Some of the finest hotels in Bermuda are not on the beaches or hills of this delightful island. They're anchored, for several days each week, along Front Street, in the heart of the capital city, Hamilton. These are the luxury cruise ships that call at the island every week from early spring until late fall, usually bringing roughly 25 percent of all visitors to Bermuda.

Though there was a decline in ship calls last year, air arrivals increased and the Bermuda Department of Tourism reported a total of 609,556 tourists arrivals in 1980, a new record.

My wife and I took a one-week cruise on the Holland America Line's SS Volendam. It was our first trip to Bermuda, but it took only this one visit to understand why so many return time and time again. We spent about 3 1/2 days at sea and about the same amount of time in Bermuda. Thus we were able to enjoy shipboard life yet had ample time in port to explore the island.

On many other good resort islands, once you leave the grounds of the tourist hotels and venture into town, you're apt to find things a bit rundown. Not so in Bermuda. Hamilton is a sparkling clean, prosperous looking city of attractive, pastel-colored buildings and homes. You'll find that same just-washed look in St. George, Somerset and the other towns on the island.

If you're a beach person, you'll be in your glory here. There are miles of lovely beaches with pink sand and warm, clear water.

Getting from your floating hotel to beaches, or anywhere else in Bermuda, is easy. We found no need to join any of the shore excursions available to the ship's passengers at extra cost. You can get around the island by cab, bus, moped or bicycle. Rental cars are not available. Mopeds seem to be the favorite form of transportation. They can be rented for about $7 a day -- even less if you take one for three days. However, unless you're familiar with these motorized bikes, it's best to consider some other means of moving about. The roads sometimes seem alive with them.

We chose the buses, and it proved to be an excellent choice. They're frequent and inexpensive, and they leave for just about every place from a main terminal only a short walk from the ships at Front Street. Invariably, the drivers were pleasant and helpful. One-way fares ranged from 55 cents to a maximum of 85 cents.