Tag Archives: Cruise

In The Middle Of It

NWS Radar and Approximate Location of Ocala as of 8:00 AM

At first this will sound absurd, but Kathy & I are currently in Ocala, FL watching the wind and rain from Tropical Storm Nicole. Why the heck would we do that? No, we’re not auditioning for a spot on The Weather Channel!

Kathy & I are heading out of Port Tampa this Friday (tomorrow as I write this) for a cruise. Our original plan called for us to drive to Ocala Thursday (today), then on to Tampa – a 1.5 hour drive – tomorrow. Once we saw the forecast for Nicole, we decided to come down a day early, knowing that there wouldn’t be a lot we could do.

Our drive down was uneventful. We didn’t see a drop of rain the whole way, although it did start to get a little breezy. We got out for dinner last evening and even managed a bit of a walk. This morning we got out for breakfast between rain bands and before the wind got too strong, and we are now watching rain blow against our balcony door. But it is supposed to blow through in time for us to get out to dinner later.

Our drive to Tampa in the morning should see the weather improving and the skies beginning to clear.Β  And away we’ll go!

Last Bermuda Post!

View from our stateroom window while docked in Bermuda aboard Celebrity Summit

Very few people will be interested in this, but for those few who are, here is a brief post about our stateroom aboard Celebrity Summit.

View of our stateroom window from the helipad

On recent cruises, we have recognized the relatively better value of booking an “Ocean View” stateroom as opposed to a “Veranda” stateroom. The main difference is that an Ocean View stateroom has just a window, which can range from a porthole to a large picture window, while a Verandah stateroom has a balcony, with sliding glass doors from the room. The cruise lines have been quite successful in marketing the Verandah staterooms, since they cost more, thus being more profitable. Some of the newer ships have done away with all or nearly all Ocean View rooms for this reason. But depending on the specific cruise, the price difference can be significant.

Our stateroom #6001 on Celebrity Summit
Our stateroom #6001 on Celebrity Summit

This was our third cruise with an Ocean View room, and we have found that there are certain Ocean View staterooms on certain ships, that are much larger than “regular” Ocean View rooms, sometimes to the point where they are larger than the higher-priced Verandah rooms. We have really come to enjoy the rooms in the very front of the ship. They provide an interesting view and more space, with the tradeoff that they are on one end of the ship, so you have a long walk to just about anywhere. But we like it!

So this is just a short overview of our stateroom on Celebrity Summit. Those who have been on cruises will recognize the layout, those who have not might still be interested.

A Special Treat: Sail Away From the Helipad

On the day we left Bermuda, we along with “several hundred of our closest friends” were invited to experience Sail Away from the helipad. It is the second time we got to do this, the previous time was on a cruise sailing from Barbados.

On most cruise ships, the helipad is off-limits to everyone but crew. A few of the larger ships do allow passengers on the helipad when conditions are safe. Someone always has to do the “Titanic” thing on the bow.

Generally though, sail away is by invitation only. I asked the Captain’s Club hostess how people were chosen, and she kinda answered that there was no magic formula and that the number was determined by the captain. But I do know that our past-passenger status with Celebrity – high but nowhere near the highest! – had to have helped. It was a fun time, I got a few photos and we had some free champagne-like wine. It is always a treat, and we enjoyed the experience!

The National Museum of Bermuda

The National Museum of Bermuda explores the maritime and island history of Bermuda. The maritime museum is located within the grounds of the fortress keep of the former Royal Naval Dockyard.

The Commissioner’s House is used to display a number of exhibitions. The basement shows Bermuda’s Defence Heritage, a display about Bermuda’s defenses and fortifications since 1612, and the role of local forces in World War I and World War II (this is devoted only to the British aspect of Bermuda’s naval and military history, although there is a separate exhibit devoted to the United States bases). The pillared hall is site of a two-story History of Bermuda mural by the Bermudian artist Graham Foster. The main floor has a number of themes related to Bermuda’s history including slavery, immigration, and tourism. One room is dedicated to the history of the Bermuda Race. The upper floor contains collections of maps, books, coins, maritime art, and exhibits concerning activities of the Royal Navy and the US Forces, specifically during World War II. Other buildings show shipwreck artifacts, local watercraft, or are under renovation.

Other outbuildings house various exhibits. The Queen’s Exhibition Hall/1850 Ordnance House contained a display pertaining to underwater archeology. The building known as the Boat Loft contains historic local watercraft, a collection of vintage outboard motors, and a fascinating two-story clock mechanism.

The “Other End” Of Bermuda: St. George’s

On our second day in Bermuda we took a ferry from the Royal Naval Dockyard to the town of St. George’s, located on St. George’s Island on the east end of Bermuda. St. George’s was established in 1612 as New London, and was the original English settlement on Bermuda. St. George’s served as the capital of Bermuda until 1815, when it was moved to Hamilton.

