|Tips for Bermuda Visitors and Cruisers|
October 15October 22, 2005
March 2014 Update: Since most ships now dock at Kings Wharf (Royal Navy Dockyard), we've provided transportation information to assist those cruise ship passengers in getting around Bermuda. Skip down to Part VIII - The Ports.
We cruised to Bermuda for one week aboard Celebrity Zenith and enjoyed both of our Bermuda ports (Hamilton and St. George). Our weather was beautiful. We did not book any cruise ship excursions yet we saw and did a lot in our 3½ days on the island at little expense. My wife and I stayed in an outside cabin. My wife is ready to go again. Read on!
Part I - Precruise
Why Bermuda on Zenith?
Frankly, we like Celebrity. We have previously sailed on Celebrity Galaxy in the Western Caribbean, and Celebrity Horizon in the Eastern Caribbean. We like what Celebrity has to offer, and we are now Select members of their Captains Club which gives us a few extra perks like: early debarkation, cabin upgrades, and special events on board the ship. They were offering a special fare on an inside guarantee cabin (category 12) which we felt was too good to pass up. We had never been to Bermuda before and this was a destination we had interest in experiencing.
Booking a Cabin
When booking a cabin you have the opportunity to actually select your cabin of choice (on a first come basis) or opt for a guarantee at a lower rate. A guarantee is simply a promise that you will get a cabin, somewhere on the ship, in the category you have guaranteed. The cabin selection is entirely up to the cruise line. The stars were aligned when our cabin was assigned to us by Celebrity. We were upgraded seven categories to an Outside Cabin with a large window (category 5). We were assigned cabin 5155 which is located in the Aft on the Port side of Deck 5. This is not the most desirable cabin location as you will feel more rocking in the Fore and aft of the ship than Amidships. The aft cabins also feel a lot of additional vibration from the engines. The vibrations are especially pronounced when docking and departing. (I am not complaining. I am just informing). We were very happy with our cabin assignment under the guarantee we booked.
Cruise Critic and Other Helpful Sites
Cruisecritic.com was once again very helpful in securing key information for all of our ports of call and getting to know some of our fellow travelers before the cruise. I can also recommend Bermuda Department of Tourism, and this detailed map of Bermuda.
Given that we were visiting a foreign country, we felt it would be a good idea to use passports. We brought our passports which we got three years ago. Turns out we only needed them at check-in. Bermuda nor US customs ever requested to see them. Our Drivers Licenses were all we needed thereafter for identification. Hint: AAA members can get really good passport pictures for free at AAA offices.
I insured the trip through Travelex, which I concluded was a good choice due to: relative cost comparisons, ease of access and booking, good disclosures, excellent coverage for what I needed, and especially because their insurance is "primary", meaning that I do not have to involve any other insurance in the claims process. I had no interest in proprietary insurance offered by a travel agency or cruise companies because if either goes under your insurance is worthless and defeats the purpose. We bought the insurance within 14 days of our booking to assure their would be no questions about "existing medical conditions", although I am not aware we have any. Thankfully we never had a need for the insurance. Here are 16 great tips on How to Select Cruise Insurance.
Based upon our research, we decided not to prebook any excursions. We do not regret this decision.
Packing Hints came from this board. We packed for 2 Formal nights (tux / fine dinner dress), 2 Semi-Formal nights (dinner jacket / dinner dress), and 3 Casual nights (aloha shirts and Dockers, blouses and skirts), in addition to enough clothing to cover us for 7 days on a ship with 2 changes per day. Among the most helpful "extra items" we packed were battery powered alarm clock, shoe rack, rounded scissors (under 6"), bottled water, cards, digital camera, sunscreen, binoculars, highlighters, collapsible dirty clothes bag, snap hooks (hooks with suction cups that hold 15 to 20 pounds each), notebook, mask and snorkel, insulated travel mugs, magnets, multiple outlet, extension cord, 9-inch clip-on electric fan, and a water camera. We also made seven 8x10 posters for our cabin door (one for each day, "If this is Wednesday, it must be St. George!" and the like) and mentioning Cruise Critic in hopes that someone else on the boards would notice and strike up a conversation. The cabin doors are metal. We held up our signs with little magnets.
