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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) at e-mail exclusively for Bermuda Online
To refer to this file use "bermuda-online/cruises.htm" as your Subject
The Marine and Ports division of the Bermuda Government controls every aspect of cruise ship calls and publishes, usually by every January, a yearly schedule of all cruise ship calls. See http://www.marineandports.bm/Documents/Shipping_schedules/2014_Cruise_Ship_Schedule.pdf.
Cruise ships arrive in and depart from Bermuda on a seasonal, not year-round, basis. Bermuda is not the Caribbean but 1200 miles north of it, so has an appreciably cooler climate in the winter months than the Caribbean. Cruises to Bermuda from the USA usually occur in Bermuda's high season, from April through October or November, Bermuda's warmest and most humid months. Larger cruise ships dock at the former Royal Navy Dockyard, the only dock area that can handle them, King's Wharf (and Heritage Wharf adjacent), at the western end of the island. Smaller cruise ships - not many of them come to Bermuda - can dock at City of Hamilton and Town of St. George. For 2014, there are 104 regular cruise ship callers and 27 occasional calls It is hoped they will bring $82.5 million to Bermuda's economy. This includes fees paid to Government, expenditures made by cruise visitors and crew members while on-Island and shore excursions booked by cruise visitors, including taxi and bus tours, walking tours and water sport excursions. Bermuda expects to see 21,000 more cruise ship visitors in 2014 than in 2013, a total of 356,000, appreciably more than the total number of visitors by air.
The Norwegian Breakaway makes 22 visits to the Island in 2014. Also returning are Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Dawn, sailing from Boston with 22 calls; Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas, sailing from Cape Liberty, New Jersey with 27 calls; Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas, sailing from Baltimore with 14 calls; and Celebrity Cruises Summit, sailing from Cape Liberty with 19 calls. There will be three cruise calls from Charleston, South Carolina on Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas.
Cruise ship off Bermuda
Contract cruise ships are those subsidized by the Bermuda Government to come to Bermuda weekly in the season. They include Norwegian Cruise Line (Norwegian), Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises. They offer regular Bermuda sailings in 2014. Other cruise lines include Aida Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Cunard, Holland America, Oceania Cruises, P&O, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Seabourn Cruises, Silversea Cruises and Windstar Cruises.
The 4,028-passenger vessel is the largest ship to homeport in Manhattan. The giant and gaudy 'city on the sea' is the largest liner ever to visit Bermuda. The 18-deck monster has 5,300 passengers and crew.
Norwegian Breakaway's May 15, 2013 arrival in Bermuda at Dockyard
Baltimore, Maryland, Cruise Port and Cruise Terminal. Baltimore, MD 21230.
Bayonne, New Jersey, Cape Liberty Cruise Port. 14 Port Terminal Boulevard, Bayonne NJ 07002-5038.
Boston, Massachusetts, Cruiseport Boston/ Black Falcon Cruise Terminal, 48 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116.
Charleston, South Carolina, Cruise Port, Union Pier Terminal, 32 Washington St. Charleston, SC 29401.
New York, NY. Cruise Ports in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Manhattan Cruise Terminal. Piers 88, 90, 92, 711 12th Avenue at West 55th Street New York, NY 10019. Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, Pier 12, Building 112, Bowne Street & Imlay Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231.
Norfolk, Virginia, Cruise Port, Nauticus National Maritime Center, One Waterside Drive Norfolk, Virginia 23510.
UK and Europe. Cruises to Bermuda generally call at other islands first, then Bermuda, and are usually in Bermuda's low season or cooler months.
Cruise visitors exploring Bermuda;
Bermuda cruise passengers should be aware of the following:
Bermuda Government Cruise Ship Passenger Cabin Tax Guide - see http://www.gov.bm/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=275&&PageID=231429&mode=2&in_hi_userid=2&cached=true.
