Two cruise lines halt Bermuda over Covid testing rules

There have been cancellations of cruise ship visits to Bermuda during October and November due to Covid-19 testing requirements.

Celebrity Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line made five stops – four Celebrity and one NCL.

Three other scheduled calls to the island were said to have been unofficially canceled, but which cruises could not be confirmed.

Lawrence Scott acknowledged the industry’s impatience with Bermuda’s Covid-19 testing protocol in May, the transport minister, said tourism needed to be balanced with the protection of islanders.

After inquiries were made to the transport and health ministries about the cancellations, a government spokeswoman responded that questions should be directed to the shipping agency that handles cruise invitations.

The official notice of the cancellation, confirmed by an industry source familiar with the procedure, said that due to “the current requirements for testing Bermuda, the cruise lines have decided to cancel the next upcoming (transatlantic/repositioning) call to Bermuda.”

The source said the ship’s routes contravene Bermuda’s Covid-19 protocols for cruise ships, which have come under fire.

“This means that cruise ships crossing the Atlantic have to pass a second test during the journey to come to Bermuda,” the source added.

“They don’t want to do it.” Because of this, the cruise lines have clashed with the Ministry of Health all year.

The island travel authorization form, which is expected to remain in effect until spring, comes with a $40 fee.

Data on the vessel’s passenger capacity were not immediately available.

But companies including Celebrity eased restrictions on travelers by 50 percent at the start of the summer as the U.S. Centers eased restrictions for disease control and prevention.

According to the current cruise schedule, beyond has a maximum passenger capacity of 3,937; silhouette 2,768; Edge 2,918 and Reflection 3,046.

NCL Sun has a stated capacity of 1,936 passengers.

Cruises have rebounded this year following the pandemic, but despite growing numbers of visitors at sea, the industry has taken the island’s Covid-19 restrictions poorly.

Competing jurisdictions such as the Bahamas have lifted restrictions, prompting mounting criticism from opposition to Bermuda’s virus protocols.

Although restrictions were eased significantly last month, unvaccinated visitors must be tested within two days of disembarking.

The requirement means a test for cruise passengers who have not received a sting to disembark in Bermuda.

An industry source contacted by The Royal Gazette yesterday said the latest loosening of the rules was not enough to calm the industry.

The cancellations, with others tipped to follow, hit Bermuda during the so-called shoulder season in which the Bermuda Tourism Authority tries to attract visitors, particularly from the US East Coast.

The newspaper asked BTA, together with the ministries of health and tourism, about the impact of the lost calls on the cruise and whether discussions are ongoing with representatives of the cruise lines.