In an effort to reduce the pre-cruise stress, we opted to fly into Newark airport one day early. I booked a blind 2½-star hotel on priceline.com with a $50 bid. We were upgraded by Priceline to the 3-star Wyndham Newark Airport. You can get a good idea of hotel price ranges and areas at biddingfortravel.com. The Wyndham provides a free shuttle service from the Newark Airport. The room was very comfortable. We ate dinner at Shula2s located in the hotel lobby. Shula2 is a very good sports bar with excellent food at night. Breakfast is not recommended. It cost $50 including tip to catch a taxi from the hotel to the pier. A taxi from the airport runs about $36 before tip. We could have saved about $10 had we caught the shuttle back to the airport and transferred to a taxi there.
Part II - Embarkation
Cape Liberty Pier
We arrived at the pier about 11:20 am. We tipped the baggage handlers $10 for 4 bags and proceeded into the building. Security and check-in went very quickly and smoothly. It helped that we completed all of our documentation online before we left home. We had our pictures taken twice: once for a debarkation souvenir opportunity and once to imprint our mugs electronically on our cruise cards for use on the ship and when leaving and returning to the ship. There is a large waiting area with chairs and tables. When our number was called we proceeded to a bus which took us to the ship where we climbed two flights of stairs to board on Deck 5. (Folks unable to climb stairs enter on Deck 3). We were on the ship within 25 minutes of our arrival at the pier. Rooms were not expected to be ready until 1:00 pm.
Tour of Ship and Search For Food
We found sustenance in the Windsurf Café on Deck 11 (Marina Deck) for a buffet lunch. Actually, we ate Hamburgers in the Grill just aft of the café. The ship is well laid out with ample sets of stairwells and elevators. Due to the pool on the Marina Deck (11) the midships elevator and stairwell only run from deck 3 to deck 10. The entire week, without exception, we always took the stairs (and pretended that this was sufficient exercise to cover our food intake).
Explore The Cabin
The cabins were indeed ready at 1:00 pm, and our luggage arrived at 2:00 pm. We were in cabin 5155, a category 5 cabin with 172 square feet but no veranda. There are no balconies on Zenith. Our cabin had a large unobstructed window and a pretty good sized bathroom. There was lots of storage space. Note: We were located aft, port side, on the Europa Deck (deck 5). The cabin was extremely well laid out. Lots of drawers and enough room in the closets for our clothes. The thick curtains will entirely block out all light when closed. Hangers and robes were provided. Hint: you can secure additional wire hangers from your stateroom attendant . The desk featured a number of informational brochures including Saturday's event newsletter "Celebrity Today". Being Cruise Critic members, we received an invite to the following day's gathering, along with a CruiseConnections pin and a couple of name tags. Our stateroom attendant did a wonderful job throughout our cruise.
Lifeboat Muster Drill
About 45 minutes prior to leaving port, we participated in the mandatory lifeboat drill. The drill went very smoothly and lasted 20 minutes.
Dinner - 6pm First Seating
We were seated at a table for 4 in the Caravelle Restaurant. Unlike some other Celebrity ships, the entire restaurant is on one floor --- on deck 7 (Galaxy). Both our server and assistant did a very good job throughout our cruise.
Part III - Food!
Celebrity has a good reputation for their cuisine. The meals met our expectations. Not only was it good, it was downright very good on many nights. There was excellent variety. Nice presentations at lunch and dinner. No one at our table ever needed to send back an undercooked or overcooked item. Meats were cooked to order. Yes, you could even order "rare".
A. Always Available
The following items are available every night (even if they do not appear on the menu): shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad, chicken, salmon, and a NY Strip steak.
B. The Best Breakfast Items
Smoked salmon, made to order omelets, and sticky buns. Hint: big Belgian waffles with several toppings are only available in The Grill at the rear of Deck 11.
C. The Best Appetizer
Escargot and Potato Gnocchi were incredible. The pates were also quite good. All appetizers were well presented.
D. The Best Soups
All of the cream soups.
E. The Best Lunch Items
Do yourself a favor and locate the sandwich bar in the back of the Windsurf Café as soon as possible. The chef will make you a delicious sandwich to order with a wide selection of meats, spreads, cheeses and awesome homemade breads and rolls. Hint: if youre in the mood for a hamburger but, like us, hate white bread hamburger buns, grab one of the delicious rolls from the sandwich bar instead.
