Planning a Cruise to Bermuda? 5 Tips

by Janis on April 18, 2015

Tobacco Bay ,BermudaSeveral years ago, we took a summer cruise from New York City to Bermuda, staying four days and three nights in this beautiful paradise.

A cruise is a good way to experience much of what Bermuda has to offer, in an affordable and fun way.

Here are 5 Tips for Planning a Cruise to Bermuda

1. Book Your Cruise on a Ship that Docks in Downtown Hamilton

We sailed to Bermuda from New York City on Holland America Line’s ms Veendam, a 1,350 passenger cruise ship. At 719 feet, and a Gross Tonnage of 57,092 grt. the Veendam is small enough to dock at the City of Hamilton cruise pier located directly on Front Street.

As you can see, being on a ship docked in downtown Hamilton is allows you to be at the center of action in Bermuda, for easy access to Hamilton, as well as the main bus station and the ferry terminal to visit other parts of the island.

Larger cruise ships dock at the former Royal Navy Dockyard at the western end of the island. This is the only dock area that can handle large ships, such as the Norwegian Breakaway and the Norwegian Dawn; the Celebrity Summit and the Liberty of the Seas and the Grandeur of the Seas from Royal Caribbean

In 2015, the Veendam sails from Boston to Hamilton, Bermuda between May and July.

If you are sailing from New York to Bermuda you may want to check out Sailing Away to Bermuda on the ms Veendam from our Bermuda cruise from New York City.

If you are cruising on the Veendam, see Sailing into Hamilton, Bermuda on Holland America’s Veendam.

2. Download the Public Bus and Ferry Schedules, and Plan Your Destinations in Advance

Regardless of whether your cruise ship is docked in downtown Hamilton or at King’s Wharf at the former Royal Navy Dockyard, using the public buses and ferries is a terrific way to explore the island.
The public ferry is a fast and scenic way to get from King’s Wharf at the Royal Naval Dockyard to Hamilton.
Click here for the 2015 ferry schedule.
Notes on the Public Ferries for cruise ship visitors:
  • All ferries depart from the Ferry Terminal on Front Street in Hamilton.
  • The blue route stops at the Royal Naval Dockyard, Watford Bridge and Cavello Bay, all in Sandys Parish on the west end of our island
  • The orange route only operates in the summers, and it stops at the Royal Naval Dockyard before continuing on to the Town of St. George
Bermuda has 11 public bus routes covering most of the island. For the 2015 bus schedule, please click here.
Notes on riding the public buses in Bermuda, from the Bermuda Tourism site.
  • Bus passengers must have exact change in coins. You can buy bus tokens or books of bus tickets at the bus terminal
  • If possible, time you bus trip to avoid the busy morning and evening commute, when the buses are packed with locals.
  • To find a bus stop, look for a pole with a pink top (for rides inbound to Hamilton), or a blue top (for rides outbound of Hamilton)

For 2015 Bus Fares, please click here.

You can purchase 1, 2, 3 or 4-day passes that allow you unlimited trips on both public transportation services. Passes give you an economical way of travelling in the island if you plan to avail public buses and/or ferries several times a day. Passes get activated the first time you use it on a bus or a ferry. Passes work on a day-basis, rather than a 24-hour period basis. So if you buy a 3-day pass, and first use it at 6 pm on your first day, you only have two days left.
If you just want to make one trip a day to one place, and spend the day there, (such as the beach at Tobacco Bay Park), paying cash for the trip is a cheaper option than the pass.
The pass is convenient. With a pass, you don’t have to stand in line at the counter to buy a ticket every time you take a ride, or worry about having the proper change.
Pass Fares (valid for both buses & ferries in all routes and all zones) Last fare revision effective April 1, 2015.
Adult Pass: 1-day $19, 2-day $31.50, 3-day $44, 4-day $48.50
Child Pass (age 5-16): 1-day $9.50, 2-day $16, 3-day $22, 4-day $24.50

3. Visit Tobacco Bay Park

It’s a bouncy ride on public buses #s 10 or 11 from Hamilton to reach St. Georges Island, on Bermuda’s East End. Then, there is a long walk up a hot hill and around a bend. But when you arrive at the breath-taking views at Tobacco Bay Park, you will agree the trip was worth the journey. Or, you could take an air-conditioned taxi.

The namesake tobacco crop did not flourish here, but Tobacco Bay Park offers clear water, ideal for snorkeling, a sandy beach and postcard views.

Tobacco Bay Park has changing rooms, showers and toilets as well as a snack bar.

We did not swim or snorkel at Tobacco Bay.  We enjoyed drinking in the views while downing a cold drink, and thinking about this famous Mark Twain quote:

“You can go to heaven if you want. I’d rather stay in Bermuda.”

4. In Hamilton: View Rubber Tree, Eat Fish & Chips, Visit the City Hall and Arts Center and Drink a Dark’N’ Stormy 

Whether your cruise ship is docked in Hamilton, or you visit via the ferry, here is a short list of some highlights:

A. Visit the City Hall and Arts Center on the Second Floor. Note the building’s weathervane that celebrates the Sea Venture ship, key to the development of Bermuda.

B. See the Rubber Tree at the entrance to Queen Elizabeth Park that was imported from British Guiana in 1847.  Mark Twain, a frequent visitor to Bermuda, joked of his disappointment that the tree didn’t bear overshoes or water bottles.

C. Try the Fish and Chips or the Bermuda fish chowder, made with white fish, sausage, sherry peppers and a splash of Black Seal rum at the Hog Penny Restaurant & Pub.

D. Be on the Lookout for Bermuda businessmen in pink Bermuda shorts and a blue blazer. 

E. Enjoy a Dark N Stormy cocktail during Happy Hour at the Port O’Call on Front Street.  The bar is a favorite of ex-pats and business people living and/or working in Bermuda.

5.  Take a Sunset Cruise with a Gosling’s Rumologist

Sailing among the small island of Bermuda’s Great Sound at sunset is a terrific way to see more of the island life.

Taking your sunset cruise with a Gosling’s Rumologist is combines a romantic sunset cruise why learning about the rich history of Bermuda, local traditions, and the story behind Gosling’s Rum, Bermuda’s oldest business.  Plus tasting all of those local rum drinks such as the DARK ‘N STORMY, and Rum Swizzle.

Our ‘Rumologist’ was fun and informative during our 90 minute sailing tour.

You can also purchase duty-free rum to take home. In our case, it was delivered to our stateroom on the Veendam during the last night of our cruise.

We booked our Goslings Taste of Bermuda Sunset Cruise as a shore excursion from Holland America Line. But you can also book the Gosling’s Rum Tasting Cruise yourself through Island Tour Centre.

Have you visited Bermuda via cruise ship? What tips do you have to add? Please share in comments below. 

Learn more about our experience on Holland America’s Veendam:

Views from the Pinnacle Grill on Holland America Line’s Veendam

Martini Madness Onboard Holland America’s ms Veendam

An Evening at Le Cirque onboard the Veendam

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