Wopnin (“what’s happening?” in Bermuda slang), friends! Nearly three years ago, Michaela (aka ChaelaMonstah) took us on cruise from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in New Jersey (U.S.A) to Bermuda! We’re excited to finally tell you about our adventure to the “Devil’s Isles”.
The Celebrity Summit cruise ship was our home for 7 fun nights. The ship was captained by Kate McCue – she was the first American woman (and fifth woman overall) to captain a cruise ship! She took the time to tell us about her 20+ year career and about her cat, Bug Naked, who is with her during every voyage. Captain McCue was very excited to learn about Postcrossing and we were as equally excited to meet her and learn about her very cool story!
After three fun days at sea, we arrived at the King’s Wharf port in Bermuda. We were only going to be in port for two days, so we made sure to book as many excursions as possible in order to see the full majesty of the Bermuda islands (Bermuda is an archipelago of 7 main islands and about 170 additional named islets and rocks – it’s only 24 miles (40 kilometers) long and is less than 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) wide!). We hopped on a bus and began our 6 hour day-one journey.
Our first stop on our adventure was Gibbs Hill Lighthouse – built in 1844 by Royal Engineers, it’s one of two lighthouses on Bermuda and was one of the first lighthouses in the world to be made of cast-iron. Oh – we forgot to mention that we were actually in Bermuda right before the 35th America’s Cup yacht race. More on that later!
We then visited the Heydon Trust Chapel. Heydon Trust Chapel was built in the early 1600s and with only three pews, it’s the smallest church in Bermuda.
As we drove the small, winding roads of Bermuda, our guide told us that due to the small size and limited natural resources, rental cars are not permitted. Tourists typically rent scooters, hail a taxi, take a picturesque trip on the public ferry, or catch a ride on one of Bermuda’s pink public buses (tip: for a great view of Bermuda’s stunning south shore beaches, hop on the Number 7 bus, which follows South Shore Road and makes stops at the island’s most popular slices of sand, including Warwick Long Bay and Horseshoe Bay Beach.).
During our own bus ride across Bermuda, our guide stopped by several beaches (including Horseshoe Bay Beach) where we got to catch some rays and take in the breathtaking views.
We also had a brief stop in the Historic Town of St. George and Related Fortifications, a UNESCO World Heritage site. St. George’s Town was founded in 1612 following the 1609 Sea Venture wreck and is the oldest surviving English town in the New World. Of course we had to send postcards from the St. George’s Post Office while in town.
In the evening, our guide took us to Hamilton, the capital of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda. Hamilton is a major port and tourist destination, but it’s also the territory’s financial centre. Did you know that tourism accounts for only about 28% of Bermuda’s gross domestic product (GDP)? Our guide told us that international business (such as offshore insurance and reinsurance) actually accounts for over 60% of Bermuda’s economic output. About 80% of food is imported in Bermuda, so buying groceries or going out to eat can be quite expensive. Bermuda’s official currency is the Bermuda Dollar (which is fixed to the US dollar), but most shops and restaurants will happily take US currency.
We visited Hamilton during Harbour Nights – a weekly summer street party that includes famous Gombey dance troupes and a market featuring island art and local foods. The Gombey is an iconic symbol of Bermuda – it’s a unique performance art full of colorful and intricate masquerade, dance, and drumming. This folk-life tradition reflects the island’s blend of African, Caribbean, and British cultures. If you are lucky enough to hear the drums and witness a Gombey troupe, you’re supposed to throw coins as a sign of appreciation.
The next day, we got up bright and early to visit the Crystal Caves. These caves were discovered by two Bermudian teenagers, Carl Gibbons and his friend Edgar Hollis, in 1907 while they were playing a game of the island’s favorite sport: cricket. This awe-inspiring subterranean world has inspired everyone from Mark Twain to the creators of Fraggle Rock – what a discovery!
We spent the rest of the day exploring the National Museum of Bermuda. The National Museum of Bermuda occupies several historic fortifications in the Royal Naval Dockyard, including the Commissioner’s House, Casemates Barracks, and The Keep (Bermuda has 90 different forts!). We also learned that there are more than 300 shipwrecks in the waters surrounding Bermuda – there are even special snorkeling and scuba diving shipwreck tours you can go on! Michaela went on a snorkeling excursion, but she let us stay on dry land because we aren’t very good swimmers.
We came across some unique items for sale at the Clocktower Mall in the Royal Dockyard, including special Bermuda Banana Dolls. Bermuda is also home to many beautiful flowers. The Bermudiana is the national flower – we weren’t able to find it in the wild, but we did discover lots of other lovely plant-life during our trip.
On the day of our departure, we got a special treat – we got to watch the Oracle Team USA and Great Britain (Land Rover BAR) teams practicing for the 35th America’s Cup. The America’s Cup, the pinnacle of yachting, was first contested in 1851 making it the oldest trophy in international sport, predating the modern Olympic Games by 45 years.
We only had two days to explore the extraordinary land of Bermuda, but we tried to see and do as much as possible. After visiting Bermuda in person, it’s easy to understand Mark Twain’s famous quote “You can go to heaven if you want. I’d rather stay in Bermuda.”
Thanks so much for hosting the Little Mail Carriers and helping to chronicle their adventure, Michaela! Who knows where they’ll visit next…