F. The Best Dinner Entrées
All of the Lamb and Veal dishes, all of the steak offerings (Prime Rib, Tenderloins), Quail, and many of the fish offerings at dinner. (Skip the fish at lunch). Hint: Rely on your Waiter for dinner suggestions. If you listen carefully, hell steer you toward the better entrees.
G. The Best Desserts
Fresh made ice creams, crème Brule, cherries jubilee, and the Baked Alaska on parade. Kudos to the chef. This was simply the best Baked Alaska we have ever had! The vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice creams were encased in a thin crispy pastry shell and topped with a nice meringue which was not too sweet.
H. Room Service
We didn't order anything from room service.
I. Midnight Buffets
All but one (Le Grande Buffet) took place by the pool. Usually served ice cream, an assortment of cookies, and lots of fresh fruit. The themes included a Party Gras and an Island Night. Party Band Fusion provided music for most of the deck parties. Le Grande Buffet took place in the Caravelle Restaurant after a 30-minute picture-taking preview. You will marvel at the beautiful ice carvings and food creations. (The Beef Wellington was outstanding).
J. Sushi Bar
Beautifully prepared (very fresh and chilled) sushi was available most nights from 6:00pm to 10:00pm on one side of the Windsurfer Café which they decorated with a Japanese restaurant theme. It is a winner. Its also a great place to try out sushi if you have never experienced it before. I would suggest starting out with a California Roll (rice with crab, avocado, and cucumber), then working your way up to the sashimi selections (Salmon, Ahi, Tilapia, among others). Skip the eel unless you are adventurous. For a real kick, spread a little of the green horseradish pate (wasabi) on your sushi. Use too much and itll clear out your sinuses and give your eating partners a really good laugh.
K. The Soda Sticker
The soda sticker is a reasonable buy at $5.00 per day plus tax and 15% gratuity. Once it was established that you have a soda sticker, you rarely had to show it. The waiters in the dinning room did a great job of keeping us liquid. Unlike previous cruises, we found the waiters and waitresses working the bars and lounges no longer seemed put-out when accepting the card. This was a welcome change.
Part IV - Entertainment
Movies were available in the Celebrity Show Lounge at midnight on select nights and during the day while in port. There is still no popcorn available. Dont know why. Popcorn is cheap, and it usually induces thirst, which leads to bar sales. A number of movies ran all day long on the cabin TV as well. None were first run movies. All are currently available at your video store.
Taken together, this was the best entertainment we have ever seen at sea. The Celebrity dancers and singers were outstanding, and the choreography was superb. We found all of the shows to be entertaining. All of the guest talent was very good as well: J.J. Downs (multi-instrumentalist/entertainer), Bob and Sarah Trunell (magic and comedy), and Joe Mulligan (comedian borrowed from Horizon). Additional entertainment included a Newlywed/Not-So-Newlywed Game and lots of Bingo.
The Mayfair Casino is filled with slot machines, one Craps table, a roulette table, and a few poker and blackjack tables. While underutilized, the Craps table was constantly manned in the evenings. The casino was open while at sea. Closed while in ports.
Took a tour, but did not utilize the spa. It is located on the Sun Deck (12). There is no aquaspa on Zenith.
E. Outdoor Pools and Hot tubs.
There are two pools on the Marina Deck (11) and three or four hot tubs on the Sun Deck (12). We did not use any of these facilities.
F. Celebrity Orchestra and Other Ship Bands
The Celebrity Orchestra was extremely good. A number of good entertainers could be found throughout the ship but we did not sit in on any of them.
G. In-room TV
There were a number of closed-circuit ship channels and satellite stations available on the TV in the cabin. Free movies were also available. You can also order room service and check your current account on the TV as well.
H. Room Service
You can order from morning to late night. We didn't order anything from room service. They don't just drop the order off at your door --- they come in and set it up for you. Be sure to tip!
