The song says “Bermuda is another world” and the world we sail into shortly after dawn is a bright, warm and sunny one with sapphire blue waters glinting back at us and pastel-colored homes dotting the landscape.
Like most ships, Carnival Sunrise is sailing into King’s Wharf (Dockyard), the port that replaced the shallow-watered capitol of Hamilton once megaships made their debut more than a decade ago. While smaller vessels may still dock at the busy Hamilton, the days of sailing through Bermuda’s Town Cut, the very narrow path to the island’s historic St. George’s are over except for the very smallest ships.
The charms of Bermuda seem to have enticed Sunrise’s late-rising guests out of bed and, by 7:00 a.m., the Lido is bustling with those looking to fortify themselves with a hearty breakfast before hitting the beaches, swimming with dolphins, shopping, taking the ferry over to Hamilton or touring the island.
While Horseshoe Bay Beach seems to be the biggest draw, Dockyard holds its own for those wishing to remain nearby: The Clocktower Mall is filled with shops and stalls, most touting locally-made products, the Glass Works Factory gives an up-close look at this all-but-lost art, and dozens of eateries let visitors try uniquely Bermuda specialties like Bermuda Fish Chowder.
A short stroll from the pier is The Rum Barrel, a tribute to Bermuda’s intoxicating superstar: Gosling’s Rums. Available in dark, dark 140 proof and gold varieties, these smooth, rich and full-bodied spirits are the basis for Bermuda’s national drinks: The Bermuda Rum Swizzle and the Dark & Stormy. While Dark & Stormy is simple enough–one ounce of Black Seal Rum, ginger beer and a lime wedge–the authentic Bermuda Rum Swizzle is a concoction of ingredients that include Bermuda Falernum, an almond-and-ginger-infused cane sugar syrup, available only on the island and which is available at The Rum Barrel for $15 a bottle:
BERMUDA RUM SWIZZLE: Serves 6
4 oz. Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
4 oz. Gosling’s Gold Seal Rum
1 oz. Bottled Lime Juice
5 oz. Pineapple Juice
5 oz. Orange Juice
2 oz. Bermuda Falernum
6 dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir or shake vigorously…or pick up a bottle of Gosling’s pre-mixed swizzles at The Rum Barrel!
Even sun worshipers can get their fill without journeying to Horseshoe Bay or other popular beaches (although “journeying” seems an overstatement considering the island is only 21 miles long). Dockyard actually boasts its own beach–Snorkel Bay–which, while not as beautiful as the island’s other beaches, makes up for it in terms of sheer convenience. You can walk to it!
As a very frequent visitor to Bermuda, I begin my day with a casual stroll to Clocktower Mall and The Rum Barrel before returning to the ship, having a seat outside to watch Sunrise disgorge what seems like its never-ending passengers and await the arrival of a friend, Stephen Card, a world-renowned maritime artist who just happens to be a Bermudian. With works that are displayed on ships around the globe (and 21 for Carnival alone), it was no problem for Stephen to snare a visitor’s pass to board Sunrise, have a look around and see his painting of Carnival Triumph displayed in the ship’s Cucina Restaurant.
With most guests out exploring beautiful Bermuda, Stephen and I are aboard a serene, nearly-empty Sunrise. There’s no line at Guy’s Burger Joint–the Food Network Star’s popular poolside lunch spot–and our cheeseburgers and fries are prepared and deliver in minutes, ready for us to add our favorites from the nearby toppings bar: mushrooms, sauteed onions, bacon, pickles, shards of potato chips and more.
Despite few passenger remaining on board, a number of Sunrise’s watering holes are open for business and Stephen and I choose the atrium bar to spend the afternoon catching up until a 3:30 p.m. announcement requests all visitors go ashore in preparation for the ship’s 4:00 p.m. sailing.
Is it my imagination or is the ship significantly less crowded as the sun sets? For a while it appears that our port call has tuckered out my shipmates or they’ve had enough sun on the beaches of Bermuda.
Dinner for me tonight will be in the Sunshine Main Dining Room (no surcharge)…whenever I like. With “Anytime Dining,” it’s guests’ hunger–not the time–that dictates when the evening meal is taken. I approach the “Anytime Dining” desk at 7:30 p.m. and five minutes later am seated at a window table, a menu before me and a basket of warm ciabatta bread within reach.
I request my waiter retrieve the bottle of wine I had purchased but not finished at Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse the evening before and in about in no time, the bottle of Malbec is being poured into the glass on my dining table. That was quick!
The Sunshine Main Dining Room menu is an assortment of classics, American favorites, grilled selections and, in a nod to Bermuda, a “Port of Call” suggestion that includes salted cod fish cakes and English Roast Beef. I go with “Port of Call” and conclude the meal with two scoops of butter pecan ice cream, foregoing the “Buttered Popcorn Pot de Creme” though it certainly sounded intriguing!
Tomorrow’s our final day at sea and our fingers are crossed for a warm and sunny one even though part of the day will be spent in our cabins packing to return home.
Story and photos courtesy of Judi Cuervo.