When I heard that Karen Segboer had taken a cruise this summer on Holland America Line's ms Veendam to Bermuda, I wanted to hear all about it. Karen is a savvy cruise traveler whose observations are based on years of experience and she shares what's old, what's new, and even some overheard conversations worthy of a hearty chuckle.
Unfortunately, Cruise Diva was unable to sail to Bermuda aboard Veendam this summer due to scheduling conflicts and other commitments. Fortunately, I'll have the opportunity next year as Holland America Line will offer twenty-four 7-day cruises to Bermuda aboard ms Veendam in 2011, continuing the schedule established this year with weekly cruises to the popular vacation destination. Holland America Line returned to regular Bermuda service departing from New York in 2010 after more than 25 years. The 2011 voyages begin May 1 and will sail roundtrip from New York through Oct. 9, calling at St. George's and Hamilton.
"Bermuda offers our guests an outstanding warm-weather vacation experience, with pristine beaches, cultural charm and world-class shopping and golf," said Richard D. Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs. "Our roundtrip departures from New York also provide exciting pre- and post-cruise stay and sightseeing opportunities, making this a unique and very attractive itinerary."
The 1,350-guest Veendam will spend one day at St. George's and two nights at Hamilton, providing guests with multiple opportunities to experience the island's British charm, world-renowned pink-sand beaches and abundant cultural heritage sites by day and to sample its lively evening restaurant and nightclub scene.
Bermuda offers vacation activities for the entire family, from the historic Globe Hotel in St. George's—a center for Confederate blockade runners during the American Civil War and today a museum—to water sports including kayaking, deep sea fishing, and snorkeling. Guests can choose from more than 40 shore excursions, including Atlantic Reef fishing, scuba diving and dolphin encounters in Hamilton and horse and carriage tours and a glass-bottomed kayak eco-tour in St. George's.
The weekly itineraries will call first at St. George's, Bermuda's original capital. Founded in 1609, the town of St. George's in the northeast area of Bermuda is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the oldest continuously inhabited English settlement in the Americas. Narrow, twisting streets and pastel-painted houses create a European feel. Its diverse historic and cultural sites include St. Peter's Church, the oldest continually used Anglican Church in North America, and Fort St. Catherine, with displays of weapons, artifacts and a replica of the British Crown Jewels. More than a dozen forts dating to the 17th century command the surrounding hills.
Following St. George's, guests will have the opportunity to explore the island's capital, Hamilton, which is the commercial hub and seat of government located at Bermuda's geographic center. From Veendam, docked at the center of town, guests can take a short walk to Front Street and explore its array of colorful shops and restaurants. Hamilton also is home to a massive 19th-century, neo-Gothic cathedral and the Georgian-style Sessions House, built in 1815.