Arriving Cruise passengers and a warning not to use any narcotics on your cruise. Those on contract ships get to spend several days in Bermuda and thus have the chance to see Bermuda in some depth. whereas on other ships going to other islands or mainland ports you will usually see, in a visit lasting only 10 hours or so, only a superficial glimpse. Occasional cruise ships usually arrive and depart on the same day. The Bermuda Government's The Revenue Amendment Act 2007 obliges ships and aircraft to provide the Collector of Customs with electronic lists of passengers and crew prior to arrival in Bermuda when required. This assists local security officers in pin-pointing high-risk individuals. The information to be listed will include sex, date of birth, passport number and country of issue. Illegal imports. Cruise ship passengers are strongly recommended to read, learn, inwardly digest and pay strict heed to this web-file above. It applies to those who arrive by air or cruise ship or yacht. The full list of the hundreds of banned narcotics are in the Bermuda Government's Misuse of Drugs Act 1972 and Misuse of Drugs (Controlled Drugs) Order 2001 enacted on August 1, 2001. It is not an excuse if you fail to make yourself familiar with the contents of the full list. Penalties are very severe for those who ignore this warning. Locals, tourists and visitors are not given any breaks. You cannot bring in any drug or narcotic for medical purposes. It is wrong and misleading for cruise ship passengers caught with drugs and fined very heavily to claim they are not given any warning. The claims they invariably offer that they do not have the money to pay the fines are routinely ignored. They are remanded in custody or are put on bail with their transportation tickets impounded until they do. Also, there are many other repercussions. All cruise passengers who have ignored these warnings have been caught, imprisoned or fined hugely, missed their ship when it left and are on an international Interpol register.
Veendam in Bermuda
Presently, there are no gambling casinos in Bermuda but tourism chiefs want this changed. Cruise ship gambling casinos are no longer closed, as they had been for many years until October 2013. In that month, Bermuda's Members of Parliament changed the law, to allow them to remain open, after prolonged intensive lobbying from cruise ship lines who had pointed out that this restriction applied nowhere else in the cruise ship world. MPs enacted Bermuda's Cruise Ship (Casino) Act 2013. On-board casinos can now operate between 9pm and 5am, in return for a license fee per ship payable to the Bermuda Government. However, smaller ships capable of berthing in Hamilton and St Georges, with a passenger capacity not exceeding 2,000, would not be charged a licence fee, because Bermuda has so far failed to attract smaller, high-end cruise ships, and that the exemption could encourage more visits. Bermuda Tourism research has indicated that the majority of visiting cruise passengers return to their ship by 9pm and, by this time, most of Bermuda's retail shops are closed. Cruise ships have to be in port for one night or more to qualify. The use of the casino is to be limited to passengers on board the ship only. No local residents or visitors to the ship will be allowed to participate in casino activities. Most cruise ships derive their on-board revenue mainly through their casinos and shops.
Internet in Bermuda. No free unrestricted WIFI access to its cruise ship passengers when going ashore, such as in the Caribbean or Europe or Canary Islands with nearby shopping in shopping malls. But since June 2012, cruise passengers and other visitors who go to qualifying shore-based stores and restaurants in Dockyard or Hamilton can get WIFI. It costs from $3 for one hour for visitors by cruise ship or air. Any Wi-Fi enabled device such as a smart phone, tablet, personal computer or digital audio player, can connect to the network via seamless access points installed throughout the city. All you need to do is turn on your device, enable Wi-Fi connection, look for the TBi Wi-Fi Zone network and connect, then proceed to the Wi-Fi hotspot login page. See Internet in Bermuda.
