With Royal Caribbean as your host and home away from home, you've got some royal Bermuda coming. Bermuda is one of the world's top cruise ship destinations and it's easy to see why.
For discerning cruise ship passengers who feel that sun, sea, and sand--all of which Bermuda has in abundance--should be the bare necessities of a port of call, Bermuda's rare combination of natural beauty, British heritage, and charm make it a perfect cruise ship destination for Royal Caribbean's Song of America.
Its diminutive size--just 22 square miles--permits passengers to enjoy the entire island as their own personal playground. The Song of America docks in the capital of Hamilton and historic St. George's, offering the convenience of two unique bases during your four-day stay in Bermuda.
Island charm is evident everywhere in Bermuda, where homes are the color of sherbert, businessmen wear Bermuda shorts and ties to work, and streets and homes have names like "Old Maids Lane" and "Fanny Fox's Cottage." Our docked ship offers a perfect base for exploring all of the charm the island has to offer.
Bermuda has a tradition of welcome that has attracted vacationers for many years. The history, culture, and people make this special Atlantic Ocean haven much more than a typical resort destination.
Bermuda consists of approximately 150 islands and islets extending northwest to southwest. This fish-hooked chain is situated in the Atlantic Ocean, 650 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Bermuda's hilly terrain lies in the warming Gulf Stream and its 21-mile stretch of islands are connected by several bridges and causeways. Town Hill is the highest point, rising 260 feet above sea level. There are no rivers or freshwater lakes and the island depends solely on rainfall for its drinking water.
Approximately 58,000 residents live on 20 of the inhabited islands. Hamilton, the capital city, is the most populated area of Bermuda.
From bountiful beaches to superb shopping, your time in port is never short on things to see and do. There are many attractions and activities that no visitor should miss experiencing, enjoying, or seeing.
Beachcombers (see "Beaches") will enjoy strolling one or more of the secluded beaches along the South Shore. Bermuda's 34 small and picturesque beaches include famous Horseshoe Bay and Warwick Long Bay, both part of the South Shore National Park. Church Bay, Chaplin Bay, Stonehole Bay, Astwood Cove, and biscuit-sized Jobson's Cove all make perfect beach hidewaways.
Out at sea (see "Recreation"), you can discover Bermuda's enchanted undersea world through snorkeling or scuba diving. For those who prefer to stay afloat, you can charter a private yacht, sailboat, or fishing boat to explore at your leisure. Waterskiing, parasailing, kayaking, and snorkeling equipment are also available for further exploration.
Shoppers will be pleasantly surprised at the entire Bermuda shopping experience (see "Shopping"). From the variety and price of goods to the friendliness of the staff, the quality shows. Imported British goods and many other items can provide perfect memories of Bermuda, as well as substantial savings.
Bermuda has more acreage dedicated to golf (see "Recreation") per square mile than anywhere else in the world. Championship courses abound, with designers like Robert Trent Jones, Charles Banks, and Charles Blair Macdonald carving stunning landscapes into world-famous links. It's easy to make arrange cabin-to-tee golf excursions.
Nature lovers (see "Recreation") will love the natural side of Bermuda, where they'll find a stunning supply of colorful flora and fauna. A "ribbon of green" traverses Bermuda from east to west, with 79 national parks, nature reserves, and beaches covering more than 800 acres. Along with an unbelievable number of parks in natural settings, be sure to stroll along parts of the Railway Trail, an 18-mile nature reserve that was once Bermuda's railway.
Heartier souls will love the 185-steps to the top of Gibb's Hill Lighthouse, one of the oldest iron lighthouses in the world. Located in Southampton Parish, the climb is well worth the view. It's a great way to take your love of Bermuda to new heights.
Mopeds are the preferred form of transportation (see "Transportation") in Bermuda, making for a fun outing. It's simple and convenient to rent mopeds and tour the island from end to end. Starting from historic St. George's in the east, you'll enjoy the breathtaking views along the South Shore, head past quaint Somerset, and end up at the west end's Dockyard, with lots of shops and historic sites.
Taxi drivers also provide an excellent way to get around Bermuda, as well as serving as great tour guides. They'll probably serve as your first introduction to the friendliness of Bermuda's people. From the taxi drivers to the shopkeepers, the people of Bermuda will provide some of your fondest memories of this legendary port of call. As you'll soon see, you've got some royal Bermuda coming.
Bermuda's background is distinctively British, though the island's history has led to many local touches. Visitors will find the locals take great pride in their history and heritage.
Spanish explorer Juan de Bermudez sighted and landed on the island in 1503, but did not settle there. Admiral Sir George Somers, whose ship "Sea Venture" was carrying colonists to the new British colonies of Virginia, wrecked off the Bermuda coast near the present-day town of St. George in 1609 (immortalized in Shakespeare's "The Tempest"). He claimed the island for England and the Virginia Company was granted a charter for Bermuda.
Impressed by the admiral's reports about the island, the Virginia Company sought an extension to its charter, which was granted by King James I of England in June, 1612. About six months later the Company transferred its rights to the Bermuda Company and in 1615 a new charter was granted under the name of "The Governor and Company of the City of London for the Plantation of the Somers Islands."
The first meeting of the island parliament, the oldest Commonwealth legislature outside Great Britain, was held in the State House in 1620. Located in St. George's, Bermuda's State House is the oldest in the Western Hemisphere.
In 1684, the Bermuda Company's charter was forfeited and the government of the colony was vested in the Crown. Bermuda is the oldest British colony responsible for its own administrative affairs, providing a unique combination of British and Bermudian procedures.
By the 18th century, Bermuda had become an important part of the British empire. However, this loyalty was severely tested during the Revolutionary War, when many locals supported the island's "neighbor" colony, Virginia.
