For the first time ever, a major cruise line is going to homeport in Bermuda and it’s going to be a major factor in the island’s post-COVID recovery. The island has done an incredible job limiting infections over the past year compared to some other popular cruising islands and the local government is keen on following all health and safety protocols to ensure visitors are safe when they embark from the island.
Porthole Cruise Magazine Founder and Editor-in-Chief Bill Panoff caught up with Glenn Jones of the Bermuda Tourism Authority to talk about the local COVID-19 protocols for visitors, the overall recovery process and why Bermuda makes for an excellent embarkation point for cruise lines.
Bermuda COVID-19 Travel Restrictions
One of the most important things when traveling these days is understanding the local COVID-19 requirements wherever you’re headed. According to Glenn Jones, Bermuda has one of the most rigorous requirements for those who wish to visit.
“Bermuda has one of the most rigorous protocols to cross the border, to come for a visit. And that’s because we have such precious resources here and we want to make sure we’re protecting that. For travelers arriving by air it means you need to get a COVID test before you fly. We’ve been doing it that way since last July and slowly but surely, many destinations have followed our lead,” he said. “When you arrive at your destination, you take another COVID test at the border and if those two tests are negative, that clears you to enjoy Bermuda as you would ordinarily.”
The island has only recorded 1,400 COVID-19 cases in total since the start of the pandemic and the strict requirements are part of the reason why.
“After people had visited over the past 10 months or so, they’ve said that in the exit survey, 98% of them said they felt safe from COVID while they were here,” Jones said.
When asked about the island’s overall recovery plan, Jones explained that there were a few key areas local authorities were focused on.
“We think, in terms of leisure travel, people want a place that is safe, clean and close. For many people in the Northeast United States, we check those boxes. We think as well, when it comes to group travel, sports is one area where Bermuda can shine. Non-contact socially distanced sports like sailing, golf and tennis and endurance sports like road running or triathlon are sports we do well in. Sports have helped accelerate our recovery,” Jones said.
Royal Caribbean to Homeport in Bermuda
When asked about Royal Caribbean International’s plan to homeport their ship Vision of the Seas in Bermuda this summer, explained how this will be something very different from what usually happens with cruises and Bermuda.
“It’s going to help us tremendously. First, I should confess, this is the world upside down. This is not what we do. Cruises from the U.S. come to Bermuda, almost 200 calls per year, but there hasn’t been a cruise call in 13 months. The cruise industry is looking for innovative ways to get restarted and that same message I told you before about how close we are to the U.S., it means we’re one of the closest places people can fly to to get on a cruise. So we’ve been working with Royal Caribbean in that regard,” he said.
Jones also explained that the cruise line has worked with the island to outline the necessary health and safety protocols for cruisers.
“Royal Caribbean has worked very closely with the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Health to make sure they find the right configuration of protocols for this. We have a lot of experience by now of what it means for air travel during this pandemic, but we don’t really have that same research for cruise. Our Ministry of Health is pretty convinced we’ve mitigated the risk as much as we can by ensuring that everyone is immunized, that they go through our border process, but we’re not going to really know how well this works until [the ship] shoves off in late June,” he said.
You can watch the full video with Bermuda’s Glenn Jones below: