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  • Writer's pictureTina Hill

Bermuda Bound

Dave surprised me in January 2023 by booking a Bermuda cruise out of NY. One of his close friends, Jim, was having a special birthday on June 13th and had planned a small get together to celebrate 50 years of being fabulous. Dave invited the kids. Megan and Colby were game to cruise, but Fiona and Ryan had other plans, so they were out. One club balcony cabin + four people = super cozy. *Cabin pics below

The people we met up with, a first for me, were the nicest bunch, and they really knew the NCL line well. This is their preferred cruise line. I loved hearing how well-versed they were and looked forward to a week of learning as much as possible about this particular ship. #Bermuda #NCL #NCLJoy #NCLBermuda #Bermudacruise #NCLBermudaCruise #Vacation #familyvacation #travel #travelblogger #travelagent #AAANortheast #AAATravel

** Our Promo for our cabin category included up to five free offers: unlimited open bar, two free specialty dining restaurants for passengers 1 & 2, wifi for passengers 1 & 2 (150 minutes each), and credit towards shore excursions booked thru NCL.

Family Club Balcony - Enough room for four and LOTS of cubbies for storage

Double Sink and Spacious Walk In Shower with multiple jets

Day 1:

With an early check in at the NY pier, boarding was an easy process, and once on the ship, I was able to book our onboard entertainment without delay. I tell my clients all the time, DO NOT STOP, pass go, and collect your $200…book your shows!! You can imagine how disappointed I was to find out our Broadway musical, Footloose, was cancelled. Huge bummer. I looked forward to this show from the time of our deposit. Our Virginia Beach port was also cancelled. Needless to say, I wasn't feeling the love I felt for my prior RCCL cruise...I can tell you that much. Okay…so with an easy boarding process, we headed up to the pool deck to get acquainted with our group, and I was eagerly awaiting and excited for our daughter’s arrival from Ohio. As an extremely busy PhD student, Meg has also been looking forward to a vacation away from her studies. And speaking of studies...Colby has an online summer college course that he would be working on throughout the week. Our promo did not include wifi for Colby, so he traded on with ours throughout the week. #footloose #NCLfootloose #NCLEntertainment

All Hands on Deck!

We ended our first evening at The Manhattan Room for dinner and afterward, Dave and the kids went out with the group for 80s nite. I decided to go to our cabin early…party pooper, I know. BUT…I was reading the most amazing novel, Demon Copperhead, and if you know me, books rule. I will almost always choose a book over a busy room & loud music. The Manhattan Room is one of three main dining rooms. There is also Savor and Taste. All three share the same menu, which was a little disappointing. I prefer variety. With that said, dinner all week at any of the dining rooms was fantastic. No complaints. The food and the service were excellent. Wait lines weren't long, but I encourage making reservations. #ManhattanRoom #Savor #Taste #NCLdining #NCLJoydining #DemonCopperhead

**Be respectful and courteous to the stewards and waitstaff. They work long hours and go out of their way to serve you.

Savor, Manhattan Room, and Taste main (complimentary) dining restaurants on the NCL Joy

A sampling of what you'll find onboard the NCL Joy menu: crab wontons, tuna tartar, shrimp cake, cheese ravioli, and chicken piccata entree #NClmenu #NCLJoymenu

Days 2 & 3:

We were at sea both days and took the opportunity to learn the lay of the land. Honestly, I’m still lost. I just have a bad sense of direction. In addition to restaurants and bars galore, the ship offers a pool deck and an **adults’ only pool/bar area (bonus), gym, jewelry stores, a tiny retail shop, The speedway raceway, Laser tag, Mini golf, a duty-free shop (with liquor), and on-board entertainment (I’ll get to that). Was there enough to keep us busy those two days at sea…yes. It’s the beginning of the cruise, and we were just figuring things out and looking forward to our booked shows (for at sea nites). I would have loved to treat Megan to a massage, but their treatments were super pricey, disappointing. We enjoyed an afternoon art auction, for a bit. That was interesting, and it was fun to watch the bidding in action. At nite, the twenty somethings had a fun time going out and being social.