During the Civil War, Bermudians favored the South. The historic town of St. George's even served as a major port for the Confederacy, when southern ports were blockaded by Union forces.
Late in the 19th century, Bermuda became a popular tourism destination. Since the first Royal Visit by Princess Louise in 1883, Bermudians have been welcoming vacationing guests like you. The tourism industry is definitely the top economic force on the island and everyone seems to host visitors with genuine enthusiasm for sharing their island history, as well today's many Bermuda pleasures.
Thanks to organizations like the Bermuda National Trust, much of this history has been preserved and is easily explored (see "Sites and Attractions"). Some highlights include: St. Peter's Church in St. George's; the old State House in St. George's; Camden, the official residence of the Premier of Bermuda; Carter House, Bermuda's oldest stone dwelling; Palmetto House, an 18th century limestone house; Verdmont, a wonderful old manor; the Royal Naval Dockyard; Fort Hamilton; Fort St. Catherine; and Hamilton's Bermuda Historical Society. This short list is just a hint of how Bermuda's history-rich heritage enriches any visitor's explorations.
SITES AND ATTRACTIONS
Bermuda's size allows visitors to explore it completely and at an easy pace. Whether it's by moped, bicycle, taxi, bus, ferry, or on foot, it's easy to see most of the sites and attractions that interest you while you're in port.
The island is divided into nine parishes and each one of them has a distinctness that makes visiting all nine worthwhile (and easy). From east to west, the parishes are: St. George's; Hamilton (not the city); Smith's; Devonshire; Pembroke (including the city of Hamilton); Paget; Warwick; Southampton; and Sandys (Somerset, the West End). The parishes are separated by old tribe roads that can still be explored today.
ST. GEORGE'S PARISH
St. George's is the most history-rich parish on a history-rich island. This is where Bermuda began and it's a great place to begin a tour.
The town of St. George's, founded in 1612, provides a colorful contrast of present and past. Huge cruise ships tower over the quaint town and its full-scale replica of the "Deliverance," the 17th century ship of Sir George Somers. Nearby, modern shopping on King's Square is situated next to the stocks and pillory used for wayward colonists.
The center of St. George's is King's Square, which served as the seat of Bermuda's courts and general Assembly until 1815, when the capital was moved to Hamilton. The modern Visitors' Service Bureau on the square can provide helpful information about exploring the parish and the rest of the island.
Nearby, you can't miss the tastefully reconstructed Town Hall, where the parish government is still situated. Along with visiting the impressive meeting rooms, you can watch an interesting slide show upstairs Mondays through Saturdays at 11:15am and 3pm (small admission charge).
At the corner of King's Square and York Street to the north, look for the Confederate Museum. Though you wouldn't expect to find a Civil War museum on Bermuda, this excellent collection features many maps and much more Civil War memorabilia. Many Bermuda citizens played a major part in the war effort for the South and this building served as the base for blockade running operations.
Across the street, be sure to allow several hours for visiting St. Peter's Church. This stunning and awe-inspiring whitewashed building is the oldest Anglican place of worship in the Western Hemisphere. The original church was built in 1612, but most of the church that exists today was built in the 18th and 19th centuries. Native (and fragrant) cedar can be seen throughout St. Peter's, while the churchyard is shaded by a cedar tree that is said to be the island's oldest. On the west side of the churchyard, wander through the quiet cemetery and marvel and the worn gravestones. Nearby, the quaint Old Rectory is open on Wednesdays.
Head east on York Street and turn left onto Princess Street for a look at Bermuda's original State House. This old white building is still in use today, though Bermuda's government now meets in Hamilton. It's usually only open on Wednesdays.
Back on York Street, look for the entrance to Somers Gardens, named after Sir George Somers. This pretty place also leads up Blockade Alley to Kent Street and some great views of St. George's and the pretty harbor.
Head up Kent Street and look for the St. George's Historical Society Museum and Featherbed Alley Printery. Housed in the same building, the former features a major collection concerning parish history and the latter offers a replica of Gutenberg's 15th century press and an original working 18th century version.
Further up Kent Street, take steep Slippery Hill to the Unfinished Church of St. George's. Along with a great view, you'll find an old 19th century church that was left unfinished due to lack of funds and disagreements within the congregation.
From the ruins of St. George's, it's an easy stroll back down to town or an enjoyable walk out to Fort St. Catherine (about four miles). If you don't feel like walking, head back to King's Square and arrange transportation to this fascinating fort. Along with taxi tours, the fort is also easy to reach by bicycle or moped.
As an island, Bermuda was exposed to invasion. Thus, almost all strategic points on Bermuda's shores were guarded by a fort. Fort St. Catherine provides an inside look at the way Bermuda was protected. One of the island's earliest strongholds, Fort St. Catherine was built in the 17th century and was enlarged in the 19th century. The view and the museum are well worth a visit.
If you have time, head back to St. George's by way of Berry Road to Gates Fort, the narrow passage by which our ship heads into port. Cut Road and pretty Water Street take your right back to town.
Back on King's Square, walk east on Water Street for a block and look for the fascinating Carriage Museum on the right. This large collection of carriages from the 18th and 19th century pays tribute to the age of carriages on Bermuda. This period actually lasted until 1946, when automobiles were finally allowed on the island. Visitors will find a wide range of private and commercial carriages, providing an interesting look into Bermuda's pre-car past.
There's a post office across the street for sending lots of pretty postcards, but you should also head further down the Water Street for a quick visit to the Tucker House Museum. This cute cottage, built in the 18th century, was the home of Henry Tucker, the island's colonial secretary. Later, it was the home of Joseph Rainey, a freed slave from South Carolina who went on to become the first black member of the U.S. House of Representatives. The house contains many colonial pieces from the Tucker family, as well as a wonderful little bookshop that has many works about Bermuda's past and present.