Part V - Parties
A. Cruise Critic Party
We signed up for the Cruise Critic party on the Celebrity web site. We received an email confirmation that a party would take place. On day 2 we received an envelope containing an invitation to the party during our first day at sea in the Fleet Bar, along with 2 CruiseConnections lapel pins, and name tags. At the appointed time we arrived at the Fleet Bar on Deck 11. In total, about 26 folks attended. We had a great time meeting and greeting other fellow cruise critics. Light refreshments were provided. The Cruise Director Robert LaForest, and the Captain's Club Hostess, were in attendance. They made a short presentation.
B. Other Parties and Social Events
There are a number of parties where an open bar (or a select bar) is available. These include: Honeymooners and Anniversaries Party (invitation only), Captain's Club Party for all members (invitation only), Captain's Club Party for Select and Elite members (invitation only), Captains Welcome Aboard Party, Elegant Tea (one open, one by invite), and a Wine Blending Seminar (invitation only). Hint: the more your cruise with celebrity, the more invites you will receive.
Part VI - Health Concerns
There was no smoking in the restaurants, show lounge, Library, or Card Room. Smoking was permitted in the night clubs, casino, outside, and the interior port side of the ship. They had every right to smoke in these areas of the ship, and unfortunately they did. The air circulation in the casino and night clubs was generally poor. All it took was for one person to light up for the air to become very poor. Therefore we generally avoided these areas. Although we are very sensitive to smoke, we could not detect any smoke smell in our cabin. The smokers, while in the minority, were generally very aggressive on this trip and a few were less than considerate. While not all of the smokers were inconsiderate, several smoked in the Starboard areas of the ship at times. We really wish Celebrity would restrict smoking to the exterior port of the ship and leave the contained areas smoke-free.
B. Pools and Hot Tubs
There are two salt water pools on Deck 11 and three or four hot tubs on Deck 12. We did not witness any babies in the pools or tubs. Granted, there were maybe two babies on board and not more than a dozen kids in total.
C. General Cleanliness of the Ship
Clean but needs work. You could not take a stroll without witnessing some type of cleaning going on at all hours. The ship was constantly being cleaned or painted: floors, walls, fixtures, everything! While old, we did not witness any torn carpets. Yes, the carpets are worn, some bathroom tiles are cracked, linens have holes and stains, deck chairs need replacing, and some mold is in the showers. Nothing which ruined the trip, but noticeable nonetheless. Thankfully, she went into drydock for two weeks in Charleston immediately following our cruise.
To the best of our knowledge, there was no outbreak on our ship. Kudos to our fellow passengers and Celebrity personnel for their personal diligence.
We had some rough seas from New Jersey to Bermuda and back. I alternated a half of a patch behind my ears for the sea days. I had no problems with seasickness, but did feel a little off which I attribute to being patch-related. My wife had no problems at all. Some passengers reported feeling seasick. Most had no problems.
Part VII - Ship Notes
A. Ships Captain and Crew
We were very impressed with the ship and crew. Very friendly and competent. The ship was under the command of Captain Michail Margaritis.
B. Our Cabin Steward
Rarely seen and very efficient. He kept the room cleaned, beds made (and turned down at night), water pitcher and ice bucket filled, and delivered news.
C. The Shops
Merchandise did not rotate very much. There was something on sale each day. The booze prices on the ship were generally as good as, or better than, shops in the ports.
D. Internet Service
The good news: there are a number new computer terminals with LCD screens set up in several different locations around the ship. (Look in the library and Celebrity Show Lounge for starters). All had internet service.
The bad news: it costs 50 cents per minute.
The result: They were way underutilized. I never saw more than 1 person at a time using them. 98% of the time, no one was using them. I continue to hope that Celebrity will rethink the pricing to find the price point at which the computers will be 75%-to-85% utilized. Passengers will be happier, and Celebrity will end up with more net income, rather than having a wasting asset on board.
Kids were almost non-existent on board. They were generally well behaved.
F. Dress Code
Only about 10% of men wore a tux on Formal nights. Others wore coat and tie. Did not see any violation of the dress code in the dining room. Did see violations in the casino and Show Lounge on Formal Nights.
We never had to show our passports to any customs officials. Customs went very smoothly in Bermuda and New Jersey.
Part VIII - The Ports
Cape Liberty Pier isnt exactly a pretty place, but the views of New York and the Statue of Liberty are certainly picture worthy as you leave port.