**Now...about that adult's only venue, Spice H20, on deck 17. Let me just say, great concept...I love the adult's only area, but this enormous ship has just one adult hot tub. ONE! WAY TOO COZY/crowded for me! More adult hot tubs would have been a huge bonus.

Nice pic of Colby and Nolan...before things got ugly. Thank you Anthony for delivering our boys home safe! #drinkingbuddies

Just a few things to do and see on the ship: Gym, Art Gallery (daily themes), and Shopping

Nite three, we celebrated Jim’s 50th birthday with a group reservation at Cagney’s Steakhouse. Dinner was outstanding. My filet mignon was cooked to perfection. The sides and dessert were enjoyable, and the staff treated Jim to a big piece of birthday cake…so good. After dinner, the majority made their way to the adult pool area for drinks and dance, and you know what I did…good book, hello!!! #CagneysSteakhouse #filetmignon #birthdaydinner #birthdaycelebration

Celebrating Jim's Fabulous 50th Birthday. (Anthony, guardian angel, top far right)

On each day of your cruise, you will find a FREESTYLE DAILY newsletter in your room. Even tho you have the NCL app on your phone and use it for everything, this is a nice plus. It basically brings you up to speed on the day's events.

.**A bonus area on the NCL Joy is the Observation Deck on deck 15. This open living space offers floor to ceiling ocean views. It is the perfect place to have breakfast, get work done, read a book, or just enjoy some quiet time. We had breakfast here numerous times.

Day 4: Bermuda here we come!

Bermuda is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful and picturesque islands I have ever visited…and I’ve been to a lot of islands. I look forward to going again, and I have my eye on a few resorts. The water is the bluest turquoise and the pink sand beaches are breathtaking. We started our day with a private van tour, which worked best for our group of 11. Our guide drove us all over the island explaining the history of the Bermudian people and landmarks on the island. Our stops included the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, Crystal Cave Tour and Blue Hole, Swizzle Inn Restaurant, and Hamilton Parish. #GibbsLighthouse #crystalcave #crystalcaveBermuda #bluehole #blueholebermuda #swizzleinn #rumswizzle #TomMooresJungle #TomMoore

Jim (Bday Guy) and Julie are all smiles! I think Bermuda agrees with them.

These pics are filter free. The ocean is a crystal-clear turquoise.

Lunch at the Swizzle Inn Restaurant - amazing rum swizzle!!

Following lunch at the Swizzle Inn, our guide dropped us off in Hamilton for afternoon shopping. After a few hours of downtown, scenic Hamilton, we returned to our ship. If you’re short on time, hiring a private driver (in the Dockyard) is a great way to see Bermuda. Taxis and private drivers are readily available and willing to negotiate...reasonably and respectfully. #HamiltonParish

The Blue Hole at Tom Moore's Jungle - and YES...we jumped right in!!

The Crystal Cave is a remarkable, natural underground (50 ft down) attraction in Hamilton, featuring crystal clear blue water and long white stalactites affixed to the the cave ceiling. It takes roughly 25 minutes start to finish. This was a highlight, and I highly recommend reserving a tour time.

If you’re not about driving all around and would rather dive right into an immersive Bermuda experience, I would recommend the following:

- Pack a backpack with an NCL beach towel, water, and protein bars.

- Look at the ferry schedule from Navy Dockyard to Hamilton and take the ferry to Hamilton in the morning to see the Crystal Cave, a phenomenon, and worth the $25 p/p entrance fee. Make a reservation ahead that aligns with the ferry schedule. The ferry offers only a few departure/returns.

- After your cave excursion, walk or taxi over to Tom Moore’s Jungle, known officially as Walsingham Nature Reserve and Blue Hole Park, for an afternoon hike and a dive/jump into the blue hole, which is not to be missed.

Tom Moore’s is a 12 acre nature preserve. If you’re not into swimming in the hole, walk around and take in the beautiful birds and landscape of this botanical paradise. The preserve is home to tunnels, caves, herons, finches, cardinals and doves. Lots to explore.

- After the Crystal Cave and Blue Hole, have lunch and a rum swizzle at the infamous, Swizzle Inn, Big thumbs up on their nachos and rum swizzle.