Take Somers Wharf, a former warehouse district on the water, back to King's Square. The area now features lots of cute little shops and great views of St. George's Harbour.
One final excursion in St. George's is well worthwhile. Across the harbor, St. David's Island features more history and a quiet way of life for its residents. Along with exposure to typical island life, visitors will enjoy seeing the towering red-and-white St. David's Lighthouse. The views from the top are well worth the climb.
Like much of Bermuda, the parish of St. George's offers lots of history, charm, and culture. The other eight parishes provide even more Bermuda magic to interested visitors.
Pembroke Parish draws thousands of visitors to the cosmopolitan city of Hamilton, but there is much more to this area. Take the time to explore all that Hamilton has to offer, but leave some time for exploring the rest of this richly diverse parish.
Try to spend at least one full day in the city of Hamilton. The city was founded in 1790, but remained quite small until the government seat was moved to it from St. George's in 1815. It's size is still small enough for exploration by foot, though a taxi or carriage tour can be an enlightening addition to your time in Hamilton.
The best place to start is along the water on Hamilton Harbour, where the ship is docked. The Ferry Terminal building also includes a Visitors' Service Bureau. This is a great place to obtain a wide variety of brochures and information about Hamilton and the rest of Bermuda.
Walk out Point Pleasant Road past the Bank of Bermuda to Albuoy's Point, a park where you'll find a pretty view of the harbor and all of the boats and cruise ships. It's a great spot for pictures.
Head back to the Bank of Bermuda, which offers an incredibly comprehensive coin collection on the mezzanine level. Every type of British coin minted from the time of King James I (1603-1625) to the present is displayed, along with many Spanish coins that were used in Colonial Bermuda.
The display includes several pieces of "Hog Money," the first coins minted in Bermuda in the early-17th century. One side is stamped with a replica of the "Sea Venture" and the other side features a wild hog. When the "Sea Venture" wrecked off the Bermuda coast, the ship's company discovered wild hogs and a huge supply of meat. This must have been long before duty-free shopping came to Bermuda!
Head back along the waterfront's Front Street to the corner of Front and Queen Streets. The "Birdcage" (designed, appropriately enough, by Mr. Bird) sits in the middle of the intersection, where you'll sometimes find an official directing traffic (a new stoplight in unhurried Bermuda is typically a subject for island-wide debate).
Walk up Queen Street to begin serious exploration of historic Hamilton. The first stop provides a perfect introduction to Bermuda's perfect park system. Par-la-Ville Park was once the private garden of William B. Perot, who planned the gardens in the mid-1800s. He created a pleasant place to wander and enjoy nature, including walking paths, formal flowerbeds, and many benches.
Mr. Perot enjoyed finding exotic plants from throughout the world and placing them in Par-la-Ville. In 1847, in planted an Indian rubber tree seed that has grown to a huge size. Mark Twain once said that he was disappointed that the tree didn't bear a crop of hot water bottles and rubber overshoes. You may want to return to this park after a day of walking and shopping.
Back on Queen Street, look for Perot's Post Office. Mr. Perot was officially appointed Bermuda's first Post Master in 1821 and he started printing stamps in 1848. Only 11 of these original stamps remain, but the original post office is still in operation and is well worth a visit. It's also a perfect place from which to send postcards.
The Bermuda Library and Bermuda Historical Society Museum are next door. The tiny museum is packed with lots of history. There's even a 1775 letter from George Washington "to the inhabitants of Bermuda." The excellent library contains a 1624 first edition of Captain John Smith's General Historie of Virginia, New England and the Somer Isles, a wonderful collection of old and new Bermuda travel and picture books, and a reading room with recent U.S. and British newspapers.
Continue up Queen Street and take a right on Church Street. Walk three blocks to Hamilton's City Hall on the left. The modern City Hall was opened in 1960 and features a large white tower with a bronze white replica of the "Sea Venture." Inside, the Bermuda National Gallery includes part of the Masterworks Foundation's Bermudiana Collection, the Watlington Collection of 17th, 18th, and 19th century European paintings, and Ondaatje Wing of historic Bermudiana.
If you need a cool resting spot, head behind city hall to Victoria Park. This pretty park was refurbished in the 1880s for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. There's also a bandstand where outdoor concerts and other events are often held in the summer.
Further along Church Street sits the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity. This large and beautiful neo-Gothic cathedral, completed in 1911, replaced the original Anglican structure that was burned down by an arsonist in 1884. As with many things on Bermuda, the cathedral adds a European touch to the island.
Continue along Church Street for two more blocks, turn right on Court Street, and look for the Sessions House on your right. Bermuda has the third oldest parliament in the world, behind Iceland and England. The Parliament originally met in St. George's for almost 200 years before moving to Hamilton in 1817. The Sessions House is open to visitors Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, with the Chamber being the highlight of a tour.
Take Court Street back down to Front Street for a tour of the Cabinet Building and Senate Chamber, where you may see a debate or visit the historic and well-visited chamber. Past visitors have included Sir Winston Churchill, President Eisenhower, President Kennedy, President Nixon, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Prime Minister Thatcher, and President Bush.
Front Street leads back to the Ferry Terminal, but this street deserves many hours of exploration. The world-renowned shopping is, of course, the biggest reason to enjoy Front Street and neighboring shopping streets (see "Shopping"). But there are also many little alleyways to explore, where you'll find quaint little shops and many restaurants overlooking the busy Front Street and harbor area.
After enjoying Front Street, be sure to take the time to visit the rest of Hamilton and Pembroke Parish. This might also be a great time to take a carriage or taxi tour of the city and surrounding areas.
