We had never taken a trip alone together until we went on a 2 day/3 night cruise to the Bahamas aboard the Enchantment of the Sea cruise ship.
View our snazzy photos here. 🙂
Once we got into Miami and were shuttled to port, it took us about 45 minutes to check in and get our sea passes in order to board the ship (Royal Caribbean). As with most cruise ships, this was a BIG boat with 11 decks full of luxurious indulgence. The minute we boarded, my first thought was, I hope we don’t sink, which was followed by, Holy-shit-this-boat-is-packed-with-people. There were giant hats, sparkly sunglasses, sailor shirts, elaborate sarongs and billowing scarves for as far as the eye could see. We had a plan to put into action. We needed to find our stateroom, then find some frilly drinks post haste. Despite walking down the wrong hall (that smelled a bit foul) on the wrong side of the ship, we finally found our stateroom, which thankfully was located down the non-smelly hall on the other side. We dropped off our things and made our way to the very loud and very active pool deck for our first drink. We quickly learned the pool deck bar was to be avoided, unless loud and crowded is your thing. As luck would have it, we found the less popular Schooner Lounge, where we met the best bartender on the ship. His name was Sid. Sid was an incredibly talented, dedicated and creative drink master, who made me three original and delicious drinks all according to things he learned I liked. Needless to say, we looked for Sid often.
He’s my best friend. ❤
Soon after we left port it was time for dinner. We were seated at table #150; a large round table that we shared with three other relatively quiet couples. These more formal dinners in the main dining room were as proper as they come – always at the same table with the same guests. The food was opulently served and the wait staff had their jobs down to an art form. We got to know a little about the other couples who were seated with us over the two nights that we dined there, but after that second night we realized the less formal and equally glorious self serve buffet, where we could sit on our own looking out over the ocean, was more to our liking.
Oh, and since we haven’t really had a honeymoon, I may or may not have said we were on ours. We may or may not have received a complimentary bottle of champagne in our room. Classy.
Watch out CocoCay – this white girl is on your island. By that I mean layer on the sunscreen, otherwise I’ll catch fire. No joke.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from CocoCay. All I knew of this tiny island was that it was owned by the cruise line, and that it offered several expensive shore excursions like parasailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming with dolphins or stingrays and jet-skiing, among other things. The Stingray adventure interested us, and we gave it serious consideration. That is until we walked away from the crowded nucleus of tiny beach-ware shops and bar-fronts onto a more secluded part of the beach where there was a lone bar and rentable covered areas that looked out onto the water. For $70 (equal to or MUCH less than an excursion fee for just one of us) we had the luxury of a private covered half dome umbrella, plate of fresh fruit, a cooler full of cold water, two floating rafts, an attendant, a tram to take us where ever we wanted to go, that peaceful little bar and the quiet of the beach breeze. This is where we spent the rest of our day together, sipping drinks and swapping stories we’d never told each other. We only left to bring back lunch and to stroll the beach at low tide. We saw small barracuda lurking so eerily still – some with tiny babies. We came across a few live conch, some scallops, clams, a stingray and a sea cucumber. FYI, sea cucumbers don’t have eyes, and they’re larger than you’d think…and they’re WEIRD. This day was magically relaxing. My favorite part of the whole weekend.
Scenery at CocoCay, but this collage doesn’t do it justice.
Time to catch a show
The two-story Orpheum Theater on board was damned impressive. That night, as it filled with people after dinner, we were looking forward to what we hoped would be a fun show. Now, don’t get me wrong – I have great respect for anyone who can do magic tricks or juggle. I have even more respect for good comedians, so I was prepared to love at least one thing about the man who claimed to be all three, and who we were about to spend two hours watching. Granted, I was a tired monkey, but this poor man fell flat with us. I imagine that a job providing cruise ship entertainment might not be that exciting for him. Entertained, we were not. Embarrassingly, I fell asleep on Cory’s shoulder. Talk about a show faux pas – way to go me.