Legal Drinking Age = 18
Currency: USD = BD 1 for 1.
Island Time: Atlantic Time = 1 hour earlier than Eastern. Therefore set clocks forward 1 hour.
Google has a scaleable map of Bermuda. Use your mouse wheel to drill down for more detail. Click on "Satellite" to jump between an awesome satellite image and the easier to view road map.
Buses and Ferries
You can purchase multi-day passes which are good on all busses and ferries. Buses are plentiful and service most areas of interest. Bus stops are designated by colored poles. A pole with a top that is pink runs inbound to Hamilton. A blue topped pole is outbound service from Hamilton.
As of March 2014, adult bus fare was $3.50 (cash) for one-way transit through up to 3 zones. Longer trips (4 to 14 zones) is $4.50. Children under age 5 ride Free. Children age 5 to 16 are $2.50. There are 14 zones total, and each zone is about 2 miles long. Note: Cash fares require exact change only. Drivers do not make change. Dollar bills are not accepted. (Most visitors find it easier to use the Transportation passes).
Bus routes and schedule information, see Gov.BM Bus Routes.
Ferry routes and schedule information, visit Bermuda Dept of Marine and Port Services.
(Bus and Ferry) as of March 2014:
1-Day Transportation Pass (All Zones) $15.00
2-Day Transportation Pass (All Zones) $25.00
3-Day Transportation Pass (All Zones) $35.00
4-Day Transportation Pass (All Zones) $44.00
7-Day Transportation Pass (All Zones) $56.00
Note: If you dock at the Kings Wharf or Heritage Wharf at the Royal Navy Dockyard, there are 3 Visitors Service Bureau offices to serve you. These are located literally at the King's Wharf, Heritage Wharf, and less than a block inland from the Ferry terminal (which is on your left as you exit the pier). They all sell Transportation Passes and have free maps. They are "generally" open daily from 8am to 5pm when ships are in port.
The most popular first destinations via local transportation are:
While buses #7 and #8 to/from Hamilton and the Dockyard have an "officially reported" average run time of 62 minutes, the #8 route is generally faster. Expect about 55 to 65 minutes for route #7, and 40 to 50 minutes for route #8. This is because route #7 goes by Somerset and the south shore beaches along "S Road" (like Horseshoe Bay). #8 takes "Middle Road".
- Blue Line ferry for Hamilton City (~ 20 minutes)
- Orange Line ferry for St George (~ 35 minutes)
- Buses #7 or #8 to Hamilton (~ 62 minutes. See notes below)
- Bus #7 to Somerset Bay (~ 9 minutes), Horseshoe Bay (~ 36 minutes), Elbow Beach (~ 48 minutes)
- Crystal & Fantasy Caves: Take Blue Line ferry to Hamilton then bus #1 or #3 to the caves; or take the Orange Line ferry to St. George and then take bus #1 or #3. Note: Buses #1 and #3 will stop directly at Crystal Cave. You can also take Bus #10 or #11 from Hamilton or St. George but these two will stop at Swizzle Inn which is about 2 blocks from the caves.
When heading back to the Wharf from Hamilton, look for the #7 or #8 "Dockyard" bus.
C. Hamilton, BermudaDay One
We were cleared to disembark the ship around 10am. We bought our Heritage Bermuda Passport (a discontinued museum combo pass) at the Visitors Service Bureau which is located within a block just west of the pier. We also bought a 3-day transportation pass for $28 which is good for all busses and ferries for three full days. The Visitors Bureau only accepts cash. If you only want a transportation pass, you can skip the line at the Visitors Bureau and buy them at the Ferry Terminal next door or at the Bus Terminal a couple blocks away. We walked to the bus terminal to catch a route 10 or 11 bus to the Aquarium where we spent two hours enjoying the informative exhibits. Its not the newest facility but it does have several cool exhibits.
We then caught the first route 10 or 11 bus back to the ship for a late lunch before walking to the Bermuda Maritime Institute about a mile east of the pier. They have a cool shell collection, some interactive exhibits, and an extensive exhibit featuring treasure and other artifacts recovered from sunken ships that had hit Bermudas reefs over the years.
