Bermuda prepares for bumper 2023 cruise ship season
Transport Minister Lawrence Scott said 2023 could be a record year for cruise ship visits to Bermuda with nearly 200 calls expected.
Scott said the figure is “a testament to Bermuda’s relationship with our cruise line partners,” even though eight tours were canceled earlier due to strict coronavirus (COVID-19) testing protocols. The government has since announced that the protocols, including a controversial Travel Authorization Form (TAF), will soon end.
“Now that Bermuda has opened up with the end of COVID-19 testing on October 25, Bermuda is even more attractive and the forecast for cruise ship numbers in 2023 speaks for itself,” he said. he declares.
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“January 2023 has eight calls, February has three calls and March has 13 planned calls. Bermuda has done an outstanding job this year thanks to all of our stakeholders and their tireless work,” said Scott.
Scott said the island is now expected to have 166 visits with 15 visits canceled – eight due to COVID-19 testing policies, six due to weather conditions and one due to the sale of the Viking Sun.
The minister said Bermuda had already welcomed 310,587 cruise ship passengers this year, injecting around $131.5 million into the local economy.
In 2018, 180 cruise ship visits were scheduled and 193 were scheduled in 2019, although due to cancellations the number of actual visits recorded was 171 and 184, respectively.
2020 was expected to be a record year for cruise ship visits with 196 scheduled calls, but the global pandemic has devastated the industry, resulting in just four of the calls coming to fruition.
Last month, Celebrity Cruise Line announced it had cut four stops and Norwegian Cruise Line three in October and November due to Bermuda’s “current testing requirements”, according to the Royal Gazette newspaper.
Opposition politicians and restaurateurs have launched fresh attacks on the government over its controversial COVID-19 testing protocols after the two cruise lines canceled their visits.
The government introduced the TAF in July 2020 at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. All visitors had to take a COVID test just before arrival and submit a TFA with a fee of US$40 – down from the initial fee of US$75. Returning residents must also pay the 40 US dollars.
Prime Minister David Burt said earlier that the TAF, which is expected to bring in $22million this year, would run until next March, despite repeated calls from critics for it to be axed because it was bad for business .