Our cruise on the Norwegian Dawn left Boston on August 5 and arrived in Bermuda on Sunday, August 7, 2011. What was great about this Bermuda cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line, be it the Norwegian Dawn out of Boston or the Norwegian Gem out of New York is that you get more than a few hours in port. When we arrived, we were able to disembark the ship at 11 am on August 7th and we left Bermuda on August 9th at around 5:30 pm. To have multiple days in port was amazing and something we hadn’t experienced before while on a cruise. That meant we could get out on day one for an overall view of the island and then on the subsequent days, we could really focus on those areas that we were especially interested in seeing again.
This is where we docked at Heritage Wharf. Norwegian Cruise Line ships dock right here in this new berth that was built in 2009. King’s Wharf and Heritage Wharf are in the Royal Naval Dockyard, one of three ports in Bermuda where cruise ships dock. Other ports on the small island of Bermuda, which is only 21 square miles, include Hamilton and St. George’s. The majority of the cruises dock in King’s Wharf (around 180 in 2011), while Hamilton has fewer at about 32 in 2011, and St. George’s with the fewest (3 in 2011).
As is always the case with a large ship, people scramble to be the first one’s off the ship. This usually results in a large amount of traffic while disembarking in port. Some people were looking for their excursion groups, some where taking in the beautiful blue waters of Bermuda, and some, well, they were just lost. It still surprises me that people will plan a cruise vacation and obsess about the location of the cabin, what the entertainment will be onboard, etc., but won’t plan out their excursions until they arrive in port. By that time, there might be nothing available and you won’t be doing much more than walking around the touristy cruise port.
Once we did make our way off the ship, we headed out toward the main area where the buses, taxes, and the ferry was located. Should you want to take the ferry, you’ll walk over to this tiny little trailer situated between any of the two ships in port in order to get tickets and the schedule. In this case it was the Norwegian Dawn and Royal Caribbean‘s Enchantment of the Seas. The schedule apparently has been changed with fewer ferries running due to government cutbacks. You can see a copy of the schedule here. The price for the tickets are $12 for a 1-day pass, $20 for a 2-day pass, and $28 for a 3-day pass. The pass covers not only the ferry, but buses as well, which makes it an extremely affordable method of transportation.
Before we left Boston, I had made arrangements with a tour guide to meet us and take us on a tour of Bermuda on our first day. Tourism is regulated by the government in Bermuda and as such, we could choose a tour with a rate that would be the same with whomever we chose to take us. At $40/hour for all of us, we felt it was a great deal as it not only included the transportation, but also the tour guide. You can either pre-arrange your tour like we did or simply walk off the ship and up to any one of the taxis in the taxi queue to take a tour. As you can see in this picture, the taxis sit right next to the buses, which are close by to the ferry so transportation is a breeze once you get off the ship.
If you would rather take a bus, there are eleven bus routes beginning within Hamilton that extend throughout the island. Since it is used regularly by residents as a means of transportation to get around, either to work or even for children to get to school, rest assured that is not only safe, but extremely easy to use. If you aren’t sure where to get off on the bus, simply ask the driver when boarding. It is expected that you greet the bus driver as you enter and exit the bus. The bus stops consist of poles to signify which way the bus is going. If it is pink, then the bus you’ll board is going into Hamilton. If it is blue, the bus is going out of Hamilton and to somewhere else. Check the front of the bus for the exact destination. If you are going to Hamilton from the Dockyard, it is definitely faster to go by ferry than by bus, but if the schedule doesn’t work for you, the buses will always be there and waiting.
Overall, we found it extremely easy to navigate Bermuda and never found it to be overwhelming or intimidating. Everyone we spoke to was helpful and friendly and we more than enjoyed our stay there. It was nice to go out and about and know that our cabin was waiting for us at the end of the day and that we could relax on the ship with a dinner and drinks or anything else we wanted. Whether you are traveling alone or with your significant other, family, or friends, Bermuda is an easy to navigate island that makes for a great cruise destination. You should really consider it!