Stores will be allowed to be open on Sunday to start the cruise ship season.

The Azamara Quest will be the first ship of the season and will be in Hamilton on Sunday, March 17.

The Bermuda Chamber of Commerce announced  they have successfully lobbied Government for a further exemption to the Public Holidays Act, to allow merchants to open from 9am to 9pm on Sunday, March 17th.

Joanne MacPhee, Chamber executive director, said in a press release: “The Azamara Quest, the first cruise ship of the 2013 season will arrive in Hamilton on Sunday morning, March 17th, and will only be at dock until 5pm, so it was vital that stores of all sizes be permitted to open early to meet the demand. Government has been fully supportive of our application for the exemption and now it is up to the merchants themselves to make the most of this opportunity.”

The Azamara Quest can carry 688 passengers at double capacity and should be in port at Number 5/6 dock at 10am. Stores over 1,000 square feet that would otherwise not be able to open until 1pm will, in accordance with the exemption as published in today’s Official Gazette, be permitted to open as early as 9am.

Even though the ship is scheduled to sail at 5pm, in order to be consistent with similar applications, the Chamber requested a 9am to 9am exemption. As always, the exemption is superseded by the Liquor Licensing Act, which means that merchants will not be permitted to sell even Bermuda-made liquor products to visiting passengers on Sunday.

A Chamber spokesperson said: “While we are extremely pleased that the exemption waiver has been written into the Act, allowing for random applications such as this one, we will continue to lobby Government for a complete review of the outdated 1947 Act and bring it more into line with today’s economy. We contend that any impediments to free trade should be removed allowing consumers to decide how and when they will shop.”