Looking for some Bermuda cruise tips before your island getaway? Having just barely unpacked my bags from my last cruise to Bermuda I thought I would pass along some advice for visiting this magical destination.
Bermuda is not like the Caribbean. Sure, there is perfectly clear, turquoise water, soft sandy beaches, and palm trees. But the entire feel of this British Overseas Territory carries a refreshingly different vibe.
Centuries old forts, rich history, friendly locals, ideal climate, and easy navigation for shopping and exploring make this cruise destination one that is perfect for a ship staying in port a few days.
I just got back from a 7-day cruise from New York City to Bermuda on Norwegian Escape. This allowed the ship to stay in port for 3 days. Not having to rush back to the ship for a 4pm sailaway each day was so nice and relaxing. One night we even got off the ship after dinner, took the ferry and didn’t get back until after 10pm.
The cleanliness of Bermuda really stood out to me as well. Most places we went were tidy and well kept. Also, the people of Bermuda were extraordinarily friendly and helpful. Even when we looked a bit lost or confused a passerby would stop and ask if we needed help, and afterward they were not asking for a few dollars in cash. They just genuinely wanted to help.
Here is some helpful advice for getting around the island, shopping, checking out the beaches, visiting historical sites, and more.
If you’re looking into going to Bermuda on a cruise this post is for you.
RELATED: 7 Reasons to Cruise to Bermuda Now
3 Possible Cruise Ports in Bermuda
If your ship is docked at Royal Naval Dockyard (King’s Wharf or Heritage Wharf) you don’t have to go very far at all to find both great shopping and historical sites. More on this below.
This port is on the western side of Bermuda.
Some cruise ships may port in Hamilton which is the capital of Bermuda and centrally located on the island. These may include cruise ships from Azamara, Silversea, Aida, Oceania, and P&O.
Smaller ships may port at St George’s Harbour. Located to the northeast side of Bermuda, St George’s is home to some of the oldest buildings and streets on the island. Larger ships don’t enter the harbor but may anchor at Murray’s Anchorage. Some cruise lines that port at St George are Viking, Silversea, and Oceania.
King’s Wharf (Royal Naval Dockyard)
If you’re sailing on Norwegian, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, MSC or on any larger cruise ship you will most likely be docking here.
My cruise on Norwegian Escape docked at Heritage Wharf which is right next to King’s Wharf at Royal Naval Dockyard. Even though it’s a good distance from Hamilton and St. George’s I found it to be a great place to walk around and explore, and there is a ton to do here.
First thing we did was check out the National Museum of Bermuda (formerly known as Bermuda Maritime Museum) which was right across from the ship. This is also home to one of the main forts on the island, which you can tour as you learn about the history of the island and some of it’s darker history of slavery. The views of the ship from the Commissioners House are really great too.
Access to the museum is $15 per adult and it can take 1-2 hours to explore. You can also see the Dolphin Quest Bermuda and watch these amazing creatures for a while as they are right next to the fort.
What else is there to do near this cruise port?
Whether your idea of a fun day in port includes history, culture, tours, activities, dining, or shopping you will find it in Dockyard.
There is a snorkel park right behind the fort that also provides rental equipment for beach chairs, umbrellas, noodles, paddle boats, and stand up paddle boards. There are also several places where you can rent jet skis for seeing more of the pristine, clear waters.
Known as the finest mini-golf course, Fun Golf in Bermuda has miniaturized versions of some of the best golf holes in the world. The views Fun Golf are fantastic as well, as it sits on one acre that rises above the island. This 18-hole course is different than most other courses you’ve tried.
You can watch some glassblowing from this studio and buy some unique, one-of-a-kind works of art as well. It’s very close to the cruise port.
Bermuda Craft Market
Local artists and craftsmen sell their work in the Cooperage Building, an easy walk from the cruise port. You will find everything from artwork, homemade candles, needlework, jewelry, soaps, and maps of the many shipwrecks around Bermuda. It’s a great place to pick up a souvenir or just do some window shopping.
Another place to shop, Clocktower Mall is a 10-minute walk across from the port and offers a very cool ambiance. You can’t miss the twin 100-foot clock towers that rise above the building, and inside you will find souvenir shops and places to eat as well.
Tours and Rentals
You can do your own touring around the island if you’d like (more on this in the next section), but if you’d like to book a Segway or train tour you can pick that up in Dockyard as well. The train tour gives an hour long narration as you learn about the Dockyard and its history. The Segway tour takes you around this western part of the island as well and offers some great views of the beaches in the area.
