Have no fear — I’m still here, but where has the time gone since my last post? I truly apologize! When we arrived in Bermuda, we had about 3 days in port, much longer than passengers usually have and so we wanted to make the best of all that time. We arrived in Bermuda on Sunday around 11 am and departed on Tuesday at 5:30 pm. With so much time in one place, what were we to do? Naturally, this is where most cruise passengers rely heavily on the cruise line to manage their time for them, but I want to suggest that there are other possibilities available for you.
When people book their cruise, they often book their excursions through the cruise line. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (think Jerry Seinfeld), but instead of doing what everyone else on your ship will be doing, why not consider trying something different.
I admit that when I first started cruising, I, too, used the cruise line’s excursions. After all, I was somewhat intimidated by the commentary associated with the sales pitch that included things like “we won’t sail without you if you’re late returning to the ship” and “we only use trusted shore excursion suppliers” — you get the idea. What I discovered is that I can either do something on my own or book with the same supplier without booking through the cruise line at a fraction of the cost. It all comes down to a certain comfort level and if you are comfortable exploring and researching excursions and saving money, this is something to consider.
Our first day in Bermuda we opted to take a private tour of the island. I had pre-arranged our tour with our driver at a rate of $40/hour. This wasn’t a negotiated rate, but was instead the rate that the government determines. The driver met us at the dock with a sign with my name on it and we were quickly off to tour the island in a comfortable air conditioned van. We could tell him where we wanted to go or we could let him show us his Bermuda, which is what we decided to do. Our first stop was at Scaur Hill Fort with breathtaking views as you can see in this picture and an abundance of history all around you.
Next up was Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, built in 1844 out of cast iron and is the oldest cast-iron lighthouse in the world. The hill on which the lighthouse stands is 245 feet high, while the structure itself measures 117 feet from base to light. Its beam of light runs 362 feet above sea level and as such, ships 40 miles away can see it. Its flash can be spotted by planes flying 10,000 feet 120 miles away, while the light itself can be seen on the horizon which is about 26 miles distant. When it first began operations, the light from the 1,000 watt light bulb was produced by kerosene, but has since been replaced by electricity. For the adventurous at heart, you can climb the 185 steps to the top of the 8 flights to the top of the lighthouse. Visit the gift store and pay the $2.50 per person (kids under 5 are free) for an inexpensive attraction on the island of Bermuda. If you visit in the Spring, you may catch a glimpse of migrating whales beyond the south-shore reefs.
Although I didn’t take pictures of everything I wanted to see, including all of the possible beaches we could have visited, the Swizzler Inn famous for the Swizzler Rum drink sold everywhere on the island, or Somerset Bridge, the world’s smallest drawbridge, we did get to visit many places during the tour. The overall idea was to narrow down what we wanted to see in the following two days instead of trying to hit everything all at once. It was safe to say we were not going to stop at Horseshoe Bay, although others might think I’m crazy for saying that. Horseshoe Bay is Bermuda’s most famous beach. If it is the most famous and the most popular, why wouldn’t I want to go? Because it is the most famous and the most popular, you can expect crowds and I don’t necessarily want to go where everyone else on the ship and the island is going to be. Considering the abundance of available beaches in Bermuda, I didn’t feel the need to pile up on the beach with everyone else.
On the other end of the island, about as far away as you can get from the cruise terminal and Hamilton is the town of St. George. Where Hamilton is more of a city, if you can call it that on this small island, St. George is definitely a town. At the center lies the town square with a few stores and restaurants, the ferry terminal that will take you back to Hamilton or King’s Wharf, where our cruise ship was located. Nearby is St. Peter’s Church, which is believed to be the oldest continually used Anglican church in the Western hemisphere. You can either take a cab or walk up to Fort St. Catherine, which overlooks a fantastic beach, but more on that later.
Although we did briefly visit the Bermuda Aquarium, if you have young kids in tow there are plenty of places to visit including the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo. Founded in 1926, this family friendly stop on your trip can satisfy the needs of everyone in your family. Open daily except Christmas from 9 am – 5 pm, admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children 5-12, and free for children 5 and under. If you can coordinate your visit with the free daily guided tour that takes place at 1:10 pm daily, even better!
Next time I’ll cover what we did on our next two days in Bermuda, which included time at the Commissioner’s House (first picture) and our day at the beach!