One of the parish's biggest attractions is Camden and the adjacent Botanical Gardens. Camden is the official residence of Bermuda's premier. It was built in the early-1700s of local cedar and features many Bermuda artifacts. The gardens provide a 36-acre paradise, with Formal Gardens, Bermuda cedar in the Woodland, palmetto in the Palm Garden, prickly pear in the Cacti and Succulent Collection, huge 70-foot trees in the Ficus Collection, delicious plants in the Sub-Tropical Fruit Collection, as well as an Orchid House, aviary, Fern House, Oleander, Hibiscus Collections, and a special Garden for the Blind.
Other Pembroke Parish highlights include: Fort Hamilton, a huge mid-Victorian polygonal fort; St. Theresa's Cathedral, a Spanish-designed Roman Catholic church built in 1927; Black Watch Pass and Well, which features a level path cut to the North Shore and an old well built in 1849 that is still usable today; and the quaint neighborhood and homes of Fairyland.
Hamilton is the quintessential Bermuda city, making a full day of exploration an essential part of visiting Pembroke Parish. From the Front Street shops to the political ponderings of Parliament, Pembroke Parish and Hamilton shouldn't be missed.
SANDYS PARISH (SOMERSET/THE WEST END)
When you cross tiny Somerset Bridge, Bermudians say you are "up the country." Sandys Parish, referred to as the West End, is certainly a unique part of Bermuda and one that should not be missed during any visit to Bermuda. Just take a ferry, taxi, moped, or bus to this unique part of the island.
Somerset Bridge was one of the first three bridges built in the 17th century. This tiny bridge is said to be the smallest drawbridge in the world, with a little center plank that can be raised to allow the mast of a sailboat to pass through.
The West End is a perfect place to try the Railway Trail, which follows an old route of the Bermuda Railway Company's train track that once spanned the entire length of Bermuda. The section between Somerset Bridge and Sound View Road is considered one of the prettiest sections of this well-kept trail. Some Railway Trail highlights include pretty views of the Great Sound, Scaur Hill Fort Park, swimming, and the wide open farmland.
Fort Scaur was built in the 1870s to defend against potential attack by the U.S. Navy. A huge dry moat was cut straight across Somerset Island and a giant fort accompanied it. Though there was never an attack, the grand old fort remains for today's tourists. Fort afficionados will enjoy the view from the ramparts, the RML cannon, and the disappearing carriages upon which the fort's cannons were mounted.
A little further down Somerset Road sits St. James' Church, dramatically situated on a high promontory overlooking the ocean. The original church was destroyed by a hurricane in 1780 and the "new" church was consecrated in 1789. The stunning spire was designed by Dr. Henry Hinson, a local doctor whose hobby was architecture and who also designed the spires for St. Mark's, Smith's Parish, St. Paul's in Paget, and St. Paul's AME in Hamilton. The church and quiet graveyard are open to visitors from dawn to dusk.
Beachlovers should head for Somerset Long Bay Park and Nature Reserve. The beautiful beach and shallow water are ideal for relaxation and watersports. Birdwatchers will enjoy the adjoining nature reserve established by the Bermuda Audubon Society. Possible sitings include warblers, kingfishers, herons, egrets, ducks, purple gallinule, moorhen, cardinals, chicks-of-the-village, and cat birds.
Picturesque Somerset Village looks much like it did in 1962, when the town was featured in "A Touch of Mink," starring Cary Grant and Doris Day. Today's visitors will find a pretty public wharf, many shops, and several popular restaurants.
The final (and most popular) destination in the West End is the Royal Naval Dockyard. This historic spot has turned into one of Bermuda's most special attractions and should not be missed.
Following the loss of many British ports in the colonies, as well as the American Revolution, the Royal Navy required a new winter anchorage and a major naval dockyard. Thus, in 1809, the huge task of designing and building the breakwaters, wharfs, boatslip, workshops, victualling yard, barracks, and keep began. Thousands of slaves and British convicts toiled at the tasks of the project for decades, as the Royal Naval Dockyard became a major port for the Royal Navy.
The gates to the Dockyard opened to the public in 1951, ending almost 150 years of service as the base of Royal Naval power in the Western Atlantic. Much of this history remains for today's visitors to explore. However, today's Dockyard means much more than just interesting history.
Thanks to an excellent redevelopment plan, many of the historic old naval buildings, bearing names like the "Great Eastern Storehouse," have been converted into museums, restaurants, shops, and several arts and crafts workshops. It's truly historic sightseeing and shopping.
Shoppers should first head to the Clocktower Centre, where they'll find more than 25 shops in two old naval storehouses. The unique setting offers shops anything from antique prints to pastries and clothes to coffee. The Clocktower Centre also offers several Bermudian dining opportunities.
Nearby, the flourishing Craft Market features local artisans demonstrating their crafts, possibly including jewelry, candles, quilts, dolls, miniature furniture, cedar work, and much more. You may also have the opportunity to see a resident artist at work at the Bermuda Arts Centre, where Bermudian sculptors, painters, photographers, and other artists, designers, and craftsmen complete, display, and sell their work.
Don't drop from shopping until you also take in some of the historic offerings at the Dockyard. Several guided walking tours offer an ideal introduction, with interesting points including the victualling yard (for storage and preparation of food and drink for the fleet); the cooperage (where food was salted and sealed in barrels for preservation before refrigeration); and the Clocktower building, with walls three feet thick and towers 100 feet high.
Besides the shopping, dining, and other activities, the heart of the Dockyard is the fortified Keep, which now holds the Bermuda Maritime Museum. Visitors to the museum enter by a drawbridge over a wet moat and through an archway in a thick stone wall.
