I'm baaaaack! Well, going back to the Bahamas, that is. My first vacation there was also the occasion of my very first cruise, taken during the latter part of 2008. This April me and mine will be cruising the exact same cruise line, ship and itinerary on a five day sail from Miami and back. The reason? It will be our first vacation together that does not include holiday visits to the in-laws although about a half dozen friends will be sailing with us. We figure the ship is big enough for us to do our own thing and join them for the occasional shore excursion and meals whenever we want to be social.
It wasn't all that easy to decide on a first vacation together. Our relationship is new so we wanted to ensure both of us would have things to do that we found individually appealing while also being interested in what the other wanted to do. Who goes on a first vacation together only to spend most of the time pursuing private interests? You'd be surprised, actually, but that's not us. We ran the list of popular destinations, including Hawaii, Europe or time down in Mexico but cancelled those as being too elaborate for a first time outing.
The cruise wasn't our first idea but rather that of mutual friends who told us of their plans for this particular sailing so we gave it some thought and signed on. I enjoy the "freestyle" cruise experience on board Norwegian Cruise Lines and was familiar enough with their product and this particular cruise such that both of us would not be lost and bewildered by the newness and scale of it all. Our ship, the Norwegian Sky does nothing except four- and five-day cruises to the Bahamas and back. It is neither the largest or newest tub in the fleet but is ideal for what I like to call "Starter Cruises" to the simple serenity of places like the Bahamas.
Cruises sell themselves on giving their guests a "taste" of the place from which they can decide later if they want to return. Nobody in their right mind really wants to return to Freeport. It is the industrial harbor of the country with any resorts and shopping at least a 10 minute drive to the other side of the island. Maybe there are some hidden gems there that I don't know about but I'm also trying to think how any of them could compare to the hedonistic, over the top offering that is Paradise Island and the resident Atlantis Resort. Commercial, over the top and audacious, yes, but every luxury catered to and certain to be the one and only excursion I'm interested in once we land in Nassau on Day Three of the itinerary.
Day Three. Hmmmm. There is value in truth when advertising but certainly a lot to be desired when it comes to the actual length of the sailing. Ours is billed as a five-day sailing but in truth only operates over five calendar days. We do not sail until 5PM on Monday and are back in Miami before the sun rises on Friday. Two whole days pretty much bought and paid for with nothing to show for it except check-in at the Port of Miami on Monday and immigrations and customs again on Friday. Day Three? It should really only be Day Two if you're just counting the time away from home port.
So it's back to the Bahamas and I'm very very excited about it. This time I even plan to get off the boat!