Cruises to the Atlantic island of Bermuda are distinctly different from Caribbean cruises. Roughly parallel to South Carolina (or Casablanca, if you're measuring from the east), this 21-square-mile oasis is an orderly, beautiful, easy place to visit. A British crown colony since 1620, it's a beguiling mix of British properness and island sun-and-fun. And you'll have a chance to get to know it well, because Bermuda-bound cruises tend to spend several whole days at the island, rather than port-hopping as so many Caribbean cruises do.
The Bermuda cruising season runs from late April through October.
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Most ships dock at King's Wharf, in the West End, although some smaller vessels still visit the piers in Hamilton, Bermuda's sophisticated capital, and the charming historic town of St. George's. Wherever they dock, visitors tend to fan out across the island, via taxi, motor scooter, or the ferry that runs between King's Wharf and Hamilton; it only takes about an hour to drive from one end of Bermuda to the other.
Whereas Caribbean cruises keep moving from island to island, Bermuda cruises allow passengers plenty of time to enjoy various aspects of the island's considerable charm. Major draws include powdery-soft beaches, with distinctive coral-tinted pink sand. Our favorite beach is Horseshoe Bay, in Southampton Parish, with its scenic rocky cliffs at the edges and a vast soft plane of sand in the middle. Other options include Warwick Long Bay (Warwick Parish); Tobacco Bay Beach (St. George's Parish), where the water is very calm and the beach is tiny; and Elbow Beach (in Paget Parish). The more adventurous can rent a scooter and beach-hop among the many unnamed slivers of silky sand tucked into the jagged coastline. Bermuda also has excellent golf courses in fact, it has more golf courses per square mile than any other place in the world, and the extended stay may allow you to try more than one.
Hamilton's tony shopping district specializes in luxury goods, mostly English (or Irish) in provenance. Meanwhile, history buffs have several old forts and lighthouses to explore, including the excellent Bermuda Maritime Museum right by the cruise docks in King's Wharf. The 29km/18-mile Bermuda Railway Trail gives joggers and cyclists unique views of the ocean and the island's lush gardens and bird life.
Shore excursions may also include snorkeling and glass-bottom boat tours, which let you peer down at the coral reefs and many shipwrecks (remember the Bermuda Triangle? ) in the turquoise waters around Bermuda.