After the Marine Institute, we walked up to Fort Hamilton. This is an incredibly well maintained Fort with 25-foot walls, a giant moat completely surrounding the Forts main defensive wall, and interior catacombs worth exploring. Unfortunately we ran out of time and had to return on day two.
D. Hamilton, BermudaDay Two
Today was our day to explore the South Shore beaches and collect some pink sand. [Pink sand is created when pounding waves erode the bright red skeletons of protozoan foraminifers and the remains mix with other ocean debris, such as coral, white clam and sea urchins. Eventually, the mixture becomes the rose-colored sand]. For all South shore beaches, grab a route 7 bus. We decided to start at Church Bay at the far Western end of the South shore beaches. Its about a 20-minute ride. It reportedly had the some of the best snorkeling on the island. Church Bay was closed, and had been for about two years. We understand it has reopened. Even if it were open, Im afraid it looked too rough for snorkeling the day we were there. We jumped back on the bus and exited at Horseshoe Bay. At 9:00 am this Bay is deserted. Very pretty beach. This is where we started our walk to Atswood Bay, about 1.5 miles East. This is a very pretty walk. You will pass a number of beaches: Chaplin Bay, Stonehole Bay, Jobson Cove, and Warwick Long Bay amongst other smaller coves which can be yours alone. We were told that Horseshoe Bays beach looks like Coney Island (sand covered entirely with beach towels) by 11:00 am. So if you go, get there early or walk to the East until you find your own secluded spot. If you duplicate our walk, just follow the horse trail to Warrick Long Bay and youll be fine. From Warrick Long Bay, its about a 1/3-mile to Atswood Park and Bay via the roadside.
After our walk, we caught a route 7 bus back to the ship, ate lunch, and headed out again to Fort Hamilton. Fort Hamilton is a free attraction to visit. Youll cross over a 25-foot long drawbridge over a deep dry moat and into the nicely manicured grounds of the Fort. There are several large cannons and easy access to the upper elevations of the Fort which afford beautiful views of downtown Hamilton and the Bay. (For your best picture opportunities of downtown, go in the morning. However, youll get better pictures in the moat in the early afternoon as there will be fewer shadows). We highly recommend exploring the underground passages and walking the moat which is now a nicely planted garden area with lots of foliage and a pathway. The only way down to the moat is via a 108-step lighted stairway from the middle of the Forts grounds to the lighted underground passageway and finally out a doorway into the moat. If you like to explore Forts, this free adventure is tough to beat! On the way back to the ship, we stopped into a cigar shop on Front Street and picked up a Cuban Cigar box. We dont smoke cigars, we just wanted the box to take home. They did not charge us for the box.
After dinner on the ship, we used our Transportation passes to take not one, but two, moonlight ferry rides. The short Pink Route is a 20 minute ride with three short stops and provides nice night views of the lighted cruise ships from the harbor. The Blue Route (or Dockyard Route) speeds across the Great Sound to make two short stops before pulling in to the Royal Navy Dockyard where the mega cruise ships dock and then speeds back to Hamilton. This is a 50-minute round trip. (The wife thought these were beautifully romantic ferry rides and they were basically free as they were included in the cost of your transportation pass).
E. St. George, BermudaDay Three
We left Hamilton at about 7:00 am and headed for St. George on the Eastern end of Bermuda. The voyage is worth being up on deck for the entire 2-hour trip. There is lots to see. Approaching narrow St. George Channel, we were fired upon by the Town Crier from a Gates Fort cannon. The Town Crier also greeted us upon arrival into the town.
