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JLMoran

Anthem of the Seas to Bermuda, Oct 13-18, 2018; Not Even REMOTELY Live, Because 20th Anniversary

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The Forgotten Thought – Drink Package

One thing I meant to talk about in my final thoughts and totally forgot about was the whole drink package thing. Specifically, was it worth it?

I had never meant to buy it, figuring a five night sailing with an overnight port day where I might not be drinking on the ship at all might not be the best conditions for the package. And when I first looked back on it after getting home, I thought that buying it just because of the $42/night sale price was a mistake. I was feeling massive pressure to drink more the last two nights because of the fact that there was no bar option at Wonderland, so I ended up drinking hardly anything that day, exactly as I had thought might happen.

But after working out the breakdown of what I really needed to "break even" every day on another thread, based on that $42/night, I've since realized that I wasn't ever "behind" on the package. What did I need? At $13 covered per drink, and everything alcoholic I had on board being that much or more, it worked out to one cappuccino and 3 cocktails (or glasses of wine) a day; that's one more alcoholic drink a day than I typically have at home.

After going through my daily tally, I was actually ahead by four cocktails ($52) at the end of the trip, all of them from the last two nights. My worries about that were totally unfounded, and that pressure was all my own doing from psyching myself out.

So, the drink package was totally worth it. I could have skipped out on those two extra cocktails that I felt I had to have each of the last two days, drank at my typical vacation level (including my daily cappuccinos and the odd OJ), and been totally fine.

Will I buy it again, given I'm going back next year?

It seems like $50 is the lowest people have been reporting so far for 2019 drink package sales. If I can get a rate at or slightly below it, I think I will do it again so I have that part of the trip paid in advance. The extra $8 per day would translate to a second cappuccino (which I was already having most days) and a couple of bottles of water, or one premium beer. I'd be OK with just the one extra cappuccino and leaving a few dollars on the table each day. Considering I typically indulge the most on embarkation day, I'd likely take care of any "gap" on day one and have nothing to worry about anyway.

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On 11/13/2018 at 9:38 PM, JLMoran said:

At the risk of maybe sounding a bit too much like @monorailmedic, I really appreciate the engineering and design that went into those balcony doors on Anthem

Ahem - and sounding like me would be a bad thing? 😛

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On 11/8/2018 at 11:01 PM, JLMoran said:

I did a little Googling on my lunch break, and I think what made the woman I spoke with give me a different story on the difficulty side of it was that I specifically commented that I was in the financial industry and IT. Based on what I read (mostly from the "Getting a Job in Bermuda Page" on bermuda-attractions.com, which I remember was the site I was using to learn about places like Crystal Caves and does seem to be a legit Bermuda-focused / possibly Bermuda-managed site), those jobs are in high demand and not as readily / frequently filled by Bermudians. Because Bermuda is a tax haven, a fair number of hedge funds and banking companies are set up there, and a lot of their employees are expats.

I will say that she was probably off about the cost of a house, just based on what I read on that site, even what your tour guide said might have been on the low side! Seems just a two-bedroom apartment in Hamilton will run around $4,000 a month, and "only" $3,200 outside Hamilton, while renting a full house that's ocean-facing (not ocean-front!) and equipped with a pool and private garden runs over $15,000! 😱

And there's no 10-year "landed resident" status that I could find a reference to. If you're not Bermudian or married to a Bermudian, you cannot buy a house at all, full stop, unless you're someone very privileged. And even then, you can only buy a home already owned by another expat (which the site says is basically the top 5% of properties, at exorbitantly inflated prices).

 

Sorry I'm a bit late to the party here.  I lived on Bermuda for 2 years and can confirm that if you work in financial services (specifically insurance/re-insurance or investment management) you can get a job in Bermuda fairly easily.  That also includes skilled professions which support those industries like auditors and lawyers.  As you note, since Bermuda has no corporate income tax these industries set up there to simplify cross-border business.  For example, for investments, the fact that no tax is levied on the fund itself means that investors from any country can invest and then they only need to worry about being taxed once in their resident jurisdiction without having to worry about double-tax treaties etc.. 

Since you can fit more people in to a large-ish football stadium than live on Bermuda, there are not enough Bermudians with the qualifications to fill the jobs, hence the expat market.  You still need to go through a strict immigration process involving the usual references, police background checks, chest x-rays etc., however most of the onus is on the business that is filling the role to prove that they tried and failed to fill the role with a Bermudian.  I feel like I had a particularly easy time of it since I am British and Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory, however I worked with people from all over the world so its not more difficult to move there being one nationality or another.

One thing I would add though is that just because you can get a job there doesn't mean they'll let you stay there forever.  When you get a job, you'll be given a work permit for 2 or 3 years.  If you want to stay they will make you re-apply and ultimately they decide if you stay or not.  Lose/leave your job or get in any sort of serious trouble and you're kicked out sharpish.