Internet on Cruise ships. See the following for a 2014 guide on cost of Internet on cruise ships: http://cruiseline.com/bonvoyage/cruising-101/cheat-sheet/what-is-the-cost-of-internet-access-on-cruise-ships-
Another view of the Veendam moored in City of Hamilton
Shopping ashore. Unlike some ports in the Caribbean over 900 miles to the south, Bermuda stores are not duty-free, especially now with significant new import duty rates announced in February 2012 - see http://www.bermuda-online.org/Bermudadutyfree.htm - that impose a 25% wholesale duty-rate on everything imported, meaning an effective 50% or more retail extra cost for most items. Most ( 99.99%) of all consumer goods in Bermuda are imported. There was a time - but no more - when tourists to Bermuda delighted in the bargains they found on Front St. returning back to the USA, Canada, etc. with cashmere sweaters, Liberty scarves, Harris tweeds, perfumes along with china, glassware, cameras and jewellery. Bermuda advertised itself as a place where goods were cheaper than in the USA and elsewhere and, as a further incentive to shop in Bermuda, there was no sales tax. There still is none, but most goods available in Bermuda are now appreciably more expensive than those bought in USA, Canada and UK. As merely one example of this, consider a pair of shoes retailing in the USA for $59, but costing $112.94 in Bermuda, with the additional $53.94 once all the additional costs — customs duty, shipping according to weight, insurance and fuel surcharge and local mark-up — are factored in. Are not routinely open on Sundays. There is no requirement for them to do so as Sunday is regarded as a public holiday. But Government encourages them to do so. There's an almost complete absence of all major American, British UK or Canadian or other-country department and smaller regular stores and supermarkets. There are no Aldi, B&Q, Costco, Curry's, Dollarama, Dollar Giant, JC Penney, John Lewis, KMart, Kohl's, Lidl, Marshall's, Macy's, Meijer, Neiman Marcus, Nordstom, Sak's, Sam's Club, Sainsbury, Selfridge's, Target, Tesco, T. J. Maxx, Zeller's, Walmart, W. H. Smith, or any of the expensive, exclusive international stores now seen in many world financial and/or fashion centers. However, there is a locally-franchised Marks and Spencer's. You'll also notice an almost complete absence of typical American, British, Canadian and other chainstore diners or restaurants. There's a reason for this. Bermuda stores must by local law be independent of any foreign-owned (including British-UK) majority holding and be at least 60% overall beneficially owned by Bermudians (not a local requirement in most other cruise ship and offshore or onshore business jurisdictions). Once, especially before the 1990s, two superb Bermuda stores, now both extinct, H. A. & E. Smith and Trimingham Bros, side-by-side, albeit both locally-owned, were the principal ingredients of a once-local but of world-standard international shopping mecca. No longer.
Bermuda's City of Hamilton is the most central by far of Bermuda's three cruise ship ports but the city's harbour and docks can only accommodate up to medium-size cruise ships, no mega-ships.
Cruise ship Veendam docked in City of Hamilton. Royal Gazette photo
The city is in the center part of Bermuda, 15 miles from the Town of St. George) and has 2 cruise ship berths, the # 1 Passenger Terminal; and # 5 & 6 Passenger Terminal. Both can take ships of up to 750 feet in length - small and medium-size cruise ships. Bermuda's highest-rated port by a huge margin, also the most central, easiest to get to and from, with biggest choice of shopping and facilities. Two Rock Passage has been the entrance to Hamilton Harbour since 1896. A huge advantage here is that passengers can walk off ships docked here and be right in the city. A port city for hundreds of years and Bermuda's single main attraction and main shopping area by a very wide margin. From here there are frequent by-day buses and ferry service going east to the Town of St. George (about 1 hour) and west to the Royal Naval Dockyard (about 1 hour).
From here there are many options. By land. See Bermuda Beaches. By bus or taxi or moped/scooter. John Smith's Bay in Smith's Parish is a lovely public beach about 30 minutes by the # 1 bus every half hour during the day. Other public beaches are ( the public section of) Elbow Beach in Paget Parish, on the # 7 bus route; Warwick Long Bay (another personal favorite) in Warwick Parish, on the # 7 bus route; Horseshoe Bay in Southampton Parish, on the # 7 bus route; Church Bay, also in Southampton Parish, also # 7 bus route. Or, if you prefer a more leisurely pastime, head into Devonshire or Paget, on either side of the city, and walk along a relevant part of the Railway Trail. By sea. Go fishing, on a licensed commercial fishing boat operating a whole day or half-day service. Some fishing boats, by prior arrangement with you and your cruise line, will meet you either where your cruise ship docks or elsewhere convenient to you. Go by ferry to Dockyard and/or Town of St. George, a gorgeous way - and the least expensive of all trips by boat - to see the western and eastern parishes. Marine sightseeing tours. There are a number of options, all leaving from Albouy's Point near the Ferry Terminal. Rent a Boston whaler. Ask for a map and directions. A special recommendation, if you or a member of your family or group or a friend can handle such a boat is go to Paradise Lake - not served by ferry - passing a number of islands, for gorgeous swimming, a picnic and sightseeing of a type most cruise ship visitors won't experience.
