The only thing that consoles me when I return from a trip is to start planning my next trip to look forward to, so that's what I've been doing since coming home from Tuscany. I'm happy to report I've been invited by Royal Caribbean to take a cruise and try their line for the first time! In September 2019 I sailed with Holland America Line to Alaska, which was in every way amazing, and then in October 2019 I sailed on Celebrity from NYC harbor to the Caribbean. So I'm curious to see how Royal Caribbean compares, as I research the differences between these lines from the perspective of a cruise passenger. I know, I know... it's tough work, but someone has to do it for you!
I chose the 7-Night Southern Caribbean Island Hop itinerary aboard Grandeur of the Seas because we visit islands I've written about during lockdown when I dreamed of going there myself! We begin in Bermuda, then dock each day in a new destination: Tobago, Trinidad, Grenada, St. Vincent, Dominica, and St. Lucia. I'll be sailing in three months and can't wait to swim in secluded coves, taste the spices of Grenada, and hear the history of these islands. Maybe I should get a group block of cabins for our January 30, 2022 sailing, if others are interested in joining me? Let me know if you'd like more info on this cruise!
To get you in the mood, I hope you enjoy this article about Bermuda - the island of pink-sand beaches which make for a fantastic getaway any time of year....
Excerpt of 10/3/2019 Virtuoso article produced by Bermuda Tourism can be found HERE.
Bermuda was uninhabited when Spanish explorer Juan de Bermúdez sailed past in 1505. Today, his namesake signals island grandeur – from dreamy pink-sand beaches to brightly hued Bermuda shorts – within weekending distance. Offering a blend of culture and nature, Bermuda lies less than 600 miles east of the North Carolina coastline, with direct flights from the U.S. East Coast averaging around two hours. Fall ushers in a spell of summerlike fair weather, spiny lobster season, and an influx of wild things during a seasonal bird migration. Convenience never looked so gorgeous. Here, a three-day itinerary that showcases the best of Bermuda.
1 p.m.: Touch Down in Bermuda After an aerial tour of the island – aka flight descent – check into the 92-room Rosewood Bermuda, one of five nearby Virtuoso hotels. To explore the resort’s 240 coastal acres, take a dip in either (or both) of its two pools, or try a full-body Marine Detox – including a body polish with aromatic sea salts, sea algae wrap, and seaweed soak – in the Sense spa.
2:30 p.m.: Dress Like a Local Bermuda shorts remain a popular sartorial choice – one that dates to World War I, when British naval officers took to the garb worn by teahouse servers in the tropical climate. “The doormen at Rosewood’s Tucker’s Bar get the reward for the island’s most stylish outfits,” says Virtuoso travel advisor Michele Wise of the traditional attire, including Bermuda shorts. “They make quite the first impression when arriving on property.” Hit the capital of Hamilton to pick up a pair at TABS (an acronym for The Authentic Bermuda Shorts). The brand’s crisp cotton twills for men and women come in an array of soft pastels, bold brights, and island-evoking patterns of sails and sea. 5:30 p.m.: Spiny Lobster for Dinner Fall means spiny-lobster season in Bermuda, and the fresh catch is fodder for everything from roadside-seafood-stand specialties to high-end dinners. Split the difference at Wahoo’s Waterside Bistro & Patio in the town of Saint George’s, where virtually every dish from tacos to pasta can be made with the seasonal delicacy. Go all in and order the crabmeat-stuffed half lobster – no regrets.
7 p.m.: Sunset Cruise As much as islanders enjoy the shoreside diversions of their patch of paradise, they love sailing away too, especially at sunset. Bermuda’s Great Sound offers gentle waters, thanks to a coral reef that buffers strong waves. Lucky sailors might even catch the green flash on the horizon as the sun disappears, and the blush-colored sky that follows.
9 a.m.: Take the Plunge Bermuda’s legendary shipwrecks draw schools of scuba divers, and some of its best treasures are close enough to the surface for snorkelers to explore them. The Constellation, a four-mast schooner that sank off Bermuda in 1943, provided inspiration for Peter Benchley’s adventure novel The Deep. Whether viewing it from above through a snorkel mask or scuba diving near the ocean floor, thanks to the clear water visibility, both types of adventurers can enjoy the Constellation as it rests just 30 feet below the surface.