Nassau – A mixed bag of tourism
We woke up early and had a buffet breakfast in preparation for exploring Nassau that day. We booked two excursions (even though I know they’re usually over-priced and under-rated). The first was the Seaworld Explorer. The boat tour portion of the excursion took us out past downtown Nassau and it’s port on one side, and Paradise Island on the other. The cruise director was incredibly witty as he pointed out all of the famous homes and landed us on the deck of a partially submerged boat called the Seaworld Explorer. This is the part we were super excited about. I know the ocean and it’s inhabitants are unpredictable, but we were supposed to see a huge variety of fish on a coral reef and a ship wreck, two things that don’t move. We saw the sand on the bottom 20 feet down, small tuna, tons of sergeant major fish, some old tires and someone saw a crab. That thing I said about excursions? I don’t suggest taking this one.
Junkanoo Beach, The Queen’s Staircase and Bay Street – Nassau
I’ve learned that an enthusiastic and knowledgable cab driver can enrich ANY travel experience.
We had 2 hours until our next excursion to a beer tasting and a tour of the pirate historical museum, so we hired a cabby who took us to The Queen’s Staircase and then gave us a 30 minute tour around that side of Nassau. He spoke of the absence of racism on the island, and he made it a point to talk about how everyone lived in peace. He talked about the history of the island and what the old houses looked like before the tourism built everything up. He told us that Sean Connery lived in Nassau and is a tall old man who is often seen walking around carrying a cat. Our ride with him gave us more of a feel for this place than anything else we could have done, and our ride was a short one. He took us by two public beaches that we hoped might be like the one we lounged on in CocoCay, but no such luck. I would thank him by name, but for what ever reason we never got his.
Mostly, Nassau reminded us of of how we felt in Malta, where there is rich history, but every bit of it has been taken over by the tourism industry, which makes everything you do expensive. That tourist feeling is even more compounded by shop owners and photographers who come at the island visitors pretty aggressively, and they don’t take no for an answer.
Relaxing in cruise ship luxury
After our cab ride and a short walk on Junkanoo Beach right next to where the ship was docked, we decided to forgo our beer tasting tour and head back to the ship to relax for the rest of our day, and relax we did. We laid on lounge chairs, we drank fancy drinks and we walked the ship. We finally found a way to get to the coveted deck at the back of the ship for the breezy view of Nassau as we pulled away to begin the journey home. We had dinner that night at the Wind Jammer and watched the sunset over the water as we dined. That night when we got back to the state room, we found our towels sculpted into the shape of a bunny, which made Cory very happy.
5 fun facts we learned about cruising to the Bahamas with Royal Caribbean
Research Your Destination: Rather than base your whole trip on expensive ship excursions, do some research and catch a cab. There’s a lot to be said for exploring on your own.
Walk the Ship – Get a Map: Cruise ships are HUGE, so before you give up on that quiet spot with the great view, take the time to walk the entire ship. I promise, you’ll find the spot you’re looking for as well as tons of other things you didn’t even know were there – like the rock climbing wall we found on the back of the ship.
Exchange Rate: The exchange rate from U.S. dollars to Bahamian dollars is NADA. They look different, but are worth the same thing.
Ship Photographers: Generally not worth the money, but you can buy pre-made photo books of the ship and the destinations.
Ultimate Drink Package: Soda is not included in your cruise package unless you buy a drink package of some kind (alcoholic or non), at least not with Royal Caribbean. Our ultimate drink package covered all non alcoholic drinks, but only covered single shot alcoholic drinks, one drink at a time. However, if you’re crafty, you can find bartenders who just want you to have a good time, and who will gladly give you that extra shot of rum in your piña colada.
Gratuities: An 18% gratuity is added as an extra charge on top of what you paid for your cruise package, and on top again for any spa treatments. Just like anywhere, tipping extra for good service when you sign for that drink usually gets you some loyal attention.
When all is said and done, we did it! Our first weekend away, just the two of us! It didn’t matter that Nassau wasn’t what we expected. It didn’t matter that our coral reef was made of sand or that we thought the shop owners might show up in our room to try and sell us something. All that mattered was that we were together. Where ever we are – what ever we do – that’s all that will ever matter.