Port and Shore Excursions
LAND HO! Bermuda West End! (King’s Wharf) After 4 sea days we were pretty excited about getting on shore to explore Bermuda. The weather was overcast and misty when we docked at 8:00. It took longer than expected for customs to clear the ship we got off at 9:30. All aboard is at 3:30 so that gave us 6 hours in port. Lot of the passengers were taking the 40 minute bus or the 25 minute ferry to the city of Hamilton. I asked at the visitors centre about Hamilton sites and was told the cathedral was worth seeing but mainly it was for the duty free shopping. We decided that the “Royal Naval Dockyards” area close to where the ship was docked was worth exploring. We had docked close to a fort and I wanted to head for that area. The area provided a free shuttle from the ship to 5 locations in the area so we took it and stopped at the final location which was the fort. The fort surprisingly housed the National Museum of Bermuda as well as the Dolphin Quest attraction. We took over an hour checking out the grounds. The ground was covered with sheep droppings as there was a flock roaming around freely. There was a lot of “crap” on the ground and we forgot to ask why the sheep were there. We went into the Commissioner’s House on top of the hill and discovered the museum as well as the “Prisoners in Paradise”, “Shipwreck Island”, and “Hall of History" exhibits. We spent close to 3 hours there so we headed for the other stops on the shuttle route by foot. The stops were basically shopping opportunities for tourists. Everything was pretty expensive but there was a deal on Bacardi Rum cake. We were going to buy a couple of boxes except the label said they were made in the USA and not Bermuda. We took the last hour on shore to access the internet to check emails etc. You can buy a hours wifi time for 43 at the visitors center.
West End Kings Wharf is the original cruise ship berth or the pier in Royal Naval Dockyard of Bermuda where the large ships dock. The Dockyard is the largest cruise port in the island. It is located at the western tip of Bermuda in Sandy’s Parish at Ireland Island (North). Kings Wharf is used as the docking destination by most of the cruise lines operating to Bermuda. A second berth Heritage Wharf was added in May 2009 next to Kings Wharf. So two large cruise ships can now dock here. The Dockyard once served as an outpost for the British Royal Navy, and has come a long way to become the busiest passenger ship port in the island with great many tourist attractions.
National Museum of Bermuda The earlier Bermuda Maritime Museum located at the dockyard in Sandy’s, has been expanded, exhibits and programs enhanced making it the National Museum of Bermuda. It was housed in the 10-acre area of the fort Keep. The Bermuda government decided to transfer the Casemates Barracks, additional buildings and fortifications to the existing Maritime Museum giving it a national stature and covering an expanded area of 15 acres of land. The former Maritime Museum had been instrumental in restoring the Commissioner's House and other historic buildings within the Keep Fort through a painstaking process. With the present expansion to the Bermuda's National Museum, there have been many enhancements to the exhibits, programs, nature of its research and publications.
We were the last to arrive so our vehicle didn't get a Garmin (English) and it was equipped with a stock French GPS. The manual Peugeot 208 VTI that we got handled well and was easy to drive. All the paperwork was completed shortly after 9:00 am and we headed onto the expressway for the town of Bayeux to see the famous Tapestry depicting William the conquerors conflict with Harold and his rise to the throne. The audio tour and museum was surprisingly interesting and we spent one and a half hours there. Our next stop was the cathedral of Notre Dame across the street. It was closed for renovations but its magnificence could be appreciated from the exterior. We had time for a quick stroll through town and stopped at a local patisserie for snacks on the drive to Juno Beach. We just wanted a croissant but we also left with a cheese stick, apple tart, and a dark & white chocolate loaf. All of the items were tasty but the chocolate loaf and apple tart were items we have never experienced before. We arrived in the town of Courseulles-sur-Mer and headed for the Juno Beach Centre. We took the self-guided tour and spent an hour in the museum before heading to the beach area. The tour gave us an appreciation of Canada's involvement on the D-Day landing at Juno Beach. There are monuments and war artefacts left throughout the area and while it's sentimental to Canadians, and the older French people, it's become a sail surfing beach for the locals. The Canadian guide working at the centre suggested that we visit the Beny-sur-Mer Cemetery for Canadians. He said the French government allowed the loved ones of the buried soldiers to post a message on the tombstones. We took his advice and drove to an area that really was open for miles without any buildings or distractions. It was quite moving to read some of the 2500 headstones and that the age of most of them were in their early twenties. We paid our respect and headed for the drive to the Pegasus Bridge Memorial. It was a "flyby" stop on our way back to Le Havre. We dropped the car off at 6:30 and headed back to the ship.
Bayeux Tapestry is an embroidered cloth and not an actual tapestry. It is nearly 70 meters (230 ft) long, which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England concerning William, Duke of Normandy and Harold, Earl of Wessex, later King of England, and culminating in the Battle of Hastings. The tapestry consists of some fifty scenes with colored woolen yarns. It is likely that it was commissioned by Bishop Odo, William's half-brother, and made in England and not Bayeux in the 1070s. In 1729 the hanging was rediscovered by scholars at a time when it was being displayed annually in Bayeux Cathedral.
Juno Beach Centre is a museum and cultural centre, which opened at Courseulles-sur-Mer, France on June 6, 2003. The Centre presents the war effort made by all Canadians, civilian and military alike, both at home and on the various fronts during the Second World War, as well as the manifold faces of contemporary Canadian society
Beny-sur-Mer Cemetery was created as a permanent resting place for Canadian soldiers who had been temporarily interred in smaller plots close to where they fell. France granted Canada a perpetual concession to the land occupied by the cemetery. The graves contain soldiers from the Canadian 3rd Division and 15 Airmen killed in the Battle of Normandy.
