If you’re planning a cruise to Bermuda, you’ll likely dock at either King’s Wharf or Heritage Wharf (some smaller ships dock in Hamilton). Both wharves are adjacent to the Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda with its shops, restaurants, and activities. There are plenty of things to do within walking distance of King’s Wharf and Heritage Wharf!
On our cruise on the Norwegian Dawn from Boston to Bermuda, we were excited to have three days in port. Having one overnight is a rarity, but two is really a treat. With most cruises, we get into port sometime during the day and leave that same evening. You don’t really get the full experience of that port, or have much time to relax! This time, we spent three days docked at King’s Wharf, so we found lots of things to do at the Royal Naval Dockyard, as well as throughout Bermuda. This is the first in a three-part series on our adventures in beautiful Bermuda.
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My three-day Bermuda itinerary:
- Sunday: Royal Naval Dockyard, shopping, lunch at Frog & Onion, more shopping, dinner either at another Dockyard restaurant or on the ship, evening at pub in Dockyard.
- Monday: An entire day at Horseshoe Bay Beach!
- Tuesday: Bermuda’s Hidden Gems shore excursion
Our ship arrived at Bermuda’s King’s Wharf by the Dockyard at 1 PM on Sunday, and we left to head back to Boston at 5:30 PM on Tuesday.
How did I choose our Bermuda itinerary?
Originally, we had planned for the first day (which is really a half day) to be a beach day. Day two, we were going to go to Hamilton and/or St. George’s via ferry/bus to do some shopping and dining. Day three we had to be back on the ship by 4 PM. We chose a long (seven hour!) shore excursion, and we booked through the cruise line to be 100% sure to make it back in time.
Wait…a holiday? What?
We thought we had everything planned out, and we were looking forward to our adventures in Bermuda. As we had a whole day of shopping planned for Monday, we attended the shopping lecture on board. We wanted some tips, and we really wanted some coupons!
Our shopping guide was really a wealth of information. We were well aware that her main job is to get her audience to spend money at Diamonds International, but she shared so much other information. She told us how to get around Bermuda, where to find different types of souvenirs, and what the general operating hours of different businesses are (stores close much earlier than in the US).
We were happily listening to her presentation, making notes on where to find items we wanted, when she said, “…and since all the stores will be closed on Monday for Heroes Day…” Record scratch.
The entire audience in the packed theater started mumbling and turning to one another. “Heroes Day?” “The stores are closed?” “No one told us this.” “Is everything closed?”
She explained that restaurants would be open, but all of the shops in Hamilton and St. George’s would indeed be closed all day on Monday for the national holiday. Shops at the Royal Naval Dockyard would remain open, as that area caters to tourists. She said she wouldn’t recommend making the trip out to either of the cities on Monday unless we like walking around looking at shuttered stores. She had a point.
Our plans a bit upset, we decided to just do what shopping we could at the Royal Dockyard when we arrived, and make Tuesday a longer beach day. We decided to skip Hamilton and St. George’s altogether. Living close to the port of Boston, odds are we’ll plan another Bermuda cruise sometime in the future. We’ll visit them then.
Day one: Royal Naval Dockyard Bermuda
We got into port at King’s Wharf about a half hour earlier than expected. Coming down the gangway, a gentle warm breeze greeted us, and there was a hint of a sweet orange scent. Our shopping guide had sprayed the pamphlet she gave us with a perfume made by Lili Bermuda. She said that Bermuda smells exactly like that perfume, and it did!
To be honest, that was the only time I noticed that sweet fragrance in the air. Maybe I became nose-blind. Perhaps she had snuck outside and sprayed perfume around the pier in a ploy to make more commission? I don’t know, but I loved the scent, which they make and hand-bottle on the island. I knew we could find it at the Clocktower Mall, wherever that was.
Once on solid ground, I stopped to check if I could get any free wifi. I was able to connect to the “bermuda” network right on the pier. The entire dockyard is wifi-enabled, and the signal does extend to the pier, but it’s very spotty in that area. You might have to walk around to get connected.
After making sure that everything was okay at home, we got our map out and started down the pier toward the Dockyard. Construction began on The Royal Naval Dockyard in the early eighteenth century, and it was an active naval base until the 1950s. Although it wasn’t officially closed until 1995, plans were made in the 1980s to begin turning the area into a tourist destination.
Located on the northwest tip of Bermuda, on Ireland Island, the Dockyard currently has nine restaurants and food vendors and over 30 retail stores, along with various kiosks and attractions.
Getting our bearings at Bermuda’s Dockyard
Arriving at the Dockyard after a very brief walk, we wanted to take a look around and see what was around us before we started shopping. On Dockyard Terrace, the central street that runs perpendicular to the pier, there are small kiosks and freestanding shops including an ice cream stand, a t-shirt shop, and a cigar stand.
