Sunday, 22 April 2012

Bahamas - Freeport and Nassau

Sunday - the day after the trip to the Kennedy Space Center - was also July 4.

As usual, I was up earlier than Ric. First I walked across to the pier to photograph the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean.

Returning to the hotel, I stood on the balcony and watched the local 4th of July celebration. We Canadians are proud of our land and our citizenship too - but we do not demonstrate that pride to the extent that our American neighbors celebrate their pride. The spot where they celebrated was out of my direct sight but I could hear the program. A woman had been selected to sing the National Anthem and she had a lovely melodic voice as well as the range needed to reach those high notes.

Through his involvement in a chat room Ric had met a fellow from Whidbey Island , Washington. Eric was a 'workaholic' and had not enjoyed a vacation for some time so Ric talked him into joining us on the cruise to The Bahamas. Eric arrived later that morning and found us at the hotel. Later in the afternoon we - along with a couple of women - were picked up by a shuttle and taken to Port Canaveral and the Carnival  line ship, the SS Fantasy. While not all that large, Port Canaveral was a busy place and our ship was one of three that were leaving in tandem. The other two were a Royal Caribbean ship ("Majesty of the Sea") and one of the Walt Disney ships which was sailing to the Disney Corporation owned island on the Atlantic Ocean (east) side of the Bahamas.  

                                                           Boarding the MS Fantasy

                                                            Mariner of the Seas

                                              Disney Line ship

Our ship was the first to leave port with the other two right behind (so to speak)

This photo was taken from the upper deck of the Fantasy with the Disney ship behind and the Mariner of the Sea exiting the estuary in the left background.

This was the one sailing where the dining room was completely full for dinner. The three of us were seated at the Captain's table. With us were seven members of a family from Illinois and four members of another family from Atlanta.

Also on board was a couple who could be classed as 'beautiful people' (very handsome and smartly dressed) but always drunk. The woman of that couple really liked the matron of the Illinois family and proceeded to make a nuisance of herself until she was told - firmly - to 'get lost'.

One of the crew was a very vivacious woman and she got most of us in the dining room on our feet doing the 'Macarena' . That was a lot of fun.  

                                     The usual 'schmaltz' upon leaving the ship in a Port-of-call

Early the next morning we were docked in Freeport - a very busy place and, from the dockside, not at all romantic. We boarded a British type bus (driver on the right instead of on the left) for the tour. As we left the area of the docks we passed an oil storage tank with a beautiful mural on its side.

Our destination was Port Lucaya towards the eastern side of the island.

                                                         The emblem for Port Lucaya

Alighting from the bus we walked along a boardwalk and pier to a large rectangular 'pond' where we were asked to sit along the inward side with our feet in the water (we had already gone to change rooms to get into our swimsuits). A very personable - and knowledgeable - woman waded out on a platform. Using a 'loudhailer' she spoke about the dolphins and, especially, about Cacique who was on her way to entertain us.

                                                           Cacique and her trainer

The trainer shared a lot of information with us all the while giving 'treats' to the dolphin. In the above photo you can see the people sitting along only one side of that square. Ric and I were sitting near there but around the corner with folk sitting all the way to the end and along the third side. After giving us a lot of information about dolphins and about Cacique in particular, people were invited to enter the pool (via the ladder you can see at the end of that row of people) in groups of six. Each person was called forward in pairs and told to stand near the edge of the platform with enough space between each for Cacique.

I do not swim. The platform we were standing on was three feet below the surface while the bottom of the pool was seventeen feet below that. I was nervous - that is, until I felt one of Cacique's fins snuggled behind my leg so I couldn't have fallen into the deep water if there were an accident. I had been told that dolphins are highly intelligent creatures - and there, for me, was proof!

The 'gimmick' was for each of us to be 'kissed' by Cacique. Our friend, Eric, was taking photos  - and so was a professional photographer. We paid for those photos at the gift shop later.

We were permitted to ask a few questions so, as I noticed scars on the top of Cacique's head, I asked  about them. Trophies from fights within the pod.

I was asking about the scars. The girls who were standing behind Ric were waiting their turn to be 'kissed' The gap in the crowd at the far corner was where we were sitting and to where we returned when we exited the pool.

