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Bermuda - Bus Tour or Caves


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There is a good sale now with the cruise planner for our Bermuda cruise and wondering if any suggestions of one over the other from the 2 excursions below.  We are coming end of August (in case the weather/heat makes a difference) with our kids who will be 16 and 12 by then.  I am questioning if a 5hr bus tour will be a lot for them, but it's also our first time at Bermuda and so might be a good way to get an overview (although the caves mentions seeing lots along the way as well).

  1. Bermuda Island Drive By Mini-Bus (5hrs)
  2. Crystal Caves Discovery (3hrs)

I know there are other private tours as well which are an option.  I'm just not sure if we will need to stick to Royal excursions in August.

Thoughts?

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I've done the Crystal Caves and loved them. We didn't do the ship tour, we navigated by bus, which wasn't bad but took some time and had to transfer in Hamilton. We also stopped at the Rum Swizzle on the way back. Overall a nice afternoon.  

Edit: Actually reading the descriptions of the tours, I'd choose #2. We stopped at the lighthouse one year with the scooter, I mean, neat and all but not much other than views, little history. It would be neat to see St. George (all my Bermuda visits and have yet to go) but you could take the ferry over after Caves. However, the second seems like a nice drive with a quick beach break (good way to know if you want to go back day 2) and then you're left to explore Hamilton after... Great for shopping, eating, walking around etc.

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10406826_10152281863819842_3171023489760514435_n.jpg

Edited by sk8erguy1978
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I agree with @sk8erguy1978, the second tour is your better option, always assuming that you will be allowed to explore Hamilton and St. Georges on your own and don't have to stick with a ship-hosted excursion for all off-ship activity. Both Hamilton and St. George's are accessible from the Dockyard via the ferry that run every 60 minutes (Hamilton) / 90 minutes (St. George's). (It's shorter for Hamilton because it's closer to the Dockyard)

The caves are basically smack in the center of the island, and there is no fast or easy way to get there except by bus and a short walk. So burn bus time on a trip that goes there, and save visits to the two main cities for when you can take the ferry.

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3 hours ago, JLMoran said:

always assuming that you will be allowed to explore Hamilton and St. Georges on your own and don't have to stick with a ship-hosted excursion for all off-ship activity

I TOTALLY wasn't even thinking about the fact, they might not be allowed to roam Hamilton... But, let's hope things are a little better in August! 

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Thank you both. Those pictures are quite beautiful.  Do they get very busy or can you keep your distance from others?  Asking in case (hopefully) cruising is back by August but yet covid is still around.  It's now a factor in any kind of excursion. 😟 It seems like a good deal now (based on the original cost, which is all I can compare it to)

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Without the problems associated with Covid, I would have suggested just getting a travel pass for however many days you’ll be in Bermuda.  Unlimited use of all public transportation including bus and ferry.  We had as much fun on the buses interacting with locals ( they all have great suggestions on where to go, bars, restaurants) and the NASCAR level bus drivers made every trip an adventure!!  Passes were cheap and we went everywhere using them.

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2 hours ago, WannaCruise said:

Do they get very busy or can you keep your distance from others?  Asking in case (hopefully) cruising is back by August but yet covid is still around. 

When I went to the caves with my wife in 2018, they had groups of about 25 or 30 who would all file down together into the cave, at one point walking past the group coming out with basically no room to spare. And once we were in the back of the cave over the water, we were kind of packed in so that everyone could see the crystal formations and how different lighting caused them to take on different appearances. (a dragon, a castle, etc.)

I would imagine for an excursion like that, the trip would be limited in numbers and they would have made arrangements with the operators to ensure that when they went down, everyone else was already out. Heck, I imagine that when Bermuda reopens, that will be one they just do on their own to keep that attraction workable. When not in the caves, you're waiting outside with your group to take your turn; I'm sure they'll want to maximize the outside part and minimize the number of people in the cave at any one time.

Or in the worst case, they decide the cave is too high a risk because of the lack of ventilation and keep it closed for some time after the island reopens. 😞 

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Thanks.  The cave doesn't sound very covid friendly as it works today.  Didn't think about how the ventilation wouldn't be very good.  On the flip side, it does seem beautiful and a very unique experience. Sometime we wouldn't see everyday.

