Bermuda looks set to have a record cruise ship season next year with a sharp increase in the number of passengers due to arrive in port outside of the summer months, as a result of a new extended schedule.

In a joint strategy plan to boost tourism during the shoulder season, the Ministry of Transport and Regulatory Affairs, the Ministry of Economic Development & Tourism and the Bermuda Tourism Authority have executed the initiative for the months of April, October and November.

As a result, significant gains in cruise visitor arrivals are anticipated next year, with 17 more cruise calls during those months alone, compared to the same months this year.

Overall, Tourism Minister Simmons said: “Extending the cruise season beyond the summer months creates more work opportunities for Bermudians in the tourism industry.”

Deputy Premier and Minister of Transport, Walter Roban, while noting that Government is “excited to have Disney Cruise Lines make its first set of calls 2018”, said the island’s “onging relationship with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings” translates into “smaller ships, like the Oceania and Regent Seven Seas”, for calls in Hamilton and in St George’s to stimulate the economy.

According to the 2018 schedule, cruise calls are projected to rise 12 percent and cruise visitor arrivals are forecast to jump 13 percent. Bermuda is expected to receive  180 cruise ship calls bringing approximately 470,000 passengers. That amounts to 19 more cruise ship calls and 53,000 more passengers in 2018, when compared to 2017.

Meantime, 2017 proved to be a growth year for Bermuda’s cruise travel market. Bermuda received 161 cruise ship calls, bring 416,049 passengers, an increase of 18,145 visitors, or 4.6 percent over 2016. The total economic impact of both visitor spending and government tax revenue is expected to be more than $72 million, comprised of an estimated $50 million in visitor spending and $22 million in tax revenue.

In 2018, the total projected economic impact of both visitor spending and government tax revenue is $84.8 million with $59.8 million estimated in visitor spending and $25 million in tax revenue. The total economic impact would be an increase of approximately $12.7 million.

The City of Hamilton will see 17 calls in 2018, down from 26 calls in 2017. The Hamilton increase in 2017 was primarily due to the 35th America’s Cup, which brought additional luxury callers during the summer. St George’s will see 16 calls in 2018, up two from 2017. The ports in Hamilton and St George’s are best suited for small cruise ships that make occasional calls. Bermuda has been increasingly successful in attracting them.

The Norwegian Breakaway is being replaced in 2018 with the Norwegian Escape, which has a slightly higher passenger capacity (about 500 more) than the Breakaway. the Escape will make her inaugural call to Bermuda on April 25th, 2018. The NCL Tender running between the Royal Naval Dockyard and the Town of St George saw approximately 45,000 passengers visit the east end town this past summer, after getting off the ground in May.

Bermuda Tourism Authority Chief Product and Experiences Development Officer Pat Phillip-Fairn said: “A 2017 highlight for us was having the tender operation begin service and seeing St George and the businesses there re-energized with tourism activity. The potential economic impact of direct calls to the east end and the dedicated service, in addition to arrivals from the public ferries, is something the town can build upon further.”

The NCL Tender is scheduled to maintain annual summer service exclusively for NCL guests through to 2022.

Bermuda’s partnership with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines continues with regular calls from its Quantum-class ship as well as occasional calls from Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, RCL’s smaller affiliated lines. In 2015, RCL partnered with the Government of Bermuda to dredge the North Channel, making way for Quantum-size Anthem of the Seas.

Carnival branded ships will make 13 calls to Bermuda in 2018. The Carnival Corporation also has interests in Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Adia Cruises, Cunard Line, Costa Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line and P&O – all of which will make stops in Bermuda over the next year. In total, Carnival Corporation brands will make 32 calls to Bermuda in 2018, which is up from 21 calls in 2017.

And Disney Cruise Line is coming to Bermuda for the first time beginning in October 2018. The Disney Magic will sail to Bermuda five times next year from New York City. The Bermuda Tourism Authority’s product and experiences team is working closely with Disney and local tourism businesses to create and promote unique port experiences for Disney passengers who have specific vacation desires and a reputation for spending more than typical cruise ship passengers.