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Cruising Article –06/02/2011

Maritime history and intrigue in Bermuda

Caribbean cruise destinations

The island of Bermuda conjures up images of gorgeous colonial buildings hidden in the heart of a tropical paradise. You can dive into the British exclave's unique culture and natural beauty during a shore excursion on a Caribbean cruise.

The first stop you'll make on your trip to Bermuda is the port of Hamilton, the colony's thriving capital. Here, you can explore its winding streets as you marvel at the colorful architecture and take advantage of opportunities for world-class shopping and dining. For a different kind of urban experience, you can pay a visit to St. George. This former capital allows you to step back in time, as it features a quaint town square with replica cedar stocks as well as the oldest Anglican Church currently in use in the Western Hemisphere.

A similar historical attraction is the Gibb's Hill Lighthouse. This iconic tower is said to be one of the oldest cast-iron lighthouses in the world, making it a prime attraction if you're interested in the maritime structures. The building's lamp, which has been in operation since 1846, can reportedly be seen from up to 40 miles away.

Bermuda also has its fair share of museums and other educational attractions. One top destination of this kind is the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo, a huge complex that is sure to wow the kids. Here, you will find a bevy of different animals, including cockatoos, turtles and seahorses. One highlight is the 145,000-gallon "North Rock" tank, which features a replica coral reef.

Meanwhile, the Maritime Museum is a great place to learn about Bermuda's unique status as a way station for sailors crossing the Atlantic. Built in the island's biggest fort, this facility is home to exhibits detailing 500 years of seafaring history through shipwreck artifacts, authentic cannons and ocean-related art. The museum is situated in the heart of the Royal Naval Dockyard, a historic strategic outpost with plenty of interesting landmarks.

If you want to take advantage of Bermuda's natural scenery, pay a visit to the Crystal Caves. These amazing caverns contain a myriad of stalactites, stalagmites and even underground lakes. To end your shore excursion, visit Horseshoe Bay Beach and stretch out on its sparkling pink sand.