Generally speaking, Bermuda is very self-protective.  Strict immigration (i.e. permanent immigration rather than a few years working there) is one way they do that.  An example is that I have a friend who was born in Bermuda to British expat parents, lived on the island since birth (20+ years) and is still not considered a Bermudian legally.  She has a British passport by way of her parent's nationality rather than a British Overseas Territory passport that are issued to Bermudian citizens.

Other protectionist policies include things like owning property as you have already mentioned and also owning businesses.  I believe any business needs to be at least 50% owned by a Bermudian.  That's why you will see very few recognizable branded consumer locations - in fact you could probably count them on both hands: KFC, Esso, HSBC, Butterfield and M&S are the ones I can think of - all of which are either Bermuda-owned franchises or are grand-fathered in before the law came in to place.

More protectionism: You won't find any legal 'lewd' businesses.  There was talk about a riverboat-style casino at one point but that got thrown out pretty quick.  The only 2 days there is table gambling allowed (sports betting is available year round) is over Cup Match weekend where they play Crown & Anchor.  Cars are also limited throughout the island.  Each eligible home is given a registry number and one car is allowed per registry number.  That is why there are no car rental services available on island.

To touch on the house prices discussion, I don't know this first hand but from speaking with a Bermudian friend, a nice proper house could be in the area of $4m.  I think a basic small apartment would be setting you back $1m.  I do have first hand knowledge of the rental market, albeit from around 5 years ago.  As an indicator, a good average is $1,500 per bedroom per month.  That is for a normal unfurnished outside of Hamilton (but not too far - everything's relative) without a pool or any other special amenities.  You will pay more than that if there's fewer bedrooms (say, $1,800 for a one bedroom) and you will pay less the more bedrooms there are to split the overall cost (for example, say you get a 4 bedroom house, you could pay something like $1,300 for your one bedroom).

 

@JLMoran - a couple of late blog related queries:

1. What is a 'The World'?

2. Do you remember the solutions to the Day 4 and 5 riddles/stick puzzles?

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6 minutes ago, BermudaDice said:

 

Sorry I'm a bit late to the party here.  I lived on Bermuda for 2 years and can confirm that if you work in financial services (specifically insurance/re-insurance or investment management) you can get a job in Bermuda fairly easily.  That also includes skilled professions which support those industries like auditors and lawyers.  As you note, since Bermuda has no corporate income tax these industries set up there to simplify cross-border business.  For example, for investments, the fact that no tax is levied on the fund itself means that investors from any country can invest and then they only need to worry about being taxed once in their resident jurisdiction without having to worry about double-tax treaties etc.. 

Since you can fit more people in to a large-ish football stadium than live on Bermuda, there are not enough Bermudians with the qualifications to fill the jobs, hence the expat market.  You still need to go through a strict immigration process involving the usual references, police background checks, chest x-rays etc., however most of the onus is on the business that is filling the role to prove that they tried and failed to fill the role with a Bermudian.  I feel like I had a particularly easy time of it since I am British and Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory, however I worked with people from all over the world so its not more difficult to move there being one nationality or another.

One thing I would add though is that just because you can get a job there doesn't mean they'll let you stay there forever.  When you get a job, you'll be given a work permit for 2 or 3 years.  If you want to stay they will make you re-apply and ultimately they decide if you stay or not.  Lose/leave your job or get in any sort of serious trouble and you're kicked out sharpish.

Generally speaking, Bermuda is very self-protective.  Strict immigration (i.e. permanent immigration rather than a few years working there) is one way they do that.  An example is that I have a friend who was born in Bermuda to British expat parents, lived on the island since birth (20+ years) and is still not considered a Bermudian legally.  She has a British passport by way of her parent's nationality rather than a British Overseas Territory passport that are issued to Bermudian citizens.

Other protectionist policies include things like owning property as you have already mentioned and also owning businesses.  I believe any business needs to be at least 50% owned by a Bermudian.  That's why you will see very few recognizable branded consumer locations - in fact you could probably count them on both hands: KFC, Esso, HSBC, Butterfield and M&S are the ones I can think of - all of which are either Bermuda-owned franchises or are grand-fathered in before the law came in to place.

More protectionism: You won't find any legal 'lewd' businesses.  There was talk about a riverboat-style casino at one point but that got thrown out pretty quick.  The only 2 days there is table gambling allowed (sports betting is available year round) is over Cup Match weekend where they play Crown & Anchor.  Cars are also limited throughout the island.  Each eligible home is given a registry number and one car is allowed per registry number.  That is why there are no car rental services available on island.

To touch on the house prices discussion, I don't know this first hand but from speaking with a Bermudian friend, a nice proper house could be in the area of $4m.  I think a basic small apartment would be setting you back $1m.  I do have first hand knowledge of the rental market, albeit from around 5 years ago.  As an indicator, a good average is $1,500 per bedroom per month.  That is for a normal unfurnished outside of Hamilton (but not too far - everything's relative) without a pool or any other special amenities.  You will pay more than that if there's fewer bedrooms (say, $1,800 for a one bedroom) and you will pay less the more bedrooms there are to split the overall cost (for example, say you get a 4 bedroom house, you could pay something like $1,300 for your one bedroom).

