In a move that will surprise a few people, Holland America Line is making a partial return to summertime Bermuda cruises in 2015.
The line attempted to revive the historic run over three years, from 2010- 2012, using the 50,000 ton, 1300 passenger Veendam, on a series of seven night sailings from New York.
Initially, the idea was for Veendam to spend two nights alongside in Hamilton, and a third at the historical capital of St. George. However, access to the latter proved difficult through the narrow cut, and the local tender operation used as a substitute proved unsatisfactory.
Other factors weighing against the itinerary at the time included the fact that the Bermuda government refused to allow cruise ship casinos to open in port. That meant three redundant nights out of every seven in terms of casino revenue; quite a financial hit over the course of a nineteen cruise summer season (based on 2012 figures).
Since then, however, the government has relaxed the restrictions on cruise ship casinos, and this is undoubtedly a big part of the reason why Holland America has decided on an at least partial return to Bermuda. If successful, it could presage the resumption of a full season of sailings for 2016 and beyond.
According to the Bermuda Sun newspaper, the company is bringing back the popular Veendam to operate six sailings next year, all seven day round trips from Boston. All six will dock for four days and three nights along the famous front street in Hamilton, with easy access to the beaches, snorkelling, dining and world class shopping for which Bermuda is renowned.
There are three sailings, on May 2nd, 9th and 30th, two more on June 6th and 27th, plus what is sure to be a popular July 4th Independence Day departure. All are listed and on sale now on the Holland America website.
All of these cruises sail on a Saturday, arriving in Bermuda at one o’clock on Monday afternoon for the three night stay. The Veendam then sails from Hamilton at one in the afternoon of the following Thursday, arriving back into Boston that Saturday morning.
What makes these itineraries unique is the fact that the Veendam is far more intimate than the other Bermuda ‘regulars’. Plus, the fact that the ship spends three full nights alongside in the capital, rather than the two night stays offered by the big ships over at King’s Wharf, also gives her another definite edge over the opposition. And sailing from Boston might also give her a bit of a competitive edge over the ‘weekend’ sailings from nearby Manhattan and Cape Liberty.
This one is going to be interesting. As ever, stay tuned.