LogoOur Second Bermuda Cruise
July, 2001

By Jack Welsch

Click on Thumbnail


This was a fundraising project for the church. Linda had seen an ad numerous time in "Episcopal Life" and eventually made the call to Liberty Travel. She found that we could get a group rate on a cruise package and make money two ways. First, we could mark up the tickets to any price we felt would work. In addition, every tenth person would go free. We agreed to charge full price for that person and the entire amount would go to the church. There was no minimum number of tickets to qualify for the deal and, except for a fully-refundable deposit, no cost to the church. We had a lot of options for destination and even cruise line. The ship selected was Celebrity's "Horizon" and the destination was Bermuda. Lin and I have been to Bermuda before and, while we really liked it, we would have opted for a different destination if we were going alone just because there's so much of the world we haven't seen.. However, the logistics for Bermuda were good and Lin and I agreed that, if a single additional couple signed up, we'd go. In the end, eighteen of us went including my Mom and Dad. The cruise line had a bus pick us up in Scranton. Since there were so many of us, Lin tried to get them to pick us up at St. Mark's since it's about 1.5 miles off the direct route from Scranton to New York but they would not. That made for rather lousy logistics getting to Scranton but such is life! Before leaving this little intro, I must comment that Liberty Travel was great to work with. They really made it easy.

As I did with our most recent trip to the Eastern Caribbean, I'll split the Diary out from description of ship and ports. That way you can get essential info without plowing through the blow-by-blow.


As always, what I've written here is based on my own observations and reflects only my opinion. Different people have different expectations so what I liked, you may hate and vise-versa.

M/V Horizon

Let's get the unpleasant stuff out of the way first... I'll start by stating again that all of this is only my own opinion. I say that because, while I was quite displeased with the Horizon, I'd heard before I left that Celebrity was an excellent line. Perhaps they are but I didn't see a lot of evidence of it. I knew the ship was an older one and devoid of a lot of the glitz found in the new mega-ships. That wasn't a problem for me. What I and many of my traveling companions had trouble with was a general lack of attentiveness. While the wait staff at our dinner table was fantastic, we didn't find that elsewhere. It was difficult to get a drink in the bars and at the pool. Even more frustrating, it was tough to get a glass of water at the pool. Normally, you can find it readily as everyone knows it's unhealthy to sweat without replenishment of water but in a full week, I was NEVER able to find a glass near the pool. They did have a faucet but no glasses. I SAW two glasses once but they were both taken before I got to them. Nor was there the punch, iced tea, etc.that one would expect. To that was added pool towels strewn all over the place and so on but you get the general drift. The experience wasn't bad, exactly, but it certainly didn't meet expectations. Maybe I was simply expecting too much..

Our CabinOur CabinAnyway...The stateroom was pleasant and relatively roomy. It was clean and well maintained but I did get a complaint from one in our group that found theirs both dingy and dirty. Our room steward was competent and friendly. The dining room was very pleasant and, as I said before, the service there was excellent. Food varied from excellent to so-so. I've never had better escargots, yet the veal picatta was downright lousy.

Coral Seas CaféThe other option for most meals was the Coral Seas Café. It was a cafeteria and the food wasn't too bad. They had great pickled herring most mornings. In the afternoon, they had pizza that was pretty good. They also had some other munchies in the afternoon but I avoided them so I can't comment. In addition to a lot of seats indoors, the Coral Seas has a small collection of tables on deck aft.

America's Cup LoungeAs always, there were a number of bars. We gravitated to two, the Rendezvous, located near the dining room and the America's Cup, on the pool deck overlooking the bow. For some reason, we ended up going the the Rendezvous before dinner and the America's Cup at other times. The Zodiac Club looked nice but, except for (ironically) church, we never used it. Likewise, Michael's Club looked great but it was a cigar bar so that was the end of that one. One good idea they had fell a bit short in execution. One side of the ship was designated non-smoking. Great idea but it wasn't enforced very well. I complained a couple of times and action was taken. Linda did see someone get told by a staff member about smoking on one occasion. Oh, the really good thing was the dining room was totally non-smoking!

