Your Guide to Bermuda Cruising
Bermuda is a popular cruise destination full of tropical wonders and intriguing history. You’ll find fantastic snorkeling spots, top-tier golf courses, charming towns and historic forts – all surrounded by some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. To make sure your Bermuda vacation is memorable, there are a few important factors to consider, such as seasonal timing, ports of call and daily activities. The following guide will help you work through these decisions to make the most of your Bermuda cruise.
When Should You Book a Bermuda Cruise?
Due to the relatively small number of sailings to Bermuda (at least compared to the abundant Caribbean and Bahamas cruises), it’s important to book well in advance to make sure you are able to reserve the best date, cruise line and cabin. The rule of thumb is to book 6 to 9 months in advance of when you want to sail, which means now is the time to start planning a 2015 Bermuda cruise.
When Should Your Bermuda Cruise Depart?
The Bermuda cruising season lasts from April through October, with the lowest prices being found on sailings close to either end of the season. Not only will you pay less during these “shoulder” seasons, you’ll also experience cooler temperatures and fewer crowds when traveling around the island. The biggest downside to cruising early in the season (April or May) is that the water tends to be a little chilly, but most cruisers don’t seem to let that discourage them from enjoying the beautiful beaches. If you choose to sail in September or October, you’re slightly more likely to have rain. However, Bermuda doesn’t really have a “rainy season” like other destinations, so the threat isn’t large. Your biggest concern this time of year would be the chance of a hurricane, which is more likely to disrupt a late season Bermuda cruise.
If you choose to sail during the peak season (June through August), you’ll find hotter temperatures and larger crowds, but you’ll also have a larger choice of ships and itineraries. Plus, traveling during the summer months usually makes it easier to bring the whole family (and more likely you’ll run into other families onboard). If this sounds ideal, then maybe peak season is right for you. Or, if you’re looking for a romantic getaway or adults-only retreat, the off season might mean fewer kids and a better experience.
What are the “Must-See” Sites and Cities in Bermuda?
Bermuda may be tiny, but the island is packed with tons of history, culture and natural beauty. The small size of the island makes everything very accessible, even on a shorter itinerary. Plus, English is the official language for the island so everyone is approachable for help. For getting around Bermuda, the best way is usually by water taxi (multi-day passes are available) or bus, but scooters are certainly the most fun. If you choose the scooter route, keep in mind that they can sometimes be rented in one location and returned in another. And don’t forget that Bermuda is a British territory, so you’ll be driving on the LEFT side of the street.
One last note before we jump into the “must-see” sites and cities: another big advantage of cruising to Bermuda is that you’ll often have a couple days with extended island time because your ship won’t have to depart in the evening for a different port. Instead, the ships usually stay in the same port for consecutive nights and essentially act as floating hotels while you explore the island. This means you get to experience BOTH night and day in Bermuda. And now for the best ways to spend those nights and days:
King’s Wharf (also referred to as the Royal Naval Dockyard) is one of the island’s most popular cruise ports and the destination for the largest cruise ships calling in Bermuda. King’s Wharf is a great place to start learning about the island’s British heritage, especially at the historic Royal Naval Dockyard and lighthouse. The National Museum of Bermuda (formerly the Bermuda Maritime Museum) features enlightening exhibits about the island’s shipwrecks, cultural history and naval involvement. Within the museum’s stone walls you’ll also find Dolphin Quest, a family-friendly experience that lets visitors swim with dolphins.
Continue exploring around the dockyard and you can visit the Arts Centre to see several great craft shops, galleries and restaurants – each offering a deeper glimpse into the island’s creativity and culture. You’ll also find duty-free shopping in the Clocktower Mall and easy access to Bermuda’s ferries and buses.
Hamilton is the pastel-colored capital of Bermuda located just a short (and scenic) ferry ride from King’s Wharf. Hamilton is home to several of the island’s most treasured attractions, such as the Bermuda Aquarium, the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute and the Bermuda Botanical Gardens. The Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo is one of the world’s oldest aquariums and has on display over 200 different species of fish, many of which will be found in the 140,000-gallon North Rock coral reef exhibit. The Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (BUEI) is a newer attraction designed to teach guests about life under the sea while emphasizing the importance of conservation efforts. For a greater appreciation of life above water, check out the Bermuda Botanical Gardens, a 35-acre park with several gardens and green houses.
After a busy day of sight-seeing, head to one of the waterfront restaurants for a fresh meal with the locals. If you happen to be in Hamilton on Wednesday night, head to Front Street for an evening of live music and dancing. This weeknight street festival will give you a great chance to cut loose with the locals and shop for authentic souvenirs.
