Back from the Bahamas….Yeah Mahn.
Traci and I took a little vacation for about a week, and crammed in a great trip to The Bahamas. I didn’t take the laptop, and I switched off the phone for 48 hours which meant no twitter, no online poker, no email, no facebook….and just some one on one time with my wife. It was a fantastic getaway.
A while back, Traci and I attended a time share presentation and declined their offer to buy a bad resort for a ridiculous price. But we did accept a gift of a free cruise to the Bahamas. We paid for the port fees and taxes for a total of about $150 back in November of 2009, and had 18 months to put it to use. Because the window of time was closing in, we decided to book some cheap airfare to Florida and take advantage of it. We caught the red-eye flight out of LAX on Monday which left at around 11:50pm, and landed in Ft. Lauderdale at around 7:30 AM. It was the first time that Traci and I had flown anywhere together, and it was the first time that Traci had flown since she’d been in the wheelchair. It was pretty easy getting on the plane as they boarded us first and transfered her to a smaller chair that would fit down the isle of the plane. She moved over to the window seat and was pretty much just stuck there for the duration of the flight.
When we got to Florida, we picked up our rental car and had to drive to the Radison Hotel where we picked up the tickets for the cruise at the Florida Welcome Center. The lady tried to get us to go to their timeshare presentation on Thursday when we got back, but we declined and just took our tickets. She got really pissed and literally handed our tickets over and stood up, turned her back, and refused to answer any more of our questions. It was abrupt and rude..but whatever. We got our tickets and headed up A1A with the windows down all the way to the Port of West Palm Beach.
Our cruise ship was the Bahamas Celebration, and was apparently a converted Ferry Boat. It was smaller than the cruise ships that I’d sailed on in the past, but I kind of liked the fact that it wasn’t a mega ship. We valeted our car and went to check our bag with the porter who discovered that our name wasn’t on the cruise ship manifest. This made us a little uneasy. But he said that happens sometimes, and he wrote our last name on the luggage and said that they’d match it up. We proceeded up to the check in to get our room keys, and when the check-in lady couldn’t locate our name, she disappeared for around 15 minutes. She finally came back and gave us our keys and said that our room would be ready around 2pm. It was already 12:30, so Traci and I boarded the boat and went up to deck 9 to get some lunch.
After our first buffet line, we headed down to our room to check it out only to find out that they hadn’t assigned us a wheelchair accessible cabin. The door to the cabin was too narrow to get the chair in, and their was a step to get in and out of the room. The step wasn’t a big issue, but the being too narrow was a considerable issue that gave us pause. As we checked in, signs were posted “Cruise Ship is completely sold out. No changing of cabins will be allowed.” So we headed to the information desk to see what they could do.
The guy at the desk was a real jerk-weed. He said that the only option that he had for wheelchair cabins was a room with to adjoining twin beds, but that they didn’t connect. Considering the fact that we paid for an upgrade to get a wheelchair room, we needed it, they needed to fix their problem. They even called us TWICE to confirm that we needed the wheelchair accessible cabin, and confirmed the size and dimensions of Traci’s chair. But to say that “we’re sorry, we’re full, and this is all we have…you can take it or leave it” caused a shit storm on the dude. We didn’t have much of a choice, and we took their crappy room…and by crappy…I mean it was a total shit hole.
The room measured 8 feet by 8 feet total. It was so small that the twin bed was actually folded up against the wall to allow for the door to open. The second bed was a couch that folded into itself to make a second twin bed. Once the second bed was down, it partially blocked the access way to the bathroom, which was actually bigger than the cabin. It was clearly a storage bin that had been converted into a cabin, and it was a complete hole. But it was either that, or a room that we couldn’t even get Traci into…so we were forced to settle. It was 2 nights, so we made the best of it. So that we could sleep side by side, we had them bring in a cot which I had to bring into the room and set up because our steward dropped it off and left. That completely blocked the access to the bathroom, so we had to climb over the bed to get in it. Awesome stuff.
With the crappy cabin situation behind us, we got some dinner in us in their casual dining area. The prime rib was pretty good. The skewered meats were excellent, and the chocolate cake was fantastic. We hit the hay after dinner having not had much sleep, and getting up early to catch a 9:30am meeting spot for our Bus tour of Freeport in The Bahamas the next day.
