by The Cruise People’s Kevin Griffin writing in cybercruises.com
Coincidental with the news that Cunard is re-flagging to Bermuda comes news that Holland America Line has given notice that after the 2012 season it no longer wishes to continue its service between New York and Hamilton’s downtown Front Street.
Veendam went onto the route in 2009, a return for Holland America Line, once a regular on the New York-Bermuda route, after twenty-five years. Previous to Veendam’s return, there had been no regular service to Front Street in 2009, all the ships calling on Bermuda now being too big to navigate the narrow channel into Hamilton.
Before that, Azamara Journey completed a single season on the run in 2007, replacing Zenith. All the previous Front Street regulars, Horizon, Zenith, Empress of the Seas and Norwegian Crown now trade in Europe.
With Cunard moving to Bermudian flag, some have even suggested why not transfer Ocean Princess from Princess Cruises to Cunard, install Grill Class restaurants where the alternative restaurants are and operate her between Manhattan, St George’s (which is lacking service since Veendam had to stop tendering from outside that port last year) and Front Street.
The regular New York to Front Street run dated back to 1864, and had seen regular service every year with the exception of the two world wars, when there was still some sort of service. But 2008 was the first time the Manhattan to Front Street run had not had a regular ship. So the search is now on for a replacement for Veendam.
Veendam is 720 feet long and the R-ship class, to which Azamara Journey and Ocean Princess belong, are just under 600 feet. But most cruise ships now assigned to Bermuda are too big to get into Hamilton and have to go to the newer cruise berths at Dockyard, but these are far from town. Oceania will next year send Regatta, another R-ship, in to Front Street twice but the 777-foot Marina will have to go to Dockyard. Bermuda expects 385,200 cruise ship visitors this year, compared with 347,931 in 2010.