WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13: The new Norwegian Breakaway could be diverted elsewhere in 2014 if gaming is not allowed on cruise ships in port in Bermuda.
Norwegian boss Kevin Sheehan said he would “seriously consider” changing the mega-ship’s itinerary if rules preventing liners from opening casinos in port remained in place.
The CEO travelled to the island just last month and met with the former Transport Minister Derrick Burgess, government officials and industry experts.
In an exclusive interview with the Bermuda Sun, Mr Sheehan said he was hopeful that the requisite law changes to allow casinos to open in port would be in place by March next year.
He added: “It was a good exchange and we had all the right people together. As far as the gaming issue is concerned it seems everyone is saying the same thing.
“They believe that allowing cruise ships to gamble in port for a limited time at night is the right decision for the industry in Bermuda.
“They are obviously sensitive about the calling of a general election.
“They want to wait until after that.
“But it seemed that to a person they all thought it was a fait accompli.
“I walked away from the trip with a lot of confidence.”
Reflecting on previous conversations on the matter, Mr Sheehan added: “I hope I was not being told the same things again.
“I would say we are counting on this change being made for next season.”
Norwegian’s newest and biggest ship, the Breakaway, is scheduled to make 22 calls from New York to Bermuda next year.
And every time she comes into Dockyard she will bring in around 4,000 visitors to the island.
Mr Sheehan said: “If the situation in Bermuda does not change we would seriously consider moving the Breakaway somewhere else.
“After five or six years of continuous efforts everyone now seems to be on the same side.
“We understand these things take time and the company is committed to Bermuda.
“But if after all this time nothing changed we would very seriously look at the itinerary out of New York.
“Especially as these guests expect to be able to gamble.
“They get really upset about it.
“We don’t want to have that as an issue.”
Norwegian bosses and government officials also discussed how Dockyard would cope with the huge influx of passengers from the Breakaway next year.
Mr Sheehan said: “Transportation has not been perfect.
“But this will be a great opportunity to expose four to five thousand people to this beautiful island.
“We want to make sure it’s better.
“We have been assured that we should not worry about transportation and that whatever needs to be done will be done.
“We have been very happy with the season so far and our guests have loved Bermuda.
“The Breakaway will be an unbelievable experience.
“The demographic of guests may be a little higher and they will hopefully have deeper pockets to spend more money while on island.”