Not Enough Time in Beautiful Bermuda

Aug 6th, 2012, 02:09 PM
  #1  
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Not Enough Time in Beautiful Bermuda

After I posted numerous questions on this board, cmcfong asked that I report back on our trip to Bermuda. I have been putting it off, because I don't write very good trip reports, and also because we visited on a cruise. So I don't have hotel or restaurant recommendations. However, cmcfong and txgirlinbda were so helpful in responding to my questions that I felt I owed something back.

We are not really cruise people but decided to visit Bermuda on a cruise because it was so much less expensive. Our entire stay was not much more than just the flight to Bermuda. We booked Holland America's Veendam because it docks in Hamilton (although this is the last year that it will go to Bermuda), it is a somewhat smaller ship, and because it is a more sedate ship (no belly flop or hairiest back contests).

My husband, 14 year old son, and I departed NYC on June 10 at 5 pm. It was lovely to sail out of NY and take in the fabulous skyline, not to mention the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We arrived in Hamilton at about 10 am on June 12. What a beautiful sight to sail past the island with its beautiful blue water and colorful houses! My son spotted flying fish as we headed in. We couldn't believe that ships could get in the Town Cut at St. Georges. We also enjoyed gawking at the fantastic homes situated on the harbor outside Hamilton.

As soon as we were able, we disembarked and headed to the bus station to buy three day transportation passes. My initial plan was to head to St. George, because there were not as many cruise ships in port on Tuesday. However, it was such a beautiful day, and my son was dying to get to the water. So instead, we headed to Church Bay to snorkel on cmcfong's recommendation. Church Bay is located at the bottom of a steep stairway, and when we got to the top of the steps, we couldn't contain our excitement. What a beautiful spot!! I have seen beaches all over the US, Canada, Virgin Islands, and Europe, but I think the beaches in Bermuda are the most beautiful. The black volcanic rock and blue water are quite a combination.

We immediately put on our snorkel equipment and headed into the water. We saw lots of gorgeous big blue parrotfish. There were relatively few people on the beach. We could have happily spent the day here, but with limited time, we wanted to check out the other beaches.

We stopped at Horseshoe Bay next. I will probably be struck down for saying this, but I can't say I am a fan. If I could have made all the people disappear, I would have loved it. But the hordes of people and beach umbrellas ruined it for me. I like my beaches a little more secluded. So we quickly walked on to the following beaches, which we liked much better--only a few people at each one, and amazingly beautiful.

We hopped a bus back to Hamilton to shower and have dinner on the ship. The bus service is very good. Buses come quickly, and the drivers are very helpful to us tourists who have no idea where to get off. I have to say I felt sorry for the locals who would get onto a packed bus of tourists after a day of work and have no seat.

On Wednesday, my husband got up early to run the Railway Trail, which he really enjoyed. Then the three of us headed out to Gibbs Hill Lighthouse. There is a lovely view of the island from the top. We then went to Fort Scaur, which I really enjoyed. We were there by ourselves and enjoyed the view tremendously. I really liked this part of the island. It feels less developed and quieter. I really would have liked to get to Somerset Village, but we had made reservations with Jesse James Cruises for a snorkeling trip in the afternoon and had to get back to Hamilton.

Chloe, the owner of Jesse James, picked us up right by our ship in a zodiac boat for about 12 people. We were the only ones who got on in Hamilton, but we headed to Kings Wharf to pick up the rest of our group. The ride in the zodiac was delightful. It was a gorgeous day, and we really enjoyed seeing the island from the water. We were supposed to visit three sites--a place to practice for those who had never snorkeled before (most of the group), a shipwreck, and a coral reef. Because of rough water, she had to cancel the shipwreck portion. The snorkeling we did do was a tremendous disappointment. First of all, the water was (according to Chloe) unusually chilly. Second, a lot of the coral was dead, and the fish were unimpressive. Chloe never explained that the coral should not be touched, which I thought was weird. Her livelihood depends on the reef staying healthy. People in our group were standing on the coral. I had read reviews that the reef was fantastic. I don't know whether because of the rough water we had to visit a different reef, but there were very few fish. Most people got back on the boat after a few minutes.

We returned to our ship for dinner and then headed into Hamilton for Harbor Nights. We loved watching the Gombey dancers. I had recently been to a Nick Cave exhibit at our local art museum. Cave makes fabulous brightly colored costumes that hide the wearer's face. I have to think he got inspiration from the Gombey dancers. When they finished, a local school jazz band played. Although young, they were very good. And we really enjoyed watching their families watch them. I was surprised that there were so many locals at Harbor Nights. I thought maybe it was a tourist event. It was a delightful evening.

On Thursday, we headed into St. Georges. We arrived by 9:30 am and were literally the only people walking around. It is a very charming town, and it was nice to have it to ourselves. We got the obligatory photo in the stocks without having to wait. We then walked up to the Unfinished Church and then on to Fort St. Catherine. There was no one at Tobacco Bay as we passed. I would have liked it better had it not had services. As I said earlier, I like my beaches secluded even if that means I don't have food, lockers, and restrooms available. When we passed by again after visiting the Fort, the beach was packed. We returned to the ship to change into swim suits so that we could spend the rest of the day at those beautiful South Shore beaches--our favorite part of the little we saw of Bermuda.

On Friday, we planned to explore Hamilton before our ship departed. When we woke up, it was pitch black out and pouring. As we sat eating breakfast, we saw Chloe heading into port in her zodiac to pick up passengers. I can't tell you how glad we were that we had had a beautiful sunny day to snorkel. We were very surprised she was taking a group out in such nasty weather. You have to prepay for the trip, but I think I might have lost the money rather than go out that morning.

