Bermuda

Paradise Just Off North Carolina's Coast

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Contrary to popular belief, Bermuda is not in the Caribbean. It is actually some 500 miles off the coast of North Carolina and lacks the sprawling, colorful landscape of many Caribbean islands. But it makes up for all that in class. The British self-governing island of Bermuda is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and life here is slow, civilized and quaint. The natives dress beautifully and take impeccable care of their property.

One great feature of cruises to this 22-mile-long island is that they stay in port for several days, allowing plenty of time to explore the island. Although you may be tempted, think twice about renting a moped (visitors can't rent cars) unless you have experience driving one. The roads are winding, and the natives scoot along at record speeds. Plan your days to see a bit of all of Bermuda's offerings -- the pink beaches, the fine shopping and dining, and the historical sites. The season for cruising to Bermuda is April through October.

Destinations
Hamilton, King's Wharf and St. George's, Bermuda

Embarkation points
Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA

Cruise lines
Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian, Orient Lines, Radisson, Royal Caribbean, Silversea, Windstar

Hamilton, Bermuda's seaside capital, offers plenty of opportunities for shopping. Savings on items imported from Europe can be 30% off American prices. Buy cashmere and kilts at Taylors on Water Street or Archie Brown and Son on Front Street. Davison's of Bermuda, also on Front Street, sells sportswear and gifts. H.S. & J.E. Crisson Ltd. has 11 jewelry stores on the island, including several in Hamilton. A.S. Cooper and Son on Front Street sells discounted crystal, china and figurines.

Check out Bermuda's famous pink sand at Elbow Beach or Horseshoe Bay Beach.

Take a look around Fort St. Catherine in St. George's. Originally built in 1613, it's the most impressive fort on the island. Achilles Bay Park, next to the fort, is great for snorkeling.

The kids will ooh and aah at Crystal Caves, just outside St. George's. Here you can see unusual formations that have developed underground.

King's Wharf encompasses the Royal Naval Dockyard, the Bermuda Arts Centre and Crafts Market.

Wherever you are, try a Dark 'n' Stormy, a local drink made of rum and ginger beer.