Our first order of business was to catch a bus to the Crystal Cave and Fantasy Cave. Bus 1 and 3 will stop directly at Crystal Cave. Bus 10 or 11 will stop at Swizzle Inn which is within 2 blocks of the caves. Its about a 20-minute ride. Get there early. They open at 9:30 am. We strongly suggest catching the first available bus as the caves are very popular and will get very crowded before noon. You can catch the bus on Water Street, one long block from the pier. As of March 2014, admission to the caves was $22 for one cave or $30 for the pair. (Children 5 to 12 are $10/$12 and children under 5 are free). Fantasy Cave, which reopened just 4 years ago after a 70-year closure, is BY FAR the better cave. Unfortunately most folks will never learn this fact since the ship excursions only take you to the better known Crystal Cave. Explore both caves if you have the time. If you have a choice, see Crystal Cave first (because Fantasy Cave is better). Do Fantasy Cave if you only have time for one. The best group size is under 20. It got so busy that our group had 40 people. The group behind us had at least 60! They really need to do a better job of controlling group sizes. Your best defense is to go early. The caves are full of stalagmites, stalactites, columns, soda straws, bacon, shield formations and other interesting forms. Both caves are well lit and are full of water (but you wont get wet). The water is very clear, and believe it or not, its all sea water. Fantasy Cave, in addition to being better preserved, also has an interesting spooky side which I will not ruin for you here. Very worthwhile. After exploring the caves, we caught the first 1, 3, 10, or 11 bus back to the ship for lunch.
Following lunch, we walked 1 mile (30 minutes) to Alexandra Battery Beach Park. The Battery isnt much to see, but the real prize here is sea glass! Youll find it by the handful at low tide amongst the reef rocks at the end of the cement seawall (located between the battery and the beach). There is some scattered on the beach too, but the treasure lies beyond. Especially look for the cave, about 15 feet beyond the seawall, where the sea glass is 5-inches deep and sparkles in the late afternoon sun. Pottery with blue or green stripes, impressions, blue anchors, and inscriptions can be found amongst the white, green, blue, brown, red, clear, and ivory hued glass. We filled 2 quart-sized bags in about 30 minutes. You can do it in 5 minutes, but it was fun to be particular.
Walking back to town, we stopped into the Bermuda National Trust Museum at the Globe Hotel. This interesting museum tells the tale of the profitable blockade running that took place during the civil war. Cool souvenir: they have a press with the official Great Seal of the Confederate States of America plates and they make silver-foil copies of the seal with a nice matte border for $5.00. The seal itself was commissioned in 1863, measured 3.5-inches in diameter and cost $700. Around 1864, the seal reached Wilmington, NC on its fourth blockade run (then on to Richmond. Today it can be viewed at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia), while the press itself remained in Bermuda.
F. St. George, BermudaDay Four
We walked about a mile to Tobacco Bay on the North shore to snorkel. We brought our own gear, but rentals are also available on site. The beach is small, but nice, and the water is calm and protected by reefs. Fish are plentiful here and the snorkeling is fun. There were 2 dozen folks here when we arrived at 9:30 am. By 10:30 the beach was packed. We left and walked to Achilles Bay, a small, fairly hidden beach to the left of Fort St. Catherine.
Fort St. Catherine is a cool fort and museum with lots to explore. Dioramas, videos, and wall plaques along a self-guided tour are highly informative. If you visit here after seeing Fort Hamilton youll learn about a few of the unexplained projectile lifts, air tubes, and light boxes you previously saw but maybe didnt know what they were or how they worked. Next to Fort St. Catherine is St. Catherine Beach. It was very popular, had a snack bar, drinks, and music. It also had some sea glass, but dont waist your time here. For sea glass by the handful, walk down to Alexandra Beach.
Which we did. My wife wasnt content with the half-gallon of sea glass we picked up the day before. She decided she wanted more. So we walked a mile to Alexandra Beach to hunt more sea glass. This is a very pleasant walk along the coast. As you leave St. Catherine, turn around just as you walk around the first bend in the road. You'll find an awesome picture-taking opportunity of the Fort. Once at Alexandra Beach, we found the tide was about 3 feet higher than it was the day before. While it made looking between the reef rocks dangerous, the cave was still fully accessible and we gathered 2 more quarts of sea glass, and walked back to the ship.
Upon departing St. George, once away from land, but not yet past the channel markers, be sure to keep a close sea watch. My wife spotted over a dozen flying fish and a Sunfish/Mola Mola!
G. Days At Sea
Our first and last days were at sea. There was no lack of things to do on the ship. Eat, play games, attend art auctions, watch movies in the room, attend shows, eat, nap, blackjack tournament, midday snack, cards, pools, bars, eat, trivia contests, read, chat with fellow passengers, eat, board games, darts, shuffleboard, Bingo, eat, rum tastings, shopping, gambling, exercise, live entertainment... the list goes on!