12 p.m.: Coffee Break In Flatts Village, an enclave of shops, restaurants, and the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo (don’t miss the harbor seals and green sea turtles), grab a bite at Village Pantry, a bustling café serving island-sourced foods and locally roasted coffee. 1 p.m.: Bike the Railway Trail Operating from 1931 to 1948, the railway nicknamed the “Old Rattle and Shake” connected Saint George’s in the east and Somerset Station in the west over 22 miles of track. Now 18 miles of the original route make up the Bermuda Railway Trail, a national park that stretches along the island’s green spine. Bike or hike all or part of it – nine sections are broken into one- to nearly-four-mile passages for bite-size sampling.
4 p.m.: Pinkies Up
For a twist on the island’s very British tradition, visit esteemed perfumer Lili Bermuda – which also offers afternoon tea in its eighteenth-century estate gardens. First, take in the scents of juicy local loquats, orange flowers, and more. “The only problem with Lili Bermuda is picking the scent you want,” says Virtuoso travel advisor Lauren Raps. “The salespeople are helpful and knowledgeable, and you can give you a whole lesson in perfumery. Their Petals scent has become my go-to fragrance.” With your shopping complete, continue outside for a cuppa and a finger sandwich, or three. Reservations are recommended.
6 p.m.: Cocktails on the Sand Given its dramatic name, Bermuda’s unofficial drink, the rum-and-ginger-beer Dark ’n Stormy, warrants a cocktail quest. But don’t be afraid to branch out. “Bermuda has definitely experienced a cocktail renaissance,” Raps says. “Bartenders all over the island are putting new spins on old standbys, or creating amazing new concoctions that incorporate and celebrate local ingredients.” In time for a sunset toast, dig your toes in the sand while sipping a frosty drink and listening to live music in front of a bonfire.
8 a.m.: Bring Your Binoculars During the fall migration, birds from all over North America pause for a rest on Bermuda. At 64-acre Spittal Pond Nature Reserve, the island’s largest wetland preserve, scan for warblers, kingbirds, vireos, and other winged passersby. Between sightings, check out the Portuguese Rock, where it’s said humans first arrived on Bermuda in the sixteenth century, and The Checkerboard, a limestone slab with distinctive cracks that give it its name.
10 a.m.: Think Pink
Wave-ground seashells account for Bermuda’s signature pink sands, which run the spectrum from cotton candy to coral. “The pink-sand beaches take your breath away,” says Wise. “When the waves hit the shore and fall back to sea, the sand shines a luminous light pink and sparkles in the sun.” Beachcomb a half mile of rosy shore at Warwick Long Bay. Cool off with a dip and snorkel among the pink-tinged parrotfish that inhabit the reef just 20 feet from the shore.
12 p.m.: Go Fish The subject of who makes Bermuda’s best fish sandwich draws national debate. Enter the fray by seeking out the island favorite, fried fish served on toasted raisin bread (trust us, it works) with tartar sauce, hot sauce, and sometimes coleslaw, at Art Mel’s Spicy Dicy, a take-out joint that counts chef Marcus Samuelsson among its fans. Samuelsson crafts his own seafood dishes at Marcus’ at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club. 2 p.m.: Art and Inspiration Artists have long found inspiration on Bermuda, including Georgia O’Keeffe, who spent a restorative year on the island in the 1930s. Stroll through the Bermuda Botanical Gardens to reach the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art. “It’s a hidden gem – a beautiful space with incredible works from iconic and local artists alike,” says Virtuoso advisor Elisabeth Brown. She calls it “a great get-out-of-the-sun activity” for even the most ardent outdoor enthusiasts. The museum is home to more than 1,500 pieces from artists such as O’Keeffe and Winslow Homer, who, like many visitors, left the island creatively renewed. 4 p.m.: Clear Customs Consider bringing home something that will last longer than a suntan. Duty-free counters in the Bermuda L. F. Wade airport sell Cuban cigars and family-blended Goslings Rum, an essential ingredient to make more Dark ’n Stormy cocktails – at least until the return flight back.
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