cruise ships could soon be operating in Bermuda ports, Minister of Transport Derrick Burgess said today.

Mr Burgess added he had a series of meetings with top-level executives of six cruise lines in the US last month. Almost all raised the issue of onboard revenue.

Mr Burgess predicted that 2012 would be “one of our best ever” with anticipated revenues of around $85 million.

But he said: “Bermuda is one of the few ports in the world where ships routinely have multiple night stays and currently the requirement is that the casinos and shops must remain closed while the ships are in port. This has a huge effect on onboard revenue.”

Mr Burgess added: “The possibility of opening the casinos in port is an option that I will explore with my Cabinet colleagues – perhaps a late-night option from 10pm to 5am.”

And he also called for Bermuda store owners to consider Sunday openings to make shopping on-island easier for tourists.

Mr Burgess said that casino operation would not only make Bermuda more attractive to cruise lines, but that some would consider extending their stay on the island for an additional night, boosting income for the island as well as the ship.

He added that shipboard shops being allowed to open in port had not been on the agenda, but that he would consider it.

Mr Burgess said: “That option could possibly be on the table sometime in the not too distant future as there is always the complaint from the passengers that neither the shops in St George’s or Hamilton are open on Sundays.

“I trust that our shops would consider Sunday afternoon opening while ships are in port.”

Mr Burgess added that getting smaller ships, which can negotiate Town Cut in St George’s and Hamilton Harbour, is “an almost impossible task.”

He said: “Those lines that have the smaller ships have them deployed elsewhere and will not move them here as they are not as profitable on this side of the world.”

But he said cruise operator MSC’s Lirica was a possibility and that a “simulation exercise” would be carried out this year.

Mr Burgess added that cruise line bosses said last season went well, with the exception of transport problems at Dockyard.

But he said: “The two major partners, Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean Cruises, which currently have long-term contracts, stand ready to assist with transportation, whether it is on land or sea. This is an avenue we will continue to explore.”