Cruise packages to this paradise come in many forms depending on what you are interested in. They range from luxury cruises offering seven night stays in state rooms on cruise liners to themed cruises such as the Disney family Bahamas and even discount packages for three night stays. A very interesting cruise option is glass bottom cruise options; these are undertaken in cruise liners that have glass bottom that allows you to see the awesome marine flora and fauna under the sea. This package is enhanced by the clarity of the Bahamian waters that allow you to see very far into the exotic world under water. The range of cruise package options is designed to cater for every interest from family cruises to the Bahamas booze cruise for those so inclined. We decided to take the traditional cruise with Royal Caribbean and save money. Royal Caribbean was well worth the money and priced a lot lower than some of the specialty cruise lines.
The traditional amenities offered on cruises are; magnificent dining with exotic and local cuisine perfected to scintillate your taste buds. The accommodation is excellent with well designed rooms that provide a relaxing experience. The rooms are small but if you are doing the cruise the right way, you will not be in your room very much. There is so much to see and do, if you are in your room, you are missing a lot. Fabulous entertainment will be provided during the night time providing you with a chance to dance and enjoy music and friendly company under the moonlit skies.
Another breathtaking location is the Coco Cay which is owned by the Royal Caribbean International Corporation. This company deals in cruise travel and has created a heavenly destination for their cruise experience on this island. Nature lovers can take a guided tour of the island taking in the unspoiled wonders of the tropical island flora and fauna. Parasailing is also available on the clear waters that surround this island, with easy lessons provided by well trained instructors guaranteeing the experience is nothing short of memorable. From the beach one can lounge and take in views of the surrounding islands. You can also go snorkeling and scuba diving and see the awe inspiring coral reef around the islands. The beauty of the island is matched if not surpassed by the aquatic fauna in its waters. My wife and I actually enjoyed this island more than Nassau.
The main island is Nassau Bahamas located on New Providence Island sometimes known as Paradise Islands. It is the most popular port of call in the Caribbean region and is a must visit due to its vibrant culture, wonderful climate and friendly people. There is a wide range of activities to undertake and culture to sample; you can immerse yourself in the calypso, soca and junkanoo music genres the islands are so renowned for. The locals will teach you how to dance to the percussion based rhythms of calypso and even the more exotic rhythms of rake & scrape genre which uses a saw as its main instrument.
You can choose excursions while in Nassau as well. Daily activities you can choose from are swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving with trained instructors, sport activity centers such as tennis and basketball courts and truly marvelous array of activities to keep you engaged. Charges are affordable and will usually not include in the price of your cruise accommodations. On the cruise excursions, alcohol, gratuities and other personal expenses the cruise goer caters for himself.
When in Nassau Bahamas you can shop at the straw market. This was an experience in itself. The islanders are very good at trying to get the money from your pocket to theirs. Part of the process it to haggle the price and this is expected, so do not think you are going to offend them. We stopped at one little straw market off the beaten path and ended up spending quite a bit of the money we had budgeted for souvenirs. We traveled down the road to where they are building the new hotels and came upon another straw market. This place had better quality stuff and even though they came down on their prices some it was not as much as the other straw marketers had done. The Pirates of Nassau is a great treat for children. The only limitation to the depth of the experience is your imagination. We visited the Fort Charlotte, which was built in 1789 when the British were expecting an attack from the Spaniards. The attack did not happen. It was a great tour of the history of The Bahamas and only cost us $5. Fort Charlotte over looked the beautiful waters of the bay and we could see the old lighthouse. This was a picturesque photo that my wife took to add to our collection.
The Grand Bahama Island is family oriented with a bouquet of activities targeted at family fun and relaxation. The world class resorts just before the pure beaches full of white sands and surrounded by clear blue waters are a sight for sore eyes and a tonic for tired bodies. There are activities meant for the entire family and for individuals. Some of the various individual activities you can enjoy are kayaking and scuba diving with the guidance of experienced and friendly locals.
For wholesome family fun there are jeep safaris into the interior showing you the wide wonderful landscapes of Grand Bahama. Dolphin watching is another family fun activity that happens on this island; the magnificence of the majestic and very friendly dolphins playing in the clear blue waters of the island is unforgettable. Interaction with island natives is rich and fulfilling and very easy if you speak English. However if you don't do not be dismayed as there are local translators and guides to ensure your trip is fully immersed in the local culture. Experience night time cultural celebrations at the Count Basie Square first hand as their beauty and intenseness can hardly be described.
There were some cautions that we learned while on the island, that I will pass along to the reader. You will be bombarded with the natives trying to rent you scooters, as soon as you go through the local customs office. We rented a scooter and was given a quick lesson on how to ride it. We paid $75 and it seemed like a good way for my wife and me to experience the island without the pressure of tour guides and itineraries. We come to find out at one of the straw markets we could have gotten the scooter for $50 if we had asked and even could rent a car for little more than the $50.
Another caution for travelers from the United States, they do drive on the other side of the road. The drivers are not friendly to the scooters of tourist. They will honk and go around you even if there is oncoming traffic. The roads are horrible there. I complain about the roads in my hometown, but they are nothing compared to most of the roads in Nassau. A scooter becomes a deathtrap on these roads. DO NOT rent the scooters.
There are some beautiful sites and buildings in Nassau close to the port and on Paradise Island, where Atlantis is located. However, just a few blocks into the city, the city becomes very dirty and you can tell The Bahamas are a poor nation and tourism is what keeps them going. They spend good money fixing up the town close to port, the rest of the city is lacking.
The people are friendly and understand the tourism trade. It is almost like they are taught this. Most citizens are willing to help with most things. One thing my wife and I found out is that they are very willing to help you find drugs. We were asked numerous times to purchase drugs from them. One time we asked for directions to a phone we could call back to the United States on and the guy took us many blocks away to a bar. He tried to hard sell me for drugs three times along the way. The bar he led us to had no phone. It was a wild goose chase to sell us drugs, which we did not purchase by the way. Another citizen was helpful to find a place we were searching for, but also tried to sell us drugs. When I told him “no” he called me racist for not wanting to have a good time with him because he was black. I explained to him I was upset, not because he was black, but because we did not do drugs and did not want to buy drugs. He told me “we natives like to have a good time and figured you would too.” He apologized and went on his way.
We flagged down a taxi and was taken to the local row of restaurants called The Fish Fry. The Fish Fry was about 8-10 older buildings containing the restaurants.
The restaurant the taxi driver told us we “had” to eat at was closed for renovations. He led us into another restaurant and told us he would wait outside for us to eat and then give us a ride back to port. The restaurants have different menus for tourist and natives, with tourist menus being much higher. They know we will pay for the experience. The taxi driver also gets a cut of the ticket for bringing us there. He did not notice we could see this transaction taking place. He might not be able to have noticed because of the huge Cuban cigar he was smoking and the alcohol that haunted his breathe. Yes, he drove us like that and we were a little scared, but I guess it made for an adventure and a story to tell.
Even with the words of caution I provided above, I still recommend going to see Nassau. It was an experience we will never forget. When my wife and I got back on the ship we enjoyed the beautiful view of Nassau and the lights of the city. But we knew there were some other lights we wanted to see…The lights of the Slot Machines!!! My wife actually hit the slot machines for enough money to pay for the entire cruise plus some. The casino operators were very nice.
She is going to kill me when she sees i did this. Oh well. LOL.