I talked my husband, but not my son, into walking around Front Street. As soon as we got off the ship, my umbrella blew inside out and broke, if that gives you an idea of the weather. I had been looking forward to visiting Fort Hamilton, but we skipped it since there was no view to be seen. After visiting a few shops and getting drenched in the process, we returned to the ship. I can't complain about the weather, however, because the cruise the week before had had an entire week of rain. We had delightful weather, sunny and low 70's, except for Friday. As we sailed out of Hamilton, we were very sad that we didn't have longer to explore. I would have loved to see Somerset Village, visit Spittal Pond or Paget Marsh, and I wish we had taken a taxi tour of the island to get a better feel for the entire island. So much to see and so little time!
Digbydog is offline  
Aug 6th, 2012, 02:35 PM
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digbydog, you are wrong - you write a great trip report! i'm not a cruise person but i like the idea of staying in one port for several nights.
it does seem unfortunate that chloe did not discuss touching the coral. i would have spoken right up.
sounds like you had a good time
virginia is offline  
Aug 6th, 2012, 03:39 PM
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Virginia--thanks for the nice comments. We did have a great time. My son now has a photo of Bermuda as his screensaver on his computer. I did mention to Chloe that she might want to tell people about the coral. She said she had forgotten and would tell the others, but then never mentioned it!
Digbydog is offline  
Aug 7th, 2012, 12:53 PM
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That's a great report!

Have to agree with you about the organized tours and condition of the reef - I found that too many of the operators are only interested in cramming people onto the boats, and reinforcing respect for the reefs is forgotten. Thanks for bringing it up.

You really managed to see and do a lot in a few days! It's nice to see that you happily bypassed Horseshoe Bay for the much more secluded, gorgeous beaches right next door. Sounds like you had a great time, thanks again for the report!
txgirlinbda is offline  
Aug 7th, 2012, 03:07 PM
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Thanks txgirlinbda. You were a big help to me in our planning. On your recommendation, I even brought some baby powder with us to get the sand off our feet. It was great!

We have taken snorkeling tours other places and have always been reminded about not touching the coral. I can't figure out why the operators wouldn't care. If the coral is dead, their business is too!
Digbydog is offline  
Aug 10th, 2012, 10:37 AM
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So I have to agree with virginia's post.....I thoroughly enjoyed reading your trip report! My sister lives in St. George and when we go visit we always go to the beaches that most the tourists do not know about. That said, when we were there a bit ago, we were the only ones on the beach! It was truly like we were the only ones on the island! Made wonderful memories and photos that day. Thanks for reminding me of it!

Will you be going back?
bhonoreh is offline  
Aug 10th, 2012, 11:44 AM
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Bhonoreh-- thanks for your post! I wish I had gotten the information to contact your brother-in-law. A taxi tour would have been a great addition to our trip. I thought of your comments about Tobacco Bay's nickname as we passed it.

I hope we get to return. How lucky you are to have family there!
Digbydog is offline  
Aug 13th, 2012, 05:52 AM
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Digbydog, what a great treat to find your report this morning! The perfect taste of Bermuda! I am so glad you enjoyed your visit. The best way I know of to make the hordes disappear is to go in December. I often have Horseshoe Bay to myself. It is a beautiful place but I agree completely, the crowds can take all the energy and charm out of it.

Welcome home and thank you so much for sharing your time in Bermuda!
cmcfong is online now  
Aug 14th, 2012, 06:03 AM
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Nice trip report. We took the same cruise only we left Manhattan on July 15th. We had beautiful weather. We rented the scooters so we did get to see a lot of bermuda in 3 days, last morning we returned the bikes and walked around town. We booked the cruise a couple of weeks before so we got a great deal. We do cruise sometimes and decided to go for the same reasons smaller ship and docking in Hamilton for 3 plus days. We have stayed in Bermuda several times and have not been there since 2006. I did check out one of Favorite restaurants and could not believe how the prices have soured. We usually stay in town at the Hamilton Princess but I would like to check out Pompano Beach Club, beautiful location. Has anyone ever stayed there? it's in Southhampton. It was a nice cruise and it's too bad that the ships will not be docking in Hamilton, anymore.
mels is offline  
Aug 14th, 2012, 06:19 AM
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cmcfong--I am jealous that you often have Horseshoe Bay to yourself. I imagine it is gorgeous like that. Thanks so much for all your help.

mels--glad to hear that you had a good trip also and that your scooter rental worked out okay. I forgot to mention in my report that while we were visiting a British tourist was killed on a scooter. I thought that if someone used to driving on the left side of the road was killed, I was awfully glad that we didn't rent scooters.
Digbydog is offline  
Aug 14th, 2012, 12:59 PM
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Ah, Digbydog, my pleasure. If I can't be in Bermuda, talking about it is the next best thing!
mels, I stayed at Pompano a couple of years ago. I like to visit the first or second week of December. The weather is generally mild and pleasant, but a little too brisk for swimming (for this NC girl). One of the really nice aspects of December travel is extremely good rates at many of the resorts. Pompano gave me a very good deal which included meals. I generally prefer to eat in different restaurants during my stay, but with the dine around options Pompano has with Cambridge Beaches and the Reefs, this wasn't an issue. I loved it. I had a one bedroom king suite which amounted to a patio overlooking the ocean, a large living room with pullout sofa, a full kitchen and a nice bedroom. There were no other guests in the building so it was very quiet and I felt like the Queen of Bermuda all week. Highly recommended!
On most of my winter visits I stay at Fourways because it is so well located for my needs. I love to take the ferry to Hamilton, the world's most beautiful public transportation. If I am riding my moped I can start well out of heavy town traffic. It isn't a good choice for anyone who wants to be on the beach, but it works very well for me.
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