Best Caribbean Cruise ports

November 22, 2016 — Photo
This tidy oasis in the middle of the Atlantic (it's not technically Caribbean, but many ships visit it) is edged with pink-sand beaches and rocky cliffs—and crawling with Brits in shorts. And not just any shorts, but shorts colored in perky tones of pink, green, or yellow, and paired with sports jackets, ties, and knee-highs. To the casual visitor, Bermuda is a pleasant paradox of sorts, mixing sane and proper with a healthy dose of silly (back to those shorts again). But what really matters to the cruise passenger is that Bermuda is an orderly, beautiful, easy place to visit. Aside from the Caribbean and The Bahamas, the 21-square-mile island nation of Bermuda (which is actually a chain of more than 100 small islands), sitting roughly parallel to South Carolina, is the other major island cruise destination from the U.S. Eastern seaboard.

Best Activities:

Because Bermuda is relatively small and easy to get around, and because ships typically spend several days at its ports, you can access the following sights and excursions no matter where you're docked.

Biking the old railway tracks: Head to the rural West End to pedal along the path where the original Bermuda Railway once ran on narrow-gauge tracks. The tracks are gone, but a trail remains. You'll get views of the ocean and the island’s lush gardens and bird life. The flat route covers 8km to 13km (5–8 miles).

Snorkeling Trips: Board an organized boat tour and motor beyond the shore for Bermuda's best snorkeling. After an hour or so, the fun begins: The music is turned on, the dancing starts, and the bar opens as the boat heads back to port.

Golf: Reserve tee times for 18 holes at challenging courses such as Mid Ocean Golf Club, among the best in the world; Riddell’s Bay Golf & Country Club, a veritable golfing institution built in 1922; Port Royal Golf Course; and St. George’s Golf Club, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr.

Explore St. George's: Quaint and historic, St. George’s was the second English town established in the New World, after Jamestown in Virginia. King’s Square, also called Market Square or the King’s Parade, is the center of life. But because most ships are too big to dock here, this charming town is visited only by those taking a tour or willing to use a bus, ferry, or taxi (which helps keep the number of visitors down).

The throngs head to the beaches, and for good reason. Many are powdery soft and some even pinkish (from crushed shells, corals, and other sea life); they’re easily accessible by taxi or motor scooter from Hamilton and St. George’s, and most are free. Horseshoe Bay, in Southampton Parish, is our top pick. Though you won’t have it to yourself because it’s so popular with other tourists, it has scenic rocky cliffs at its edges and a vast soft plane of sand in the middle.

Shopping: While St. George’s and the West End Dockyard both have souvenir shops, Hamilton is the center of Bermuda’s shopping universe. Here, it’s all about English (and some Irish) goodies such as porcelain, crystal, wool clothing, cashmere sweaters, and linens, and it’s within walking distance, right outside of the terminal. Don’t expect great deals, though—prices in Bermuda are generally on the high side.

Best Cruise Ships: Allure of the Seas / Royal Caribbean
Best Cruise Ships: Allure of the Seas / Royal Caribbean
Best Caribbean Cruise Destinations - Great Stirrup Cay
Best Caribbean Cruise Destinations - Great Stirrup Cay ...
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