Day 91 – Bermuda
Our last port before home – can it be nearing the end? Bermuda is such a wonderful, civilized place to visit with beautiful beaches, beautiful people and a great history.
We were supposed to tie up in downtown Hamilton, but due to high winds which made it to too dangerous to navigate the narrow channel, we tied up at the Royal Navy Dockyard, next to this huge Celebrity ship, which was on a re-positioning cruise to Europe. One can readily see why we refer to our ship as a small ship.
This is an aerial view of Bermuda, looking from the southwest to the northeast which clearly indicates the volcanic origin of the island. Royal Naval Dockyard is center left, and Hamilton is center, slightly right, at the top of the inner harbor, 10 minutes by water, 45 minutes by car. It is a green gem in the Atlantic and shares little with Caribbean islands with which it is often associated, and that is a good thing in my opinion.
Bermuda has interesting historical and current connections with the United States. In the early 1600s before the founding of the Plymouth Colony, a ship headed to the Jamestown colony in Virginia, wrecked in Bermuda. The crew and passengers made it ashore, later built two ships from the wreckage and continued on to the colony. During the American Revolution, Bermudans provided support to the American rebels, and if not for their distance from the U.S. probably would have been the 14th colony. Following the war, England built up its military presence in Bermuda as a protective strategy against the new country. During the War of 1812, and after, the British built the Royal Navy Dockyards, where our ship is tied up.
Another interesting connection is economical. Because of the amount of trade and banking with the U.S., the Bermudan currency is tied directly to the U.S. dollar. One Bermudan dollar equals one U.S. dollar. Very convenient for us.
Six of us shared a cab ride into Hamilton, and our driver was most informative as we circled around the island. We passed several beautiful beaches.
The pink tint of the sand here is unique and beautiful.
We crossed the narrowest drawbridge in the world. When a ship with a tall mast needs to pass through, a bridge keeper, who lives close by, comes out and removes the board in the center of the bridge, creating an 18 inch gap for the ships mast to pass through.
Reaching Hamilton we strolled around and did a little shopping (naturally).
The downtown of Hamilton is charming, with a mixture of small older, quaint buildings housing all manner of shops, restaurants and pubs, and large modern high rises which house the number two biggest industries in Bermuda, Reinsurance and Banking. Regardless of size or age, the buildings are all painted in the beautiful pastels common to the island. There are a very large number of motorbikes in Bermuda, owing to a law which allows only one car per home.
After spending some time strolling about Hamilton, we decided to take a ferry back to The Royal Navy Dockyard and explore that area. The crowd waiting at the ferry terminal was intimidating, but the ferry showed up shortly and we all boarded.
While waiting in line, I shot this picture of a typical Bermudan roof. All of the roofs in Bermuda are constructed this way. The rippled material on top filters rainfall, and through downspouts it is drained into cisterns under each home for storage. The only water available on Bermuda is rainfall so this practical system works very well to provide fresh water. Every home and most businesses have this system.
The ferry ride back to the Dockyards was well worth the $4.50 price tag, and combined with our taxi tour gave us a really good overview of all of Bermuda except for the town of St. Georges, the oldest part of the island, which we would not have time to visit on this trip.
The ferry trip afforded us great views of the homes, businesses, and boats in the inner harbor.
As luck would have it, our friends who shared the cab ride to Hamilton with us, were on the ferry back to the Dockyards, and as our brief boat ride ended, we unanimously agreed to find a pub for a snack and drink.
The Dockyards, which was formerly a naval facility, is now a retail and tourist attraction. This area is called the “victualling” area, so named because it was designed in the middle of the storage and barracks area, to facilitate the collection and organization of supplies prior to the loading of ships.
At the far side of the yard, in what appears to be an old navy mess hall is the Frog and Onion Pub, where we had some snacks and partook of the unofficial national drink of Bermuda, the Dark & Stormy which is a delicious concoction of dark rum and ginger beer.
Given our rather short available time in Bermuda, due to a late arrival, we headed back to the ship, headed to Ft. Lauderdale for our final two days of this 94 day cruise.
Time to drag the suitcases (all 8 of them) out from under the bed and see if we can get all the stuff we bought into them.