October 2018 Cruise – Bermuda

I try to take a cruise every year and I like to go to places that don’t include just heading to the usual destinations in the Caribbean! I’ve been to the Caribbean via cruise ships four times in the past, so now I look for more interesting destinations…..I did Alaska, New England/Canada, the West Coast…….and, now, Bermuda!!! I chose this cruise for several reasons – it caught my eye because I’ve always wondered about Bermuda, it sailed out of Boston, and even though it was a 7 day cruise, it only had the one destination — oh, I do love getting to see multiple places in one vacation with stops at multiple ports….but, it sounded like a nice, relaxing change to cruise to one port, stay there for a few days, and cruise home! So, Bermuda it was for this year’s cruise! I sailed out of Boston, was at sea for a half day and two full days, stayed docked in Bermuda for three days, and was at sea for a day and a half! It was great to have the convenience of being on the ship for meals and sleeping and be able to leisurely get on and off for shore excursions and exploring without feeling like I had to pick one thing to do and be rushed to get back to the ship! I was able to see everything the island had to offer in one way or another and enjoy my time there!

We were very lucky —- our ship was the ONLY ship in port the week we were there AND it was the end of the season…….so, there were not many tourists to crowd the locations we visited, which made for easy access and zero lines to wait in!!! AND…..the weather was PERFECT the entire time we were there…….70s at night / 80s during the day with massive amounts of sun and zero rain!!!

I took a LOT of photos……I’ll try to pick the best of the best…..but, it won’t be easy! hehehe I am planning a separate post for my very favorite activity while I was in Bermuda cause it deserves its own post to showcase it! 😀

Photos from around the ship and some of the wonderful food:

My stateroom……I had a veranda that I LOVED!

The Centrum…….a multi-deck common area mid-ship where there was always music and activities

Kids dancing in the Centrum

Introduction of Officers

Our Captain and Cruise Director

There were a couple of these rather odd little chair sculptures on either side of the main dining room

Sunrise on my veranda

Sorry for so many pictures of my feet, but I spent a LOT of time on lounge chairs by the pool, on the decks, and on my veranda!!!

First “Formal Night” at the Centrum

Second “Formal Night” in the Centrum

Every night there was a fantastic show in this theater

Parade of Nations – a celebration of all the different nations represented by the crew

I could get my own soft serve ice cream any time I wanted!!!

Surprisingly, I didn’t gain or lose a single pound……

A Miami Vice…….strawberry, coconut, and rum……thick, creamy, and so delicious!!!

Wine tasting event

And, then, there are those amazing Towel Animals that the cabin crew leave for us when they freshen up the cabins at the end of the day:

the puppy was my favorite……till I got this one!!! 😀

Sunrise and Sunset:

BERMUDA

Bermuda is a fascinating place! It is a small island – just 21 miles long and 1.5 miles wide – that is British ruled and sits on a dead volcano. Their government is both local and British. They have a Premier that is voted in by the people of Bermuda – this position MUST be filled by a Bermuda born citizen. They also have a Governor, who is appointed by the Queen of England and is filled by a former member of Parliament. They don’t rely on England for much and are pretty independent! They have 65,000 citizens and typically have another 4,000 or so seasonal workers. The island was discovered in the 1600s and the original population after it started to develop was mostly slaves who jumped ships to freedom when they sailed past the island and thought it looked like a good safe haven. The island is made up of 9 Parishes. Their current capital is Hamilton, but the original capital is St. George’s – the capital was moved when the population of the island started to grow – Hamilton is a larger city and more centrally located. It is VERY expensive to live there……Bermuda has the highest cost of living rate in the WORLD! Nothing is produced on the island and there is limited farm land, so almost everything has to be exported in at a significant cost. The average Bermudian has to work 3-4 jobs just to live comfortably and everyone in the household is expected to work to contribute to the family income – even children as young as 10 years old (however, it is illegal to pay a child a wage, so they only work for tips). There is no minimum wage, but most workers start out at an average of about $18/hour. That sounds like a good wage, until you consider what they have to pay for out of that! The cost to purchase an average home is $500,000-800,000 for lower income neighborhoods and $8 million and up for middle to upper classes! Average rent starts at about $2000/month and goes up from there. Each household may have ONE car and most do…..however, gas costs $9 / gallon and annual registration fees average about $2,000……so, mopeds and scooters are the preferred method of transportation whenever possible and the family car tends to stay parked. A loaf of bread is $7+ and a 1/2 gallon of milk is about $6+. There is NO fast food joints on the island — 99% of restaurants are locally owned and operated — only exception is one KFC in Hamilton and only because it was there before the law was passed to keep the commercialization out…..if you want KFC, though – prepare to pay $36 or more for a bucket of original recipe with NO sides!!!