King's Wharf (and Heritage Wharf adjacent) are the most westerly of Bermuda's three cruise ship ports, the only ones in Bermuda that can accommodate large cruise ships. From here, there are frequent public transport ferries and buses to the major shopping areas of the City of Hamilton and historic St. George's.
Cruise ship at King's Wharf, Dockyard
Cruise ship at Dockyard
This is the only port in Bermuda where large vessels can berth. At the former Royal Naval Dockyard, at former islands now joined to the mainland in Somerset, Sandy's Parish. This is the westernmost part of Bermuda, interesting if you have plenty of time and opportunity to explore. There are frequent but often full buses going west to and east from here and ferries to and from the City of Hamilton, Bermuda's capital and major port of commerce. Public-transport ferries are more enjoyable and can be quicker too, than the public transport buses. Shopping is limited, with only the Clocktower Mall locally - within walking distance of the cruise ships docked here - offering realistic options. From this port, the nearest village is sleepy Somerset, going east. Buses go there but ferries do not. Building and subsequent modifications to Dockyard’s two cruise ship wharfs, Heritage Wharf and King's Wharf, needed to enable them to accommodate new, larger cruise ships, cost millions of dollars. Heritage Wharf was first opened in 2010 at a cost of $60 million, after originally being budgeted at $35 million. Government also had to repair for a multi-million $ sum, a broken thruster wall. The hole was caused by the thruster engines of the cruise ship that had moored there, and it has been eroded to such an extent that major repairs were necessary. Dockyard is both a Historic Preservation Area under the Planning Act and a Marine Heritage Site under the Historic Wrecks Act, because of the numerous artifacts that have been found in the basin. There are historic wrecks still lying in the mud. It is believed they include a couple of historic convict hulks. British convicts were sent to build the Dockyard for Britain's Royal Navy in the early to mid 1800s. By land from here. See Bermuda Beaches. A really nice beach - the best in this Parish - is Somerset Long Bay, but it is a fair walk from where the nearest public bus stop at Mangrove Bay. Or, if you prefer a more leisurely pastime, walk along a relevant part of the Railway Trail. Or indulge in one of the many Watersports options within reach. By sea from here. Go by ferry to City of Hamilton and/or Town of St. George, a gorgeous way - and the least expensive of all trips by boat - to see the central and eastern parishes. Go fishing, on a licensed commercial fishing boat operating a whole day or half-day service. Some fishing boats, by prior arrangement with you and your cruise line, will meet you where your cruise ship docks. Rent a Boston whaler. Ask for a map and directions. Then go, keeping to the 5 knot limit in the harbour. Take a day or half day exploration of Ely's Harbour and then a relaxing swim after the harbour to the small beaches of the Daniel's Head Village hotel. To stay legal, go on any beach up to but not beyond the high water mark. Go at high tide to give you the best chance of evading reefs and shoals.
Cruise passengers ashore at Dockyard lining up to board a ferry to Hamilton. Royal Gazette photo.
Cruise ship moored at Dockyard
St. George's, right, is the most eastern of Bermuda's three cruise ship ports. It can only take smaller cruise ships at its two docks and that depends on whether wind conditions will allow them to enter the narrow Town Cut channel shown below.
