At the beginning of this month I journeyed to the Bahamas on a Carnival cruise for my friend’s bachelorette. It was my first time out of the country and using my passport in more than five years.
Starting from Cape Canaveral in Florida, our cruise ship, the Carnival Liberty, departed the Sunday afternoon and set course. Our first night was spent exploring the ship. I had never been on a cruise ship before and didn’t realize just how big it was. There was a massive lobby, a casino with a bar, comedy club, night club, auditorium, dining rooms, stores, spa, and so on. And this was just on the lower and middle decks. The upper decks had plenty of deck chairs, hot tubs and pools.
Our first full day was spent at sea. We were originally supposed to dock at Nassau for the day, but the sea level was too high to safely maneuver the ship into the channel, as the captain said. Still, the day turned out to be pretty fun. We found our way up to the very top deck on the stern and played some minigolf. This was followed by laying out on the deck for a bit. I ended up dozing off, feeling relaxed. Unfortunately, my pale skin was not accustomed to the hot Bahama sun and I ended up with sunburn on the top half of my body. I would definitely have no shortage of Vitamin D on the trip, and learned to bring stronger sunscreen next time.
The second full day had us visit Princess Cays, a private island that Carnival owns a section of. Since the water was too shallow to properly dock, the Liberty instead anchored and shuttled people to the island by tender ships. It was a long wait for one, but worth it. The island had food, several shops and most importantly, a real beach. I hadn’t been to a proper beach in probably four years, and hadn’t seen the ocean in just as long. Seeing both was incredibly refreshing and relaxing. I covered up in a beach hat, dress and sunglasses, but was still able to enjoy the crystal clear water, the feeling of sand against my bare feet and spending time with some good friends.
On our way back up north, we were able to dock in Nassau for the morning on the third day. This place was much different than Princess Cays, being an actual city and the official capital of the Bahamas. The streets were crowded with peoples, cars and booths. At the Straw Market, there were booths that sold everything from bracelets to hats. Unlike the flea markets of D.C., the vendors here are very forward. A simple look at something prompted them asking “can I help you?” “looking for something?” and so on. I responded with the polite “just browsing” and “no thank you.” One of the unique practices they do there was bargaining on prices. Most items have a price, but they’re willing to negotiate a lower rate or a buy one get one free sort of deal. I got a few items. Nassau was fun but admittedly a little overwhelming, so I was glad to be back on board after just a morning for our last night at sea.
The evenings were spent going to dinners in the dining room, checking out the bars and clubs, attending the shows they offered, and even gambling just a little bit at the casino. I did win $10 on a scratch-off ticket. As there’s no cell phone service in the middle of the ocean and wi-fi costing money, being unplugged from the world meant actual activities. The break from technology felt very nice and needed, since my job involves sitting and staring at a computer screen all day. D.C. is a fun place to live in, but a break from the city was nice as well. And spending time with friends you don’t see too often is priceless.