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Holland America Cruise Line Returns to Bermuda After 27 Years

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With the April 25 sailing, and with a few “teething pains”, Holland America’s Veendam began it’s first series of sailings to Bermuda in over 20 years. The itinerary include a 1 day port stop-over anchored off of the shore of St. George, as well as 2 ½ days docked right along Front Street, in Hamilton. This itinerary continues into Oct. 2010, and then will repeat again in 2011. The itinerary does have several sailings during August and September where kids sail free (sharing cabins with their parents). See you cruise travel agent for details.
Of all the cruise lines currently scheduled to have ships visiting Bermuda on a regular seasonal basis, the Veendam will be the only ship which regularly docks right in Hamilton.
In my view this gives the Veendam a huge advantage over other ships which are required to tie up at King’s Wharf Dockyards. While a considerable number of amenities, such as shops and restaurants, have been constructed at the Dockyard, all visitors docking there do require transportation, either via taxi, bus, or ferry to tour many of the beaches and sights Bermuda has to offer.

Those transportation modes are fairly easy from the Dockyard, and also hold true of those wanting to visit the sights outside of Hamilton, but it really is so much more convenient being docked in central Hamilton.

The tendering process while the ship is at anchor off of St. George. Due to restrictions put in place by the Bermuda authorities, ships have to drop anchor a considerable distance from the tender pier, requiring approximately a 45 minute tender to the tie up in St. George.

Ships used to anchor in a an area that was much closer to St. George. In fact, the smaller ships used to be allowed to sail into St. George and dock at the pier.

However, with environmental concerns, and concerns about the every growing coral reefs, a further area for ships to anchor has been chosen for all ships stopping at St. George.

We were onboard the third sailing of this New York to Bermuda of Veendam, and the first where sea conditions were considered safe enough to drop and anchor and use the Bermuda tender service to transport guests into St. George. Unfortunately the process did not operate smoothly. Many passengers were late for tours because they missed tender; many tours were cancelled because the tenders ran late; and generally many passengers were left frustrated and angry about the entire process.

Over the next two days many meetings were held between Holland America and the Bermudian authorities in this regard. As I was traveling with a press group, we were given some access to ask questions of Bermuda’s Director of Tourism, and later Veendam’s Captain, Captain Peter J van Maurik. Between the two separate discussions we did seem to receive some conflicting information.

The Director of Tourism for Bermuda stated “they would do whatever is necessary” to make certain the tendering process for St. George visits went more efficiently, and more satisfying for ship’s passengers.

At least in my opinion, the Captain’s explanation of the most likely scenario for future visits, is that there would be a strictly adhered to schedule for the tender. However, guests would be told up front that there would be a minimum of 1 ½ hrs. between tenders, and guests would make an informed decision as to whether they wanted to go ashore or not.

The cause of the tendering problems is most significantly because the ship is not allowed to use it’s own tenders in the process. They are limited to using tenders supplied by Bermuda, and because many of these are used in the regular ferry service within the islands of Bermuda, the number of large ferries (holding 750 people) used for the tendering process from the Veendam is ONE.

During our entire cruise on the Veendam, from NYC to Bermuda and return, I was writing daily live reports from the ship. If you would like to know more about this cruise please feel free to read those daily instalments in the Holland America Message Board on CruiseMates.

– A View From the Kuki Side of Cruising –





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Comment from slkosher
Time May 25, 2010 at 5:56 am

Nice blog!! I always very much excited to know more about Bermuda and I am interested to go with you in next trip.

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