At the East End, or most eastern part of Bermuda (15 miles from the City of Hamilton). (Appears to be north on the map). If small enough, the cruise ship will enter via the narrow Town Cut channel, 220 feet wide - when wind conditions permit, in St. George's Harbor between Gates Fort and Higgs Island. It has been deepened and widened since 1846. But often, if the wind will present a hazard to the ship or passengers or crew, the captain of the cruise ship may elect to avoid St. George's and go to Hamilton instead. The town has berths at Penno's Wharf and Ordnance Island. Both can take ships of up to 750 feet in length. The town itself is within easy walking distance of the cruise ship berth for most passengers. There are frequent buses and less frequent ferries going to and from Hamilton. There are also periodic seasonal daily ferry services all the way west to the Royal Naval Dockyard. The tender Bermudian, a large ferry capable of carrying up to 700 passengers, services ships which due to to their size are unable to dock in the town. Instead, such ships anchor in Murray's Anchorage, an area off of Fort St. Catherine, weather permitting. The tender may take approximately 1 hour each way to ferry the passengers to Penno's Wharf and the tender may have to make more than one trip each way if there are too many passengers for one trip each way. Government is considering plans for a new cruise ship terminal in St George's. Pennos Wharf would be the likely location for a new terminal. Commercial activity currently taking place at the wharf could be shifted to Marginal Wharf once that had been upgraded. But the Town Cut channel will first have to be widened to allow larger cruise ships access to the town. From here, Go fishing, on a licensed commercial fishing boat operating a whole day or half-day service. Some fishing boats, by prior arrangement with you and your cruise line, will meet you where your cruise ship docks. Or go by sea, rent a boat - a Boston whaler or personal watercraft - for a day or half day. By land from here. By bus or minibus or taxi or moped/scooter. See Getting Around for Visitors. Arrange with the cruise ship to supply you with a packed lunch and towels. Wear your swimsuit under your clothes. Bring a camera and sun tan lotion. Go by mini-bus to not-far-away places such as public beach Tobacco Bay; private beach Achilles Bay half a mile away; public Fort St. Catherine Beach. See Beaches. By sea from here: Ferries don't go to Paget Island. Residents and visitors can, but always check in advance from where you rent a Boston whaler. Be sure to ask for a map and directions. Then go, keeping to the 5 knot limit in the harbor until you get to the Paget Island beach. Take photographs with no problem but be sure not to litter the beach in any way. Find a little-known-to-tourists island beach, such as those on Paget Island, 10 minutes away by water from the Old Town. It is owned by the Bermuda Government but is accessible by water (only) up to the high tide mark. (Only when you trespass beyond the high water mark will you see the sign telling you not to access without permission). The author recommends it as a lovely romantic getaway, but pick a day when the water is calm. Ferries don't go Castle Harbour. Residents and visitors can, but always check in advance from where you rent a Boston whaler. If Be sure to ask for a map and directions. Then go, keeping to the 5 knot limit in the harbor. Go west from the Town of St. George's via Ferry Reach and under Swing Bridge and then east again under Longbird Bridge into Castle Harbour, for sightseeing or beaching. For best results, go when the tide is low. In Castle Harbour, stop first on the sea side of the small beach exposed at low tide at Cable End, then moor off Castle Island. For more extensive touring, ferries go from here, depending on their timetable, to the City of Hamilton and Dockyard.
Queen Mary 2 in her new Bermuda-registered livery
P&O cruise ship Arcadia (see below), also registered in Hamilton, Bermuda.
Instead of Southampton (England) on the ships' hulls Cunard vessels now show "Hamilton," Bermuda. Earlier, there had been speculation this would occur in either Malta (Valetta), from where many of the Cunard ships' crews come, also a major ships' registry like Bermuda, Bahamas, etc. or Bermuda. Being registered, or flagged, in the U.K. means that Cunard lost out on the lucrative business of weddings at sea. UK law, which governed until the change in registry of the three Cunard ships, states that couples can only wed when the ship is in port and the service is conducted by a minister or other notary -– a less romantic proposition than exchanging vows in mid-ocean. But on ships registered in Bermuda or Malta, which include the fleets of Cunard's sister lines, Princess Cruises and P&O Cruises - all already Bermuda-flagged - couples can marry at a service officiated by the captain, in port or at sea. Weddings at sea are now big business. Cunard options included simply keeping the ships registered in Southampton; creating one ‘wedding ship' with Bermudian (never "Bermudan") or Maltese registry; or changing the registration of all three of the line's ships. Cunard elected for the latter. This development has brought Bermuda hundreds of thousands extra in annual fees, to a registry that already takes in about $3 million a year. However, in the UK there was huge disapproval in Southampton following the announcement in the UK. Cunard had been UK-registered for the last 171 years, but has said it will continue to use Southampton as its home port.
There was another reason for Cunard flagging its ships outside the UK, involving a change in European law. The enactment of Britain's Equality Act 2010 requires that staff from countries in the European Union must be paid wages equal to those of British citizens when working on British-registered ships. While many other lines use more crew from countries outside of Europe to save on operating costs, Cunard had been using mostly Europeans or Maltese in the dining rooms and bars. Now, Europeans and Maltese are likely to be replaced by others.