                                             The show's over - Cacique's farewell 

From the dolphin entertainment we took the launch back to Port Lucaya and lunch at a wonderful restaurant. We were sitting on the verandah of this large 'house' where we were waited upon. Each of us ordered a 'Bahama Mamma' which was a large beverage  with - naturally - a lot of rum in it. Potent yet delicious - as was the ample serving of food.

An example of the architecture seen in and around Port Lucaya. Very colorful!

Ric had to acquire some cash so he walked through the village and found a branch of the Royal Bank of Canada. One of my commitments is to purchase and mail postcards to a couple of people in Ontario who do not get to travel. I had no idea as to where to find postcards but Ric had found a shop near the bank so I walked there.

I opened the door and walked into a very cluttered shop. To the right of where the postcards were displayed was a huge black woman standing behind a counter. She glanced at me and then came ambling around to where I was demanding a hug - my second 'Bahama Momma' of the day! Ric witnessed that - and the look upon my face - and I thought that he was going to fall over he was laughing so hard!

But then - at Port Lucaya and in Nassau the next day - I laughed at him as he fought off 'hair dressers' who were determined to turn his long hair into a 'Rasta Mon' look.

Our cabin steward did the usual 'decor thing' with the towels - only, this time, it was an elephant.

As on all cruises, there was a 'formal night' at dinner.

When we arose the next morning we were tied up to a wharf in Nassau. Next to us was the Mariner of the Sea which seemed to be tailing us around the northern Caribbean Sea.

Leaving the ship we had to pose for the usual photograph.

The tours which were offered in Nassau were limited to two - a day at the famed casino or a day at the fabled Blue Lagoon, We opted for the latter - as did many of our fellow passengers.

                                                         The Nassau Hotel and Casino

As you may know, The Bahamas consists of many islands often separated by small channels of sea water. From our cruise ship we walked to a nearby pier where we boarded a launch for the half hour trip to the Blue Lagoon. On the way we passed the casino which was erected to resemble a castle.

As we approached the islands where the Blue Lagoon is located an islet a mile or two away was pointed out to us. Those of you who remember the TV sitcom, 'Gilligan's Island' will remember the opening scene behind the credits.

The Blue Lagoon is a body of water that separates two small cays and is in the shape of an 'S'. To me it is an example of what paradise looks like.

When we docked there was the usual tourist camera and photograph which we bought as a souvenir.

                                                                  Eric, myself and Ric

Near where the launch was docked were most of the buildings associated with the resort (recreation room, change rooms, wash rooms, and picnic area). As well as a swim itself there were other choices for activity - including another 'Swim with the Dolphins'. A couple of hundred yards further along was a 'Swim with the Stingrays' thing. Ric regretted not booking himself into that - he inquired but all of the tickets for that morning had been sold.  

                           You can see the shadows of two stingrays below those two children.

I thought that I was in Paradise - and the scenery reminded me of the setting of "South Pacific"(all that was missing was 'Bloody Mary'!)

                                                                 Cocoanut palms

                                                  Ric walking past the 'stingray' exhibit.

                                              In a doorway I spotted a gecko on the wall.

Signs along the walk warned against wading in the pools aside from the Blue Lagoon itself but we did walk into the water which separated where we were from another small island. There were countless small fish swimming in that clear water and the sensation of them bouncing into and off of our legs was good fun.

After a barbecue lunch we went for a dip in the lagoon - a taste of paradise (warm water gently flowing past us). On the side of the islet towards Nassau is Blackbeard's tower - one of a few reputedly erected by that famed pirate. I walked there and climbed the staircase inside.

From the top I looked down upon the lagoon and spotted Ric and Eric cavorting in the water.

               That is Ric who is gesturing in my direction while Eric's back is turned towards me.

One other 'adventure' was Ric challenging me to go with him in a kayak. As a paddler I was hopeless!

                                                           Ric towing the kayak

We were supposed to return to Nassau on the mid-afternoon launch trip but remained until the final one which was almost overcrowded.

A cruise to the Bahamas - a wonderful memory!

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