To the left is a large original building with an open courtyard. We decided to check it out, and learned that it’s called the Victualling Yard (It’s pronounced vittle-ing, if you were wondering). This was where Naval personnel would pick up food, drink, and supplies before heading out to sea. The surrounding building was constructed with high walls to prevent theft.
On the other side of the courtyard is the entrance to the famous Frog & Onion Pub, which is located in part of the surrounding building. Across the street is the National Museum of Bermuda and Dolphin Quest, which are both situated inside the walls of a historic fort. To the left is the entrance to Snorkel Beach. Snorkel Beach is easy to find from the Dockyard; just follow the green footprints painted on the ground.
We continued to walk around the building to the left and past Snorkel Beach. This brought us to a small street, Maritime Lane, with several shops and galleries. This is where you can find the famous Bermuda Rum Cakes!
Let the Dockyard shopping begin!
Farther down the street, we saw an imposing stone building – Diamonds International. This was our next stop. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Stay away, right? Well, the only time I ever buy jewelry is when I’m on vacation. I like to have a fun memory attached to each piece.
Plus, I was going there for a singular purpose – I had a white gold chain that I could never wear because the lobster clasp was too big to fit any pendants over it. I wanted a pendant for my necklace. Mr. SBC also had a couple of things he wanted to look at.
We walked into the jam-packed store and I breathed a sigh of relief. I was glad, because I thought we could slip under the radar and browse a little before the salespeople noticed us. Nope! They got us right away and ushered us over to a counter where they offered us beer or wine. Mr. SBC had a beer (they actually kept bringing him beers; they were like mini bottles). I asked for water because I know their tricks!!
We were there for quite some time, and ended up purchasing three pieces after some negotiation on price. Did we get a good deal? I’m not sure. We won’t know until we take them to the appraiser. (I’ll update this post when I know if we were taken to the cleaners.) But I do love my necklace! Yes, I said necklace. There weren’t any pendants in the style I wanted that fit over that crazy clasp. So the search continues. Next cruise.
On to the Frog & Onion Pub
After we left the jewelry store, we were famished, so we went back through the Victualling Yard to the Frog & Onion Pub for lunch. This restaurant was opened in 1992 by a Frenchman (the “Frog”) and a Bermudian (the “Onion”). The part of the larger building that houses the restaurant was originally a cooperage – a barrel-making workshop. The restaurant is pretty big; in addition to the main dining area inside, it has a function room, a game room, and a 200 seat bar. There’s also an atrium and outdoor seating on the patio.
I was surprised to be seated right away, and we had the choice to eat inside or out. We chose outside, and our server was quick to take our drink orders. He also came right back to deliver slips of paper with the wifi password to all of his recently seated guests. I appreciated that, because we didn’t even have to ask.
We both ordered Frogsicles because where else can you say, “I’ll have a Frogsicle.”? They were pretty good! Gosling’s Rum, Bermuda Gold, mango and strawberry juices. They were a little pricey at about $15, but you could keep the glass as a souvenir.
For our lunch, I ordered the Traditional Ploughman’s Lunch with a house-made mini pork pie, cheddar and Stilton cheeses, apples, pickled onion, carrots, Branston pickle (a chutney), and a sliced mini baguette for $18.99. The meal arrived directly on a wooden tray. I was pretty hungry, and I still thought it was a lot of food! I didn’t even touch the block of Stilton.
My other half ordered the Chicken Balti Curry for $20.99. Slow-cooked in curry sauce, the chicken comes with jasmine rice, poppadom, and mango chutney. It was a little spicier than he had expected, but he still enjoyed his meal.
More shopping! The Clocktower Mall
Stuffed from our tasty lunch, we knew we needed to get a move on if we were going to finish our shopping. Because shops close early in Bermuda (generally 5-6 PM), this would be our only chance to get some souvenirs. We headed back through the courtyard and past Diamonds International to the Clocktower Mall.
The mall is a cute little indoor shopping center with 22 retailers. It’s housed in a stone building constructed in the 1850’s that was originally a warehouse for the British Navy. It gets its name from the two 100-foot clocktowers, one on either side of the building. Each clock shows a different time; one shows the current time and one shows the time of high tide!
We had two missions at the mall: to find the Lili Bermuda perfume I wanted (it’s called SunKiss), and to choose a piece of local artisan Alexandra Mosher’s pink
Our first stop was The Perfume Shop, which is a tiny space devoted to fragrances. They had a full selection of the Lili Bermuda range, and I tested a few. I was sticking with my plan, though, and only got the sweet orange SunKiss. My 50ml eau de toilette was $62. On the Lili Bermuda website, the same bottle is $75, so maybe I got a little deal.
On to A.S. Cooper & Sons, across the hall. I noticed their window display of the pink sand jewelry (or jewellery, as they use British spellings here), so we went to check it out. A young sales associate came over to help, and she was very friendly and patient. My daughter
is incredibly picky has very refined taste. Our helper, who we found out was the same age as my daughter, helped me to choose just the right necklace. I figured that if she didn’t like it, I would wear it (but she loved it…yay!). The dainty sterling-and-sand piece was $65, the identical price on the artist’s website.