I did show DH the excursions and he's actually more interested in the bus tour so we get a taste/overview of Bermuda.  So may book that.  Then if things are better closer to our trip, I can always look at local tours as well.

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3 hours ago, WannaCruise said:

Then if things are better closer to our trip, I can always look at local tours as well.

One thing I'll say, Bermuda is one of the friendliest islands and trusting people. They are very easy to work with and most tourist guys who own a bus will do whatever you want. Not always the fastest to answer emails but that's their style, don't think you're being ignored. Cheaper price and a more custom experience, especially if you're traveling with a group.

Edited by sk8erguy1978
Typo their not there :)
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2 hours ago, sk8erguy1978 said:

One thing I'll say, Bermuda is one of the friendliest islands and trusting people. They are very easy to work with and most tourist guys who own a bus will do whatever you want. Not always the fastest to answer emails but that's their style, don't think you're being ignored. Cheaper price and a more custom experience, especially if you're traveling with a group.

That's so nice to hear.  Thanks for sharing. 

Maybe we book the tour now as the price is $40 per person lower than it was.  But if things get better and we can take a non-ship excursion, then we book something local. I've heard blue taxi (think that's what it's called) and also a few other names.

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1 hour ago, WannaCruise said:

That's so nice to hear.  Thanks for sharing. 

Maybe we book the tour now as the price is $40 per person lower than it was.  But if things get better and we can take a non-ship excursion, then we book something local. I've heard blue taxi (think that's what it's called) and also a few other names.

I'd book something now so it's locked, it's only a few clicks to cancel.

For your note book:

I worked with Nijae' Burgess from My Bermuda Lyft (https://www.mybdalyft.com/) (web address in his signature is different, "mybermudalyft.com" and doesn't seem to be a redirect but logos are the same and his email always showed "[email protected]") and it was a great experience. While we didn't get to actually use his service due to hurricane Jerry, he came highly recommended from someone I trust with Bermuda information more than ANYONE. He was going to customize a great pub crawl experience for me and my friends, kind of sad we had to cancel.

I used (via a wedding planner) Island Express for my wedding and they were great. It has changed ownership since and last heard some of his buses are old, so something to consider.

Never used, but hear Titan Express has newer buses (as of last year anyway) and (as of last year) comes recommended.

There is also something called MAJ's List too, they have a Facebook page supposedly you can find recommendations there - never used or became a member, it's a private group.

Good Luck! No matter what you do, you're going to LOVE Bermuda. 

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Will add onto @sk8erguy1978's comments with my own learnings after two trips to Bermuda. I'm guessing based on your upcoming cruise list that you're on Freedom, so you have an overnight while docked in Royal Naval Dockyard. IF things go closer to normal and booking third-party excursions or just roaming on your own becomes an option again, then skip booking an excursion entirely. The great part about having the overnight is that there is no mandated "all aboard" time; you could stay out late for dinner in Hamilton and get back to the ship at 10 PM if that was what you wanted to do. You only have to worry about "all aboard" on the second day. 🙂 

That leaves you free to get an all-day transit pass that's good for both the pink buses and the ferry, then explore what you want to see at your leisure. There's nowhere you could want to go that isn't reachable through one or both of those, except (sort of) for Horseshoe Bay beach; that's one where you'd take the mini-bus "taxis" that constantly shuttle people back and forth from the Dockyard for only $7 a person, and go right to the beach entrance. While the pink bus will get you there as well, they stop at the top of the rather steep road going down to the beach, and it's not a short walk. But Horseshoe Bay is better as a second-day outing, due to smaller crowds on day 2 and the shorter time you have to wander.

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1 hour ago, sk8erguy1978 said:

I'd book something now so it's locked, it's only a few clicks to cancel.

For your note book:

I worked with Nijae' Burgess from My Bermuda Lyft (https://www.mybdalyft.com/) (web address in his signature is different, "mybermudalyft.com" and doesn't seem to be a redirect but logos are the same and his email always showed "[email protected]") and it was a great experience. While we didn't get to actually use his service due to hurricane Jerry, he came highly recommended from someone I trust with Bermuda information more than ANYONE. He was going to customize a great pub crawl experience for me and my friends, kind of sad we had to cancel.

