Cruise Reviewer: TA Process Is ‘Annoying’

June 3, 2022 | 22 Comments

A cruise reviewer has praised the island noting our beautiful beaches and polite people, however his praise did not extend to the Travel Authorization process, which he called an “exercise in annoying bureaucracy that creates anxiety for people seeking to cruise to Bermuda.”

The review, written by Richard Wagner, appeared on the Beyond Ships website, and says, “This was a 10-night cruise on Celebrity Summit to Bermuda, Charleston [North Carolina] and ​Newport [Rhode Island] out of the Cape Liberty cruise port on the New Jersey side of New York harbor. Overall, it was an enjoyable cruise but it was not without its problems.

“Bermuda is different than the islands of the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Yes, it has beautiful beaches, coral reefs, golf courses and resorts with palm trees but it also has an additional element of sophistication. The people are polite and there is not the poverty that haunts many of the other islands. The infrastructure has been nicely developed without building cheap tourist traps.

“Inasmuch as the ship was visiting three ports, the cruise experience was also affected by the COVID protocols of those ports. For Newport and Charleston, the protocols were much the same as they had been in New Jersey, the ship’s port of embarkation. Masks were optional and reminders about social distancing appeared here and there. However, it was pretty much like it was pre-pandemic.

“Bermuda, however, was a different story. Bermuda requires people coming to the island to obtain a travel authorization from the Bermuda government. To obtain such an authorization, cruise ship passengers on cruises going directly to Bermuda must take a COVID test two days before embarkation and send proof of a negative result to the Bermuda government. (In a change from my cruise to Bermuda last fall, supervised antigen tests now suffice). Once the government receives the proof, it processes the application and sends the passenger a travel authorization. A $40 fee is charged. All of this is done online.

“Inasmuch as Celebrity already required that passengers take a supervised antigen test two days before embarking, the Bermuda requirement did not involve any additional testing. Seemingly, all one had to do was send a copy of the results from the test mandated by Celebrity to the Bermuda government.

“Since you cannot even board a cruise ship bound for Bermuda without receiving an authorization from Bermuda, passengers are left on tenterhooks until they hear back from Bermuda. Judging from both this cruise and our cruise to Bermuda last fall, Bermuda has difficulties processing these applications in a timely fashion.

“I sent in my test results as soon as I obtained them and received a reply that my application was fully submitted and was being reviewed. I checked the Bermuda website the next day and the status was still the same. I sent an email to the Bermuda government pointing out that I needed the authorization as I was sailing the next day. No response.

“My travel agent was told by Celebrity that there would be people at the cruise terminal to help people who had not received their authorizations. However, that meant that up until the day of sailing, I would be unsure whether I would even be going on this cruise.

“In the pre-dawn hours of embarkation day, I received a “provisional authorization,” which would allow me to board the ship but not to disembark in Bermuda. It indicated that further, review would be done by the Bermuda authorities. Bring all your documents with you.

“When I arrived at the cruise terminal, I found that there were two lines at the entrance. One for people who had received a provisional authorization and one for people who had not received anything. The second line was much longer.

“I asked the clerk at the check-in desk when and where this further review would take place. She said that it would be handled by Bermuda officials who were onboard Summit.

“Inasmuch as there was nothing in my stateroom about any review by Bermuda officials, I went to the guest relations desk and asked when this would take place. An officer took my name and cabin number and promised that the Bermuda officials were aboard and that I would be notified when they wanted to see me.

“I received no notification that day or during the sea day as we sailed to Bermuda. I asked again and was told that the onboard review would take place soon.

“Finally, as we were sailing up the channel to the Royal Naval Dockyards in Bermuda I received an email saying that my application was approved. However, before I could get my authorization I had to visit the Bermuda website and electronically sign a document. Considering that Summit’s internet connection had thus far been unreliable, this further step filled me with trepidation. However, I was able to get the authorization onto my smart phone.

“Because of the Bermuda authorization process, there was much anxiety among the passengers as to whether they would be allowed ashore in Bermuda until the very last moment. More than a few passengers confided that they were not going to return to Bermuda as long as this authorization process was in effect.

“One has to wonder what good the Bermuda authorization process did? As noted earlier, the cruise line already required everyone boarding the ship to take a test two days before embarkation. The Bermuda authorization process involved no additional testing. Thus, as a practical matter, all that the Bermuda process involved was having someone in Bermuda look at the same evidence of a negative test result that was submitted to the cruise line. No one conducted any further medical review. Furthermore, once we arrived in Bermuda, no one asked to see our travel authorizations. Therefore, the authorization process provided no additional protection for the people of Bermuda. It was just an exercise in annoying bureaucracy that creates anxiety for people seeking to cruise to Bermuda.

“Since the cruise industry restart, I have visited numerous islands in the Caribbean and the Bahamas and none have had a requirement similar to that of Bermuda. If Bermuda is unsure whether the cruise lines are enforcing their own testing requirements, a much less intrusive process would be to conduct spot audits rather than inflicting this processing regime on cruise ship passengers.

“Celebrity does not escape blame completely. Although I receive almost daily marketing emails from Celebrity, I received nothing about the Bermuda travel authorization requirement from Celebrity. I only knew of it because I had suffered through it on a previous cruise. Furthermore, once aboard Summit, the information I reeived from Celebrity about a further review by Bermuda officials was consistently wrong.”

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You can find more information on the links below from our dedicated website BermudaCovid.com, which is the most comprehensive resource and historic record available of Bermuda’s handling of the pandemic.

