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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ships cruising back to Bermuda

Posted: 10/19/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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Bermuda, that British overseas territory in the North Atlantic, took a big hit in 2012 and 2013 when Carnival and Holland America elected to stop cruising there.

Bermuda wants them back.

The government passed a bill this month that may do the job. While in port, ships will be allowed to open casinos from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. instead of only when ships are in international waters. Cruise lines will pay licensing fees.

Legislators believe the impact on the local economy will be minimal as most passengers return to ships by 9 p.m. and aren't spending locally.

This follows another big break for Bermuda. Norwegian chose to send its new mega ship Breakaway to the idyllic island in its inaugural season, and its Dawn ship also sails there from Boston.

Bermuda's also on the itinerary for two other lines. Celebrity's Summit will continue seven-day sailings from Cape Liberty, N.J., from where Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas will also cruise to Bermuda. Fleet mate Grandeur of the Seas will be back, too, sailing from Baltimore.

Quantum of the Seas, Royal's feature-laden, new-generation ship will replace Explorer on the Bermuda run in 2015. Having another mega ship visit will help the island rebound from the big hit.

And I have a suggestion for Holland America: Create a modest Canadian connection to Bermuda. This line's summer seven-day cruises between Boston and Montreal will continue in 2014. How about taking a few cruises from the 2015 schedule and turning them into a "Bermuda triangle" -- Montreal to Bermuda to Boston, with a few Canadian ports along the way?

Sign me up.

-- -- --

Pack some warm clothes if you plan to cruise on the Viking Star in winter 2015 (although there is a dome that covers the main pool). Viking calls December, January and February its winter months, and the Star will be sailing from Mediterranean home ports Barcelona (mainly) and Rome. Temperatures will average 14 C, although it's usually a bit warmer at some of the transit ports to the south.

It had been expected that Viking would bring its first ocean-going vessel to the Caribbean for winter. Instead, the Star will spend its entire first year in Europe. Viking has many inclusive features -- shore excursions, wine, beer, soft drinks and special coffees with meals and free Internet.

Another bonus of "winter in the Med" is missing waves and waves of tourists in the more popular spots. Two separate overnights are scheduled on each eight-day and 15-day cruise.

-- -- --

Expedition cruising is becoming a bigger part of Silversea's business.

Having just concluded a major refurbishment, the Galapagos Explorer 11 is now sailing as the Silver Galapagos, a sibling for Silversea's current expedition ships Silver Explorer and Silver Discover, which will be launching next March.

Extensive renovations have been in progress for months to bring Galapagos up to the luxury line's standards before the launching ceremony in late September. As the name implies, this ship will sail (seven-day cruises) in the archipelago of volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean.

Phil's Pick of the Week

This Viking Star's winter 15-day cruise (Mediterranean Explorer) includes lots of overnights. The cruise starts with an overnight in Barcelona, then it's on to Toulon, Monte Carlo, Corsica, Tuscany, Naples, Sicily (Trapani), Sardinia, Palma de Mallorca and Valencia before returning to Barcelona.

Starting price: $3,849 per person based on double occupancy. The line is also offering discounted airfares from several Canadian cities. Check with a cruise travel agent or go to Vikingcruises.com.

-- Postmedia Network Inc. 2013

Visit portsandbows.com for daily updates on the latest cruise news, best deals and behind-the-scenes stories from the industry. You can also sign up for an email newsletter on the site for even more cruise information. Phil Reimer may be contacted directly at portsandbows.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 19, 2013 ??65529

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