NEW YORK -- These days, predictions come with caveats, and the 2003
Bermuda cruise season is no exception.
With continuing reservations about military conflicts, the
economy and the SARS outbreak around the globe, cruise executives
say they are in no position to make bold proclamations about how
ships might do in any given market.
That said, it would appear that Bermuda has as good a shot as
any destination of performing well because the island is close to
home and has a reputation as a "safe" destination.
The Bermuda government vigilantly controls the number of ships it
allows in its harbors, and three lines -- Norwegian Cruise Line,
Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean -- have coveted long-term
contracts that enable them to sail to the destination.
This year, two new players, Carnival Cruise Lines and Radisson
Seven Seas Cruises, have entered the Bermuda cruise fray with
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival dipped two ships into Bermuda waters with a series of
seven weeklong itineraries aboard the Carnival Pride sailing
roundtrip from New York.
The line also will operate the Carnival Legend on two six-day
sailings from Philadelphia, and it launched another two from
Baltimore; the first sailed April 29. All 11 voyages will dock at
Carnival is promoting the fact that the two ships, which debuted
in 2002, are the newest in the Bermuda market.
"Carnival has, for many years, wanted to offer a program to
Bermuda, and we're really enthused that we've finally been able to
work it out," said a Carnival spokeswoman. "It's the first time
we've had a big-capacity commitment to the Bermuda market, and we
think it's going to go extremely well with two of our newest
The Carnival Pride sailings depart from New York on Wednesdays
from July 16 through Aug. 27. The Carnival Legend will sail
roundtrip out of Baltimore again Oct. 28, and roundtrip out of
Philadelphia on May 6 and Oct. 21.
Cruise fares for the Carnival Pride start at $799 per person,
double. Per-person fares for the Carnival Legend's itineraries
start at $599, double, out of Baltimore and $699 out of
Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International, both units
of Royal Caribbean Cruises, positioned three ships in the Bermuda
market this year with sailings out of New York: the Horizon and the
Zenith for Celebrity and the Nordic Empress for Royal Caribbean
According to Rod McLeod, senior vice president of industry
relations for Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International,
Bermuda and the Port of New York are benefiting from the homeport
strategies that were brought on by 9/11.
"For the cruise industry, Bermuda is a very good lever for the
development of the Northeast market," he said. "Bermuda has been
the sustaining [destination for this market] over the last 20
Although it is impossible to predict just how well the ships
will perform, McLeod noted that sailings for both lines are booking
"I expect that we will sail at capacity this year," he said. "I
think Bermuda fits well into the homeport strategy."
Celebrity's Horizon sails roundtrip to Bermuda from New York
every Saturday through Sept. 13. On Sept. 21, it will sail on the
first of four seven-night cruises roundtrip from Philadelphia.
The Zenith operates its series of Bermuda itineraries roundtrip
from New York on Saturdays through Oct. 18. The two ships spend two
days in the port of St George's, and another two days in Hamilton.
Fares start at $800 per person, double.
Royal Caribbean International's Nordic Empress was set to begin
its weekly Bermuda series May 4, concluding Oct. 12.
Departing on Saturdays, the ship will spend three days at King's
Wharf and also feature an overnight in Hamilton. Fares start at
$799 per person, double.
Norwegian Cruise Line
For its part, Norwegian Cruise Line will carry more passengers
to Bermuda this year than any other cruise line, the company
NCL was able to grow its Bermuda-bound fleet to two ships, the
Norwegian Sea and the Norwegian Majesty, by taking over a Bermuda
slot previously filled by Princess Cruises' Pacific Princess.
The Majesty and the Sea will collectively operate 45 cruises to
Bermuda from three ports -- Boston, New York and Philadelphia.
"Bermuda historically has been a good market for us," said Andy
Stuart, NCL's senior vice president of marketing and sales.
This year, NCL is offering its passengers a new twist to its
Freestyle Dining program. Those sailing with the line can have
lunch at a choice of 35 Bermuda restaurants for a nominal fee of
$5. They can do the same for dinner, at a cost of $10.
"If you're in Bermuda for three days, it's really nice to have
the opportunity to experience Bermuda hospitality," Stuart
The Norwegian Majesty was set to sail on seven-day itineraries
roundtrip from Boston every Sunday from May 4 to Oct. 19, calling
at St. George's. Fares start at $799 per person, double.
Every Sunday from June 8 to Sept. 21, the Norwegian Sea will
depart from New York to Bermuda, calling at St. George's, Hamilton
and King's Wharf.
On Sept. 28, the vessel will reposition from New York to
Philadelphia for a six-day sailing to Hamilton and King's Wharf
before launching a series of seven-day Philadelphia to Bermuda
itineraries on Oct. 5, 12 and 19. Fares start at $699 per person,
Radisson Seven Seas
Radisson's Bermuda schedule aboard the Seven Seas Navigator
marks the first time the line has sailed out of New York.
"Radisson Seven Seas Cruises saw an opportunity to position one
of its luxury vessels on the East Coast," said a spokesman for the
line. "We do so well in Alaska that we thought we'd balance that
with an East Coast presence."
Radisson's Seven Seas Navigator will sail roundtrip from New
York to Bermuda May 7 through Sept. 17. Departures are on
Wednesdays, and the ship will spend Fridays and Saturdays in
Hamilton and Sundays in St. George's.
Prior to the inaugural roundtrip Bermuda cruise, the line
operated an April 23 sailing from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to
Hamilton, followed by an April 30 Hamilton to New York
As an incentive to book, the line is offering free, two-night
pre-cruise stays at Manhattan's Waldorf-Astoria, including a ticket
to an array of Broadway musicals.
The offer applies to the cruises of May 7, 14, 21 and 28, and
June 4, 11 and 18. The incentive package also includes roundtrip
transportation to the ship for those passengers who live within a
50-mile radius of the cruise terminal.
Those guests opting not to take advantage of the
pre-cruise/hotel/theater package will receive a $300 credit. Per
person prices for the Bermuda sailings start at $2,695.
The spokesman said Radisson Seven Seas plans to renew its
contract to operate the sailing again next year. "We have every
intention of going back in 2004," he said.
For more details on this article, see Too soon to track bookings for Bermuda's