In February of 2022, the St. George’s Stakeholder Committee issued a statement about the many challenges businesses in the East End had been facing, chief among them, the lack of a
dedicated public ferry in 2020 and 2021.
We highlighted that, even with the tender servicing Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) passengers, the public ferry is a priority as it services other ships,
hotel guests, and local residents.
We were assured we would have an Orange Route schedule for Summer 2022, but found out it was created to only offer service on days that a ship was in port that met all three of these criteria:
● It had to be a non NCL ship.
● The ship had to overnight in Dockyard
● The ship had to be scheduled to stay overnight on a weeknight. There were a number of issues with this:
● Ships visit Bermuda and spend just one day here, with thousands of guests, and these would not get ferry service to St. George’s.
● Many cruise lines do not visit the island on a regular schedule, so the ferry schedule was
different every week, making it difficult to
○ Communicate the schedule to guests
○ Host regular events
○ Schedule staff for business and museum opening hours
● There are ships that overnight in St. George’s and there are no ferries available for them.
● If there is a Non NCL ship overnighting in Dockyard, but on a weekend, the ferry would still not run.
Honestly, it was very ridiculous. Even still, we were happy to have the public ferry at all. But, at the height of the season in August 2022, we were further disappointed when the ferry
was suspended to complete dock work, which could have happened during the prior two years when the ferries were not running.
In meetings with various Government Ministers, we were assured that, in order to make up for losing 9 weeks of ferry service, they would extend into the late fall/early winter months instead
of ending the ferry in October. As per the RG article, “(The) ministry was committed to running the Orange ferry schedule in time for cruise ship arrivals in October through to December.”
The dock work was completed, the ferry returned on October 20, and we announced how pleased we were to have the ferry back and additional service throughout the rest of the year.
Sadly, bamboozled again! Within one week they announced, “The service will run the same as the orange route service
provided over the summer.”
In other words, they would only run for Non NCL ships that overnighted in Dockyard, and there weren’t any in November thru March. There were only NCL ships and one day ships scheduled,
so we had no ferry service on the Winter schedule.
After the ferry returned with such fanfare on October 20, it ended on October 28. As we look towards Summer 2023, we’d hoped that the disappointing past THREE YEARS would not be repeated. We’d hoped to have our full weekday schedule as was the norm before 2020. We’d hoped that we could even discuss the possibility of a weekend ferry, maybe even some evening service, or a ferry from Hamilton.
But have now heard quietly that the Ministry of Transport is looking to put on the same limited and confusing schedule. Rather than wait to hear the announcement, the St. George’s
Stakeholder Committee wanted to preemptively say that this is categorically UNACCEPTABLE.
How is that the Pink Route could be reinstated AND expanded into weekends, but The Town of St. George, Bermuda’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the key economic and community hubs of the island, only has service on 2 or 3 days per week?!
What adds to the frustration is that we have also heard from various external stakeholders that we need to ‘improve the visitor experience in St. George’s’. How can we do that when the
transportation infrastructure does not support it?
What will it take to get the commitment from the Government that our town deserves?
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