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Bermuda Royal Navy Dockyard Visitor Tips

Royal Navy Dockyard
Massive stone buildings surround the lawn at Royal Navy Dockyard. © 2022 Scott S. Bateman

The Royal Navy Dockyard in Bermuda, home of the 2017 America’s Cup, is a cruise ship terminal, entertainment complex and major historical site.

It is one of three cruise ship ports in Bermuda. The other two are Hamilton and St. George’s. But most major ships and cruise lines dock at Royal Navy Dockyard.

Visitors will find that a few simple tips will make a tour of Dockyard a fun and memorable experience.

Ships dock at Kings Wharf and Heritage Wharf. From either one, most dockyard attractions are about a hal mile away. They include the Clocktower Mall with more than two dozen stores and two 100-foot-tall clocks, one showing the time and the other showing the time at high tide. The building was constructed in the 1850s.

Attractions in the area also include the Bermuda Craft Market, Dolphin Quest, FryDay’s Trampoline Park, Snorkel Park Beach, Bermuda Fun Golf, Dockyard Glassworks & Bermuda Rum Cake Company, the National Museum of Bermuda and the Spirit of Bermuda, a three-masted replica of a British sloop-of-war.

The port has enough attractions to keep visitors busy an entire day.

Snorkel Park Beach is the most convenient nearby beach. It is about a half mile northwest of King’s Wharf. Otherwise, visitors who want a better beach experience need to take a taxi or excursion bus to better beaches such as Dockyard (eight minutes away), Cambridge (14 minutes) or especially Horseshoe Bay (27 minutes). Some full-island excursions include a beach stop.

The British navy built the dockyards after the end of the American revolution. It was the embarkation point for an attack on Baltimore and Washington D.C. during the War of 1812. Francis Scott Key wrote the “Star Spangled Banner” as a prisoner on one of those ships. The base remained a major strategic point for nearly 200 years through the end of World War II.

The navy left the main dockyard in 1951, but the base did not officially close until 1995. It was mostly abandoned for about 20 years until the National Museum of Bermuda opened in the fortress known as the Keep. Because of that success, the government began to restore the dockyard as a tourist attraction.

Getting Around

Royal Navy Dockyard sign
Sign displays the attractions at Royal Navy Dockyard. © 2022 Scott S. Bateman

A free shuttle takes visitors from the cruise ships to the shops, restaurants and attractions.

Other transportation options include a high-speed catamaran ferry that goes from Dockyard to Hamilton and back in about 20 minutes each way. A direct ferry goes to St. George’s during the summer. Call the Ferry Terminal at 441-295-4506.

Other options include a public bus system, privately owned minibuses, scotter rentals and taxis with government-regulated rates.

Cruise ship visitors who dock at Hamilton or St. George’s should note that the dockyard is a 45-minute drive from Hamilton and a one-hour drive from St. George’s.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
September 26, 2022

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