Bermuda’s currency is equal to ours – so they have both Bermudian currency and American currency throughout the island and use it interchangeably.

Bermuda is very protective of their heritage! They don’t allow just anyone to purchase a home and live on the island or stay for more than a visit! Most homes, in fact, rarely ever go up for sale – they are almost always handed down from generation to generation and can be traced through a single lineage back to the time they were built – many all the way back to the 1600 / 1700s! If you do want to purchase property, you have to apply to the government and they will do an extensive review of your background and financial information – then, if approved, you will have to be able to purchase a home in the several million range – I believe they said it had to be at least $20 million – even then, you are considered an “extended visitor” and can stay up to 7 years before you are expected to get a job and contribute to the economy! If a Bermudian marries a foreigner, their spouse must remain married and living on the island for 10 years before they can apply to become a citizen! If they leave the island for more than a visit to their homeland (they didn’t say how long that period is), they will have to start their 10 years all over again!!!

Just some tidbits of info…..as for the smallest drawbridge in the world – it is called Somerset Bridge and it only opens 18″ when drawn — just big enough for a sail on a sailboat to pass through and it is guided manually by people walking it through so that the sail doesn’t get caught on the bridge! It is no longer drawn – it remains just a drive over bridge, now.

More cool info as the post progresses!

Royal Naval Shipyard

Our ship was docked at the Royal Naval Shipyard – the only port large enough to accommodate the large cruise ships – they used to dock in Hamilton and St. George’s when ships were smaller, but the passage into those ports are too narrow for larger ships to maneuver through.

Feral chickens roamed everywhere!!! LOL

Glass Bottom Boat Cruises

I booked two glass bottom boat cruises — one a bit earlier in the evening that was a pirate theme and one that was at night that focused on the Bermuda Triangle. What I learned about the Bermuda Triangle is that it is a myth……yes, strange things have happened there and the magnetic and gravitational pulls can be an issue. But, a lot of what has happened can be explained by understanding that ships and planes didn’t use to have as advanced technology as they do now……they didn’t know how to navigate through the extensive barrier reefs and the magnetic and gravitational anomalies made it difficult for them to pass through the area safely. That said……it is still cool to be out on the water in the portion of the triangle surrounding Bermuda at night, in the dark, listening to stories of mystery and intrigue!!!

A little funny for ya……our tour guide (the pirate) said that the only “triangle” that is totally real, extremely dangerous, and has resulted in many deaths over the years is the one that involves a man, his wife, and his girlfriend!!! hahaha

We saw lots of fish and coral and a shipwreck — hard to tell it was a shipwreck cause it was covered with coral, but we did see hatches and windows and this section that is sticking up out of the water! It was cool!

Both cruises came with complimentary Rum Swizzlers!

The first one was mostly in the light/dusk, but the second one was totally in the dark……and, yes, it was DARK!!!

Even at night, the water is the most gorgeous aqua blue I’ve ever seen!!!

Island Bus Tour

I took a 5 hour tour by mini-bus — it was amazing! We saw just about every inch of the island and was able to stop for photos and time to wander around at a few places!