I used (via a wedding planner) Island Express for my wedding and they were great. It has changed ownership since and last heard some of his buses are old, so something to consider.

Never used, but hear Titan Express has newer buses (as of last year anyway) and (as of last year) comes recommended.

There is also something called MAJ's List too, they have a Facebook page supposedly you can find recommendations there - never used or became a member, it's a private group.

Good Luck! No matter what you do, you're going to LOVE Bermuda. 

Thank you.  I will definitely update my spreadsheet with your suggestions.  The first link looks like a good option.  I like how they have a couple options for island tours.

 

1 hour ago, JLMoran said:

Will add onto @sk8erguy1978's comments with my own learnings after two trips to Bermuda. I'm guessing based on your upcoming cruise list that you're on Freedom, so you have an overnight while docked in Royal Naval Dockyard. IF things go closer to normal and booking third-party excursions or just roaming on your own becomes an option again, then skip booking an excursion entirely. The great part about having the overnight is that there is no mandated "all aboard" time; you could stay out late for dinner in Hamilton and get back to the ship at 10 PM if that was what you wanted to do. You only have to worry about "all aboard" on the second day. 🙂 

That leaves you free to get an all-day transit pass that's good for both the pink buses and the ferry, then explore what you want to see at your leisure. There's nowhere you could want to go that isn't reachable through one or both of those, except (sort of) for Horseshoe Bay beach; that's one where you'd take the mini-bus "taxis" that constantly shuttle people back and forth from the Dockyard for only $7 a person, and go right to the beach entrance. While the pink bus will get you there as well, they stop at the top of the rather steep road going down to the beach, and it's not a short walk. But Horseshoe Bay is better as a second-day outing, due to smaller crowds on day 2 and the shorter time you have to wander.

Yes exactly.  It's a 5 night Freedom cruise that has an overnight stay in Bermuda.  That is a great advantage that we don't have to be stressed of getting back so we don't miss the ship. The funny thing with us is that we cruise for more for the ship than the ports...but of course we still love to see places..  Our kids love the MDR experience and I love the evening activities so we definitely would want to be back by night.  Also, I totally get what you are saying but an excursion may be a good idea us as it's a compact way to see things and have a local give us some history, commentary rather than trying to figure out the transportation, etc ourselves.  At least, this seems like it may be good for us for our first trip there.  (Unless we change our minds and do the caves instead)

I like your idea of hitting Horsehoe Bay the second day for a couple hours.  Unfortunately I'm the only one in my family who loves beaches (kids prefer the pool), but it works well that we don't have to go there that long. That beach does look beautiful.  Great to hear that crowds would be less on the second day (from our ship, anyways). 

Appreciate the feedback.

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3 minutes ago, WannaCruise said:

Great to hear that crowds would be less on the second day (from our ship, anyways). 

I should clarify that while the crowds are less, they're still not exactly small. But if you go early (like 8:30 or 9:00 AM) you'll practically have the place to yourselves for a couple of hours. Here are pics from our 2019 trip where we did exactly that. First, a couple of shots right after we arrived with one of the first shuttle vans. We made a point of having our loungers and umbrella set up far down the beach, maybe halfway to the marker they're not allowed to pass, so that we had plenty of space to ourselves:

DSC00678.thumb.jpg.44f434e781028c865b5daa184a977d20.jpg

DSC00688.thumb.jpg.d0a833454d39bacfb19746a453353609.jpg

 

This next shot was taken around noon, and you can see how the umbrellas have taken over the far end of the beach and there are a lot more people in the water.

DSC00707.thumb.jpg.93538417c87c40ec5864db6b914741fd.jpg

And here's one taken from our loungers around the same time, you can see all that open space is gone.