The Keep's architectural features include old ordnance buildings, 30-foot ramparts, underground storage chambers, and an inner lagoon, where small boats were loaded with ammunition and supplies to be taken to the larger ships at anchor. The maritime exhibits include whaling, diving, navigation, shipping, the Royal Navy, shipwreck archaeology, Bermuda boats, the restored 1856 Dockyard clock, and many more rotating exhibits.
From little Somerset Bridge to the giant Dockyard, the West End welcomes visitors. Whether you get there by ferry, taxi, or moped, just make sure to get there.
There's much more to Bermuda than the parishes of St. George's, Pembroke (and the city of Hamilton), and Sandys. Your four days in port allows you the opportunity to explore many other parts of this fascinating island.
Southampton Parish is renowned for several world-famous beaches and the accompanying water-oriented activities, but there is also much history to explore. A day in Southampton can be a beautiful day at the beach, but it can also become so much more.
Start your exploration of Southampton Parish on the pink sands of Horseshoe Bay Beach. This stunning setting offers a perfect place for sunbathing, swimming, and photography. It's said to be one of the most-photographed beaches in the world and it's easy to see why.
There's a small facility at the west end of Horseshoe Bay that offers dining, changing rooms, souvenirs, and simply stunning views. Take one of several paths back up to South Road, which continues west along the coast and features spectacular views of the water, rocks, and beaches.
The South Road leads past the pretty pink Southampton Princess up on the hill to the turn for Gibb's Hill Lighthouse. This famous lighthouse offers great views from the base and even more spectacular views at the top of its 117-foot tower. Officials can provide a guided tour. It has been in constant operation since 1846.
Back down on South Road, the pretty views continue past the popular Henry VIII restaurant and the Sonesta Beach Hotel & Spa. Look for St. Anne's Church on the right at the intersection of South Road and Church Road. This church, built in 1616, features a quiet graveyard and a nearby park, with picture-perfect views of the south coast, as well as another pretty beach.
South Road leads past Seymour's Pond and up to Middle Road. Seymour's Pond is a 2 1/2-acre nature reserve that is operated by the Bermuda Audubon Society. Along with the quiet scenery, you may also see some egrets and other specimens of Bermuda's large bird population.
Middle Road runs along Little Sound and offers more great views. History- and beach-buffs will enjoy taking the right turn onto Whale Bay Road. Whale Bay offers a great beach and the Whale Bay Battery, an abandoned 19th century garrison that was once used to guard the Royal Naval Dockyard against attack.
The final feature of Southampton Parish is one of Bermuda's best golf courses. Port Royal Golf Course is a government-owned gem, with rolling fairways and awesome views from the tees, fairways, and greens.
Warwick Parish is home to two great golf courses, beautiful beaches, and some out-of-the-way spots that not many tourists take the time to visit. The area can be explored in a few hours or an entire day, depending on your interest in beaches or golf.
The South Road offers stunning views and runs parallel with several popular beaches. Warwick Long Bay is Bermuda's longest span of unbroken beach and it's well worth a visit. Some great small coves just west of the main beach include Jobson's Cove, Stonehole Bay, and Chaplin Bay. The parish is a beach-lover's dream.
Middle Road features several popular non-beach diversions. Warwick Pond, owned and managed by the Bermuda National Trust, is another natural Bermuda haven, with many birds and plants. To the east sits Christ Church, which was built in 1719, and the Belmont Golf Course, a popular choice for lovers of the links.
On the north end of Warwick Parish, Darrell's Wharf can serve as another base, in that it offers convenient ferry service from Hamilton. The wharf area also features the work of local artists at a popular shop on Harbour Road.
Harbour Road heads west along Great Sound, offering pretty views all the way, including many islands that dot the bay. The Belmont Hotel's wharf will come up on the right and a bit further along you'll find "Granaway," an 18th-century home built by a boat captain for his daughter. You can tour the rooms and the guest cottage, where slaves once lived.
The road leads further along the coast to Spithead, which once served as the winter home of playwright Eugene O'Neill. His daughter, Oona, was born here and would later marry Charlie Chaplin. Another playwright, Noel Coward, moved to Bermuda in 1956 and lived at Spithead and next door at Spithead Lodge.
Harbour Road continues past houses with names like Elm Lodge, Chameleon Corners, Lizard's Leap, and Burnt House (the original house is said to have been destroyed by fire in 1616, in an attempt to exterminate rampant vermin). Golfers will want the final hole of their Warwick wandering to be at Riddell's Bay Golf Course, offering fine golf along Riddell's Bay and Great Sound.
To the east of Warwick sits Paget Parish, with more pleasant beaches and other pleasing possibilities. Because Paget is close to the city of Hamilton, it's more populated than Warwick or Southampton, but there is still much history and nature to see and experience.
The first stop in Paget should be the Botanical Gardens and Camden. The beautiful gardens feature more than 35 acres of plants and flowers, as well as many botanical displays.
The Botanical Gardens surround Camden, which is an 18th century home that is now the official residence of the Premier of Bermuda. It is usually just open to the public on Tuesdays and Fridays from noon to 2pm, but it's definitely worth a picture from the outside.
Paget offers several nice beach spots. Elbow Beach features a half-mile stretch of sandy beach and beautiful rock formations at the west end, including a cliff that has had steps carved into it.
South Road, Middle Road, and the Railway Trail meander through Paget, offering many places to stop for great views. Some places of interest that are conveniently reached from any of these byways include: romantic Lover's Lane, with wonderful views; Rosecote, the home studio of local artist Alfred Birdsey; the historic homes of Salt Kettle Lane; and Cobb's Hill Methodist Church, referred to by locals as the "moonlight church" because it was built in the 19th century by slaves who worked at night after their daytime duties were complete.
