For our 25 Anniversary we wanted to do something special. We had talked about going to New York and catching a a play, or perhaps doing something else. Eventually, we decided to do a cruise to the Bahamas. It was somewhat last minute, but we were able to book a cruise on Royal Caribbean leaving from Port Canaveral with the perfect itinerary. We would leave on our anniversary, December 27th, and would return in time to get home before the madness of New Year’s. We had considered seeing in the new year on a ship, but combined with our trip to see family in Florida, it would be a bit too much.
I’ve been on lots of boats, but we’ve never taken a cruise. Truth be told, we have been avoiding it. We like to control our own destinies, and big cruise ships seemed like large crowded vessels that would send my agoraphobia into overtime. So, a shorter three night tour seemed like a good way to get my feet wet, so to speak.
Our itinerary would take us from Port Canaveral to Nassau, where we would spend a day. We would then travel to Coco Cay (actually, Little Stirrup Key, but Royal Caribbean renamed it when they bought the island), then we would return. We booked three excursions – a glass bottom boat ride in Nassau, kayaking in Coco Cay, and an Eco Boat Tour, also on Coco Cay.
This was our first tour, but I’m resisting the urge to document every detail, as I normally do here. Lots people of been on cruises, so I won’t belabor the point. However, I will start right off by annoying people with a vacation slide show:
I will write a few impressions, though. Overall, it was a great experience. The food and service were fantastic. Even though we had a small interior stateroom because we were so late booking, everything seemed to be the height of luxury. So, are we now “cruisers?” To quote Laura, “We won’t be actively avoiding cruising anymore.” We did have a blast.
The food was especially good. Because it was our anniversary, the maitre’d for the main dining room able to secure an excellent table for two with a fantastic view. We had the same waiters every evening who took great care of everything we might want.
Travel was a bit bumpy on the ride out, but we managed to make it to Nassau without getting sick. I was more uncomfortable from having eaten too much.
The was occasionally an aspect of being “herded”. This was most often when we were getting on and off the ship. Some parts of the ship were more crowded than others, especially the pools and hot tubs. We even enjoyed the entertainment – at least some of it. The magic show was impressive. However, the band in the main bar of the ship was awful. The guitarist was OK, but the female singer was completely off key. We avoided the main interior parts of the ship when she was singing.
Nassau was fun. The glass bottom boat ride and tour of the harbor was quite enjoyable. We also had fun in the straw market. We had been to the one in Freeport, so we knew what to expect. Even so, this one was larger, and almost overwhelming. We found a few nice things at reasonable prices to take as souvenirs.
Coco Cay was fun. It was nice having a private island with plenty of room. The kayak tour could have been better. The tour guide took off and left everyone. Even as experienced paddlers, we couldn’t keep up. That meant we couldn’t hear what he had to say. We were paddling so fast to keep up that we couldn’t take our time and look at the wildlife or take many photos. We found out later that we could have just rented a kayak, which would have been MUCH better.
The Eco Tour was a disaster. There was only a small group on board, so we hoped that the tour would be better. However, Laura saw one of the crewmen looking into an ice chest at some marine organisms. The crewman said “I think these are dead,” to which the tour guide replied, “That’s OK, these tourists won’t know the difference.” Yeah, right. These idiots did more to damage the environment than educate about it.
The very concept of massive cruising is a potential environmental disaster. Everything is to excess – the amount of food consumed, fuel consumption, the massive size of the ships. That alone gives me pause when I consider taking another cruise. Even so, I think we will go again. Now we just need to find another cool destination and start saving our pennies.