As residents of downtown Charleston, we couldn't resist the ease of just jumping on a cruise for our anniversary, and had always wanted to visit Bermuda.
Our cabin was R1, a porthole room. It was a nice room, and there's a huge window seat. The only problem was that we were near one of the crew access points, and it could get a little loud sometimes with them coming and going. However, the crew was always friendly and very helpful.
On our one previous cruise, we did not have any days at sea. We enjoyed the destination so much that we never really had time to explore cruising or our ship. This cruise had 3 full days at sea. The first day at sea, we had seas that were a little rough. They had to close off some of the decks due to high winds, and trying to run on the treadmills was comical. I was very happy to get on firm ground in Bermuda. However, on our 2 return days at sea, it was calm, and we were able to enjoy the sunshine. We were never really bored, but there's More
probably a happy medium in there somewhere between the two cruises.
The Serenity Deck (adults only) was always too full, so we went to the upper deck with the water slides where there were plenty of chairs and more sun, and so few kids in Oct. We really didn't hang around the pool area as the music there was a little too loud. We're young and enjoyed the music, but it just wasn't pleasant at that volume.
We did Your Time Dining, and the only time we had to wait was when they were also seating for one of the set dinner times, so I would suggest just avoiding those two times. Every night the staff was friendly and called us by name no matter where we sat. The desserts were just too tempting! I was also pleasantly surprised by the wine list. I really don't enjoy buffets, so we didn't visit it much, but the Mongolian wok was very good and the 24 hour pizza was nice.
Bermuda was amazing! We stepped off the boat on Saturday and got into a fast-moving line to purchase 2-day transportation passes. It started raining, so we ducked into the Bone Fish to have some Boddingtons while waiting for the next ferry to Hamilton. The bartenders were very friendly and helpful. We had to rush to buy some rum as gifts in Hamilton as the stores were closing. We wandered around, then had dinner at the Hog Penny which was quite nice.
The next morning, we hopped on the bus. I was looking for the 7 bus, but apparently, the bus system is more relaxed or had extra buses to handle the cruise passengers, because the driver just asked where we wanted to go. We said Horseshoe Bay and hopped on. We had to stand as it was full, and that made for a very exciting ride! I think the bus drivers enjoy making the ride an adventure! Whew! Some people were upset/surprised, however, traveling is an adventure. Enjoy it! The bus driver was calling in the locations of any passengers that he wasn't able to take on, so the system seems to work well.
Horseshoe Bay was amazing. At the top of the hill from Horseshoe Bay, we stopped a Tio Pepe's, a little Italian place. It was so peaceful to sit outside and watch the world go by, and all of the local Bermuda residents were genuinely friendly! I just wish we had had more time in Bermuda. 24 hours just isn't enough! Less
Embarkation at Charleston was very efficient. There's been a lot of publicity locally about some downtown residents wanting to get rid of the cruise ships, however, as a resident of downtown Charleston, I find their complaints have very little merit. Cruise traffic is directed away from the main city streets (East Bay) onto Concord Street. We had a two-hour afternoon window to enter the port, and there was absolutely no congestion in the middle of that window. Upon entering the port, we had to show our boarding passes & passports about 3 times which sounds like a lot, but overall, we were in the terminal within 5-10 minutes. The terminal line moved a little more slowly, but we were on the ship reasonably fast.
I highly recommend exploring more of Charleston before or after a cruise. It's a beautiful city and the downtown area is easy to walk or you can grab a pedicab. Even as a resident, I enjoy the carriage rides. Look for Larry, one of the carriage horses. Actually, just listen for him. He's very talkative. Bulldog Tours has really cool ghost tours and access to the Old City Jail and the Customs House. The tour guides are all excellent as they have to pass an exam that has a higher failure rate than the Bar Exam. There are also so many amazing restaurants and little places to just sit and sip a drink. Check the calendar for festivals such as Spoleto & it's sister Piccolo Spoleto, the Food Festival, and other events that can be held out at one of the plantations. There's always something going on in the city!
On the day we debarked, it apparently had rained heavily early that morning which made debarkation a little painful. I know blaming the weather sounds ridiculous, but this is the LowCountry. It floods. A lot. Especially at high tide. It slowed things down quite a bit, but we were still off the ship only about an hour late.