On the other side of Pembroke Parish and the city of Hamilton, Devonshire Parish provides a quiet respite typical of many parishes on Bermuda. Be sure to take in the view of Bermuda from Ft. Langton; try a round of golf at Ocean View Golf Course; visit historic Palmetto House; or enjoy the natural wonders of Palm Grove.
Located up Palmetto Road, Ft. Langton was once the headquarters for the British military. The grounds afford a great view all the way across to the Dockyard, as well as perfectly positioned benches for taking it all in. The nearby Ocean View Golf Course was built for the military, but Royal Caribbean passengers of any rank can now enjoy it.
Palmetto House is an 18th century limestone house that is operated as an historic tourist attraction by the Bermuda National Trust. It's cruciform layout was typical of Bermuda homes from this period. Many of the rooms open to the public feature fine cedar furniture.
Palm Grove is a pretty 18-acre park that is packed with plant (and bird) life. Visitors will find more than ten varieties of palm trees, more than 40 varieties of hibiscus, lots of tropical birds, and many other plants and animals.
Smith's Parish is one of the quietest areas on the quiet island of Bermuda. Start a tour of Smith's in the quaint village of Flatts, once a haven for smugglers.
The village of Flatts was supposedly named for the shallow water in the harbor. The town bridge was one of the first to be constructed on Bermuda (around 1620). The 17th century Bridge House to the east on Harrington Sound still stands. Today, Flatts is one of the most picturesque towns on the island, offering many excellent spots for relaxing, dining, or taking pictures.
Harrington Sound Road leads out of Flatts and toward Devil's Hole Aquarium. This unusual attraction features a large pond filled with a variety of sea life.
Head across to South Road and the beautiful beach at John Smith's Bay. This pretty sandy beach features calm and shallow water.
Further west on South Road sits Spittal Pond Nature Reserve. At 50 acres, the pretty preserve is Bermuda's largest natural haven, with an incredible variety of birds that can be seen on the reserve's trails and guided tours of the refuge.
St. Mark's Church sits at the intersection of St. Mark's Road and South Road. This 19th century Gothic structure features pretty stained glass windows and an interesting graveyard.
Finally, Smith's is home to Verdmont, an historic home that every Bermuda visitor should see. This 18th-century mansion has never been modernized and is filled with stunning (and scent-filled) cedar furniture. The views from the gardens are worth the trip.
Hamilton Parish (not to be confused with the city of Hamilton in Pembroke Parish) is reached as soon as you cross Flatts Bridge. The Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo is immediately seen on the right and is well worth a stop, with many live sea creatures and a well-done natural history museum.
The North Shore Road leads through Hamilton Parish and to many convenient attractions. Most visitors are attracted by their noses to the Bermuda Perfumery. This wonderful stop includes a tour of the gardens (full of aromatic plants) and the factory (full of wonderful scents).
Just down from the Bermuda Perfumery at the intersection with Blue Hole HIll Road sits the Swizzle Inn, one of the island's most popular spots for rum swizzles. A quarter-mile further along, you'll find the Glass Blowing Studio, with fascinating demonstrations, workshops, and work for sale.
Wilmington Avenue, off North Shore Road, leads to Crystal Caves. You'll be treated to a beautiful collection of colorful stalagmites and stalactites. Leamington Caves, also situated in Hamilton Parish, offers similar tours.
Idwal Hughes Nature Reserve offers easy birdwatching along well-worn trails. You'll also find small saltwater pools, mangroves, and even a few caves. Nearby the old Walsington House, built in 1652, is now Tom Moore's Tavern, one of the island's most elegant choices for dining.
Blue Hole Hill Road leads out of Hamilton Parish and across The Causeway to St. George's (see beginning St. George's section at beginning of "Sites and Attractions"). It's a trip even further back into Bermuda's history.
Bermuda boasts 34 of the world's most beautiful beaches, which are famous for their pretty pink cast and much more. The pink color of the sand, best seen when wet, is caused by particles of shells mixed with pieces of coral and calcium carbonate. This pink sand is enhanced by the shimmering blue water, rock outcroppings, and views that must be seen to be believed.
Encircled by protective coral reefs, you're never far from the water's edge on Bermuda. Summer water temperatures typically reach 85 degrees fahrenheit, making for some of the world's finest swimming and sunning experiences. Though many public beaches have a wide range of facilities for changing, dining, and shopping, you'll probably want to wear sports clothes over your bathing suit.
The heart of Bermuda's public beaches is in South Shore National Park. This 1 1/2-mile stretch comprises 11 beaches, from Port Royal Cove right through to the eastern end of Warwick Long Bay. These beaches vary considerably in size and nature. Some, such as Warwick Long Bay and Horseshoe Bay, are long unbroken expanses. Others are secluded little coves divided by rock cliffs, with Port Royal Cove, Peel Bay, and Jobson's Cove serving as fine examples.
With crystal clear water to the front (an almost unbelievable turquoise color when seen from any distance) and nature trails behind, South Shore Park is idyllic. Whether you are interested in sunbathing, walking, swimming, snorkeling, or jogging, the perfect beaches are easy to find and reach.
Somerset Long Bay--The West End's only beach offers a unique getaway after a Dockyard visit. The shallow water makes it a perfect spot and the adjoining nature reserves provides some other unusual natural diversions. This is also a great place to watch the sunset.
Whale Bay--Visitors to this small and secluded Southampton Parish beach get the added advantage of seeing Whale Bay Battery, an abandoned 19th century garrison built to protect the Royal Naval Dockyard.
Church Bay--The view along the walk down to the beach is spectacular, as is the small pink beach and the blue water of this secluded beach.
