Luxury line: High-end cruise passengers could be bound for the island if the Bermuda Tourism Authority wins them over in meetings in the next two weeks. The BTA will be meeting with five different companies, including Silversea Cruises, to sell them on the idea of America’s Cup-themed cruises.  *Creative Commons photo
Luxury line: High-end cruise passengers could be bound for the island if the Bermuda Tourism Authority wins them over in meetings in the next two weeks. The BTA will be meeting with five different companies, including Silversea Cruises, to sell them on the idea of America’s Cup-themed cruises. *Creative Commons photo

Hamilton and St George’s could see an influx of cruise ships in 2017 if Bermuda is chosen to host the America’s Cup.

This from Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO Bill Hanbury, who will be meeting with five cruise lines in the US, UK and Germany over the next week about them repositioning ships here for the event.

Mr Hanbury said Bermuda does not have the hotel capacity to host the kind of crowds that witnessed the yachting spectacle in San Francisco, Valencia or Auckland and having the cruise lines come here with America’s Cup-themed cruises would help bring in the crowds.

“This is very exciting news from two perspectives,” he said. “There is an obvious economic impact of hosting the America’s Cup. And now we’re assured of hosting some events in 2015 and 2016. 

“But we’re still going for the whole Monty. We are going to do everything we can to host the America’s Cup. We’re not satisfied at all in just being in the final two.”

Mr Hanbury said the island has put together a bid that has surprised the naysayers in the rest of the world.

“We didn’t buy it… we earned it because we have great capabilities, an incredible race course and an incredible venue.”

He added the America’s Cup Event Authority believes Bermuda has the right personnel to make this happen “and make Bermuda proud and keep the America’s Cup the extraordinary event that it is”.

He said that projections for the economic impact would be completed later this summer.

“But the long-term effect is what the most valuable thing is,” Mr Hanbury said. “It really does put us in a different perspective in the greater tourism marketplace. If Bermuda is capable of hosting events like this, then we are cable of hosting all kinds of other events. We are capable of being a very sophisticated destination and that has all kinds of good vibrations around it.”

He said the BTA was hopeful that there would be additional hotel capacity to cater to an influx of tourists for the America’s Cup, and that this could help spur work to get more rooms built.

“But we’re not going to sit back and wait for that,” Mr Hanbury said. “Next week and the week after we’re actually meeting with five different cruise lines. We’re going to talk to them about them repositioning and coming with America’s Cup-themed cruises.”

He said the lines would do weekly cruises to Bermuda rather than them being docked somewhere for the duration of the America’s Cup.

Mr Hanbury added that some ships could end up berthing here for the duration, but that’s not the intent of the meetings with the cruise lines.

“During the Super Bowl, Tampa had a hotel-based cruise ship in dock, but the folks we’re talking to are folks who know Bermuda well and have the capacity to reposition ships to accommodate visitors on a themed cruise that would be specific for the America’s Cup.”

He said ideally “it would be to get some ships to come in to Hamilton and St George’s — the smaller, mid-sized ships.”

Mr Hanbury said that would be a better fit for Bermuda rather than the mega ships. He said some of the lines the BTA will be talking with would be Silver Seas, Oceania, Viking, and Aida. 

He said there was even the possibility of those ships being anchored in the Great Sound, which would provide spectacular views of the racing. 

“All along, the America’s Cup has known this would be an event that would attract hundreds of 1,000s of people. It will attract a lot of folks and we’ll make sure a lot of folks are accommodated, but the reality is, this is a made for-TV event. That’s one of the reasons why they love the Great Sound so much. It’s a made-for-TV venue.”

Editor’s note: Aspects of this story were first reported by VSB News.