Pegasus Memorial is a memorial to the first British soldiers to arrive in Normandy who captured the Pegasus Bridge from the Nazis.
We had to make our way to the Lisbon Welcome centre at Commerce Plaza to pick up our Lisboa cards which I ordered on line. The card allows us free admission to 27 attractions as well as transit fare for a 24 hour period. We took tram 15e to the Belem Tower and spent an hour touring the site. We climbed the narrow staircase to the top rampart and it was a bit claustrophobic in the tight quarters. After an hour touring the sight we headed for the Monument of the Discoveries. It was such a beautiful structure and we were so impressed with the carvings. Our next planned site was the Jeronimos Monastery as it was listed as a must see on trip Adviser. We didn’t know much about it before our visit but it was pretty spectacular in its gothic glory. On our way to the national coach museum we stopped and purchased a couple of Portuguese egg tarts which apparently are a must have when in Portugal. They are similar to Chinese egg tarts but I find the pastry better. They serve it with a dusting of powdered sugar. Delicious! The Coach Museum was like the Royal Mews in London. Portuguese royalty must of loved coaches as there were so many in the museum. On completion of our visit we took bus #714 back towards the cruise terminal shortly after 2:00 pm. We arrived at the pier area earlier than we expected so we took a stroll down the waterfront boardwalk and stopped at a restaurant to use their free Wi-Fi. I got wired on an Americano, an Espresso, and tiramisu. We decided to head back on board at 4:00 pm as we wanted to be on deck for the sail away. The harbour area in Lisbon is spectacular and it’s actually too bad that it was foggy and misty. Many were disappointed that we couldn’t see the statue of Jesus on the Redeemer monument.
Belem Tower was bbuilt in 1515 as a fortress to guard the entrance to Lisbon's harbour, the Belem Tower was the starting point for many of the voyages of discovery, and for the sailors it was the last sight of their homeland.
Monument of the Discoveries was built on the north bank of the Tagus River in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. It represents a three-sailed ship ready to depart, with sculptures of important historical figures such as King Manuel I carrying an armillary sphere, poet Camões holding verses from The Lusiads, Vasco da Gama, Magellan, Cabral, and several other notable Portuguese explorers, crusaders, monks, cartographers, and cosmographers, following Prince Henry the Navigator at the prow holding a small vessel. The only female is queen Felipa of Lancaster, mother of Henry the navigator, the brain of the discoveries.
Jeronimos Monastery is located near the shore of the parish of Belem, in Lisbon, Portugal. The monastery is one of the most prominent monuments of the Manueline-style architecture (Portuguese late-Gothic) in Lisbon, classified in 1983 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
National Coach Museum is located in the Belem district of Lisbon, in Portugal. The museum has one of the finest collections of historical carriages in the world, being one of the most visited museums of the city.
Ponte Delgada is a town on the island of Sao Pedro in the Azores belonging to Portugal. The Azores are to Europe what Hawaii is to North America. The ship was docked near the town centre at a new cruise terminal so we decided to take a short hike to Fort Sao Bras as it was a turn of the century fort that also housed the Military Museum of the Azores. We spent over an hour visiting the fort and museum before taking a trek to the “larger mall”. At 2:00 we decided to head back to the ship by taking the narrow side streets and exploring the town. We stumbled onto the “smaller mall” and it had free internet so we stopped. As it was only 3:00 pm with “all aboard” being at 5:30 pm, we returned to the ship for a late lunch before heading back ashore to use the internet. The internet was free at the local Burger King so I took the opportunity to update and post my journal. The espresso that BK severed was quite good. The Portuguese egg custard tart sold along the boardwalk were as good as the ones in Lisbon so we bought some more to take aboard. We boarded at 5:00 and prepared to be on deck for the sail-away.
Ponte Delgada is a city and municipality on the island of São Miguel in the archipelago of the Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal. It includes 44,403 residents in the urban area, and approximately 20,113 inhabitants in the three central parishes that comprise the historical city: São Pedro, São Sebastião, São José
Fort Sao Bras was bbuilt in the 16th century to defend against pirate attacks, São Brás Fort was the most important fortress of all the existing fortresses in the city, strategically placed west from the narrow earth tongue that later gave name to Ponta Delgada. This fort has a monument dedicated to the seamen who perished in World War I. In present day, this fort is used by the Command of Azores Military Zone. It houses Azores Military Museum, which presents an interesting collection. It was classified National Trust Building.
We took just over an hour to get there passing many mussel farms in Vigo Bay along the way. We were dropped off at a bus depot and walk up to the Cathedral Plaza. We took a brief walk along the NE road and looked at some shops before heading to the Cathedral for noon Mass. We watched the Mass till its completion and noticed many pilgrims who made the long journey to the cathedral. We started for the public market and got ourselves lost but many of the locals volunteered to help. When we finally arrived at the market it was closing down as they are only open till siesta time. Many of the shops were closed for siesta but many stayed open for the cruise tours. We headed back to the Cathedral area shortly after 2:00 pm and spent the remaining time visiting the tomb of St. James and shopping near the plaza area. At 3:00 pm we were missing 2 passengers and had to wait before making the journey back to the ship. The 2 finally showed up at 3:15 and we managed to just make the 4:30 all aboard.
Santiago De Campostela has its origin in the shrine of Saint James the Great, now the city's cathedral, as destination of the Way of St. James, a leading Catholic pilgrimage route originated in the 9th century. In 1985 the city's Old Town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.