Mission one accomplished, we were on to our next mission! But first I have a confession to make. I consider myself an expert packer. I even mention it in my About page. Do you know what I somehow left out of my toiletry bag? Deodorant. I have no idea how that happened. Now I hadn’t been walking around for days all stinky; I just borrowed Mr. SBC’s. But it’s all manly and stuff. I needed my own. Someone else forgot something, too – a razor. He needed it for snorkeling on Tuesday (you can read why on earth he needed a razor for snorkeling), so the pharmacy was our next stop.
A stop at the Dockyard Pharmacy
On Camber Road, right across from the boat launch, the Dockyard Pharmacy is also housed in an original stone building. They carry a nice selection of what you would expect to find in a mid-size drug store or chemists’. I was expecting to find a lot of UK brands in the toiletries section, but it was mainly what you would find in the US. Prices were very slightly higher than US prices; my deodorant cost about a dollar more than back home. Same with the razors.
The one thing in the pharmacy that I was super excited about was the selection of British cookies and candy! It’s been over twenty years since I lived in England, but I still miss my Cadbury’s Crunchies and McVitie’s HobNobs. So I loaded up! I was so excited that I think the cashier thought I was a bit loopy.
Cuban cigar time (not for me)
One stop that Mr. SBC wanted to make was at Churchill’s cigar kiosk that we had passed when we first entered the Dockyard. At the shopping guide presentation we learned that the owner has the only large humidor in Bermuda at his main shop in St. George’s. He brings cigars down to the kiosk daily, so they are fresh. Is “fresh” what you would call a properly-stored cigar? Well-humidified? I know nothing about cigars.
We had our coupon, and we were there to buy Cubans. Now I know they don’t sell Cuban cigars in the US, but I also thought that you couldn’t take them back through customs. That law has changed! You can now bring back 100 cigars without paying duty, and you only pay tax on any quantities above that. The one thing to remember is that it’s still illegal to sell Cuban products in the US, so any cigars you bring back must be for personal use or for gifts.
The owner was manning the booth, and he was a little gruff? Standoffish? Whatever it was, his demeanor wasn’t like that of any of the other Bermudians I met, before or after. Maybe he was having a bad day. After choosing the cigars, we showed him our coupon and he did knock a bit off the price.
Island Outfitters and Crown & Anchor
With all of our shopping completed and the shops getting close to closing time, we had just a few minutes to pop into two more stores right on the way. Both stores were former residences and were two-story buildings. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to hit the second floor in either shop.
Island Outfitters has all the usual souvenirs: t-shirts, shot glasses, prints and the like. They also had more upscale gifts and Bermuda-made products. Bermuda-inspired clothing, including a selection for children, is also for sale here.
Crown & Anchor is a newish clothing company for men and women, and this is their flagship store. They design all of the pieces in Bermuda, and the style is super-preppy. Think Vineyard Vines mixed with Polo Ralph Lauren, throw in a little Lilly Pulitzer, and you’ll have the idea. The quality looked very good, and the price tags reflected that.
What else is there to do while you’re in port in Bermuda? Read 21 Best Things to do in Bermuda on a Cruise
Back on board the Norwegian Dawn
In need of a quick nap, we decided to head back to our stateroom to rest and freshen up (and for me to apply my lovely women’s deodorant). We didn’t see any other restaurants in the Dockyard that we were dying to try, so we had dinner on board and planned to go check out the nightlife in the area later on.
Bermuda’s Dockyard at night
At 8PM, we made our way back outside to the Dockyard. We had passed a replica pirate ship (that was actually a bar) in the water just at the entrance, and we wanted to see if it was any fun. Walking up to it, there were only two people at the bar (other than the bartenders), and they were just getting up to leave. I figured that if the closest bar to the ship, which was also a floating bar (and a PIRATE SHIP!!) was completely empty, then maybe we should skip it, too.
Walking down the road, we saw that Bone Fish Bar & Grill had a crowd at their outdoor seating area. We were about to head over when we saw my cousin and her boyfriend standing outside (We hadn’t planned this trip together – I bumped into them our first day on board, not even knowing they were on the cruise!). They had just come from Bone Fish, and they said it was way too crowded, way too loud, and way too expensive. So we skipped it.
We walked all around the Dockyard, which is very pretty at night. It’s mainly deserted, but the buildings are all illuminated, reflecting light that sparkled out on the water. We didn’t see anything else to do, so we strolled back to the ship to continue our evening at the Gatsby Bar on board.
If you’re looking for more things to do in Bermuda, be sure to check out my other posts in this series:
Have you been to the Royal Naval Dockyard in Bermuda? I know I’m looking forward to going back and checking out more of its attractions. What was your favorite part? Drop me a comment below!
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