The Bahamas was probably the highlight of the trip. I had to carry Traci onto the bus as they didn’t have wheelchair accessibility either, but we made it just fine. Our bus driver and tour guide was a native named Sully, and he really knew his stuff about the island. As we toured the various homes in the Bahamas, he showed us things like Sammy Davis Jr.’s house, the Castle that was owned by the dude who owned all the KFC’s and Burger Kings and stuff, and talked about the various Fruit trees and plant life as we went through. Basically every home had either Banana Trees, Guava, Sugar Cane, Berry’s, Apple’s, Oranges…you name it. And no property had a mail box, because there were no mailmen in The Bahamas. Everyone went to the post office to pick up their mail. I also didn’t expect the vehicles to drive on the left side of the road, and that took some time to get used to.
Our first stop was at a little flea market where we exited and saw how the locals fixed up Conch Salad, Conch Fritters, and then resold the Conch Shells for $3-$5 each. We got some margarita’s and bought some cheap bracelets for the kids. The it was back on the bus as we headed into the Port of Lucaya, where the tour ended. Traci and I got some lunch and I had my first taste of Conch, which was fried and tasted rather like Calamari. After lunch, we toured the town on foot, and walked over to the beach which was nearby. It was almost empty which surprised me given that there were 2 other cruise ships in town, but I think that most people were heading over to the resorts, and staying a couple more days. On the beach, they had a boat ride that would take you to see the Dolphins, and I paid the guy $50 to take Traci and I. I had to carry her the 60 yards or so across the sand to get there, but we got there alright (despite me stepping in a 1 foot hole, and having to get back up again…I know….fail). The boat stopped at another beach and picked up some people who rode the banana boat that was in toe, and we cruised over to see the Dolphin Experience. We didn’t get out to touch or swim with them or anything, but we could see them and the tricks that they had them doing.
The boat went over to a canal where a host of Nurse Sharks were swimming around. The water was so clear that you could see the floor, so the 8-10 Nurse sharks were clear as day, as was the Eagle Ray that the boat driver pointed out. We also saw a ship that supposedly used as they filmed the Pirates of The Caribbean movie, and then we headed back to the shore. That was by far the best part of the trip for me was watching Traci smile from ear to ear and repeating “I can’t believe that we’re doing this.”
We had to be back on the boat by 5:30pm, so Traci and I grabbed a cab and headed back instead of waiting for the free shuttle. It was only $5, and better than me having to carry her back onto the bus. We took a quick nap and changed into our formal dinner attire, and headed up to the top deck to watch a gorgeous sunset. Dinner wasn’t until 8:30, and we had some time to kill so we went to a Pub they had on the ship and listened to some cowboy musician as I enjoyed a beer and Traci sipped a Shirley Temple. The fancy dinner was below average, and the service was abysmal. But we laughed about it, and left dinner to go to their show. The late show had a magician who was pretty good, a guy who balanced stuff on a knife that he held in his mouth, and a comedian that was upstaged by the audience. I kept telling Traci that the ship was 3rd class. ”There’s 1st class, Coach, and whatever the hell this is.” We just made the best of it.
We exited the ship at 8:30am on Thursday morning and said our goodbyes to the “Dump on the sea” (pretty sure that’s its more common name) and headed back down the coast in our car. We stopped off for lunch at a 50′s diner somewhere, and decided that we’d stop into South Beach in Miami just so that we could say that we were there. The traffic was supposedly light for a Thursday in South Beach, which meant that it took 3 or 4 signals to get through an intersection instead of more I guess. It was jam packed, and we found some parking to walk around the area. I liked the area that had all the restaurants and clubs on Ocean blvd…or whatever they called it, but after a few hours…we’d had our fill.
We went back up A1A to Ft. Lauderdale beach where our hotel was, and checked into another ratty dump. At least it was on the ocean. We walked up the beach and stopped into eat at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and watch as the sun set. It was absolutely gorgeous. We slept in on Friday morning, and got some lunch at the Hooters in Ft. Lauderdale. After driving around for a few hours on the coast, we headed back to the airport for our long flight back. It was great trip.
I could have gone into a lot more detail on this, but honestly this is long enough. All of the pictures are available on my Facebook profile page here. I had an awesome time with my wife, and can’t wait for the next trip that we take together.