Horseshoe Beach--This is, quite simply, one of the world's best beaches. From the cave formations at the western end to the quiet coves and long stretches of sand, this beach should not be missed by a single Royal Caribbean visitor. It's perfect for swimming and strolling.
Peel Rock Cove/Butts Beach/Middle Beach/Wafer Rocks Beach and Cove/Angle Beach/Hidden Beach/Chaplin Bay--This collection of coves and beaches, set between Horseshoe Beach and Warwick Long Bay, provides perfect opportunities to find your own little piece of beach heaven.
Stonehole Bay--This quiet little cove features dramatic coral and limestone formations that include a huge hole that waves have eroded, towering above the water.
Jobson's Cove--The shallow clear waters and small beach are ideal for first-time swimmers. It's the quintessential Bermuda cove and beach.
Warwick Long Bay--This long and sandy stretch of beach is typically quieter than Horseshoe Bay, but it's just as beautiful for swimming, sunning, and strolling.
Astwood Cove--Set down a steep incline, this dramatic beach is still a relatively secret spot. It's worth the climb if you love generally secluded beach spots.
Elbow Beach--This popular one-mile beach is one of Bermuda's best sunning and swimming spots, with world-class resorts at both ends.
John's Smith's Bay--Much further east along the south shore, John Smith's Bay is typically less-visited, with easy and convenient swimming and beach sitting.
St. Catherine's Beach/Tobacco Bay--Located up near Fort St. Catherine, these two small beaches offer a distinctly different beach diversion from their southern counterparts. Historic St. George's is nearby.
Natural Arches--Located in the Tucker's Town area of St. Georges, this public beach provides one of the most dramatic and unknown beach settings in Bermuda.
Shelly Bay--This north shore beach features a nearby park, ideal for a convenient stop after a day in the city of Hamilton.
Spanish Point Park--Located on the north shore of Pembroke Parish, this area features a variety of small coves popular with the boating (and beaching) set.
Nature has made Bermuda a recreation paradise. The great outdoors means great recreation in almost any form.
Golf--Bermuda is one of the world's top golf destinations and the Song of America is an ideal base for a life on the links. Some of the top courses worth considering include: the Belmont Hotel Golf and Country Club; Castle Harbour Golf Club; Mid Ocean Golf Club; Ocean View Golf Course; Port Royal Golf Course; Princess Golf Club; Riddells Bay Golf and Country Club; and St. George's Golf Club. Fore!
No matter where you're first Bermuda tee shot takes place, you'll fall in love with Bermuda golf. Along with the incredible concentration of courses, duffers will enjoy world-class golf course designs, perfect maintenance, friendly staff, incredible vistas, and a golf tradition that befits the history of the great game.
Watersports--The bright blue Atlantic Ocean beckons with a wide range of recreation opportunities. Some of the best ways to take to the waters include: swimming off the beautiful beaches; snorkeling or scuba diving (with proper instruction); waterskiing or windsurfing with one of several specialty shops; parasailing; boating and sailing; glassbottom boat or submarine tours; and fishing.
Other Options--There are many other ways of enjoying the great outdoors of Bermuda. Some popular options include: visiting one of several award-winning nature reserves located throughout Bermuda; horseback riding along many scenic trails; walking or hiking along the beach or marked byways; exploring the natural wonders of the Bermuda Railway Trail; or enjoying a game, set, or match of tennis at one of many courts.
Along with watersports and golf, shopping is one of the most popular forms of recreation on Bermuda. Bermuda is definitely one of the top shopping destinations in the world and there are many reasons.
The island features high-quality merchandise, friendly merchants, a wide variety of shopping, and (quite often) great bargains. It's the perfect place to shop 'til you drop (into your cabin bed).
The best deals in Bermuda are typically imported British (and other European) products. The possibilities include: woolens of all sorts (you should get at least one sweater); china and crystal; liquor; wine; perfume and cosmetics; and antiques.
There are also many products manufactured on Bermuda that make ideal gifts (for yourself and others). These include: local art; jewelry; fragrant works in cedar; local honey; "Dark 'n' Stormy cakes from Fourways Inn; Horton's Bermuda rum Cake; Bermuda Gold loquat liqueur; Gosling's bottled Bermuda rum swizzles; perfume; Royall Lyme products for men; and Outerbridge's Sherry Peppers Sauce.
Shopping opportunities abound throughout Bermuda. Along with Front Street and the rest of Hamilton, be sure to do some shopping in St. George's, the Dockyard, Somerset Village, and many points in between. Most stores are open Mondays through Saturdays from about 9am to around 6pm, but many stay open in the evenings when our ship is in port.
Whatever you buy and wherever you buy it, the entire shopping experience is sure to be enjoyable. You'll find the staff at Bermuda's shops to be incredibly helpful and friendly, making any purchase a pleasure.
You're in for some unique dining opportunities while we're docked in Bermuda. Be sure to try some of the local fare. We promise the Song of America won't run out of food!
You'll love the dining experience on Bermuda. From casual British pub fare to local Bermuda specialties to an elegant evening at a special restaurant, there are many ideal restaurants from which to choose.
British "pub grub" is a popular lunch and casual evening option. Bermuda abounds with local pubs that feature pints of British beer, steak and kidney pie, and Yorkshire pudding.
Local fare is creative, fresh, and the perfect way to immerse yourself (and your stomach) in Bermuda. Some tasty options on many menus include: spicy Bermuda fish chowder; Bermuda lobster; black-eyed peas and rice; and lots of locally-caught fish.
In the evening, you can make it a bit more formal at many renowned Bermuda restaurants. The dress is casually elegant and so is the food. From classic French cuisine to authentic Italian fare, you'll find Bermuda's restaurants to be a tasty and tasteful treat. Reservations (and jackets) are often requested.
