Arriving at the Royal Navy Dockyard in Bermuda on Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas
If you ever have the chance to take a cruise from Florida to Bermuda, I highly recommend it. We’re so used to going south towards the Caribbean, that it felt really strange to be heading out to sea in the Atlantic Ocean, completely out of sight of land. We didn’t see any other ships either. The wind was calm, but there was a huge swell in the ocean making it a little rocky. After two days of sailing, Bermuda finally came into sight. We arrived on the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas.
We arrived to Bermuda at the Royal Naval Dockyard in September of 2022. We were lucky enough to arrive the week after Hurricane Earl and the week before Hurricane Fiona. The ship was scheduled to spend three days there, so we didn’t feel rushed to see everything in one day.
There are plenty of things to do in the dockyard itself, like restaurants and bars, the National Museum, charters for fishing, boating, sunset cruises and more, plus the ferry to Hamilton. There are orange tram cars that run from the piers to the inner part of the dockyard, because it is a rather long walk. But they fill up quickly and don’t come that often.
We arrived in the afternoon and didn’t have much time before dark. So we walked to the beach on the other side of the shipyard to a place called “Snorkel Park.” It closed at 5, so they offered us a reduced rate to get in, which was $5. There is a bar onsite, but the beer is expensive, about $12-$15 each. To get there see the map below. There weren’t any signs until we got to the entrance.
True to its name, it’s actually a nice place to snorkel. It’s very shallow and when I snorkeled around the point, I saw a ton of fish and some nice coral. By shallow I mean about 3 feet deep. If you want a quick easy way to see some coral and fish, then this is the place.
Snorkeling Excursion on a Catamaran
For our first full day we had an excursion planned on the catamaran called Aristocat. It from the same pier that our ship was on, so we only had to walk a few steps. The crew was really nice and friendly. We went across the bay to a cove which was protected by the wind. There were some caves there as well. Not only was it safe to swim pretty far away from the boat because of the protective cove, but it was nice to just sit onboard because it wasn’t windy and the coast was quite interesting.
After about two hours there we headed back to the ship. The shoreline was lined with beautifully colored houses and the ride was really enjoyable. They played island music and had a limited bar. This was a fun excursion, but not the best snorkeling. There wasn’t too much coral, but the water was beautiful and the caves were fascinating.
Taking the Ferry from the Royal Navy Dockyard to Hamilton, Bermuda
That afternoon we decided to take the ferry to Hamilton because the ferry to St. George wasn’t running due to maintenance issues. You could see the ferry terminal from the ship and it wasn’t a very far walk. It was hot, however, so be prepared to stand in the sun for a while waiting for it to arrive (there is a small shaded area, but it fills up quickly). You purchase your tickets inside the hexagonal kiosk and just wait for the ferry outside. Tickets are $5.00 for adults. They will give you a token in lieu of a ticket for each way. They will accept coins if you want to pay as you get on, but they do not accept bills. It’s best to go inside the kiosk and pay for the tokens.
Most of the seating on the ferry is inside, but you can walk all the way to the front of the boat where there is a door leading to the outside stairs taking you to the upper deck. If you don’t mind sitting in the sun, the view is amazing. There is a lot to see on the ride over. The coastline is just beautiful. The ferry ride took about 30 minutes or so. I’m sure it depends a bit on the weather too.
Once in Hamilton, you can walk everywhere. It’s clean and safe and there are some nice shops and restaurants near the ferry terminal. We walked to a place called Flying Colours about a quarter of a mile from the terminal. They had souvenirs, including Bermuda pink sand, which is illegal to take from the beach. They also carried Coolibar UPF clothing, which I love, and wrote a blog about! They had high quality t-shirts and clothing, as well as hats, sandals and beachy jewelry. It’s much more high-end than the tourist shops in other ports of call we’ve seen.
Next door there was a small bookstore and across the street was Goslings Rum. Bermuda is famous for its rum and this store did not disappoint. If you’re looking to bring Bermuda rum home as a gift (or for yourself), then this is the place to go. They have so many varieties which the staff will help you choose. They are very knowledgeable and friendly. They will also arrange for the rum to get to the ship, so you don’t have to carry it around town. That was so handy! It shows up in your stateroom on the last day. We bought some of their famous “Black Seal” rum which was delicious.
There was a bar on the second floor of a building right next to the terminal which gave us a nice view of the port and the waterfront. The drinks are not terribly expensive, although everything in Bermuda is more expensive than we are used to.
We did manage to find a supermarket nearby and bought some local beer in cans. We each drank one and decided to try to carry the rest onboard. Interestingly enough, they didn’t stop us. I guess they’re looking for liquor bottles and shells.
We waited a LONG time for the ferry to go back to the ship. The lines get very long, so I suggest you go early so you can wait in the shade on the dock. The ferry ride itself is like an excursion giving you a stunning view of the waterfront mansions and the bay area.
Sunset Catamaran Tour
We decided to look for a sunset sailing cruise, so we stopped by the charter office on our way back to the ship from the ferry terminal (It’s a little kiosk right on the sidewalk on the way back to the ship).
We booked on the same catamaran that we did the snorkel excursion on, the Aristocat. There weren’t that many people on the boat and the captain this time was the owner. He was fantastic and made the evening extraordinary. This is one of the best experiences we’ve had while cruising. We sailed around the north point so that we could have an unobstructed view of the sunset.
While sailing, he answered questions and gave us the history of the island as well as some obscure facts like how high they are taxed for importing cars. He was so full of interesting information. He made us feel like he was taking his close friends for a cruise. It was very informal and friendly. We got some spectacular shots of the sunset before sailing back. Seeing the cruise ships all lit up from the water side as it started to get dark was really beautiful.
Horseshoe Bay Beach
For our last day we decided to visit Horseshoe Bay. There are ship excursions that take you there, but they are so expensive. Instead we opted to go to the taxi stand right next to the ship, where there are helpful people packing guests into small vans that take you to various locations around the island. The cost was $10 per person round trip. The drive followed a road along the coast with stunning views. It took about 15 minutes to get there. We went pretty early so the beach wasn’t crowded at all.
If you walk all the way to the end of the beach, you’ll find a magnificent cove with high cliffs and rock formations jutting up from the water. There is shade from the cliff sides which also protects from the wind. We were hoping there would be some coral out beyond the shore, but the water was quite rough, so we couldn’t go out far enough to see anything. The rough water also made it a bit murky.
It’s important to note that it is illegal to remove anything from the beaches like shells or sand. But this also includes sea glass, which is unusual because in most places, that is considered trash. They have signs specifically saying not to take any sea glass. Good thing most stores sell their “pink” sand in small bottles for about $4-$5.
We left port around 2pm and headed for the Caribbean. We really enjoyed Bermuda and would love to go again. It’s difficult to find cruises that go there from Florida, but this one nice in that we spent three days there.