Transportation Around Bermuda
The easiest and cheapest way to get around Bermuda is to simply use the public transportation on ferry and bus. One adult day pass is $19 and will allow you to take the ferry or bus all day for an unlimited number of trips. You can also buy a 2-day unlimited pass for $31.50.
A one way trip on the ferry is $5 (cash is not accepted so buy your token ahead of time), so if you plan on seeing a lot of Bermuda in one day the day pass is the way to go.
You can see the ferry pick-up is on the right side of the above image, and you can pick up a day pass in the building right near the ferry.
From Royal Naval Dockyard you can take the ferry on the blue route either to St. George’s or Hamilton.
The ferry ride to St. George’s will take about 50 minutes as the old town is situation on the eastern side of Bermuda. Hamilton is a 20-30 minute trip and this is the largest and busiest city on the island.
From Hamilton you can then take the ferry to several other places, but some routes are seasonal so you need to check the schedule.
The pink buses in Bermuda stop at some of the most popular places of interest. There are 11 bus routes and various zones that have a different set cost. If you have your unlimited day pass you don’t have to worry about this. Just show your card to the driver and find a seat.
There are bus stops all over the island. Some are easier to spot than others so even if there is no shelter look for the pink poles in the ground which indicate service inbound to the city of Hamilton. Blue poles indicate service outbound from Hamilton.
A couple tips and tidbits for taking the bus in Bermuda:
- Bus stops aren’t called out most of the time, so ask a local on the bus or tell the driver if you have a particular stop in mind along the route.
- The bus won’t stop at every stop if there is no one to pick up or if no one hits the button for the bus to stop. I found it helpful to use Google maps on my phone to see exactly where we were.
- The map you are given when you buy your bus token or day pass only shows little dots along the routes. The stops aren’t named as far as I could tell.
- There is a bus schedule that is mostly accurate, but you might have to wait for a few minutes at the stop. The longest we waited was about 15 minutes.
- The bus will not get you as close to some of the places of interest as a taxi would. For instance the closest bus stop to Horseshoe Bay (the most popular beach in Bermuda) was still a good 10 minute walk away. A taxi will cost more but will get you a lot closer to each destination.
- We found the Bermudians to be some of the most cordial and friendly people. Many times they would voluntarily start talking about our surroundings and practically give us a narrated tour as we rode the bus. Be friendly and take the time to get to know your fellow passengers.
You will find plenty of taxis right near your cruise port and other popular places of interest. They are great guides and no one knows the island like a taxi driver.
Every taxi is metered at rates set by the government. For 1-4 passengers the rate is $7.90 for the first mile and $2.75 for each additional mile thereafter.
If you want to use a taxi to go sightseeing the rate is $50 per hour for 1-4 passengers. And there are a lot of great sights to see.
Take a Twizy
You will find these little electric vehicles all over Bermuda. They look like one-passenger cars, but two adults can actually fit in there, one behind the other.
You can rent a Twizy at the cruise port or in a major town in Bermuda. You can go up to 50 miles on a single charge, but going uphill on some of these Bermudan roads can limit that number. You are given several locations for charging up your Twizy from the rental company.
Just remember that in Bermuda you drive on the left and the speed limit is never above 20 mph. The island is 22 miles from end to end.
Twizy stands for “twin” and “easy” by the way. Cost of rental may be between $90 and $120 for the entire day, including the price of electricity.
What Currency Does Bermuda Use and What Should I Bring?
Another great aspect of visiting Bermuda from the United States is that just about every place on the island accepts US cash.
The official currency of Bermuda is the Bermuda Dollar, but the price is fixed to the value of the US dollar. When you pay in cash at one of the shops you may get change in Bermudan Dollars but the value is exactly the same.
We went to coffee shops, boutiques, and restaurants in Bermuda and all of them took US dollars so this negated the need for changing currency. Yet another headache you don’t have to worry about in Bermuda.
It should be noted that even though this is a British Overseas Territory, British Pounds, Euros, and Canadian dollars are not accepted.
Places of Interest to Check out in Bermuda
Even with 3 days of being in port, there is more to do on the island than we could possible have time for. But here are a few of the best places to visit while spending your time in Bermuda.
We took the bus to this popular stop, and although it was about a 6-7 minute walk from the bus stop to the caves themselves, it should be one of the must-see places on the island.
FYI: The bus stop for Crystal Caves is right next to Bailey’s, an iconic ice cream shop, perfect for a sunny day.
There are actually 2 caves you can tour here. Crystal Caves and Fantasy Caves. There is a discount if you choose to do both, and each will take about 35-40 minutes to see. Cost is $22 per cave and $30 if you want to do both.
