Thursday, July 3, 2008

NCL Dawn Bermuda - Maritime Museum

Step back in history to the 19th century. Walk through the entrance of the Keep and imagine the life of a British Naval Officer as they saw your ship approaching. Orders rang out to man the cannons.

The Royal Naval Dockyard, built starting in 1809, remained a major Atlantic outpost for the British Royal Navy until 1951, when most of the facility was closed. A limited number of buildings and facilities remained opened for the support of British and NATO ships until complete closure in 1995.

This location has been transformed into one of Bermuda’s most popular tourist areas. The former Keep became the Bermuda Maritime Museum and Dolphin Quest, while the Royal Navy’s administrative headquarters are now a shopping centre, the Clocktower Mall. The Cooperage, originally used for making barrels, is now home to the Frog and Onion Pub, the Bermuda Art Centre, the Bermuda Craft Market and the Neptune Cinema. Buildings previously used for repair work now house the Bermuda Clayworks and Dockyard Glassworks.

Upon return from our sightseeing in Hamilton, we entered the old Keep to begin a self-guided tour of the Maritime Museum. Scattered around the grounds are ship's propellars, anchors, and other maritime artifacts.

The cannons, which have been silent for years, still point out into the harbor as if they are still standing guard.

The view from various parts of this old fortress is amazing. In the picture above, you can see our ship, the Norwegian Dawn, as seen through one of the lookouts. Stand behind one of the massive cannons and imagine that you were here in the early 1900's.

Continuing your walk around the perimeter of the old Keep, you'll come to Dolphin Quest. From your vantage point, you may be lucky enough to see the dolphins with their trainers or some of the tourists that have chosen a dolphin encounter as part of their vacation.

There are three different encounter programs available at Dolphin Quest. If you never swam with the dolphins, this could be a once in a lifetime experience for you and your family. I'll warn you though, it is quite pricey. From our vantage point, it looked like the dolphins and people were having a great time.

Snorkel Park is a new attraction at the Royal Naval Dockyards. It can be seen from the Keep as you walk through the grounds. While it is convenient to the ship, I'd probably select Horseshoe Bay or one of the other popular beaches instead of this one.

Make sure to visit the actual museum building in the center of the Keep to see various displays. For more pictures, see our Dockyards Photo Album. There are still more Bermuda attractions for me to discuss, so come back and visit again for more updates.

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