Bahamas Cruise 2010-10-22/25

We recently took a cruise vacation, trying hard to get away from all the projects that are looming at home and at work.  It was a very relaxing vacation, and we feel recharged and ready to attack some of those outstanding obligations.

The cruise we took was a 3 day cruise on Norwegian Cruise Lines, from Miami to Nassau (Bahamas), to Great Stirrup Cay (a privately owned island in the Bahamas), and back to Miami.  In a slightly off-season and with an inside cabin, putting the dog in a kennel for 5 days cost more than the cruise did.    Airfare from Chicago to Miami was another story… twice the cost of the cruise tickets, and American Airlines wouldn’t let us select seats ahead of time.

Flights down and back were solidly booked, 100% filled as far as I could tell.  Even though we were taking only carry-on luggage, we ended up having to check bags in one direction because the cabin was so full.  At least American didn’t charge for gate-checked bags!

Transfer from airport to port and back again was in a charter bus, taking only about 15 minutes.  Checking in to the ship was pretty quick and easy with passports in hand, and it wasn’t long before we had our shoes off, flipflops on, and were lounging, Kindle e-book readers in hand.

Photos can be seen at

The ship had a capacity of about 2000 passengers, and was probably close to full, although it was hard to tell.  I kept being surprised I didn’t see the same people over and over again.  The food was terrific, with the cooks seeming to have a specialty in chilled soups: orange carrot, peach mint, and blackberry were especially good.  We found ourselves eating in the buffet service area most often, although we did go to a table service dining room for one dinner.

The cruise is timed to allow for a day as a tourist in Nassau, and a day on the beach on an island owned by the cruise line.  Our day in Nassau was probably not quite like anyone else’s – a little Google Maps action ahead of time found a full day’s worth of attractions to walk to from the port, and then some.  And since we were walking on our own, having escaped all the tour guides at the port, we managed to see some parts of Nassau that most tourists don’t!  In fact, a passerby was so concerned about seeing us in his neighborhood, walking past the burned out cars on blocks, that he took it on himself to lead us to our next sightseeing targets.

We saw the Queen’s Staircase, Fort Fincastle (great views from the top) and the water tower (unfortunately not open to climb), Government House, and the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas.  It was quite a disappointment to see how few people visited the art museum – it had quite an interesting themed exhibit, with current works dealing the topic “What is your Carbon Footprint”.  And then we went to the Pirates of Nassau exhibit.  Yes, its a tourist trap, but it was a pretty well done one, and informative about the pirates who inhabited the Caribbean in the early 18th century.

When we were ready for a late lunch, we returned to the ship, and then lounged (and napped) with our reading materials.

Sunday was a shore excursion to an island beach, after sailing overnight to get there.  The tender to get to shore was much like a prettied-up landing craft, even to having a ramp at the front of the boat.  There were lots of attractions available, parasailing, water slide, snorkling and scuba excursions, and so on.  We went swimming (water colder than expected!) and then hung out in beach chairs in the shade until it was time to return to the ship.

Lots of napping and relaxing time with (e-)books in hand, food available pretty much on demand with no dishes needing washing (by us)!  What a great vacation!

Again, photos are at