Norwegian Cruise Lines CEO Kevin Sheehan said the company had received complaints from frustrated passengers that casinos had to shut while in port in Bermuda. *Creative Commons photo by JMazzolaa
Norwegian Cruise Lines CEO Kevin Sheehan said the company had received complaints from frustrated passengers that casinos had to shut while in port in Bermuda. *Creative Commons photo by JMazzolaa
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FRIDAY, JAN. 27: The boss of Norwegian Cruise Lines has called for ships to be allowed to open their casinos in Bermuda.

CEO Kevin Sheehan said he was “keeping his fingers crossed” that passengers would soon be able to enjoy gaming while in port.

Transport Minister Derrick Burgess recently announced that Cabinet would explore the idea of allowing onboard gaming.

Mr Sheehan told the Sun that Norwegian had received complaints from frustrated passengers that casinos had to shut on island.

Mr Sheehan added: “It would be very important for us if we could open the casinos in port.

“We get quite a few guests who complain they can not enjoy gaming when they are on the ship.

“Some guests do not realize they will not be allowed to use the casino until they arrive in Bermuda and they get upset when they find out.

“Cruise passengers spend their days on the beaches or strolling the streets but after they get back to the ship in the evening they tend to stay on board.

“And after going to a show or something like that they say they want to go to the casino. It is still the missing piece on the ship.

“To have the casinos open on board at night when it does not affect local business makes sense to me.

“We have been waiting patiently for a change for a while now and I understand the complexities of getting these things accomplished.

“But we are keeping our fingers crossed.”

Mr Sheehan proposed limited opening hours at night that would not affect local business.

He said: “I am cognisant that we would not want to impact the industries of Bermuda.

“Ideally we would like to open the casinos maybe a little earlier than 10pm. Perhaps 8pm or 8:30pm.

“They would not have to stay open as late as 5am either. It would just be a few hours for people to let out their energy.

“I don’t think opening the shops on board ship while in port is as big a deal. It’s important the passengers use the shops in Bermuda and support the local industries.

“But there is not an awful lot of night life in Bermuda and having the option of using the casino would be beneficial.”

Last year the Norwegian Gem and the Norwegian Dawn made a total of 48 trips from New York and Boston between them.

On each occasion the two ships brought more than 2,000 visitors to the island.

While in 2012 the Norwegian Star and the Norwegian Dawn are scheduled to make a further 47 visits.

Norwegian has made a two-year commitment to the island has also chosen to launch its newest and biggest ship, the Breakaway, in Bermuda in 2013.

The ship, which holds 4,000 passengers, will travel to the island 22 times from New York in 2013.

Mr Sheehan said: “The Breakaway is a destination in itself.

“And because it is such a destination people have said to me why don’t you take it down to the Bahamas as that would provide a slightly better financial outcome.

“But I am a huge fan of Bermuda. I have been coming here for years and in my view it is the most beautiful place on the planet.

“The island is such an interesting and charming experience for our guests.

“We will have to wait and see what happens with the casinos and how the new ship performs.

“We will look at the operating costs and the casino situation. That could alter the decision for the long term.

“We have made a commitment to Bermuda for the next two years and we would like to see it grow.”

Mr Sheehan admitted that last summer’s transport problems in Dockyard were a concern, but said he had received assurances that they would be ironed out.

He said: “It is a concern and we are talking with all the right people.

“We have been assured that they are working towards a solution that will work and make sure all the passengers will be able to get to where they want to go.

“Transportation issues have come up in the past and I think there was a bus strike last year that affected passengers.

“We hope that does not happen again.”

The CEO said his firm would also consider calling in to Hamilton or even St George’s if the island’s water channels were widened and dredged.

He said: “If work was done to enable our ships to get into Hamilton or even St George’s we would take advantage of it, I’m sure.

“To be able to get back into Hamilton really would be good.”