I live in Baltimore County and there are two cruise lines that operate from here.
Visiting Bermuda was on my bucket list, especially since it is so close to the U.S. East Coast. After years of vacation trips to the Northern Caribbean, Bermuda just called out "visit me".
Due to date and cost issues, I selected to travel North to Boston to catch the NCL Dawn for three days in Bermuda. The only problem was the timing - I got a good single fare at the last minute but discovered that my passport had expired.
No problem - I made a morning appointment at the Tip O'Neal Federal building in Boston the day of the departure. I arrived at the fed building at 10 AM and left at 10:45 with a brand-new passport, still warm from the printing presses.
Now my cruising education began. I arrived at the cruise terminal at my scheduled time. I I turned my baggage over to the NCL baggage-handlers out fromt of the terminal.
I entered the terminal and then stood in a long line to register my boarding documents with the NCL clerk who eventually issued my key to the kingdom - my NCL ship's ID/charge card.
I was then guided to a large auditorium where I was given a boarding number and waited for a long time for my number to be called. I wished that they had a bar there.
Once aboard I set off to locate my inside cabin. I am ex-U.S. Navy so I knew something about nautical life. I located my cabin in quick order. My bags took a bit of time to materialize.
I went to find a bar and explore the ship. I found O'Shanahan's bar where I heard that before our departure there would be a life-boat drill.
After that drill the ship departed Boston on time at 5 PM.
After an early morning plane trip from Maryland I was hungry so I found the buffet for my first meal aboard. The food offered was very good - not Club Med level gourmet cooking but a wide selection of acceptable and sometimes intriguing dishes.
I made my home-base at O'Shanahan's where I quickly bonded with the Filipino bartenders there. In the Navy I was stationed in the Philippines for a year, so we had much to talk about, And befriending bartenders can have its advantages.
Our two-day crossing to Bermuda was menaced by the Northward approach of hurricane Jose. The ship did some protective maneuvering and the storm eventually turned away from Bermuda.
My trip priorities were to travel, explore, rest, drink and socialize with a lot of people. I accomplished all of these without attending much of the ship's other entertainment offerings - shows, games, shops, gambling, etc.
I did enjoy an hour of video poker in the casino but was disappointed that there were no free drinks there.
I have always been reluctant for hotel staff to go poking around in my room, so I had very little use for my pre-paid room steward. I let him change my bed every day (so unnecessary!) just so he would have something to do.
The ship docked in the western-most island in the Bermuda chain at the Royal Navy Dockyard. This contains a historical British citadel and a large collection of bars, shops and tourist services and activities. After the near brush with the hurricane the weather was hot and humid.
I discovered that there is a road system that runs west-to-east connecting the island chain. There are also ferry boats that carry people back and forth. I purchased a two-day bus and ferry pass and climbed aboard a ferry to the main town of Hamilton. It was a Sunday and a lot of non-tourist related things were closed. I found an Irish pub with great draft beer.
One Norwegian perk is its large, air-conditioned private ferry boat that only NCL passengers can ride to the eastern-most, historic port of St. George's. I boarded this on my second day in Bermuda. My first stop was at a restaurant where I ordered a lunch of chowder, conch and fries with a local draft beer.
On the third day I returned to Hamilton and took the harbor ferry around to all of the residential docks that the city's inhabitants use for work and shopping.
Once back in Hamilton returned to my newly-found Irish pub and did a walk-about among the business people walking the streets of the downtown area.
And yes, businessmen in Bermuda do indeed wear white short-sleeved shirts with tie and Bermuda shorts.
I then rode the island transit bus back west to the ship in order to see the island's interior residential areas.
We arrived back at the Navy pier and I explored the commercial shops surrounding the old military citadel and has another beer at the popular pier bar and restaurant there.
The trip back to Boston was uneventful and I returned to Baltimore with a head full of Bermuda memories.
Food in the buffet and the gratis restaurants was very good and service was excellent throughout.
Comfortable, dry, quiet.