Hot TubPool DeckThe pool area was nice and the main pool was pretty big for a ship. The hot tub was fantastic! It was pretty big and had a number of stainless steel tubes running across the width to form a huge lounge chair suitable for lots of people. There were a fair number of deck chairs near the pool and on the Sun Deck but there are never enough. We'd have been better off if the crew had followed through on the "threat" of clearing off chairs that went unoccupied for an extended period. On the Sun Deck aft were a number of strange two-person chairs that were enclosed on all sides but one. The open side faced aft so you could sit in the shade and watch the wake.


I'm not going to waste your time here with a lot of facts and figures you can get from lots of other sites. I'll just provide some personal thoughts.

Bermuda is awesome! If you've visited the Bahamas or islands in the Caribbean and expect Bermuda to be similar, you're in for a surprise! For some reason, lots of people get confused between Bermuda and the Bahamas. Both have similar names and both are in the Atlantic but, in my humble opinion, there the similarity stops. While poverty is pretty evident in the Bahamas, is appears to be absent in Bermuda. It may be there but I haven't seen it. Virtually every building is beautifully maintained and flowers are everywhere. I'd recommend a digital camera with lots of storage media or a laptop to store photos. Barring that, take as much film as you can afford because there's almost nowhere you can point a camera that wouldn't make a nice picture! Another major contrast is the people. While I've always had the feeling in the Bahamas that the locals would prefer it if I'd stay home and mail them my money, I've found the vast majority of the people of Bermuda to be cordial and downright friendly. Bus drivers seem to be an exception.

Getting around Bermuda is a bit of a bother. I normally prefer to rent a car as I like to be independent but renting a car is simply not possible. You can rent a motor scooter but we tried that last time and it was scary at best. The things are tiny with little wheels that don't make for a lot of stability. I used to own a motorcycle and I still had some trouble getting used to the scooter. Throw in narrow, winding roads, traffic on what we Americans call the "wrong" side of the street and a huge truck or bus inches from your back and it gets downright interesting. Oh, and my wife was delighted with the effect the helmet had on her hair! After out experience on the last visit, Linda assured me the motor scooter was not an option. Taxis are everywhere and the drivers are all happy to offer an island tour but I don't feel comfortable having someone drop me off at a beach, hoping he'll come back for me. We found the ferries and busses to be a fairly good alternative. For $23 (Bermuda currency is pegged to the US and US money is universally accepted), you can get a 3-day pass for both busses and ferries. The busses run very close together and the ferries are an especially picturesque way to get from "A" to "B".

As to the two main cities, I like St. George's best. I suppose there's more to do in Hamilton as it's a pretty big city but St. George's is so quaint it's painful. There are some shops and restaurants but mostly it's a place to stroll around. The Dockyards are on the West end of the island and are interesting for a short visit. Some ships put in there but we've avoided ships that do that. As I think of it, however, that would put you in a good spot from which to reach the beautiful beaches of the South Shore.

One of these days, we'll fly to Bermuda and stay in a hotel, probably on the South Shore.

Pre-Cruise Party

Lin decided that, since some of the folks going didn't know each other, we should have a little get-together to get acquainted. Originally, it was to be at the church but Lin decided our house would be better. The date selected was Friday, June 22, 8 days before departure, Nila, who lives in Nebraska, was unable to come but all the others made it. Naturally, since we planned it to be mostly outside, it rained but the rain was light and intermittent so it wasn't a complete disaster. Linda distributed the paperwork and shirts she had prepared by Embroid-it. The party was a great success and everyone loved the shirts.

Saturday, June 30

Our friend and handyman, Woody, took us to the pickup point on a street in Scranton.. A number of the others had arranged for a van to take them down and were already there as were some who arrived by car and a number of folks not with our group. The bus arrived at 10:15 and departed at 10:45, getting us to the pier in New York by about 1:00. Check-in was a hassle; they are not nearly as organized as Princess.

The St. Mark's GroupWe got to the room, joined Frank & Pat in the Coral Seas Café for lunch, then went exploring and signed up for a helmet dive for Monday. We had made arrangements for a room in which to have Morning Prayer on Sunday morning. Since we wanted it to be open to anyone interested, we also stopped at the guest services desk to ask them to put a notice in the daily paper. We explored some more and, by prior arrangement, all met at the pool at 3:30 for a group photo. Also by prior arrangement, all of us had worn our aqua, embroidered "St. Mark's Bermuda Cruise 2001" shirts. It made it easy to spot each other and looked great in the photo. A lot of people asked us who we were. Good PR, I guess!

