There are some places that capture your heart on first sight. And for me, beautiful Bermuda was one of those places.
Unlike the great cities of Europe with their history and grand architecture, or the glittering extravagant palaces I’d expected of St Petersburg, I hadn’t known what to expect of Bermuda, other than a vague inkling that it was a tourist destination favoured by the Americans.
As such, if I’d anticipated anything, it might have been that there could be a Disneyland aspect to the Island – that everything would be sorted and expensive with attractions lined up and a sprinkling of fairytale there for the taking.
Although we found a fairytale aspect for the taking, we didn’t encounter conventional tourist overload.
As Sea Princess cruised across the Sargasso Sea and approached the blue blue waters around West End and the Royal Naval Dockyard, we looked out over our balcony breathing in the sultry warm air.
I felt my whole being breathe out. So different to, say, arriving in New York, where my first reaction was to breathe in hard, brace myself and feel the adrenalin begin to race.
Bermuda immediately soothed me, and spoke to my soul.
From our short time onshore, I got the impression that this was island life at its best.
The sea is the bluest of blue, there are reefs close to shore in shallow waters ideal for beginner snorkelers, the people are so friendly and helpful, the vibe is ‘island time’, the buildings are all painted pastel colours and pretty, the shops are bright (shopping not expensive as I’d imagined) and the roads are winding and quaint.
Yet despite it’s low key countenance Bermuda has been a popular tourist destination from the 1930’s and is no stranger to Cruise Ships.
The first cruise ships from America began to ply the Sargasso Sea to the ‘onion patch’ (as it was named in the Bermuda Yacht Race due to the onions grown on the island) way back in the early 1900’s with The Queen of Bermuda one of the first liners to operate.
Visiting the National Museum later on we learnt more about the darker side of the island, and its slave history. Slavery and its dramatic impact on Bermuda is one of the principal exhibits in The Commissioner’s House.
The impressive 2 storied stone house sitting on a hilltop above the harbour started in 1824 as a residence for the senior naval officer for the North American station of the Royal Navy. The exhibits chronicle slave life in Bermuda shortly after its settlement in 1612, to emancipation on 1st August 1834. It was a chilling reminder of a brutal era.
Bermuda’s Story in Art, 2009.
There’s also a huge acrylic on board by Graham Foster. The story begins with the discovery of Bermuda in 1505, covers the slave trade years, and highlights the 1609 shipwreck of Virginia-bound English colonists aboard the Sea Venture. It concludes in 2009 marking the 400th anniversary of continuous habitation of Bermuda. The painting took 3.5 years to complete (below)
The grounds and ramparts are also well worth a walk around, and you’ll also find “Dolphin Quest” where we watched people swimming with dolphins.
We were drawn to stop and watch the tricks and antics of these incredible and intelligent creatures, for about half an hour.
From the wharf we caught a ferry to Hamilton. It was a quick and easy passage (about half an hour) and cooling to be in a sea breeze watching the world go by from the top deck.
Hamilton appeared on our port side – my first impressions were of colourful cliffside houses, expensive yachts and pastel coloured buildings along the waterfront in the town. It all looked so clean and beautiful.
We wandered through a park, Dave went to the fort …
where there were some great views …
and we visited the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity. Inside was so calm and the air felt heavy with prayers.
From Hamilton we caught a bus to the beautiful Horseshoe Bay – about 20 minutes.
There’s a short tree-lined walk down to the beach. When you reach the beach you come to a vibey beach bar (where we sat to gather our senses and gulped a long cool orange juice). There are also convenient amenities with showers and changing rooms.
Of course the beach is picture postcard perfect, and the sea was oh so warm but on such a hot day it still did a brilliant job in cooling us off.
We caught the bus a little later and circumnavigated the south tip of the island which curves like a scorpion tail back to the Royal Naval Dockyard. This trip, which took about 45 minutes rates as one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful public bus ride we’ve ever taken.
I was so hot in my cut off denims that when I espied a little cotton dress in a boutique in Hamilton I tried it on, loved it and bought it. $34 worth of pure cool happiness.
Dave’s comment was: “I don’t need to go snorkelling all I have to do is look at you in your new dress!” Later on he said, “Come along my little fish-wife,” which I didn’t think was quite so complimentary.
1. Catch the #7 bus from Hamilton to the Royal Naval Dockyard. This must rate as one of the most scenic public bus routes in the world. We hopped off at Horseshoe Bay for a swim, and had we had more time available we would have stopped off at more places along the way.
2. We bought a $19 all day bus and ferry pass at the Information Booth as soon as we got off Sea Princess. This was great as it gave us flexibility throughout the day.
3. The National Museum at King’s Wharf is well worth a visit. Allow a couple of hours at least.
4. Catch the ferry to Hamilton – it’s a great start to the day!
5. Take a small rucksack with swimsuit, towel and sunscreen with you, and stop off at one of the beaches for a swim or snorkel.
6. If you don’t want to venture further than the wharf the snorkel beach nearby is a great option, oh and it’s a bit of a party beach!
7. There are shops, restaurants, a pub, the National Museum, a beach (below) and other attractions at the Royal Naval Dockyards – if you just want to walk off the ship and not catch public transport or taxis.
The Curious Bermuda Triangle
Bermuda Triangle is the greatest unsolved mystery of the modern age. It’s also called Devil’s Triangle. With thanks to Shocking Facts About the Bermuda Triangle here are some strange and curious facts you might not know.
- It’s a triangular shaped area in the North Atlantic Ocean, from Bermuda Island to Miami, USA and Puerto Rico.
- The Bermuda Triangle covers an area of 440,000 miles of sea
- The disappearances are ascribed to UFO’s and alien activity.
- The City of Atlantis is allegedly lost under the triangle.
- Whenever any plane or ship disappears in the Triangle, its debris cannot be found. The reason behind this is that Gulf Stream quickly gets rid of the debris.
- On average, 4 aircraft and 20 yachts go missing every year.
- The Bermuda Triangle is one of the rare places on earth where the compass does not point towards Magnetic North. Instead of that, it point towards true north, which creates confusion and that’s why so many ships and planes lost its course in the triangle
- The first person to report about Bermuda Triangle was Christopher Columbus. He wrote in his journals that inside the triangle, the ship’s compass stopped working and he also saw a fireball in the sky.
On his noon-day update as we cruised in the Bermuda triangle, our Captain on board Sea Princess assured us …
“Our compasses are working just fine and our look-outs haven’t seen any fireballs in the sky.”
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I travelled as a guest of Princess Cruises but all opinions are my own.