Bicycles: Pedal bikes (as their called in Bermuda) offer a healthy and enjoyable way to explore the island. Some good spots for bike touring include the old Railway Trail, the city of Hamilton, and the Dockyard. Bikes ride for free on the excellent ferry system. Rentals are available throughout the island for about $15 per day.
Buses: The government-operated bus system covers all of the major roads on the island with pink-and-blue buses. Pink-and-blue poles and signs mark the convenient bus stops. The bus system offers an inexpensive way to get around Bermuda, with fares running just $3 (discount books of tickets are available). Passes and information are available at the Central Bus Terminal in Hamilton, while tokens can be purchased at any Bermuda post office. For information, call 292-3851.
Car Rentals: Visitors are not allowed to rent or drive a car on Bermuda.
Carriages: One of the most popular ways to explore Hamilton and nearby sights is by horse-drawn carriage. Carriages were the major form of local transportation until 1946, when automobiles took their place. Buggy rides are typically available every day at the No. 1 Passenger Terminal in Hamilton. The interesting evening tours must be arranged in advance. Rates are normally $25 per half-hour.
Ferries: The excellent ferry system provides a convenient and pretty way to explore much of Bermuda. The ferries run across the Great Sound and Hamilton Harbour, including stops in Hamilton, Paget, Warwick, and Somerset. One-way fares typically run between $1.50 and $3.00.
Helicopters: A helicopter tour is surely one of most unusual and thrilling ways to see Bermuda. Contact Bermuda Helicopters at 295-1180 to take-off.
Mopeds: Mopeds provide a fun and convenient form of transportation on Bermuda. It's simple to rent mopeds at dozens of locations throughout the island. Bermudians are quite used to tourists on mopeds. Just remember to keep on the left and obey all traffic signals and laws. Rentals usually run about $20 a day and typically include insurance, lock, basket, helmet (required), breakdown service, and possible delivery and pickup.
Taxis: Taxi drivers also provide another perfect way to get around Bermuda, as well as serving as great tour guides. Typical rates are $4 for the first mile and $1.40 for each additional mile, but you can also arrange for special tours and rates (usually about $20 an hour for a half-day tour).
Banking: Bank of Bermuda branches are generally open Monday through Thursday, from 9:30am to 3pm and Friday from 9:30am to 4:30pm. Their airport branch is open from 11am to 4pm Monday through Thursday and 11am to 4:30pm on Fridays. Other bank branches keep the same hours Monday through Thursday, but close at 3pm on Fridays and open again from 4:40pm to 5:30pm. The airport's Bermuda Commercial Bank is open Monday through Friday, 11am to 4pm. ATMs can also be found at many bank branches and are becoming more prevalent throughout Bermuda.
Business Hours: Most stores remain open from 9am to between 5pm and 6pm Monday through Saturday. These hours may be extended when cruise ships are in port.
Climate: Bermuda is a semi-tropical island, with moderate temperatures between 68 and 84 degrees year-round. From May to mid-November, summer temperatures are typical.
Currency: Though the Bermuda dollar (BD$) is the actual currency, Bermuda uses the U.S. dollar as its means of exchange. The Bermuda dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar (1 BD$ = 1 US$) and U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere.
Dress: Bermudians tend to be a bit formal when it comes to clothing. During the day, casual dress is fine. At night, most restaurants request that jackets (and often ties) be worn by men. It's best to ask beforehand.
Driving: Visitors are not allowed to rent or drive a car while in Bermuda. Bermudians drive on the left, so visitors should take extra precautions when crossing streets.
Electricity: As in the U.S., Bermuda operates on 110 volt, 60 cycle, alternating current (AC).
Government: Bermuda is a self-governing dependency, with a Governor appointed by the Queen of England. The 12-member cabinet is headed by the Premier. The elected legislature, referred to as the Legislative Council, consists of a 40-member House of Assembly and an 11-member Senate. Bermuda's legal system is founded on common law. The nine parishes dividing the island are each managed separately by advisory councils.
Language: English is the official language. British English, with many Bermuda and North American influences, is typically spoken by locals.
Location: Bermuda consists of approximately 150 islands and islets extending northwest to southwest. This fish-hooked chain is situated in the Atlantic Ocean, 650 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
Population: Approximately 58,000 residents live on 20 of the inhabited islands. Hamilton, the capital city, is the most populated are of Bermuda, with an estimated 2,000 people.
Postal Service: Mail between Bermuda and the U.S. generally takes about a week. Stamps can be purchased at one of many post offices or public vending machines, though many hotels also sell stamps.
Public Holidays: Banks, government offices, and many stores and restaurants are closed on New Year's Day, Good Friday, Bermuda Day on May 24, the Queens Birthday (third Monday in June), Cup Match and Somers Day (the Thursday and Friday before the first Monday in August), Labour Day (the first Monday in September), Remembrance Day (November 11), Christmas Day, and Boxing Day (December 26). Stores may open on public holidays when cruise ships are in port.
Size: Bermuda has a total landmass of only 22 square miles. It is 21 miles long, with a maximum width of two miles.
Telephone: The area code for Bermuda is 809. Calling the U.S. from Bermuda is similar to making a stateside call, with the area code followed by the number. Call 911 or O (the operator) in an emergency.
Time Zone: Bermuda is on Atlantic Daylight Time (1 hour ahead of the eastern U.S.) from the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October. The rest of the year, it is on Eastern Standard Time.
Tipping: Tipping in Bermuda is similar to that in the U.S., with standard tips expected (and generally earned) by taxi drivers, tour leaders, and others who serve visitors. For exceptional service in any duty, a larger tip is always appreciated. In cases where the gratuity is not included in the bill 15% is the generally accepted amount for most services.