For many years, David had suggested to me that we should take a cruise together. To be honest, I wasn't sold on the idea. I had all sorts of preconceived notions about cruises, most of which didn't really fit with my preferred style of travel.
Then, some friends of ours suggested that we take a cruise to Bermuda as a group, to celebrate a milestone birthday of our friend, Grant. It sounded like the best possible way to have a first experience on a cruise ship--our entire social circle would be there! Even if I didn't really enjoy being on a cruise, I'd be surrounded by good friends, so I was bound to have a good time.
The crazy thing was that after we signed on and put down our deposit, we learned that none of our other friends who were on the initial e-mail chain booked the trip. So, we'd be going with Grant, and some of his other friends (who we really didn't know). Oh, well. We figured we'd still have fun.
And we did! For one thing, Grant's other friends were really fun and lovely people, and quickly, they became our friends, too! But the cruise to Bermuda was really a blast.
For my first cruise experience, we had two days at sea en route from New York to Bermuda. We scheduled a few massages at the spa onboard. In retrospect, getting a massage two days in a row was a bit of overkill--I was sore by the time we arrived in Bermuda! We hung out by the pool on deck. We saw a couple of shows and played some bingo. We played a couple of hands of blackjack at the casino.
And we did a fair amount of day-drinking. The cruise line was offering a discount on the beverage package, which happened to include our adult beverage of choice. That meant that for something like $99, all of our bourbon for the week was bought and paid for. That beverage package pretty much paid for itself within the first 24 hours of our trip!
Of course, Bermuda was lovely. We took a couple of excursions organized by the ship--including a fun snorkeling trip where we passed a shipwreck. Did you know that the waters off of Bermuda are pretty much the shipwreck capital of the world?
The cruise ships dock at the Royal Naval Dockyard, way at one end of the island. But the historic dockyard has lots of arts and crafts shops, if you're looking for a souvenir, and there are plenty of dining and entertainment options, too.
On our own, we checked out a pink sand beach--gorgeous--and walked up to the high point of the island to see the view from the lighthouse. We also walked along the Railway Trail for a bit--an 18-mile trail on an abandoned rail line, which was really cool.
We took the ferry all the way to the other end of the island, to St. George's, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its cobblestone streets and cute water-side restaurants. Bermuda is only 21 square miles and it's shaped like a fish-hook, so after lunch, we went back to our cruise ship on the public bus, transferring in Hamilton (the main town on the island).
One real advantage to being in Bermuda on a cruise trip was that everything on the island is very, very expensive. Our lunch in St. George's with a couple of beers was delicious, but when the check came, we were really surprised at how pricey it was for a simple fish-and-chips lunch. If you're going to explore the island, sampling the local cuisine is probably going to be a part of your experience--especially if you find yourself at the other end of the island at a mealtime--but having the option to eat on the boat at one of your already-included options is a good way to keep the cost down a bit.
All in all, I'd love to go back to Bermuda, someday. And after my first experience on a cruise ship, I'd definitely be willing to take another cruise.