Who knew they wouldn't stand 3 more months??After unpacking, we did the obligatory and painful lifeboat bit and were on deck for the promised 4:30 sailing but didn't get away until almost 5:00. We stayed on deck 'til past the Verrezano, returned to the cabin for a shower, then headed for the America's Cup Lounge for a drink. This was our first experience with what was to become a disappointing situation. The bar waitress brought us a drink, closed out our tab without asking and proceeded to ignore us! This in spite of the place being almost empty. We moved to the Rendezvous lounge and were ignored there, too, even though there were several waiters standing near the bar! With drinks priced at something other than a bargain price, I can't imagine why it's so difficult to get one! If I was running the show, I'd be pouring them down people's throats! The up side was that they had a nice two-piece group there called the Frank Duo. One guy was on keyboard while the other played guitar and electric drums. We danced one number and were then joined by Eunice, Nila, Helen and Earl.

Josip, Oliver, Saed & RonaldWent in to dinner in the Starlight Dining Room There were eight at our table, Eunice & Nila, Helen & Earl, Pat & Frank and us. We had late seating while Mom & Dad had early so, obviously, we couldn't sit together. Our Assistant Maitre d', Josip (sic.) is from Croatia, our waiter, Oliver, is from Macedonia, the Assistant Waiter, Saed, is from Indonesia and the Sommelier, Ronald, is from Philippines. They turned out to be one of the very good things about the cruise. They were friendly and attentive without being bothersome. Linda's fish was great; my veal picatta was lousy. Walked on deck for a bit with Frank & Pat, then hit the rack.

Sunday, July 1

My alarm went off at 7:00 and I was showered and on deck by 7:20. Grabbed buffet breakfast alone and, as I always do on days at sea, set up shop by the pool. Linda made it by about 9:30. We had to take a short break for Morning Prayer led by Earl in the Zodiac lounge at 11:00. Most of our folks were there but no one else since, in another exhibition of inefficiency, the people in guest services failed to put a notice of it in the daily paper even though they'd promised to do so. After church, we sat at the pool some more with Helen & Earl. As is normal, I spent the balance of the day at the pool. A major aggravation was that scores of people left their towels on their chairs even when they were gone for hours or for the day. The pool attendants made little attempt to free up apparently unused chairs so many people were left wanting even though many chairs were available. This situation has existed to some degree on every ship we've been on but here it was ridiculous. Lin eventually went down for a nap and I took a brief one before dressing for dinner.

Got done up in black tie, had drinks in the Rendezvous Lounge, and had our formal portrait taken. Helen and Earl joined us and we eventually made our way to the Captain's Reception and some terrible champagne. This time, dinner was excellent. The escargots were perhaps the best I've ever had and the duck à l'orange was quite good as well. After dinner, we ended up at the America's Cup Lounge and found Nila & Eunice. We left them still sitting there when we retired at 12:40.

Monday, July 2

St. George'sI'd set the alarm for 7:00 to see the ship arrive at St. George's but was up at 6:50 anyway. It's amazing how such a large ship can fit through such a narrow channel! We'd booked the first "Peppercorn" Helmet Diving tour of the day, departing at 10:45. After breakfast in the dining room, we met the gang on the pier. As we were leaving the ship, Mom and Dad were re-boarding and were very upset. They said they'd been "stood up" by two cabs and were getting something from their room and were then going to rent a scooter! I strongly expressed my reservations about them doing that since I know from experience it's a dangerous and downright scary way to travel down there. Dad insisted he knew what he was doing and brushed by. I was to spend the balance of the day stewing about their wellbeing.