We opted to just visit the Crystal Caves, and it was really incredible. You have to be able to walk about 88 steps, but it’s well worth it to see the magical formations as you walk along a floating bridge on the crystal clear water. Just hang on to your phone and cameras. The tour guide pointed out some iPhones and cameras resting 40 feet below the water.
This was probably my favorite part of Bermuda. It beckons back to the old colonial Bermuda with it’s cobblestone streets, houses built in the 18th and 19th century, and St Peter’s church, founded in 1612.
Near the Town Hall (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) you can witness a fun and playful reenactment of a woman being dunked in the water for the crime of … gossiping. The Town Crier really hams it up and enlists some people to help.
There is a reproduction of the 1600’s ship Deliverance in St George’s that is worth checking out too. The ship was instrumental in the founding of Bermuda. You will have to check the hours of operation though, as it was closed when we went to visit it.
You will find the intriguing Unfinished Church in St George’s, and although you may not be able to go in, it’s worth seeing on your way to Tobacco Bay, a great beach to the north. More on some of the great beaches of Bermuda below.
Hamilton is Bermuda’s capital and center of finance. It’s also the busiest city on the island, but even the most bustling parts of the day are moderate compared to major cities in the US. The laid back, friendly vibe can be found all throughout the island.
You will find a lot of great boutiques, souvenir shops, books shops, coffee shops (our favorite place was called MilanMilan and is located on Front Street), and restaurants in Hamilton. In fact, if you want to find a place to eat on the island, I recommend you check out eateries in this part of Bermuda. The stone Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity can be found here as well.
Bermuda Aquarium, Museum, and Zoo
Known as BAMZ for short, this fun place to visit has a lot to see and do. The aquarium has barracudas, sharks, parrotfish, groupers, angelfish and moray eels. And there is also a 140,000-gallon North Rock exhibit, which holds one of the largest living coral collections in the world.
The natural museum and zoo have a lot of interesting creatures and exhibits as well, including interactive features for the kids. You will even find a flock of flamingos all adorned in pink, to match the beaches of Bermuda.
The Beaches of Bermuda
We can’t talk about Bermuda and not mention all the soft, pink sandy beaches around the volcano-formed island. The rock formations, hidden coves, and gentle pools that can be found in many of these beaches make them the perfect place to soak it all in.
The best way to go “beach-hopping” is to rent a Twizy or scooter. Bus stops could still be a good walk to the beach (sometimes 20 minutes each way) and taxi costs could add up if you’re wanting to see multiple beaches in one day.
Most Bermudians only get in the water between May 24th (Bermuda Day) and Labor Day in September. Even though our cruise was in October, we still dipped our toes in the water and it didn’t feel that cold to me.
Some of the best and most popular beaches are Horseshoe Bay Beach, Elbow Beach, Warwick Long Bay, Tobacco Bay Beach, John Smith’s Bay, and Tucker’s Point Beach. But there are many more beaches all lover the island.
Named for its horseshoe shape, Horseshoe Bay Beach is by far the most popular and most populated beach. There are showers and bathrooms nearby and plenty of parking.
Warwick Long Bay was one of my favorite beaches, as it is typically much less populated even though it’s right near Horseshoe Bay Beach. Warwick is the longest beach in Bermuda and has many hidden gems that you will find as you walk along the jagged rocks and find little lagoons and more private areas to sink your feet into the soft sand.
Planning Your Bermuda Vacation
There is a lot to do and see in Bermuda. Have a game plan for all the things you want to check out, but be flexible with the weather and remember that some things on the island are seasonal. We actually had a couple days of light rain but packed a couple ponchos so we were ready.
Even though it’s only 22 miles from end to end, traveling by bus will require changing routes a few times and will take an hour or so, depending on traffic and the schedule. Traveling by ferry is the easiest way to go from St. George’s to Dockyard and vice versa.
I would recommend hitting parts of Bermuda on certain days and doing everything you want in that area before moving on to the next. For instance, you can have a day to check out St. George’s and everything around it one day, and then visit Hamilton and everything in that area the next.
Just the cruise port at Royal Naval Dockyard and everything to do in that area can keep you busy for more than a full day, so if you don’t feel like traveling far or are worried about getting back to the ship this might be an option for you.
On day one you might just want to pay for a tour of Bermuda so you have a better idea of everything the island has to offer. Seeing it first hand is much more insightful than reading about it online or seeing a brochure after all.
I hope you found this little blurb helpful. If you have questions about cruising to Bermuda or have some helpful advice about visiting Bermuda please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.
Personally, I can’t wait to go back. It’s such an isolated place, and yet 848 miles off our shores of North Carolina. We felt safe the entire time on the island, and it was a very relaxing, stress-free experience.