9361BAFF-2F25-4067-86F9-BA1D6551475B.thumb.jpeg.e49725178f48e17381b3df4137a1c86f.jpeg

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If you are on Facebook join the group "Bermuda Bound".  This group has so much info on everything Bermuda.  They have a file tab that has a file "Bermuda tours recommendations by members".  Most of the members travel frequently to Bermuda and there are also local Bermudians that are members too.  I think your 1st day you should do an island tour since it will be your 1st time on the island.   Hopefully if things are little closer to normal you should book a "local tour" not an excursion from the ship.   Bermuda so different from any of the Caribbean Islands.  Bermudians are so genuinely warm and friendly.   I have been going to Bermuda for over 40 years (by air & by cruise) and I still find so many new things to see and do.

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1 hour ago, JLMoran said:

I should clarify that while the crowds are less, they're still not exactly small. But if you go early (like 8:30 or 9:00 AM) you'll practically have the place to yourselves for a couple of hours. Here are pics from our 2019 trip where we did exactly that. First, a couple of shots right after we arrived with one of the first shuttle vans. We made a point of having our loungers and umbrella set up far down the beach, maybe halfway to the marker they're not allowed to pass, so that we had plenty of space to ourselves:

DSC00678.thumb.jpg.44f434e781028c865b5daa184a977d20.jpg

DSC00688.thumb.jpg.d0a833454d39bacfb19746a453353609.jpg

 

This next shot was taken around noon, and you can see how the umbrellas have taken over the far end of the beach and there are a lot more people in the water.

DSC00707.thumb.jpg.93538417c87c40ec5864db6b914741fd.jpg

And here's one taken from our loungers around the same time, you can see all that open space is gone.

9361BAFF-2F25-4067-86F9-BA1D6551475B.thumb.jpeg.e49725178f48e17381b3df4137a1c86f.jpeg

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing. Crowds are still ok, but definitely a good idea to go first thing.

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25 minutes ago, MaryS said:

If you are on Facebook join the group "Bermuda Bound".  This group has so much info on everything Bermuda.  They have a file tab that has a file "Bermuda tours recommendations by members".  Most of the members travel frequently to Bermuda and there are also local Bermudians that are members too.  I think your 1st day you should do an island tour since it will be your 1st time on the island.   Hopefully if things are little closer to normal you should book a "local tour" not an excursion from the ship.   Bermuda so different from any of the Caribbean Islands.  Bermudians are so genuinely warm and friendly.   I have been going to Bermuda for over 40 years (by air & by cruise) and I still find so many new things to see and do.

Lol..I took a look and think I'm already joined to the group. Thanks!  Definitely sounds like we should go with a local your if we are able to by the summer. We did book the Royal one for now but will cancel if it's an option.

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3 hours ago, JLMoran said:

that's one where you'd take the mini-bus "taxis" that constantly shuttle people back and forth from the Dockyard for only $7 a person, and go right to the beach entrance. While the pink bus will get you there as well, they stop at the top of the rather steep road going down to the beach, and it's not a short walk

I remember back in 2007 we paid a dollar for a ride up the hill. Genius system, they'd pack a van and shuttle a bunch to top of hill. 

I did the $7 dollar bus last year since island was cut short to 1 day (had scooter rental lined up but cancelled, too expensive for a.few hours) have to say it's an easy system.

3 hours ago, JLMoran said:

That leaves you free to get an all-day transit pass that's good for both the pink buses and the ferry, then explore what you want to see at your leisure.

We've done this and it too works out to be a great value and fun way to mix with the locals a bit (depending where you're going of course).

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2 hours ago, coneyraven said:

Here are several random photos from Bermuda, including a few from the Crystal Caves.  Bermuda is, by far, our favorite island.  Been there 3 times and planning a 4th once this Covid crap goes away.

clocktower.jpg

Nothing better than seeing those clocks from your balcony! (Last few visits on Anthem we docked away from them)

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15 hours ago, WannaCruise said:

coneyraventhank you so much for the great photos.  Great to hear that love it so much.  The caves do look really neat, and tons to see all around.  How did you get that aerial shot of the ships in port?

Truth be told .... I didn't take that shot.... I have no idea who did so I'm unable to give photo credit.  In fact, in that shot, we have a Celebrity ship and, I believe, a Norwegion, but, I do love it either way.  It gives a great overview of what's where.

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