Jack the hard-hat diverThe group going on the dive met on the pier. The guide walked is through town and, after filling out release forms, we boarded a rather large inflatable for a ride through Castle Harbor and into the ocean. The dive boat was already anchored near a reef in about 10 feet of water. The bad news is that, while there were eight of us together, only six plus the divemaster could dive at a time. I volunteered to stay back 'til the second group but, since I had the underwater camera, I was elected to go with "the group". Helen and earl volunteered to stay behind. After instructions from Darrin, the divemaster, we were off. I was first down after Darrin. There was an extension ladder mounted to the stern and reaching to within a couple of feet of the bottom. Once on the ladder, I descended to my shoulders and stopped until the assistant, Kevin, placed the 90 lb. fiberglass helmet on my shoulders. Its weight, of course, virtually disappeared as I descended the ladder to the bottom. Darrin handed me a large plastic ring and left me standing on the bottom while he went for Linda. Linda seemed to hesitate on the ladder so I thought she was in trouble but down she came and she indicated that all was OK. Once down, Linda was brought to hold the ring with me as we awaited the next person. That continued until all were on the bottom. Once we were all together, we dropped the ring and followed Darrin on a tour. He pointed out lots of coral and fish and handed around a sea cucumber. Linda was stuck to me like glue but I didn't realize she was starting to panic 'til she got my attention and I saw the look on her face. I banged on my helmet and Darrin took her back to the ladder. She later said that the instant Kevin took the helmet off her, her head seemed to explode and she had a terrible headache. Lin was glad Helen was topside as Helen is a nurse practitioner so she know she was in good hands. Meanwhile, we continued the tour for a while, then Darrin took off his helmet and, setting it on the bottom, swam to the surface for some squid. Back on the bottom, he re-donned the helmet and started feeding the squid to the fish. He was totally engulfed in fish and they were so intent on feeding that they could be easily touched. Being first down, I was first up and that was OK 'cause I was eager to check on Lin.

St. George'sWhen the next six went down, I gave my Earl my underwater camera. There was a mask and snorkel (but no fins) on board so I did a bit of snorkeling. I wish I'd have known this was in the works because my own mask, fins and snorkel were sitting in my stateroom. I swam down and surprised Helen as I swam past her helmet. I eventually took the camera from Earl and got some additional shots of them.

The inflatable that had earlier dropped us off returned with a fresh load of people and took us back to the dock. The sky was starting to look pretty dark and we got the word that they were expecting a major storm. They said they figured the balance of the day's dives would be cancelled. We'd lucked out!

While the others headed for the ship, we walked with Helen and Earl to the town square where we had lunch at Freddie's. This is the same place where we had lunch when we were last in St. George's but then it was called O'Malley's. Luck was with us again because, just as I walked onto the porch, rain hit the back of my calf. By the time we were seated in the restaurant upstairs, it was raining in torrents! In all, a very pleasant lunch.

Horizon in St. George'sHelen and Earl headed for the ship and Lin and I walked around St. George's, mostly in the rain. We visited St. Peters and talked to the same old lady we'd met the last time there. As last time, she was charming and informative as she showed us the silver in the sacristy. After a couple of trips through the city and buying a picture from Diana Amos, a local artist, we headed back to the ship. I checked in with my office before boarding, of course.

After laying down for a while, we dressed and headed to the Rendezvous for drinks. We sat with a couple somewhat older than we are. The woman was charming but the man divided his time between belittling his wife and trying to impress us with his Rolls Royce and other evidence of wealth. Eventually, Eunice & Nila came along and we gladly turned our attention to them.

After leaving St. George's last time, I regretted not having walked the streets at night so, after dinner in the dining room, Frank & Pat and we walked back into town. We walked around a bit and had a drink on the waterfront patio at the Waterfront Café before heading for the rack.

Tuesday, July 3

HamiltonI hadn't set an alarm but woke just before the ship got under way in St. George's. We were already out of the harbor and headed for Hamilton by the time I got on deck. Photos were pretty poor due to haze and glare. Several folks had expressed interest in an evening sailing trip and I knew Mom & Dad would enjoy it so I called around and enticed my folks plus Helen and Earl, Frank & Pat, Eunice & Nila. Met them at the excursion desk and all of us got signed up. By the time we got that all squared away and got on deck for breakfast, we were already tied up in Hamilton.

We had planned on going to the beach but Linda's sunburn was still a bit tender so we opted for the dockyards. Called Eunice and asked her to join us since Nila was off playing golf. The three of us walked to the ferry dock and bought three-day transportation passes. They cost $23 and cover both bus and ferry. We waited only a short time for the ferry to the dockyards. Nice ride out.