Cunard. Cruise ships were Bermuda-registered in October, November and December 2011.(Queen Elizabeth October 24, Queen Victoria October 27 and Queen Mary 2 on December 1). Cunard has been UK-registered for the last 171 years, but continues to use Southampton as its home port. The following Cunard corporate entities were earlier Bermuda-registered and remain so: Cunard-American International Cruises, since 3/20/2992; Cunard Line, since 8/20/1999; and Cunard Line Limited (Amalgamated) since 4/30/1998.
P&O Cruises. Cruise ships became Bermuda-registered in years shown. Arcadia (2005); Artemis (1984); Aurora (2000); Azura (2010); Oceana (2002); Oriana (1995); Ventura (2008). The following P&O corporate entities are also Bermuda-registered; P&O (Bermuda) Ltd, since 12/13/1996; P&O Bulk Carriers, since 10/18/1965; P&O Containers (International) Ltd, since 8/16/1996; P&O European Ferries (Bermuda) Ltd, since 12/13/1996; P&O Oil Trading Ltd, since 1/17/1962; P&O Services (Operations) Ltd, since 5/29/1968; and P&O Ship Management (Bermuda) Ltd, since 11/4/1996.
Princess Cruises. Cruise ships became Bermuda-registered in years shown. Caribbean Princess (2004); Coral Princess (2002); Crown Princess (2006); Dawn Princess (1997); Diamond Princess (2004); Emerald Princess (2007); Golden Princess (2001); Grand Princess (1998); Island Princess (2003); Ocean Princess (1999); Pacific Princess (1999); Royal Princess (2001); Ruby Princess (2008); Sapphire Princess (2004); Sea Princess (1998); Star Princess (2002); Sun Princess (1995). Corporate entities include Princess Cruise Lines Ltd, since 5/5/1999.
Viking River Cruises. Their river cruise ships don't sail to Bermuda, cruise only on European and other rivers. Their ships are not registered in Bermuda but in Germany. etc. However, a good number of Viking corporate entities are Bermuda-registered including: Viking Bermuda Ltd, since 3/27/2013; Viking Cruises Ltd, since 8/21/2012; Viking Holdings Ltd, since 8/21/12; Viking Ocean Cruises Finance Ltd, since 9/26/2012; Viking Ocean Cruises Ltd, since 12/20/2011; Viking River Cruises Ltd, since 9/23/2005; Viking River Cruises (Bermuda) Ltd, since 11/30/2010 and more.
Always prudently take out travel insurance, spare money and have adequate hospital and medical health insurance to cope with possible unexpected problems in a foreign country, such as Bermuda. In emergencies, contact the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital - note its rate of charges for visitors - in Paget Parish. If you are hospitalized in Bermuda, you or your insurance will always be responsible. Unlike Canada, United Kingdom and Ireland, Bermuda has no National Health Service and no free clinics or free medical or surgical or prescription for visitors. Bermuda now no longer gives free hospital and surgical benefits to visitors from USA who claim they have no health insurance. Sorry, but if you ignore warnings not to hire a scooter or moped unless you are thoroughly used to driving them on the left hand side of the road and don't have healthcare/major medical insurance, you will have to pay. Affordable local accommodation in Bermuda for spouses or friends or families who come to visit you in hospital, is difficult or impossible to find, especially in the cruise ship or tourist high season from April to November.
If you visit them, be sure to take a picnic lunch, drinks, camera, swimsuit and towels. For tourists arriving by cruise ship from March through May and September through February, please note only you and possibly a few hardy local souls will want to use the beaches. Most Bermudians won't use them then, they consider the water too cold until late May and after Labour Day. There is an optional ($16 per person round trip) minibus service specifically for cruise ship passengers to go to/from Horseshoe Bay.
If your cruise ship will be in Bermuda on a Saturday or Sunday or other religiously-significant day and you want to attend Mass or a service ashore, expect the on-board cruise director staff to have full information on what churches and other places of worship are nearby, with times of services, and what public transportation or taxi services are available.
