With its pink sands, sports diving and world class golf, Bermuda is hugely popular with cruise lines
With its mysterious triangle, Bermuda is a byword for all that is baffling, inexplicable and curious. But one thing that is no mystery is why it is such a popular cruise destination. Miles of pink sand beaches set in the North Atlantic Ocean make this archipelago a popular stop off point for many summer cruises.
According to the island’s national tourism plan, cruising has been a bit too much of a success to the point where 63% of visitors arrived by ship in 2011, up from just 24% as recently as 1987. This has decreased hotel supply by 44% as fewer guest need to stay over. The government is now trying to rebalance the tourist economy with more air arrivals and a focus on more high-end cruisers.
All of which will matter little to the passengers who disembark at one of the three ports on the island at King’s Wharf or Heritage Wharf, both located in the Royal Naval Dockyard at the western tip of the island. Hamilton Harbour is located in the capital, the City of Hamilton. Cruise passengers can step right off the ship on to Bermuda which, despite its size of only 21 square miles has plenty of options to keep visitors engaged and entertained.
Although it is often thought of as being in the Caribbean, Bermuda is further north on a parallel with North Carolina which gives it a cooler climate. But don’t worry as it’s still warm enough for men to opt for the distinctive sharp Bermuda shorts worn with knee high socks – possibly the smartest short trousers on earth. Many of the local stores sell them, so there’s no need to feel left out.
Bermuda is actually made up of 181 islands, many of them tiny and linked by causeways and bridges. History of settlement dates back to 1609 when a British ship wrecked off the St George’s island and the crew claimed it for King James I. It remains a British Overseas Territory with a governor appointed by the Queen. St George is the oldest continuously inhabited English town in the New World having been established in 1612.
These days history is just one of the island’s attractions. A more contemporary one is golf and Bermuda has more courses per square mile than any other nation in the world, boasting seven of championship calibre. For those who like it wet and wild, the crystal, cerulean blue seas are clear to almost 50 metres making it the wreck diving capital of the world. Bermuda is surrounded by a 200-square-mile coral reef plateau where you can spot more than 100 varieties of fish.
If you’d rather eat them than spot them, fish is understandably as fresh as it comes. There are more than 150 restaurants ranging from elegant fine dining to casual pub fare. The island’s signature dish is fish chowder utilising local seafood. Bermuda lobster is in season from September to March and fresh variations on the crustacean are available island wide. Other local specialities include freshly-caught wahoo, rockfish and conch.
Wash it down with the popular local tipple is Black Seal Rum. It’s a component of the island’s own cocktail Dark ‘n’ Stormy, consisting of the dark rum and ginger beer over ice.
Eco Tourism is big here. There are few cars on the islands and the natural beauty is protected by the world’s first environmental laws. The island continues to emphasise its green attractions, although it also plans new shopping and gaming facilities, so whatever the future holds there should remain something for all tastes.
Who goes there: Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Holland America