Downtown St. George’s is a quaint little place, pretty quiet except just before and after the arrival of the ferry. It also serves as the dock for smaller cruise ships, and the Oceania Insignia was docked there during our visit. The shops and restaurants there were very nice. For my money I would revisit St. George’s before returning to Hamilton, due to the hustle and bustle of the larger capital city.

After our tour, waiting for the time to return to the ferry, we had a very yummy lunch at Wahoo’s Bistro, a restaurant recommended by our guide. They are known for their fresh seafood, including their “Fish Sandwich” which consists of lightly fried local fish on raisin bread, with a tangy sauce. It’s a little hard to imagine the combination, but believe me when I say it was delicious! Sadly, I don’t have a photo of it. πŸ™ We also indulged and had a Yellow Bird, a Bermudian cocktail made with rum (Gosling’s, of course!), pineapple and orange juice, Creme de Banana and simple syrup. We only had one (each) so we would be able to make it back to the ferry dock!

Royal Naval Dockyard

Most cruise ships that visit Bermuda dock or tender at Royal Naval Dockyard, which sits at the very northwestern tip of the island. Originally established as a base for Britain’s Royal Navy, the Dockyard occupies a strategic location in the Atlantic and has played a role in many naval operations, including a key role in the War of 1812, when the British blockade of American ports was orchestrated from Bermuda.

Today the Dockyard is primarily a marina and shipping port, complete with a requisite shopping areas and restaurants, including the ubiquitous Diamonds International. The “shopping mall” was a disappointing collection of t-shirt shops and souvenir stands, a far cry from the high end shops on Front Street in Hamilton. We wasted too much time there, missing out on visiting the Bermuda Transport Museum as well as a potential lunch at a restaurant that one of our guides recommended. Next time!

Adjacent to the Dockyard is the National Museum of Bermuda, including the former Commissioner’s House which sits atop a hill overlooking the bay. I’ll detail that in another post as it is a destination unto itself.

Wikipedia article about the Dockyard

Modes Of Transport: Bermuda

Here is a brief look at a few of the forms of transportation on the island of Bermuda.

Small cars are big in Bermuda. Buses only hold a dozen or so people. Even the garbage trucks are small. Much more practical cars than we have here in the states. Electric vehicles are also very popular – the island is so small that you don’t need to worry about range, and with the tiny cars they are easy to park. Just don’t bring a lot of luggage!

The guy in the wheelbarrow? No idea! He might have been injured, but more likely had overindulged on Dark & Stormys. πŸ˜‰

A Bridge Not Too Far

Somerset Bridge, known as the “worlds shortest drawbridge.”

One of the famous “attractions” in Bermuda is the Somerset Bridge, reputedly the smallest working drawbridge in the world. The bridge connects Somerset Island with the mainland in the western parish of Sandys, crossing a small channel connecting the Great Sound with Ely’s Harbour.

From Wikipedia (almost as reliable as a Snapple bottle cap) πŸ˜‰ :

“The bridge is mentioned in the acts of Bermuda’s first parliament, held in St. George’s on 1 August 1620. Bridges were to be constructed at Somerset, the Flatts, and Coney Island. Additionally, the road from Somerset to Warwick was to be improved, and extended to Castle Point. The bridge appears on a 1624 map of Bermuda.

The bridge is opened by hand, creating a 32-inch gap that allows the passage of a sailboat’s mast. The drawbridge is depicted on a Bermudian banknote.”

Somerset Bridge, known as the “worlds shortest drawbridge.”
Somerset Bridge, known as the “worlds shortest drawbridge.”

The bridge is used very rarely these days, as most sailboats do not traverse that channel, either due to size or draft.

These guys are used to being fed. They didn’t stick around when it was apparent we had no treats!

Hamilton, Bermuda

Our cruise ship docked in Bermuda at the Royal Naval Dockyard, which is located on the northwest side of the island. We were there for essentially three days – from 8am on Wednesday until 4pm on Friday. The ship acted as our hotel – we could come and go as we pleased. No having to be back on board at a given time at night. As long as we made it back to the ship on Friday afternoon we were good! In fact, if we had friends there or otherwise wanted to stay at a hotel or a resort on the island we could have done that. Of course Kathy & I returned to the ship each night. Why, when we already had a place to sleep? πŸ˜‰

We booked a tour on the first day that took us around the west side of the island and included the capital of Hamilton. Hamilton is a busy little town, with a Front Street full of shops and restaurants, and the side and back streets occupied by the offices of multinational insurance and banking companies that take advantage of favorable legal and tax regulations. We spent a short time walking around the town, mostly ducking into shops to take advantage of the air conditioning – it was hot!

Our tour took us back to the ship in the early afternoon. We had a dinner reservation back in town that evening, so returned via ferry from the Dockyard to downtown Hamilton.

These photos are specifically from Hamilton, and I’ll do a series of posts from some of the other locations we visited. We did another tour on our second day, and spent the third day exploring the Dockyard. I’ve got photos from those days, too! Should provide plenty of material for a while. πŸ™‚