Today, I am writing from the Internet Café onboard Regent's Seven Seas Navigator. We sailed from St. George yesterday, after three days in Bermuda, and we are currently enjoying a Day at Sea, en route to Norfolk, VA and points north. We've had wonderful, warm weather and sunshine every day so far, but the weather is about to change. More about that next week...
I knew in advance to expect great things from the Seven Seas Navigator, but even these expectations have been exceeded. The crew is cheerful and friendly, the service is impeccable, the food is outstanding, and the ship is sparkling clean and white.
The Seven Seas Navigator is one of Regent's three 6-star ships, offering all-suite, all-oceanview accommodations and boasting one of the highest crew-to-guest ratios at sea. Carrying just 490 passengers, the ship is smaller than many, but it feels quite spacious. There is no shortage of activities or entertainment -- from the spa and fitness center to the lectures, the Internet Café and the evening shows. In fact, the only thing missing is lines -- I haven't had to queue up for anything since I came onboard.
Prices are not inexpensive, but considering the level of luxury onboard and the discounts we've arranged for Vacations To Go guests, these cruises are a great value. Many things that cost extra on other ships are included, such as gratuities, wine and beer with meals, an in-room stocking of liquor, and soft drinks and bottled water throughout the ship.
Bermuda is a self-governing colony comprised of almost 150 islands, the 8 largest of which are connected by bridges or causeways. This island chain stretches 22 miles from one end to the other, in the shape of a fishhook, and averages less than one mile in width. Golfing is one of the most popular activities in Bermuda, and I saw several groups of golfers leaving or returning to the ship with their clubs each day. Bermuda is home to the world's nothernmost coral reefs, with good snorkeling, diving and sportfishing.
This was my first trip to Bermuda and I was determined to make the most of it. We docked in Hamilton for the first two days, literally at the center of everything, an easy walk from shops, restaurants and Parliament. On our first morning, we took the ship's art tour to the National Museum with the retired curator as guide, where we bumped into the mayor of Hamilton as he waited for the President of the Azores to arrive. He took a few minutes to speak to our small group, and I realized later that we saw the same gracious and hospitable nature in almost everyone we met (the taxi drivers were especially friendly and informative).
That afternoon, we caught the ferry to the Royal Naval Dockyard for a bike and hike excursion through Bermuda neighborhoods and centuries-old Fort Scaur.
The next morning, we motored out to one of the reefs that surround Bermuda and tried "helmet diving". A heavy metal-and-glass helmet is placed over your head, open at the bottom and resting on your shoulders. As you descend a ladder into the ocean, air is trapped inside as in a cup held upside down and lowered into water -- as long as you remember not to bend over to look at anything below you. Fresh air is pumped down from the boat via a hose attached to the helmet. If you've been scuba diving, you may find helmet diving a bit tame, with the restricted mobility, but those who have not been diving will find it's an easy and enjoyable introduction to the undersea world.
That afternoon, we checked out the beach at Horseshoe Bay, near the southernmost point of Bermuda. With wide sand beaches, turquoise water and enormous volcanic rocks of all shapes and sizes jutting out of the sand and water, this is truly one of the most beautiful beaches I have seen anywhere in the world.
Every house in Bermuda has a white roof, but the houses themselves are painted various shades of blue, pink, yellow, peach, red and green. The brilliant white roofs are the common denominator that ties together all the specks of color on a distant hillside.
The roofs are painted with limestone wash that acts as a water purifier, and are cleverly designed to catch rainwater and deliver it to underground tanks, to provide residents with drinking water. The houses and buildings are made of locally quarried limestone, a sturdy building material that holds up well against the occasional hurricane or tropical storm that visits the island.
I had hoped to spend some time in the Bermuda Triangle on this cruise -- the one in the movies. Strange flashing lights in the midnight sky, odd noises, spinning compasses. A ship disappears into an eerie fog, only to re-emerge 100 years later with none of the passsengers having aged. As long as I was on this ship, I think I'd be okay with that.
Unfortunately, the Bermuda Triangle is not a triangle around Bermuda, but a triangle formed by lines connecting Bermuda, Puerto Rico and Miami. We spent only a short time in the Triangle on this cruise and failed to witness a single unexplained phenomenon -- though I did keep an eye out for that fog.
Vacations To Go
Regent Cruise to Iceland, Part 1: The Adventure Begins
Regent Cruise to Iceland, Part 3: New England and Canada
Regent Cruise to Iceland, Part 4: En Route to Iceland
Regent Cruise to Iceland, Part 5: The Land of Fire and Ice
Regent Cruise to Iceland, Part 6: Glacier Trekking