Created: March 21, 2022 07:58
A rendering of a Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection ship. (Image from ritzcarlton.com)
Home delivery could return to the island in 2024, according to the Minister of Transport.
Lawrence Scott, delivering his budget for 2022-23, said while there were no home cruises planned for this year, the government was focused on a return to home porterage as more and more small luxury cruise ships are coming to market.
Mr Scott noted that the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection was due to visit the island for a cruise in 2023, and that the Ritz-Carlton would have a homeport in Bermuda once in 2024.
The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection website highlights a cruise from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Lisbon, Portugal with a stopover in Bermuda in April 2023.
Meanwhile, the cruise line has listed a cruise from San Juan to Bermuda in March 2024, and a second cruise departing from the island in Lisbon in April 2024.
Mr Scott said: ‘We’re going to do everything in our power to show them Bermuda hospitality, show them value, show them how much their product would be appreciated here in Bermuda during home delivery.
He added that Ritz-Carlton had yachts that could visit all three ports on the island, and it was hoped the company would do so in the future.
Mr Scott also said cruise operators were interested in investing in Bermuda’s cruise ship infrastructure, but talks were still at a very early stage.
He said, “The seeds have been planted and the green shoots are growing in the ground now.”
Mr Scott said the department intended to schedule the Orange Route ferry service, which connects Dockyard and St George’s, around cruise ships to ensure the East End can make the most of the season cruise ships.
He added that the orange route would use ferries that are already part of the maritime and port fleet rather than bringing in a ferry from overseas.
Mr Scott also highlighted the introduction of electric buses to the island and noted that more vehicles would be ordered this year.
He said: “By 2023, more than 50% of the operational bus fleet will be electric, and the average age of the fleet will be reduced from 12 years to six years.”
Mr Scott added that as the island transitions to ‘learning to live with’ Covid-19 and the fleet expands, the department will stop providing independent transport to pupils once the number of buses are operational. will reach 88.
He said the digital fare scheme for the island’s bus system is still in the RFP process, but the department was “cautiously optimistic” about its potential.
Mr Scott said as well as making it easy for customers to pay for the bus, it allows for better data collection for the ministry.
He said: “Passenger counters are a game-changer for DPT. Passenger counters will allow us to compare and contrast different routes.
Mr Scott said that although the new electric buses are not wheelchair accessible, the department is working with the Department of Social Development and Seniors to create a ‘paratransit network’ for the island to provide service on demand.
He said: “It’s not something I’m planning for this exercise, but it’s something we’re actively working on.”
Mr Scott said the government was also considering electrifying the island’s ferry service, although he said such a move was still in its infancy.
He said that while the budget for the Department of Transport headquarters had increased from $15.5 million to $30 million – an increase of $14.5 million, or 94% – a large part of this increase was due minimum income guarantee at LF Wade International Airport.
Mr Scott said $11 million had been allocated to the MRG, while $4 million had been earmarked for the development of air services.
He said the goal was to spark “transformational change” in air service to the island by expanding into new markets while protecting existing markets such as Boston.
Lawrence Scott, Minister of Transport (file photo by Akil Simmons)