Nothing has disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle for quite some time now. Planes have flown through safely; ships have cruised the tranquil waters and everyone has returned home safely.
Whether you believe the stories of space aliens kidnapping those who transverse the huge area bounded by Miami, Puerto Rico and Bermuda, the fact remains that Bermuda is one of the more popular vacation destinations for North Americans, especially those arriving by cruise ship.
At one time the prime departure point for Hamilton, Bermuda’s capital, was off Florida’s east coast with a few minor cruise lines leaving from New York and the vicinity. That added considerably to the logistics of getting to the ship and the cost of that transportation.
Today that problem has been eased. One of the main traffickers on the Bermuda run is Celebrity Cruise Line’s Summit ship. Leaving from Bayonne, NJ, the ship sails down the Atlantic Coast for a two-night stay in Bermuda.
For New York residents the Bayonne cruise point is an easy hop. From Queens and Brooklyn by car it is almost a direct line across Staten Island and onto the New Jersey Turnpike. The Port Authority tunnels are also a convenient route to take.
Celebrity has earned a reputation as one of the more family-friendly cruise lines in an industry that in recent years has been growing by leaps and bounds. Activities for the younger set on the way to Bermuda is broken down by age. For children ages 3-5 is the “Shipmates” category with trained professionals and a program especially designed to keep them occupied, happy and, especially our of trouble and harm’s way.
Other age groups include 6-8 years old, “Cadets,” 9-11 years “Ensigns,” and that most difficult of all age groups, 12-17 is simply called “Teens.”
Anyone who has traveled will tell you that knowing your children are occupied and safe is one of the greater concerns aboard ship. The second is alleviating the almost inevitable “I’m bored” syndrome. Once on Bermuda that is not a problem and with the trained Celebrity Summit staff, it is hardly of any consequence on board.
Hamilton, Bermuda, is the island’s capital and main port. Located on the north side of Hamilton Harbor, the locale is named for Sir Henry Hamilton, its governor from 1786-1793. Let’s the kids look up some of the information and use the vacation as a bit of a learning experience as well.
The city is small and very manageable in spite of what seems to be some heavy traffic. Because of the island’s narrow streets and roads, cars are funneled into one lane in each direction, giving the impression that traffic is heavier that it truly is.
The city has a small population, 1,800, but draws the greater number of island workers to the city. The temperatures on the island are warm, humid and subtropical; warm enough for coconut palm to grow. The Gulf Stream flowing past the island accounts for the weather.
One of the main attractions for cruisers coming of the docked ships is the number of absolutely stunning white sand beaches and water sports. You can surf, water ski, jet ski, sail and try your hand at either snorkeling or scuba in the crystal clear waters.
Arrangements may be made while aboard the Celebrity Summit for transportation to any of the beaches. That, frankly, is your best bet.
Rental cars are not available to off-islanders but the seemingly ubiquitous scooters are. There is a strong caveat here: If you are not familiar with riding a two-wheel vehicle (aside from a bicycle-don’t! More tourists are injured because of their lack of familiarity with scooters.
They are easy to handle, great for getting around in close quarters, inexpensive to ride but could pose a bit of a danger to the reckless or careless. Bermuda drivers are amongst the most polite and courteous in the world and are quite used to Mainlanders jockeying around on the little scooters and take great pains to avoid destroying any of them.
After all, the island’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism and it does not pay to squish a potential money-spender.
Time should be saved for a walk down the main street of Hamilton, only a stone’s throw from where the Celebrity Summit is docked. You can take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage or, as most cruisers do, help the local economy in the plethora of shops lining the main street and many of the side roads.
There is the usual tourist stuff made of coconuts and sea shells, but look beyond that and you’ll find some good bargains. There is china and exquisite hand made table cloths and bed linens at prices well below those Stateside.
If you will not be flying anywhere after your return, one of the best bargains is Bermudian rum. Some of it comes in interesting bottles and decanters in the shape of sailors, ships and whatever.
There is a tendency to overbuy, especially if you are going back onto a ship. That is compounded by the fact that most of the stores will deliver your booze right to the ship because it is duty-free. Not having to “schlep” bottles while you walk through the city can give you an unrealistic feeling of not having much.
Remember, that whatever you bring back will have to be carried off the ship and that can become a chore. You are also limited by U.S. Customs to the amount you may bring in for gifts or personal use and will be required to pay duty on any excess.
For details and information, check www.celebritycruises.com.