- Plan to taxi back to the famous pink sand beaches after your morning excursions. Roughly 45m from Hamilton to the beach. Taxis are not cheap, but time is of the essence. GET TO THE BEACH!

- If you’ve planned correctly, you’ll have the afternoon to enjoy Elbow Beach and/or Horseshoe Bay Beach on the west coast of Bermuda – famous for their pink sand. Yep…it’s legit. Pink sand. Again, I wouldn’t take the public bus; a taxi is the quickest form of transport to the beach. But, if you are on a budget, you can purchase a daily transportation pass for $19 or tokens for $4.50 at the Visitor Information center at Royal Navy Dockyard.

- Wednesday nites provide a street fair downtown Hamilton. This subject needs to be addressed because it sounds good in theory…I mean, drinks, dancers, and street vendors displaying locally made art. Amazing, right?? The problem is the ferry. For whatever reason, they have few returning ferries from Hamilton to the Dockyard. We went to the street fair that nite (7p – 10p) and enjoyed the festivities. We made our way back to the port at 8:30p for the 9p ferry. There was a line a mile long, and we did not make our ferry. The next departure was 9:30p, which was an exception because the Celebrity Summit was also docked, and there was more traffic. By the time we got back on the ship and up to The Local Bar and Grill, it was easily 10:15p if not later. This is the only restaurant open after 10:30p, so you can imagine how long that line was. We are talking some seriously hangry people were waiting to be fed. Why a ship with 5000 people only has one restaurant open after 10:30p is a mystery. That is some seriously bad planning on NCL’s part. People are drinking and craving the munchies late into the nite. If this is your cruise, keep restaurant hours in your phone and plan accordingly. #TheLocalBarandGrill

Walking around the Hamilton street fair & then making the last ferry back to our ship.

Day 5: Life is a Beach

Our morning was a mad dash to Horseshoe Bay Beach. We taxied and had a marvelous sun-filled morning tanning, walking along the pink sand seashore, and enjoying locally fried fish, rice and beans, and homemade coleslaw at the beach’s food shack. Horseshoe Bay also offers bathrooms, beach chair rentals, umbrellas, and even concierge drink service. There are no beach hagglers. It’s peaceful, clean, and safe. The Bermudian people are lovely.

**Good Tip: There are transfers available for $7 (each way) at the Naval Dockyard to Horseshoe Bay Beach. This is in addition to the public bus transfers ($4.50 each way).

Meg wearing her new cover up, purchased in Hamilton. #beachready

Horseshoe Bay Beach

** The pink sand is due to a combo of a coral and shell mix that give the beach a pink hue. Don't even think about sneaking any back on the ship. Mine got confiscated.

For our afternoon excursion, I booked Rising Sun Catamaran and Snorkel. They were docked right at the Dockyard, which made it very convenient. We all enjoyed snorkeling, but if I'm being honest, the reef was nonexistent. They take you to an area that offers no good sea life sightings. If you're looking for more of a booze cruise/swim day, you'll be fine with this tour. It's not for serious snorkelers, but it was a fun family day on the water. I would book this and other water excursions in advance. They sell out.

*Rising Sun is offered as NCL excursion, but it will cost you less if you book direct. #risingsun #risingsuncatamaran

Photo cred: Rising Sun Catamaran

We decided to go off ship for dinner, which was needed. For four straight days, it was cruise food. So…reservations were made and off we taxied to Breezes for outdoor dinner dining at the Cambridge Resort with Jim and Julie. Dinner was a 5 star experience; the atmosphere was wonderful, the sounds of the ocean while eating...unforgettable, and the company couldn’t be beat. I highly recommend dining here. #CambridgeResort #Breezes

Cambridge Beach Resort

Breezes: Red Snapper, Conch Fritters, and Seared Tuna

A nice, cozy night of dining off ship at Breezes Cambridge Resort

Day 6: Time to Check out Royal Naval Dockyard

Being our last day on shore, I wanted to make sure to walk through all that the Dockyard offered. My First stop was Dolphin Quest, I tagged along the end of a school group and walked right in. Although I really don’t agree with keeping animals confined, there is something to be said about animal rescue. If an animal cannot survive in the open seas, perhaps this serves as a safe haven and educational platform. I can get behind that. #NavyDockyard #NavydockyardBermuda #RoyalNavalDockard #dolphinquest #swimwithdolphins