Cruise ships can materially help improve Bermuda Disability concerns. But cruise lines sailing to Bermuda from American ports don't require Bermuda to have facilities similar to those relevant to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). See this extract of a July 24, 2013 email from a disabled resident of Pittsburgh PA: "It is disappointing you don't yet have and regrettably are not likely to get any Bermuda laws similar to those in the USA specifically for the disabled and handicapped. But there is something the cruise ship lines can do, especially Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), owner of the Breakaway. I understand Its corporations are Bermuda-registered, so it has a greater reason and far more international clout than we as disabled individuals do to press the Bermuda Government to pass meaningful laws to bring services for the disabled up to international par. I recommend that before family members who include a disabled traveler go ahead and pay a high cruise price for a Norwegian Breakaway cruise to Bermuda, they should contact NCL directly instead of dealing with a travel agent. They should tell NCL they know its home port, New York, and all other US ports are required to have full compliance with American disability laws. They should expect NCL to confirm that when it accepts passengers with disabilities on its cruises, it requires governments of all places where it sails including Bermuda to enact similar disabled-friendly laws, so that its disabled passengers get equal value for money instead of being disadvantaged in public transport and other ways."
It's a constant problem for the disabled, not only in Bermuda but in Caribbean and other ports too, where cruise ships visit but port and shore excursion facilities for the severely disabled are scarce or don't exist. However, disabled cruise ship passengers visiting American ports are usually pleasantly surprised by ADA laws applicable there.
Physically challenged or blind or hearing impaired or mobility-restricted passengers should check in advance or ask their caregivers do so, what facilities are available for them on the cruise ships of the cruise lines they favor or, when not available, on competing cruise ships. These can vary considerably. Matters of particular importance may include:
Those sailing from US ports to Bermuda are required by US laws have between 15 and 25 disabled cabins and staterooms, more roomy than for the non-disabled. cruise lines and their travel agents should check to see that people really are disabled - wheelchair confined, blind, deaf or ambulatory with a stick - and are registered as such with their state or provincial government agencies, they allow persons who are not disabled to occupy staterooms intended solely for the disabled and their caregivers or carers. Disabled persons, if denied a cabin specifically for the disabled, under American laws But not in other countries) have specific legal remedies if such cabins are instead given by cruise ship operators to persons not officially registered as disabled and don't have appropriate disability and ID documentation to prove it.
Cruise lines don't tell you, but should be required to, that if you are disabled in a wheelchair or using crutches or walking sticks or walkers (Zimmer frames) and/or are otherwise in any way mobility-impaired, you will encounter some substantial difficulties both on and off your cruise ship (on shore excursions). Here are some of the problems:
Cabin bathrooms especially on ocean-going cruise ships, also on riverboats. Many are so tiny and narrow that those who have a mobility or balance problem and don't ask for a disabled-friendly cabin will suffer, especially in the showers seemingly designed for half-grown children. They are awful.
Using a cruise-ship's elevator (lift). Although many cruise ships have them you will probably have to wait for many minutes to get one. Most often, they are packed.
Getting seating for the ship's shows. You'll miss out because by the time you get via wheelchair or by walking slowly due to your reduced mobility to the night club or venue, you may find that all seats are taken.
Shore excursions. You'll possibly go to some exotic ports, but in the Caribbean especially you'll have a problem. Why? Because cruise lines calling at Caribbean and other ports don't require those ports, for the business the cruise lines give them, to have disabled-friendly transportation. You won't be able to go on many shore excursions even though you may have pre-paid for them. Only in American and American-Caribbean (for example, Puerto Rico or St. Croix or St. Thomas or the other US Virgin Islands), or American-Pacific ports will you find these facilities, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In only a very few ports can ferries, when available, take wheelchairs and when they can most - except in US ports - don't have priority reserved seating for the elderly and/or disabled.
Cruise ships arriving in Bermuda with blind other otherwise disabled passengers with their own guide dogs should see "Guide Dogs for the Blind or Disabled" below.
Accessible Cruising, see http://www.cruise118.com/cruise-holidays/disabled-passengers.html
Carnival Cruises with a disability. See http://www.carnival.com/legal/guests-special-requirements.aspx
Carnival Cruises Special Requirements Questionnaire, see http://www.carnival.com/cms/fun/images/Special_Requirements_Information_Form.pdf
Celebrity Cruises Accessible Staterooms, see http://www.celebritycruises.com/onboard/tabLanding.do?pagename=onboard_special_needs&tab=onboard_accessible_staterooms_tab
Cruising with a disability. See http://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=9.
