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Bermuda Cruises

About Bermuda

An archipelago of about 150 islands, many of them connected by causeways and bridges, Bermuda spans 21 square miles. It was first sighted by Spanish explorer Juan de Bermúdez in 1503, just eleven years after Columbus’s discovery of the Americas. Though he claimed them for Spain, he never set foot on them. That honor would go to Portuguese mariners, who were shipwrecked here and left an inscription on the now-famous Portuguese Rock to prove it.

It was the English who finally landed on the islands when their ship Sea Venture, on its way to the settlement at Jamestown, Virginia, ran aground here in 1609. Some scholars believe that the event not only changed the history of Britain, creating what is today England’s oldest colony, but also of literature, as the shipwreck may have inspired William Shakespeare to pen his play The Tempest.

Virginia, as the entire area of North America colonized by the British was known then, was the first to oversee the islands. The English Crown took over in 1684 and officially named it a British colony in 1707.

After the American Revolution, the British fortified Bermuda by improving the harbors for the Royal Navy and keeping watch on Atlantic shipping lanes. The British launched their attacks on the Chesapeake region of the US from here during the War of 1812.

During its early years, the islands’ capital was St. George’s, which had been established in 1612 and remains the New World’s oldest continuously inhabited English town. As the population expanded, Governor Henry Hamilton championed moving the political capital to a more central location. And so Hamilton, with its picturesque harbor, was born in 1815.

Today, Bermuda’s pink-sand beaches lend the island a relaxed air, further reflected in the cheerful pastel hues of its picturesque architecture. Though the legendary color of the island’s beaches may be the stuff of idyllic dreams, it is actually caused by the mixture of sand with the crushed red skeletons of protozoa eroded from the surrounding reefs.

Bermuda Lifestyle and Culture

Bermuda is renowned for its leisurely pace in business and in pleasure. Standard office attire for men is an ensemble composed of the famed Bermuda shorts, a crisp shirt with a tie and blazer and knee socks. Afternoon tea is taken at any of the islands’ hotels and cafés. Locals are as likely to be found on one of the many golf courses as visitors. And as cars cannot be rented in Bermuda, motor scooters drift through towns and villages with the ease of a sea breeze.

Yet Bermuda boasts a diverse culture influenced by Spanish and Portuguese settlers, by waves of Afro-Caribbean migration and by its proximity to the US mainland. Calypso and reggae can be heard spilling from the restaurants and bars of Hamilton, St. George’s and beyond. The islands’ popular Gombey dancers combine African, Caribbean, Native American and British traditions into one colorful and festive performance.

Bermuda claims the most golf courses per square mile in the world. World-class tournaments take place amid its emerald and turquoise splendor. In addition, the island’s Bermuda Gold Cup, a sailing race, attracts avid spectators.

Bermuda Sights and Landmarks

Endless sands ring the islands of Bermuda. Off the pink beaches of Warwick Long Bay, 200 square miles of reef and crystalline waters beckon snorkelers and swimmers. Shipwrecks, too, lure adventurous scuba divers into the depths, including the wreck of the Sea Venture. Horseshoe Bay, with its postcard-perfect vistas, is one of the island’s more popular beaches.

Step away from the capital and back in time with a visit to the atmospheric, historic town of St. George’s, the longest continuously inhabited English settlement in the New World. Established in 1612, it is one of the island’s prized UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Stroll its cobblestone lanes past brightly colored colonial-era buildings, pausing at St. Peter’s Church, the oldest Anglican church in the Western Hemisphere.

For a glimpse into military history, explore the moat-ringed Victorian fortress of Fort Hamilton, or take a ferry to Sandys Parish to relive the island’s historic seafaring spirit at the Royal Naval Dockyard, which houses the Maritime Museum. Once a prominent symbol of British imperial power, the Commissioner’s House here has been spectacularly restored to transport visitors back in time.

Bermuda Entertainment and Activities

For those wishing to take in Bermuda’s rich culture and beauty, the capital of Hamilton and its surrounding parishes provide an array of activities amid magnificent island vistas.

The Bermuda National Gallery showcases Bermuda’s historic and contemporary art collections. Glimpse the work of early island artists, European masters, and African masks and sculpture, all of which reflect the country’s diverse cultural heritage.

For art in the open air, enjoy the Sculpture Garden in Queen Elizabeth Park (Par-la-Ville Park). Nearby, view the sea chest and lodestone of Sir George Somers, who survived a 1609 shipwreck, at the Bermuda Historical Society Museum.

Visit the Botanical Gardens one mile away in Paget Parish, where sublime walks lead past stunning flora to the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art, home of the world’s largest collection of Bermuda-inspired art.

Stroll along dreamy pink-sand beaches at Elbow Beach, the closest to Hamilton and perfect for swimming. Or go farther afield to visit picturesque Horseshoe Bay.

To catch a glimpse of marine life, head to scenic Flatts Village and the North Rock Exhibit at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo (BAMZ). This remarkable facility provides a window into local marine life and coral reefs.

Bermuda Restaurants and Shopping

Hamilton offers an eclectic variety of global cuisine to please any palate. Sip a rum swizzle and try the traditional dishes of cod cakes and shark hash, or relax for a true British-style afternoon tea.

Barracuda Grill dedicates its menu to top-notch seafood and chops in an upscale ambiance. Its Bermuda Fish Chowder has been featured in Bon Appétit magazine.

Bolero Brasserie, a traditional bistro tucked down a narrow alley, offers a classic brasserie menu that is refreshed by owner and chef Jonny Roberts weekly. Enjoy fine wine and cuisine overlooking Front Street.

With stunning ocean views true to its name, Harbourfront offers an extensive menu of international dishes or a lighter menu of canapés and cocktails. By some accounts, it is the place to sample the island’s best sushi.

In the reputable shopping mecca of Hamilton, you will find choice European imports such as crystal, fine china and cashmere sweaters. Or find a keepsake from the island’s antique and collectible shops.

Front Street is the shopping heart of the island, and its offerings spread onto Queen Street and Reid Street. A.S. Cooper & Sons boasts an impressive inventory of crystal and china.

In the Washington Mall, step into Alexandra Mosher’s Studio Jewelry to peruse creations inspired by the pink sands of Bermuda. Beyond Front Street, you can explore Hamilton’s back streets for hidden gems.