Bermuda Basics

| April 14, 2006

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A cruise to Bermuda offers the best of both worlds. You'll have two full days at sea to relax and enjoy your ship; and the convenience of using your ship as a floating hotel for three days is easier on the pocketbook than many of the island's pricey resorts. It also gives you plenty of time to explore this "pretty as a postcard" island destination. Each cruise line offers a full program of shore excursions in Bermuda, including visits to some or all of the sites listed below. Some of the snorkeling excursions are very good, and if you have had difficulty locating a fishing charter or getting a tee time, you can book these on the ship as well.

OVERVIEW/GETTING AROUND:

There are no rental cars on Bermuda. In fact, each family in permanent residence on the island is permitted only one automobile, so you'll see more mopeds and scooters than cars on the road. Rental mopeds are available at all the dock areas for one or more days, giving you the most flexibility--but they can be a quite harrowing way to get around! We don't recommend them for safety reasons -- Bermuda's narrow roads are often crowded with cars and trucks, and locals drive on the left-hand side. Taxis are available for set metered fees, but the best deal in Bermuda is its clean, efficient bus system. A token or exact change is required, but one-day or multi-day passes that can also be used on the ferries are more convenient and economical. ($12-$28 - discounted fares for children) There is regular ferry service from Hamilton to Somerset and to Kings Wharf at the Dockyard.

Bermuda has beautiful beaches for swimming and snorkeling; unique helmet diving experiences for young and old alike; great fishing; beautiful, challenging golf courses; several forts and museums; a first-class aquarium and nature preserve; lush gardens and vast caverns -- in short, something for everyone. The Bermuda Railway Trail, 21 miles long but broken into easy segments for hiking, meanders along the coast and is a delightful way to see the island. Parts of the trail are also accessible for cyclists and horseback riders. There are lots of British wares for sale in the shops, but don't expect to find many bargains. For more information on golfing, fishing and other outdoor activities in Bermuda, get a copy of the "Bermuda Sports" brochure from the Bermuda Tourist Office or check out the Insiders Guide at www.Insiders.com/Bermuda as well as www.Bermuda.Com's Guide to Bermuda Travel and Accommodations.

ST. GEORGE'S TO HARRINGTON SOUND:

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Quaint St. George's, the original capital of Bermuda, is easily explored on foot. The Featherbed Alley Printery, Bermuda National Trust Museum and other buildings dating back to the 1700s are open to the public. The Carriage Museum at Somers Wharf houses a unique collection of wicker and ironwork carriages, some of which were used on the island until World War II. Children will enjoy exploring "The Deliverance" on Ordnance Island, a replica of a ship built by the survivors of a wreck in the 1600s that accidentally brought the first British settlers to Bermuda. They'll also like nearby Fort St. Catherine.

For beach lovers, Tobacco Bay on the north shore -- not from St. George's and Fort St. Catherine -- has changing facilities and a refreshment area.

The Bermuda Perfumery is situated on Queen Street in St. George's. You can sample the unique scents, many available only on Bermuda.

Just east of St. George's past Castle Harbour are the Crystal and Lemington Caves. The Crystal Caves, more impressive than Lemington, were discovered by two boys playing ball in 1907. The walkway into the caves is often slippery; a pontoon bridge crosses the lake inside the caverns, which have impressive stalagmite and stalactite formations.

HAMILTON AND SURROUNDING AREA:

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Hamilton, the capital, is a modern town with lots of shops and eateries. Front Street, right along the waterfront, is the island's main shopping area. The visitors' bureau office is in the ferry terminal, not far from the cruise ship dock. Albuoy's Point, a waterfront park, offers splendid views of the harbor and Great Sound, as does the tower at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity (if you've got the stamina to climb the 150 stairs to the top). For a glimpse into Bermuda's past, visit the Museum of the Bermuda Historical Society and Post Office.

East of Hamilton toward St. George's at Harrington Sound are the Aquarium and Railway Museum at Flatt's Village. Children will especially enjoy the Discovery Room at the aquarium, open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Along Bermuda's famed south shore, Horseshoe Bay and Warwick Long Bay Beach are easily accessible by bus from Hamilton. The beach at Elbow Beach Hotel is open to the public for a nominal fee.

WEST END:

Ships docking at Kings Wharf on the West End will be adjacent the Royal Navy Dockyard, a complex of shops, small restaurants, children's arcade, carriage rides and snorkeling area. There's also a visitors' bureau here and in nearby Somerset Village. Be sure not to miss the Bermuda Arts Center for unique jewelry, stationery and works by local artists, and the Maritime Museum. There is regular ferry and express bus service from Hamilton.

Somerset Village along Mangrove Bay is a sleepy, laid-back little town -- the drawbridge there is reputed to be the narrowest in the world, opening a mere 18 inches so sailboats can pass through.

For a unique diving experience, try helmet diving with Hartley's Under Sea Adventures at Watford Beach between the Dockyard and Somerset. This three-hour experience will teach you the basics followed by an underwater "walk" of about 30 minutes in 10-12 feet of water.

Bermuda 4 U - a Bermuda travel web site for cruisers.

Copyright © 2002 - 2013 , Anne Campbell. All rights reserved.

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