Next stop…Snorkel Bay Beach. I was in blogger mode and allowed to walk through to 'blog' about this man-made beach. The sand isn’t as soft or pink, but the water is beautiful, and they offer snacks, entertainment, bathrooms, and loungers for rent. For a last-minute beach run, Snorkel Bay Beach serves the purpose. This is an affordable outing that charges a $15 entrance fee. If you're done with your shopping, this is a nice way to relax before heading back to your ship. #SnorkelBayBeach

Snorkel Park at Navy Dockyard

The Keep Fort, home of the National Museum of Bermuda

At last, it was time to check out the Keep Fort. Holy moly. What a fun stop, with the cannons, tunnels, and prison, we had a lot to discover. Don't miss out.

After checking out the Dockyard landmarks, we made our way through the outdoor shops and Clocktower Mall for last minute souvenir purchases, Cuban cigars included. #clocktowermall #bermudaclocktower

Exploring the Keep Fort and making a new friend at the Media Lounge, Navy Dockyard

Back on board the Joy, it was an afternoon of lying on the deck and relaxing while reading my book. I swore I was going to make it to the late nite adult deck dance party, but that just didn’t happen. Demon Copperhead had me spellbound!

Dinner on the ship

Day 7: Back at Sea

On our last day, there was one last activity we reserved. Speedway Racetrack was booked for 2:30p, and my family was looking forward to this wild ride. The unique experience is exclusive to the NCL brand. After about seven laps around the track, our fun was over, but it was a cool and memorable activity that I recommend. Lots of lounging on our last day and suntanning for sure. We were excited to see Dean Edwards' comedy performance, and let me just say, this guy is hilarious...crazy funny!! BOOK YOUR RESERVATION & DO NOT MISS HIS STAND UP, especially the 18+ show. This was the perfect way to end our nite and close out our cruise. I had booked a group farewell dinner reservation at Le Bistro, and it was a plentiful and lovely dinner with an impressive menu. The specialty restaurants offer diverse, fine dining selections to satisfy every palette. #speedwayracetrack

Speedway Racetrack & Comedian Dean Edwards (He had us laughing soooo hard!)

Day 8: Get Me Off This Ship!

I don’t understand why disembarkation can’t go as smoothly as embarkation. With 5000 people in elevators trying to get off the ship and many with luggage in tow, this makes for a grumpy departure. We decided against leaving our bags outside our cabins the nite before (big mistake). This is what our group recommended, but they were local and eager to get home. We had tons of time to kill on Sunday as Meg’s flight out of LGA wasn’t until 2:50p. Basically, we were in no rush. So, having the steward collect our bags would have been the better option for our family.

If you have time on your hands, take it easy, and leave your luggage outside your cabin door the nite before your departure. Your room steward will take them down to the main luggage area where you will collect them on your way out. Sure, there are tons of suitcases in this area, but it's pretty organized. Mark your bags with stickers/ribbons, so you can find them without delay. With the busy elevators and mass exodus of passengers, go for the least stressful exit. In the end, you'll be happy with your decision.

With time on our hands before Meg's flight, we parked and had breakfast at Carnegie Diner, which I highly recommend for two reasons: fabulous diner breakfast and location to Central Park. Breakfast was off the charts delicious, and afterward we took our time strolling thru Central Park, people watching, and taking in the beautiful day. Meg's drop off at LGA was effortless and marked with great signage (for us out of towners). I was impressed. #NYC #NewYork #Carnegiediner #CentralPark #LGA #LaGuardiaAirport

Gorgeous Day in Central Park

All in all, our family had a nice time on our Bermuda cruise. It was a week of making new friends, celebrating Jim's 50th birthday, experiencing a new island, and creating wonderful memories...and that is what life is all about. #themeaningoflife #makingmemories

I hope you enjoyed this short post about the NCL Joy Bermuda cruise! Any questions, do not hesitate to contact me at

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