The Bermuda Tourism Authority has implemented a National Tourism Plan to ensure Bermuda’s past cruising success continues long into the future.
Offering a combination of physical beauty, a temperate climate, beaches, watersports activities and a unique cultural heritage, Bermuda has long been considered as one of the world’s premium cruise destinations.
Cruise ships have been sailing to the island regularly for more than 100 years, historically docking at the ports of St. George’s and Hamilton. Located in the town centre and close to a range of tourist amenities, both St. George’s and Hamilton remain the primary ports of call for small, luxury vessels visiting Bermuda.
In recent years, larger cruise vessels have berthed at the Royal Naval Dockyard, which has two cruise piers. The Royal Naval Dockyard can accommodate the majority of today’s ships and has been developed into a major cruise port by the West End Development Corporation and the Bermuda government. The site now features good public transportation links, as well as numerous amenities and attractions designed for cruise visitors.
St. George’s, which was first inhabited in 1609, is a well-preserved colonial town with many stone buildings dating back to the early 17th century. In addition, the island has many forts, which were built by the British government during its military and marine campaign in the Atlantic. The majority of the forts are still standing, including one that dates back to 1612, and are used to provide historical re-enactments, weddings and social functions for visiting cruise guests.
In 2000, the area known as ‘The Historic Town of St. George and Related Fortifications’ was designated as ‘an outstanding example of the earliest English urban settlement in the New World’ and became a UNESCO World Heritage site. Unlike some other UNESCO sites, St. George’s remains a living, working town and is an ideal destination for cruise operators wanting to offer guests the chance to experience the island’s unique culture, watersports activities, beaches and other tourist attractions.
Hamilton, the beating heart and capital of the island, offers cruise guests a range of shops, museums, gardens, restaurants and other notable attractions. Situated at the centre of the island, Hamilton is also the hub of local and international businesses and can be easily accessed via the bus and ferry. The mix of global sophistication and local flavour gives Hamilton its unique charm and vibrant character.
The Bermuda Tourism Authority, an independent, non-governmental entity, has managed St. George’s, Hamilton and the island’s other tourist attractions since 2013. The organisation intends to increase the island’s local economy through tourism and ensure the industry is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.
To achieve this aim, the organisation created The National Tourism Plan in 2012, identifying five tourism hubs for development. These include the Town of St. George, the City of Hamilton, South Shore area beaches, Royal Naval Dockyard and Offshore Bermuda. Although development of the five hubs will be carried out concurrently, St. George’s World Heritage Destination and St. David’s Island remain the top priority.
Focusing on the objectives of the National Tourism Plan, the Tourism Authority also aims to partner with cruise lines to develop winning product offerings and offer benefits to the operators deploying their ships to the island. The Bermuda Tourism Authority will also offer incentives to ensure small, premium ships make the island, and St George’s in particular, a must-visit destination.
As most cruise ships berth in Bermuda for at least one night, while many spend two or more nights at the island’s ports, the government has approved qualifying cruise lines to open their casinos in the evening while in port. Ships docked at the Royal Naval Dockyard must pay a casino fee, however costs for vessels berthed at St. George’s and Hamilton are waived during the evening, as long as the ship stays at least one night. The government is also set to relinquish cabin tax, while other considerations will be reviewed for those cruise lines wishing to deploy their smaller ships to these ports.
In addition, the government has developed partnerships with major cruise ports along the east coast of the US and aims to broker further incentives with those ports on behalf of cruise lines interested in deploying ships to Bermuda, in particular to St. George’s and Hamilton.
Bermuda receives very high customer ratings among cruise visitors and the Bermuda Tourism Authority, and the government, is willing and ready to partner with like-minded cruise lines, to ensure that win-win product offerings are developed benefiting the cruise line, travellers and the National Tourism Plan objectives.
This article appeared in the Itinerary Planning Special Report. To read more articles, you can subscribe to the magazine in printed or digital formats.