Mangrove BayWalked around the fort and looked in at the glass factory where we bought a plate. Did a bit more shopping, then had some pretty lousy dry fish and chips. After lunch, we caught a bus to Somerset Village near Mangrove Bay. Next we walked the short distance to the ferry dock at Watford Bridge and caught a ferry back to Hamilton via the dockyards. On the walk back to the ship, we stopped for a drink at The Pickled Onion where a guy was playing jazz on steel pans. It was very enjoyable and I'd have liked to stay longer but it was getting late so off we went. I stopped to check voicemail as Linda boarded the ship.

As I reached the room, Helen was entering. Turns out Linda had developed a rash on her back where she'd been experiencing pain since Thursday. Helen, a nurse practitioner, declared that it was shingles, just as Linda had feared. We knew it was essential for Linda to get anti-viral medication promptly so we called guest services and were told to go directly to the medical facility on deck 3. At our request, Helen went along and went in with Linda. The doctor was not inclined to believe it was shingles or to accept Helen's diagnosis. At Linda's and Helen's insistence, he gave her the anti-viral medicine but only enough for two days. He said we'd have to visit a dermatologist in Bermuda and to call the medical facility in the AM and they'd make an appointment.

Went back and cleaned up, then went with Helen & Earl for dinner in Flannigan's Pub on Front Street. After dinner, we met the group on the pier for the evening catamaran sail. The agent walked us down to near the ferry dock where we boarded the Aristo-cat, a 65 ft catamaran. I was discouraged at first as there were a lot of people on board but the crowding wasn't too bad. They had lots of foam pads to sit on all over the deck. We staked out a spot with Mom & Dad up forward. The sail was absolutely delightful and they have endless quantities of champagne that was surprisingly good. In the cabin, I met a guy who worked for the FAA out of NJ. He introduced me to a student pilot flying out of Greenwood lake, NJ and I talked to him for a long time.

As always, the wind picked up just as we reached the dock. Returned to the ship and ended up in the America's Cup. Nice evening but a bit depressing because of Linda's shingles.

Wednesday, July 4

Slept 'til around 9:00, then showered and called the medical facility. They were still waiting for the port agent and told us to have breakfast and call back. We had breakfast on the stern with Joan and Dick, then called back. The nurse on duty couldn't figure out why yesterday's doctor wanted a dermatologist and the dermatologist in Hamilton was booked up anyway so they made an appointment with a GP about 3 blocks away. He declared it shingles in a nanosecond and gave us the prescription we needed. We filled it at the pharmacy a few doors down.

Jobson's CoveReturned to the ship, picked up some gear and walked to the bus depot where we caught a bus to the King Henry VIII Restaurant in Southampton. After a delightful lunch, we caught a bus back to Jobson's Cove. It was quite a walk down to the beach from the bus stop! Once at the beach, we walked west to Jobson's Cove, a tiny secluded cove with very limited access to open water, and found a nice little niche in the cliff where Lin could stay out of the sun. I put on mask & fins and swam through the small opening to the ocean. I wanted to swim east to the larger beach but there were some reefs out there and I was concerned about tangling with them and the surf so I retreated back through the rocks to the cove.

Jobson's CoveWhen I returned, a young native girl asked if that was a waterproof camera I had. ( It was a disposable.) I replied that it was and she asked if she could take a picture. After she took one, another girl wanted to and so on. It turns out I was in the middle of a birthday party for an 8-year-old. There were three 8-year olds, one 6-year-old and a baby. We shot the rest of the film and I got e-mail addresses from the two mothers present so I could e-mail them pictures. Those kids made my day!

Eventually, that group left so we moved into the rather large cave they'd been occupying. Linda slept and I walked and climbed all over the place, taking loads of pictures. Eventually, we packed up, trudged up the hill and caught the bus back to Hamilton and the ship.

