Holland America Line Returns To Front Street In 2015 – This Time From Boston – And The Story Of The Bermuda Veendams

Last week came good news from Holland America Line for the merchants of Front Street in Bermuda, when it was revealed that the 57,092-ton Veendam will return to Bermuda in 2015. So far sailings have been scheduled for May 2, 9 & 30, June 6 & 27 and July 4, although more could follow for both 2015 and 2016.

Unlike her previous service to Bermuda, however, these will be 7-night Saturday sailings from Boston rather than from New York.

Until 2012, the 1,348-berth Veendam had been regularly engaged on the New York-Bermuda run but late that year she was reassigned to Canada/New England cruises between Boston and Quebec. She entered that trade in the autumn of 2012 and returned for a full summer season in 2013 and will do another this year.

Part of her move from Bermuda to the St Lawrence trade involved incentives of $1.15 million to be paid to Holland America Line over three years by the Province of Quebec and City of Quebec. How this new deployment will affect the St Lawrence trade is not yet known but Holland America Line gains two clear advantages by sending the Veendam back to Bermuda.

Firstly, Bermuda has now passed legislation that allows cruise operators to keep their casinos open from 9 pm until 5 am, which in turn allows their ships to profit from additional on board spend while in port. This previous ban had been one of the reasons that had impelled Holland America not to renew its Bermuda contract after 2012.

The other is that under the regulations of the new (2012) North American Emission Control Area (ECA), it will be possible for the Veendam to burn less expensive fuel with a heavier sulphur content while running from Boston to Bermuda. This is because effective August 1, 2015, the maximum sulphur limit will be lowered from 1% to 0.1% for fuel burned within 200 nautical miles of the coast of North America (see map below).

The marine gas oil that will have to be used while steaming between Boston and Quebec is much more expensive than the heavier fuel that can be burnt while steaming beyond the 200-mile limit to Bermuda.

Although price differences vary, for a vessel burning 100 tones per day a difference of $300 per ton would mean an extra $30,000 a day while steaming. Over 1,200 passengers this comes to an extra $25 per passenger per day on the ticket price.

A third competitive advantage for the Veendam is that, unlike the contract ships operated to Bermuda by Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean international, the Veendam is small enough to steam straight into Hamilton, where she can dock right on Front Street in the capital’s main shopping and entertainment district (see lead photo). The bigger ships have to berth at Dockyard (see Celebrity Summit, left), a 45-minute taxi ride or a 30-minute ferry ride away from Hamilton. The increasing size of cruise ships has meant that Hamilton has had no regular caller since the Veendam left at the end of the 2012 season.

Veendam (ii)Ships with the name Veendam have a long history of serving Bermuda, dating back more than eight decades. The first (right) was the 15,450-ton Veendam, second of the name, built in 1922. She was chartered to the Furness Bermuda Line in 1930 for two summers’ work on the New York-Hamilton run. She stood in as a replacement for Furness Bermuda’s 7,785-ton Fort Victoria, which had been sunk in a collision off New York in December 1929. This Veendam left New York for Bermuda for the first time on July 2, 1930, and was engaged for two summer seasons until Furness Bermuda could take delivery of a new ship, the 22,424-ton Monarch of Bermuda, in January 1932...

Veendam (iii)The second Veendam to serve Bermuda (left), and the third of the name, joined Holland America in 1973. This Veendam, at 23,372 tons, had been built in 1958 as Moore-McCormack Line’s Argentina and was refitted at Lloyd Werft in Bremerhaven in 1972. After some time sailing to Alaska for Westours, she began summer sailings to Bermuda on May 20, 1980. This Veendam stayed in the Bermuda summer trade until being sold at the end of 1983, and subsequently operated to Bermuda as the Bermuda Star for Bahama Cruise Line, later Bermuda Star Line.

The present, and fourth, Veendam, built in 1996 and third of the name to serve Bermuda, first came onto the run in 2010, and ran three full summer seasons before being transferred to the Canada/New England trade at Boston at the end of 2012. The new Boston-Bermuda cruises will thus see a fourth return of the name Veendam to the Bermuda trade, in an association that will be eighty-five years old when she returns.

For further details and bookings please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on +44 (0)20 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.