Cruise ships not classified as disability-friendly despite having some accessible facilities, see http://cruise-international.com/qa-emma-sanger-why-are-some-cruise-ships-not-classified-as-having-disabled-access-when-some-of-their-cabins-are-wheelchair-friendly/
Cunard Disabled Cabins, see http://www.disabledcruiseclub.com/about/disabled-cunard-cabins.html
Disabled Cruise Club (UK) - see http://www.disabledcruiseclub.co.uk/
Holland America Facilities and Services for Guests with Disabilities, see http://www.hollandamerica.com/assets/news/SpecialNeedsTravel_FactSheet.pdf.
NCL Accessibility Assistance, see http://www.ncl.com/about/accessible-cruising
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) Disability Accessibility Policy. See http://www.ncl.com/nclweb/cruiser/cmsPages.html?pageId=Accessibility. Note how it states its compliance with ADA.
NCL Disability Cruises, see http://www.disabledholidaydirectory.co.uk/about/ncl-cruises.html
P&O Cruises Accessible Cabins, see http://www.cruise.co.uk/images/Cruise//cruise_gallery/1/PO_Accessible_Cabin_List_0.pdf.
P&O Cruises disability and reduced mobility policy. See http://www.pocruises.com/Legal-Mobility-at-Sea/. Compare this with what your cruise ship line offers.
Princess Cruises Accessibility for disabled passengers, see http://www.princess.com/news/backgrounders_and_fact_sheets/factsheet/Princess-Access-Makes-Cruise-Vacations-Accessible-For-Passengers-With-Disabilities.html#.Ugi08btwZD8.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises Accessibility. See http://www.specialneedsatsea.com/about-us/cruise-lines/regent-seven-seas-cruises/.
Royal Caribbean Disabled Acessibility Cruises, see http://www.royalcaribbean.co.uk/why-cruise/accessibility/.
For Bermuda's only complete A-Z of facilities and services for the disabled, see the extensive notes in the Bermuda Physically Handicapped Association web file, written by a local disabled journalist.
This website deals in detail with all the forms of public transport available to visitors and what they can and cannot carry.
Note how each course is shown with nearest Bermuda port for cruise ship passengers, how best to get there, how close public transportation will go of you do not have your own clubs; and whether public or private. Always check yourself with the course what the rates are as they can vary significantly by time of day and time of year.
Cruise visitors who are blind and have their own guide dog are advised to get their caregivers or family members who are not blind to apply as long as possible in advance, as all animals including guide dogs must be approved. The same applies to blind newcomers with their own guide dogs who are not working including those who may be dependents of those on Work Permits. Bermuda does NOT have a quarantine period. You can personally import and export animals, usually from the USA but also from Canada and the UK, with sufficient notice (which can be as high as 6 months). A proviso is that they must be licensed and micro chipped and are free from any problems. For all personal importers of pets, there is a strict import and export procedure for their documentation and certification. In all cases, including for cruise ship visitors, a formal application must be made in advance to the Ministry of Environmental Protection. See ApplicationForPermitToImportSmallAnimals.pdf.
Celebrity Cruises, see http://www.celebritycruises.com/onboard/tabLanding.do?pagename=onboard_special_occasions&tab=onboard_weddings_tab.
NCL Cruises, see http://www2.ncl.com/freestyle-cruise/wedding-and-romance
P&O Weddings, see http://www.pocruises.com/wedding/termsandconditions.asp.
Princess Cruises, see http://www.princess.com/learn/onboard/gifts_services/celebrations/wedding/index.jsp
Royal Caribbean Cruises, see http://bookings.royalcaribbean.co.uk/findacruise/experience/html.do?exCode=622&wuc=GBR
Marriages on board a cruise ship are conducted by either the captain or staff captain. Bermuda-registered ships such as Cunard, P&O and Princess Cruises mean that wedding certificates will be issued by the appropriate Bermuda Government agency.
See Getting around for Visitors. Also Transport Options for Residents.
December 14, 2014.
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