July 4 in HamiltonBack on the ship again, we showered and changed, bought some photos and had a drink in the America's Cup. Went back to the room, changed for dinner and went out to the street fair on Front Street. They have a street fair every Wednesday but this was supposed to be a big deal for July 4. Just got to the street when we met Pat and Frank. They said they wanted to do the glass bottom boat in the AM and, since Art had said he's enjoyed it, we went back to the ship, signed up and returned to Front Street. The street fair was pretty lame. We walked the length of it, then headed for the Rendezvous lounge where we met Helen & Earl. The lamb at dinner was very good. After dinner, back to the Rendezvous with Helen & Earl and Frank & Pat. Eventually went up to the pool for the Tex-Mex buffet and met Mom & Dad who seem to be having a great time! After 2 tacos and some desert, we packed it in.

Thursday, July 5

Reef from glass bottom boatWe woke a bit after 8:00 and had breakfast aft, then met the gang on the dock and followed the guide to the ferry dock to catch the glass bottom boat. The boat was a double-decker but the top deck was about filled when we got there. That worked out just as well 'cause Lin was out of the sun and we got first pick of place when it came time to crowd around the glass at the reef. It was about a 30-40 minute trip to the reef and commentary was good. We crossed Great Sound and passed under Watford bridge, then turned left. At the reef, many of us sat on the floor with legs dangling into the well. Others stood behind us and looked over our heads. The reef was pretty disappointing; not nearly as colorful as those further south. Bermuda has the world's northern-most coral reefs but they're mostly brown, gold and green. We went over a wreck and were joined by zillions of fish. After a while, the crew threw in some bread for the fish. It was rather picturesque but I'm sure the real reason was to train the fish to come to the boat in the first place!

The boat wound its way back to Hamilton through some narrow channels between the islands. Walking back to the ship, we finished the shopping. Boarded and had lunch in the dining room with Lin & Art and a couple, Linda and Ivan, from Lansing, MI. Ivan is a sailor and pilot just as I am. Nice conversation. While we were at lunch, the ship left the dock.

After lunch, we changed and went to the pool. Lin was able to stay in the shade by sitting behind me. It was crowded but not as bad as on Sunday. Eventually, we moved to the sun deck and sat in the shadow of the stack until it was time to dress for dinner.

Dinner was black-tie. Had drinks in the Rendezvous and were joined by Helen & Earl. Dinner was only OK. This was a 25th anniversary cruise for Helen & Earl so Linda had arranged for a cake to mark the occasion. All eight of us went to the show together; it was very good. By then, the seas were really starting to kick up so the dancers in the show had it tough dealing with the ship's motion. After that, we went to the buffet, just for pix. We lost Helen & Earl somehow along the way but the rest of us ended up at the America's Cup. It was close to 1:00 when we gave up.

Friday, July 6

Rough day at seaSlept until 9:00. Seas were rough and skies overcast. Had breakfast in the Coral Seas, then grabbed some deck chairs under the Sun Deck as it was still raining. The sky cleared by about noon so I moved into the sun. Wind was very strong and they drained the water out of the large pool because it had been splashing out with some vigor. Lin got us hamburgers and, due to the wind, lost her cheese and the top of her bun before getting to her chair! It started raining again so I moved back under the deck and finally went down around 3:00. Lin took a nap and I ran around the ship taking pix. After starting the packing process, we took books to the America's Cup. Frank and Pat joined us but after a bit my stomach was off slightly so we went down for a nap.

Dressed for dinner, had our usual drinks in the Rendezvous, then dinner and the final show. After the show a big group of us ended up at the America's Cup for a final farewell.

Saturday, July 7

Welcome home!The last day of a cruise always sucks. Not only is the cruise over but the day itself is always a hard one. We were up early and I went on deck for some photos as we entered New York harbor. Then we got ready and had breakfast in the dining room. Returned to the room, packed the carry-ons and met the gang in the show lounge. As always, hung around for hours before we could disembark. Finally got called around 10:00. It was a mess getting the bags but Fred got us two porters with carts to take all the luggage for the group. We blew through customs faster than we ever have and got to the bus quickly but then had to wait a long time for some no-shows. Eventually, we left without them. Dropped folks off at Hackettstown and then it was only us so we got the driver to stop at Hot Dog Johnny's. Woody met us in Scranton about 2:30.

Bermuda was great and it was fun traveling with my folks and a lot of friends.


Aerial View

Horizon (left) and Zenith in NY - Aug. 18, 2001