 

@JLMoran - a couple of late blog related queries:

1. What is a 'The World'?

2. Do you remember the solutions to the Day 4 and 5 riddles/stick puzzles?

Wow....could we learn some things about responsible immigration laws from Bermuda ?!?!

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10 minutes ago, BermudaDice said:

@JLMoran - a couple of late blog related queries:

1. What is a 'The World'?

2. Do you remember the solutions to the Day 4 and 5 riddles/stick puzzles?

"The World" is a dessert served in Wonderland and (based on my own experience and others' accounts) at Chef's Table. When it first comes out, all you see is a large ball of chocolate (we're talking 5 or 6-inch diameter) with some strawberry slices and crisped rice around it on the plate. Then they pour hot caramel sauce over it, and it quickly melts to reveal that it's hollow with a small scoop of ice cream inside, which sits on top of a small shortcake-type base. It's utterly decadent and something you have to try when you get the chance. Here's the video from when I had it at Chef's Table:

As far as the riddles and stick puzzles go:

Day 4

"The one who makes it, sells it. The one who buys it, never uses it. The one who uses it, never sees it" -- answer is a coffin

For the stick puzzle, you move three sticks to make this final shape (I'm hoping this renders reasonably cleanly):

-------     -------
|     |     |     |
|     |     |     |
|-----|-----|-----|
      |     |
      |     |
      |-----|

 

Day 5

"Poor people have it, rich people need it. If you eat it, you'll die." -- Answer is, "Nothing"

Stick puzzle -- Take one of the short sticks off the equals sign and put it on the "+" to form the equation "141 - 11" (where the 4 is more a block-style number)

Final challenge -- Put the 5 in the center of the 3x3 matrix; once you've done that, there are multiple solutions that satisfy the conditions.

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3 hours ago, BermudaDice said:

One thing I would add though is that just because you can get a job there doesn't mean they'll let you stay there forever.  When you get a job, you'll be given a work permit for 2 or 3 years.  If you want to stay they will make you re-apply and ultimately they decide if you stay or not.  Lose/leave your job or get in any sort of serious trouble and you're kicked out sharpish.

I would assume this also means there's no such thing as working as an expat in Bermuda and then being allowed to retire there. Hit retirement age, and get the boot back to your country of origin? Do not pass Go, do not collect retirement apartment outside St. George's?

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16 hours ago, JLMoran said:

I would assume this also means there's no such thing as working as an expat in Bermuda and then being allowed to retire there. Hit retirement age, and get the boot back to your country of origin? Do not pass Go, do not collect retirement apartment outside St. George's?

Not 100% sure on that.  One certainly wouldn't get any state pension so you'd need to support yourself including a significant sum required for health insurance.  Add that to the house prices and the additional taxes I'm sure they would charge to a non-citizen and it would be a pricey retirement.  My guess would be that if someone was wealthy enough to do all of that, then anything's possible.  For most people I would think it is more that they would be priced out of retiring there rather than it being impossible.  At the end of the day, they could make a fair amount of money from a very wealthy retiree. 

One thing I didn't mention is that one of the key ways that Bermuda raises public money is through customs/excise/sales taxes.  As you can imagine, when you're a 'tax haven' charging no corporate tax to the huge financial institutions, and you don't charge your citizens income tax (expats are charged a low flat rate tax for not being Bermudian) you need to make money some way.  And as an island with no other land mass for hundreds of miles, tracking what comes in to and out of the country is an easier prospect which they can then tax.

How that links to the 'wealthy retiree' angle is that Bermuda will already be taxing all imports but luxury imports get an even bigger bump.  If you're a wealthy person in Bermuda and decide you want a fancy car, I've heard the sales tax on that is 100% i.e. you will pay double the retail amount for that car.  I don't know the specifics on taxes on buying properties, but I would wager if someone is wealthy enough to be retiring to Bermuda and has enough money to buy one of the properties that non-Bermudians are allowed to buy, the taxes will be pretty significant.

Other interesting tidbits regarding customs/excise from my experience - They take customs checks at the airport very seriously.  Visitors get a light touch as long as they state that nothing is remaining on the island and they don't say anything suspicious to the immigration officer.  Residents (and more specifically expats) are more likely to get a full search of their luggage and if anything is found that wasn't properly declared and the duty already paid, then they will get a fine of 2 times the duty payable, or 4 times if they think you've been deliberately dishonest.  In fact, to avoid people heading of the the US and coming back with the newest smart phone model, you have to register the serial numbers of your electronics with customs.  When you are searched they will check the serial number and match that to their records.  Another island oddity is that the post service will not deliver packages from abroad to your home.  They keep all packages at the nearest post office and deliver you a card to let you know to come and pick it up.  When you get to the post office, you then need to open the package in front of the postal worker so that they can see what you got and assess the appropriate duty on the item.  The lesson there for residents is, don't order anything from abroad that you aren't happy to open in front of a stranger!

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