Our amazing tour guide – pictured above, not below! hahaha

All homes are made with cement blocks which are filled with cement and then coated with cement — they are NOT going anywhere in a storm!!! All buildings (homes and businesses) also have white limestone roofs. There is a very important reason for this……there is NO fresh water on the island! So, right from the 1600s when they first started developing the island, they required buildings to use white limestone slabs or tiles for their roofs – the tiles are overlapped and cascade to a lip – they are then coated with cement mixed with limestone and painted white that also has limestone in it. The roofs are carefully designed to allow for rain water to cascade over the limestone, which helps to purify it, down to the lip, which prevents it from continuing down to the ground. The water runs into an elaborate gutter system that diverts the rain water into a “water cellar” – every home has one – it is the same size as the frame of the home and very deep (I believe they said 20′). This water cellar is where the family gets their water for cooking, bathing, cleaning, etc. They are very diligent in conserving the water because they may need it during a drought! In the early years on the island, people would stock their water cellars with fish to eat the algae, bacteria, and bugs and to keep the water aerated. Now, they have filtration and purification systems. The island does have three plants that take salt water and turn it into fresh water, but everyone is required to collect their own water and only procure it from the plants during times of drought or other issues. Some more affluent homes and businesses have started in recent years to install their own systems to turn salt water into fresh water. I found this so fascinating!

Also — homes may be painted any color the owners choose and most are very colorful in beautiful pastel colors! The paint is made on the island using a formulation that can hold up to the extremely salty sea air and is very expensive. Even with this, home owners tend to have to repaint every 3-5 years.

Most cemeteries do in ground burials. Because of the space on the island, graves are “family graves” and they are dug 20+ feet deep and whole families are stacked in single graves – up to 10 per grave. The island recently began allowing cremation in an effort to keep from running out of burial space. Bermudians are buried in the parish they were born in – so, regardless of where you live at the time of your death, you are buried in your family grave in the parish you were born in! Also – ALL graves on the island are laid east – west with the head to the to the west and the feet to the east — this is so that when Jesus returns and raises the dead, all who are buried there will raise facing the east – the direction that Jesus is expected to appear from!

this is a beautiful par 3 gold course – it is very hilly and challenging – and costs $120 to play a round!!!

There are 100 churches on the island – all religions are represented and there is no main religion in Bermuda

The Royal Bermuda Regiment is a non-fighting unit. All Bermudian males are required to serve, if called. Upon their 18th birthday, they must start watching the local newspaper on their birthday each year to see if their name is printed on the list. If it is, they MUST report for duty. If they do NOT report, they are subject 3 years in prison! Those who report serve 2 hours per week for training and missions that include things like going to hurricane damaged areas to help rebuild and other world assistance type activities. They also have a choir and band that perform in parades and festivals. So…….not sure why someone would want to dodge their draft and risk being in prison for 3 years…..but, some do, I guess!

Speaking of prison – there are four prisons on the island and they do have the whole gambit of crimes, including gangs, drugs, murders, theft, etc., and there are tourists who serve time in the prisons in Bermuda, if caught with drugs, firearms, or committing other crimes while visiting Bermuda.

They do have farm land – small patches of it. They grow most all types of crops and farm year round – they have an almanac that tells them what to plant, when.

Banana trees

They drive on the left hand side of the street —- confusing! LOL

Scooters and mopeds EVERYWHERE……parking for these vehicles is free……parking for cars is VERY expensive!

One of many private schools – they also have public schools. All students must wear uniforms at both private and public schools. They ride to school on public transportation, not dedicated school buses. Their school year, hours, and class structure are basically the same as ours. Students are taught respect and are expected to act appropriately. They are not allowed to have tattoos, colorful hair, wear any jewelry or other items that could be viewed as gang colors or financial status. All students are treated equally – there is no tolerance for bullying and it is rarely heard of. They also are not permitted to wear their pant waistbands below their waists!!!