H. Ships in Port
Visit CruiseCal.com to see which ships are likely to be in port during your cruise.
Part IX - Tipping
The service personnel on Celebrity receive meager wages and rely on your tips for income. While Celebrity says it is customary to offer gratuities to the ship's personnel who service you on the voyage, it really is expected, and it's something you should figure into your cruise budget. I say it's expected, but the ship's personnel work long hours to service you and the other passengers. They genuinely do everything they can to service your needs. The Celebrity guidelines, which are as follows for a party of two on an 7-day cruise: Waiter $49, Waiter's Assistant $28, Stateroom Attendant $49, Assistant Maitre'D $10.50, Assistant Chief Housekeeper $10.50, and additional tips for room service, bartenders (even though a 15% gratuity is already included in all bar drinks) the Sommelier, and any other personnel who you wish to tip. Here's a really handy Cruise Tip Calculator covering all major cruise lines. Early in the voyage, Celebrity gives you the option of charging all of the tips to your cruise account.
Part X - Captain's Club
If you have taken a previous voyage and are not a member of the Captain's Club, sign up. It's free. Benefits include a CC express line at Embarkation, priority Disembarkation, some small cabin welcome gifts, casino and spa discounts, two cocktail parties, free entrance into the wine-tasting seminar, and a one cabin upgrade. Some exclusions apply. Benefits get better when youve taken 5 cruises (Select) and 10 cruises (Elite).
Part XI - Disembarkation and Customs
Breakfast was served in cabins, on the buffet, and in the restaurant. Disembarkation went very smoothly. Earlier in the week everyone completed surveys which were used to prioritize passengers. Clearly those folks needing to catch plane and train connections, were Select or Elite members, or who were on escorted tours in Newark had highest priority. Captain's Club members had priority within their color group. Color-coded Disembarkation luggage tags were issued to all cabins, and passengers were instructed to place the tags on their luggage, and tear off the stubs for bag retrieval. Luggage had to be placed in the hall outside your room by midnight on Friday. Disembarkation began at about 9:30 am. All passengers were instructed to sit in public areas until their group color was called. We chatted with friends in the Rendezvous Lounge before our group (White) was called. White was one of the first color groups. We exited the ship, boarded busses, retrieved our luggage in the passenger terminal, handed our Customs Declaration Form to an official upon exiting, and headed out the door --- all within 25 minutes.
According to Celebrity, US citizens traveling to the Bermuda are permitted $800 worth of Duty Free goods including 1 liter of alcohol per person. All you needed to do was to declare the total value. Anything greater had to be itemized (declared) and a duty paid.
Part XII - Praises, Gripes and Your Questions
Zeniths personnel are very attentive, friendly and helpful. The Celebrity entertainers and bands were outstanding. The food was very good to outstanding. The ship is clean. Celebrity's Newark terminal is spacious, efficient, and clean. The terminal's personnel are also very nice and helpful. We had a great cruise and would do it again at this price.
We certainly didn't have much to gripe about, although if you cruise Celebrity, the regular themes emerged: 1. the drink prices were way too high. (The "drink of the day" was $4.95. All other drinks were much higher). Folks said they would drink more if the prices were more reasonable. The bar waiters would also make more in tips if they could sell more drinks. 2. While the photographer was good, the price of the photos was outrageous. We didnt buy any this trip. Even at a more reasonable $5.00 (still high) my wife said she would have bought five. I really don't understand the mentality of taking tons of pictures of passengers and then expecting us to pay high rates for each. We won't. Most therefore ended up in the trash. 3. The price of ship-arranged excursions is too high. Of course, the majority of passengers know this and book their own arrangements easily on shore --- saving at least 30%. 4. Smoking should not be allowed in any interior space since the air system is incapable of filtering the air. All it takes is for one person to light up and most rooms becomes pretty unbearable in a brief time. 5. The Zenith is in good shape. However, the deck chairs and linens need outright replacement, some bathroom tiles need replacing and our shower needed to get some black mold (the usual stuff that attacks bathrooms in the Southeast) removed. This will likely be attended to during their two week drydock which started immediately after our cruise.
Information is from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed. The information presented is an opinion intended to assist travelers in preparing for their Bermuda cruise.
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© 2005 Topher
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