At least five cruise ship calls to Bermuda have been canceled by both Norwegian Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruises due to the testing requirements the island has in place.
Three more calls by cruise ships are unofficially called off, but these cancellations have not been confirmed yet.
The cancellations do not come as a surprise. Already in May of this year, the cruise industry requested changes by the Bermuda government to testing and entry requirements, which so far have not been pushed through.
At Least Five Cruise Calls to Bermuda Canceled
Bermuda’s testing and entry requirements remain in place for now, and, as a result, at least two cruise lines have decided to cancel calls to the island later this year. Celebrity Cruises canceled four cruise calls, and Norwegian Cruise Line canceled one call.
So far, the canceled calls include Celebrity Beyond, scheduled for October 22, Celebrity Silhouette, for October 30-31, Celebrity Edge, for November 4, Norwegian Sun, for November 5; and Celebrity Reflection, for November 10.
Celebrity Cruises stated to Cruise Hive, “We will no longer visit Bermuda on four transatlantic sailings. We will continue to visit Bermuda with other itineraries where the island is the first port of call and doesn’t trigger the additional testing requirement.”
All these calls were scheduled during the transatlantic crossings the vessels will undertake while repositioning from Europe to North America. These five calls are only a small part of the many cruise ships calling to the island.
Whether or not there will be more cancelations is to be seen in the upcoming days and weeks. So far, Bermuda only requires onboard testing for ships that take longer than four days to arrive in Bermuda after departure from their homeport.
Testing must take place within two days prior to arrival, something that is well within reach for ships sailing from the United States.
The Bermuda newspaper The Royal Gazette quotes an industry insider, stating: “Bermuda’s current testing requirements, the cruise lines have decided to cancel the following upcoming (transatlantic/repositioning) call to Bermuda.“
“It means that cruise ships crossing the Atlantic have to take a second test during the journey to come to Bermuda. They do not want to do that. Cruise lines have been butting heads with the Ministry of Health all year because of it.”
Bermuda’s Regulations Clash With Cruise Industry Protocols
It’s no secret that the cruise industry has been lobbying the Bermuda government to drop or at least ease the regulations it has in place for visitors to the island. However, so far, it has shown little result.
Besides the testing requirement, those that wish to visit Bermuda are still required to fill in the Travel Authorisation Form, which costs $40. John Heald, the Carnival Cruise Line Brand Ambassador, reported in May of this year that negotiations were ongoing to do away with this form:
“We, as an industry, and it’s not just us, it’s every cruise line, we have been working with the Bermudan government to try and negotiate away from this actual fee,” Heald said, “but it’s not been something that the industry has been successful in.”
Bermuda did implement some easement on its protocols in the last month. Since August 22, 2022, unvaccinated travelers are able to visit Bermuda again.
Whether the move by Celebrity and Norwegian will be followed by other cruise lines remains to be seen.
So far, Oceania, Viking, and Azamara still have calls scheduled to Bermuda during their transatlantic voyages later this year, however, with three unconfirmed cancelations, these could very well be the ships in question.