The lone KFC in the capital city of Hamilton

Main shopping district in Hamilton

 Hamilton City Hall and Arts Center

A group trying to get their message across put blindfolds and these signs on all the statues across the island!

I didn’t care much for Hamilton — it was a pretty city and very clean, but it is a city — congested and busy!

This is Black Watch Pass — it was hand dug by the Black Watch Regime to provide a roadway through one part of the island

Some of the typical $500,000 – 800,000 homes

This is one of three remaining wooden homes built in the 1600-1700s……..

We got to spend some time in St. George’s — I LOVED this town! So quaint and peaceful – just lovely!

I had lunch in St. George’s —- this is a wonderful French Onion soup made with Bermuda Onions — MUCH sweeter than even a vidalia onion!

I had the soup, this burger and onion rings, and a coke —- my bill was $46 BEFORE tip!!! UGH!!! But — I it was delicious and I sat right on the water outside and it was lovely! I couldn’t finish the burger and onion rings and was really upset that I paid $46+tip and was wasting part of it……but, when the waiter came to take my plate, he tossed all the leftovers into the water for the fish, ducks, and birds! That made me happy!!!

As I wandered around St. George’s after lunch, I came upon this church — St. Peter’s – it is St. George’s most historic site – it is the oldest church in the Western Hemisphere still operating as a church!!! It was established in 1612 and still stands…..although, there was a devastating hurricane in 1713 that resulted in the church being rebuilt using the wood of the original building and new stone walls to strengthen it. Other repairs and renovations were done over the years.

I love this —- it has the Lord’s Prayer and Apostles Creed in the center and the Ten Commandments on either side!

Not sure where this very steep staircase went — maybe the infamous Stairway to Heaven???

I got so engrossed in touring this amazing little church that I lost track of time and had to high-tail it back to the bus!!! An elderly oriental couple were out front and asked me to take their photo — I stopped long enough to do that for them and made it back to the bus just in the nick of time!

This is an example of an $8 million home!

And, this fixer-upper can be had for the bargain rate of $200,000!!!

We made a photo stop at John Smith Beach……lovely! It was my first chance to get my toes in those beautiful pink sand beaches of Bermuda!

Dang – I can’t believe someone got a picture of me in a bikini in the water!!! LOL

Then, before we headed back to the ship, we stopped at a lighthouse!

This lighthouse is still operational

The entrance into a typical working class neighborhood! Love this sign!!! LOL

typical working class neighborhood with average $500,000-800,000 homes

Horseshoe Bay Beach

On our last day, we were going to be pulling out at 4:00 and the “Back on ship” deadline was 2:30. So, I decided to take the bus transfer to Horseshoe Bay Beach and just relax in the sun and sand! Horseshoe Bay Beach is ranked in the Top 5 Most Beautiful Beaches in the WORLD……and I understand why!!! I spent three hours on the beach and loved every minute of it! I rented a beach chair and umbrella — but, I could have saved my money on the umbrella – I didn’t get under it at all! hahaha

The sand is PINK —- it has the most amazing pink flecks all through it — they come from the coral reefs and shells

the sand may be pink, but the water is the most amazing crystal blue!!! even bluer and prettier than the water in the Caribbean!

The water was so clear…….like someone had filtered it! And, the beach is cleaned every day! So……this beach is gorgeous, clean, and fresh!

The bus driver pulled over after he picked us up and let us get photos of the beach from the road way above

I hope you enjoyed this look into the wonderful world of Bermuda! As they say on the island…….Have a Bermudaful Day!!! I’ll leave you with these night shots of our ship taken from the glass bottom boat as we pulled back into port after our night cruise:

Stay tuned for the post with my most favorite activity while in Bermuda!!!

7 Comments on “October 2018 Cruise – Bermuda

  1. WOW Kim, You DID see a lot and shared a lot. So interesting; thanks. All the facts… do you record as you go along, or just soak them up like a sponge?

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