Historic St. George’s was one of the first successful English settlements and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a wonderful town to explore on foot as the cobblestone streets are lined with charming homes, shops and churches. Catch your breath with a popular photo opportunity at the Deliverance, a full-sized replica ship modeled after the cedar one built by Jamestown-bound shipwreck survivors in 1610. Learn even more about Bermuda’s history at the cozy National Trust Museum which features exhibits dedicated to Bermuda’s role in the U.S. Civil War and World War II. Another “must-see” is St. Peter’s Church, the western hemisphere’s oldest continually used Anglican church.
Bermuda is a paradise for divers with many reefs and shipwrecks that are perfect for underwater exploration. One of the most buzzed about shipwrecks is the Mary Celestia, a blockade running ship that was used by the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. In 2011, five bottles of 148-year-old wine were discovered within the Mary Celestia wreck. The largest of the offshore shipwrecks is the Cristobal Colon which lies off Bermuda’s North Shore. This 500-foot-long shipwreck is now home to many of Bermuda’s colorful fish. Another popular dive site is the “Cathedral” found off Bermuda’s East End. This dive site features an underwater dome penetrated by beams of light and swarming with fish. There are countless other dive sites, so you could easily spend every day exploring Bermuda’s underwater treasures.
Bermuda’s beauty is more than just on the surface – in fact, hidden beneath Bermuda’s surface are over a hundred limestone caves. The most popular of these is Crystal Caves, which was discovered in 1907 by two teenagers chasing a lost cricket ball. This mesmerizing cave descends towards a small lake located 120 feet below sea level. You’ll never forget the time you spend marveling at the stalagmites and stalactites in the shimmering light of the reflective pools.
Bermuda may be small, but their love for golf is huge. The island actually has more golf courses per square mile than any other nation, a third of which are public. The famous Port Royal Golf Club is one of the most popular, and rightfully so. Set along the cliffs of Bermuda’s Southampton Parish, the 6,800-yard Port Royal Golf Course is strikingly beautiful and – depending on your ability – certainly challenging. TIP: Some private golf courses also allow visitors to play when tee times are reserved through cruise lines or certain golf packages.
What About the Beaches?
You can’t visit Bermuda without checking out the beaches, and with this destination, the more the merrier. Of course, we just mentioned a ton of other “must-see” sites, so you’ll have to be selective about where to spend your time. Given that, here are a few of the best beaches in Bermuda, in no particular order:
Tobacco Bay is one of the most stunning beaches, and almost appears otherworldly with its unique rock formations. Tobacco Bay offers easy access for snorkelers looking to mingle with Bermuda’s vibrant sea life. In fact, the coral reefs and underwater rock formations are an astounding visual of their own. You can wade through shallow pools, play in the calm turquoise waters or just relax on shore to take in this unique beach while staying dry.
Horseshoe Bay may be the most famous of all Bermuda’s beaches. The curved 4-mile beach is one of the island’s largest, and one of the most picturesque. The expansive shoreline shows off Bermuda’s famous pink sands and features plenty of shallower areas for children to play under the supervision of lifeguards. You’ll also find beach chairs and snorkeling equipment for rent.
Elbow Beach, which is one of the closest public beaches to downtown Hamilton, received its name for its curving shape, not unlike that of the human elbow. You’ll find the calm waters to be inviting to children and snorkelers alike, and a distant shipwreck will give you a chance for great photographs.
Warwick Long Bay is one of the most popular beaches for locals seeking to avoid the seasonal influx of tourists at other beaches. Warwick Long Bay Beach offers half a mile of pink sand beaches and unforgettable views. Snorkeling gear is available to rent, and concessions are operated during the peak season. We suggest taking advantage of the scenic picnic area.
Jobson’s Cove is a scenic and secluded inlet that is actually an extension of Warwick Long Bay. The masses are more likely to swarm to Horseshoe Bay, so many guests (and local Bermudians) prefer the more private Jobson’s Cove, which also offers excellent swimming and snorkeling surrounded by cliffs.
Where Should You Book Your Bermuda Cruise?
We recommend booking your Bermuda cruise with the experts at The Cruise Web, the best place for a personal cruise consultation. We seek to understand exactly what you’re looking for in a vacation, and then use that to plan the perfect cruise. Plus, we’ll take advantage of our access to exclusive promotions to make sure you get the best Bermuda cruise deal!
To book a Bermuda cruise or learn more about this fun destination, contact one of our cruise experts today at 1-800-377-9383. Alternately, you can complete our online information request form and we’ll reach out to you.
If you still have questions about Bermuda cruising, feel free to leave a comment below. For those of you that have already been to Bermuda, what was your favorite thing to do?