  • All Charts: Vaccine, testing & more here
  • Timelines: Dates of major developments here
  • Test results: Chart of testing stats here
  • Vaccine: Data covering vaccinations here
  • Dedicated website: BermudaCovid.com

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Comments (22)

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  1. unknown800k says:

    well done egomeir, and the hypocrite ministers that are staying hush hush just for a paycheck

  2. Mike says:

    I’m sailing on the Summit on June 12th and I am DREADING the process of being allowed to debark the ship and get onto BERMUDA. I will probably NEVER book another cruise ANYWHERE UNTIL THIS RED TAPE PROVISION ETC. HAS BEEN DISCONTINUED. I have visited Bermuda via cruise ships MANY times but unless this becomes easier and IF THE BERMUDA TA office EVER RETURNS MY EMAIL SUBMISSIONS FOR HOW TO PROCEED ETC. I WILL NOT BE BOOKING OR VISITING ANY OF THE ISLANDS EVER AGAIN…

  3. sandgrownan says:

    It’s a sh*t process, sh*t technology and meaningless at this point.

  4. Ringmaster says:

    Unfortunately Bermuda has a brain dead Premier and Minister of Finance, aided and abetted by brain dead Minister of Tourism and the BTA. They have no interest to aid tourism and benefit Bermuda as a whole by making Bermuda a simple and friendly place to visit. They would rather ignore all the concerns and leave those who rely on tourists to suffer, because they don’t care as they are civil servants and guaranteed a pay check.

  5. Question says:

    Almost as bad as the ridiculous TA form is the Airport clinging on to the idea of mandated mask wearing. Ppl following tourists around yelling at them about masks. Makes us look truly third world.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      “Makes us look truly third world.”

      Yes, like John F. Kennedy Airport, LaGuardia Airport and every international airport in Canada.

      • question says:

        But not in Boston, Miami, Atlanta, Newark, or London.

        Make them voluntary. At this point they’re as ridiculous as the TA.

  6. frustrated says:

    The $40 TA fee is a money-making exercise, pure and simple. Nothing at all to do with covid. The PLP are now nickle and diming everything. It won’t end well.

    • JohnR says:

      We’re simply not spending money in Bermuda. We will remain on board and enjoy the empty ship that day!

  7. Shearin says:

    If Bermuda keeps this up, I and others will probably cancel our upcoming cruise. It’s already frustrating enough to get the testing that the cruise line requires. Why go thru more procedures for Bermuda. Not to mention the extra cost…..

    • Southampton says:

      Save your money and stay home. It is too expensive here anyway.

  8. SMFH says:

    NO government in the world has the best interest for their people. It’s just selfish, draconian style governing! It’s my way or the highway mentality! This government claims that they listenbto the peiple but in reality turn around and then do thier own thing anyway! Well done burtcoin and your tyrant government! And the silence and political sidestepping is so insensitive. Enough is enough!

  9. Barbara Nahoumi says:

    All that we should need to do as we board the ship, would be to show our vaccination cards and proof of negative covid tests, to the officials at the pier.

    The Travel Authorization requirement adds unnecessary stress for cruise ship passengers.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      I agree, but I play no part in the Bermuda Government so I cannot effect change

  10. Clare says:

    Both the German and UK travel authorisations (no longer needed) required you to submit your documents online and gave you a proof of submission to show, if needed, at border control. I think they only reached out to you if they found a problem. There was no wait to receive some authorization. But only Bermuda puts you through this insane anxiety crunch! Even if the government insists on keeping the TA to fund their budget, they could at least ditch the problematic approval step.

  11. Marine Life says:

    Yes, I am Bermudian, and I had to go through this STUPID, Non- Covid Related , TA Junk! I had to get help with it by someone in the US. We are becoming a very unfriendly Island by our policies. Not my policies! The TA process is nothing but STRESS! They respond to your application to late, just before take off time or to late to travel. I will NOT travel again until this inhospitable garbage is done away with! Yes, after March of next year.
    A family of 4 or 5 has to give away $160-$200 just for this TA! Unbelievable! Money is tight even without the Government lording it over people! What a money- Mishandling Government!

    • sandgrownan says:

      $160 plus the time spent on your iphone filling out the nonsense four times, entering credit card detail four times….plus the “your wait is more than 9 minutes” bs when you inevitably have to call.

      But it’s out fault, not filling in the form in advance.

  12. Marine Life says:

    The Resquest which was introduced last year, no doubt was signed as a contract to go through March 31, 2023. This is why Gov’t can’t renin on this stupid TA garbage. The people of Bermuda and international Visitors are always being held ransom to the whims of those who can’t Govern!

  13. JohnR says:

    Here’s what cruisers SHOULD DO. Let’s not spend a DIME in Bermuda. Let them collect their $40 pp. The local merchants WANTED this “fee” or “tax” because they elected in the government that wants to charge this insane fee. For us? We will remain on board and will boycott Bermuda. Lift this insipid tax and MAYBE we will spend money in Bermuda again. Local Merchants and small biz owners in Bermuda? Eat it. We have a total of over 200 tourists on our upcoming cruise that are boycotting your island.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      You’re erroneously laying blame at the feet of merchants and small businesses.
      This is ALL on the current government and no-one else.
      It’s apparent now that the overwhelming percentage of locals are completely against this whether they be business owners or not .
      Our government bankrupted us and this is just one way to milk us to make up shortages .

      • saud says:

        The government represents the people who voted for them. Your government was elected in a landslide. This is on YOU…the people of Bermuda.

    • saud says:

      I boycott it as well, and I was born there.

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