The Veendam will make her final voyage to Hamilton later this month. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
The Veendam will make her final voyage to Hamilton later this month. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

FRIDAY, AUGUST 10: Regular cruise ship visits to Hamilton will end when the Veendam completes her final voyage later this month.

And, in another blow to tourism, Royal Caribbean has cut the number of calls they will be making to the island in 2013 by 11.

Government says it is still hoping to lure smaller ships to the capital and St George’s to make up for the drop in numbers — -including those run by Disney Cruise Line.

But Joanne MacPhee, Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive, told the Bermuda Sun that the absence of a regular cruise ship in the city would have a significant effect on retailers and restaurants.

She said: “It is a significant blow that there will be no regular cruise ship next year in Hamilton. The Veendam has provided a major boost to retailers and restaurants in the city over the last three years. The ship’s passengers have a higher spending power than the ships that come into Dockyard.

“There seem to be no plans for a permanent cruise ship in Hamilton for the foreseeable future and that will have a big effect on the city.”

Ms MacPhee said that a decision over whether Harbour Nights continued next year would be made next month and would not be linked to whether there was a regular cruise ship in Hamilton.

St George’s Mayor, Kenneth Bascome, added: “In one aspect I believe that the departure of the Veendam will  be detrimental.

“But we are not putting our eggs in one basket.  We are looking at other ways to attract people to St George’s and get more of the lift out of Dockyard.

“This is an opportunity for government to look at more occasional callers that stop for just eight to 10 hours.

“If we had as little as four of these kind of ships it would benefit the economy a great deal.”

This year the Veendam will make a total of 19 trips to the island from New York. She will make her final trip to the island on August 28 before being deployed to another route next year.

Hamilton has also hosted four occasional callers since the start of 2012 with a further six schedule for later in the year.

A government spokesman said: “The Veendam will not be returning to Bermuda in 2013.

“However, we will have nine occasional callers, including the Azamara Quest,  Hamburg, Silverseas Spirit, Seven Seas Mariner, Holland America Prisendam, Pacific Princess and the Silverseas Silver Whisper.

“We continue to pursue small ships for Hamilton and St. George’s  but they are increasingly difficult to find. Discussions continue with Disney and other cruise lines regarding a Bermuda deployment.  No date has been decided as to when a decision will be made.’

By the end of 2012 Royal Caribbean’s two ships, Explorer of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas, will have visited the island a total of 55 times between them.

Next year the Enchantment will be replaced by the Grandeur of the Seas, which will only visit the island on 15 occasions, ten less than the Enchantment.

A government spokesman added: “We had early discussions with Royal Caribbean to include additional Grandeur of the Seas calls from Baltimore, with a weekend stop in Bermuda and continuing to Maine and other locations in New England.

“Royal Caribbean decided that these cruises were not selling well, and decided not to include them in their 2013 itinerary.

“However, we will still have 15 calls from the Grandeur of the Seas in 2013.  We will also have 29 calls from the Explorer of the Seas in 2013, compared to 30 Explorer calls in 2012. 

The Bermuda Sun tried to contact Royal Caribbean to ask why they had cut their calls to Bermuda. But we received no response.