Friday, August 28, 2009

Florida / Bahamas Cruise; So Much to Do!

Part 2

Back on your ship and heading further south, you arrive at the Bahamas. In 1492 Christopher Columbus first made landfall here…I’m surprised he ever left! Today you’ll find historic charm, modern attractions, and ecological wonders waiting for you to experience. Nassau, Paradise Island, and Grand Bahama Island (Freeport) are the most common ports of call.

Nassau, home the famous Straw Market, is a shoppers Nirvana. Here you can find a plethora of faux designer handbags, shot glasses, t-shirts, beaded jewelry, and all kinds of kitschy tourist souvenirs. Look a bit harder and you can find wonderful baskets, bags, and dolls made from dried palm and sisal plant leaves. There are extraordinarily talented woodcarvers that sell their creations as well; masks, animals, figurines, and statues. All in all, the market should not be missed.

The Golden Age of Piracy lasted from 1690 to 1720 and Nassau was at its heart. A little known attraction, but one of my favorites, is the interactive museum Pirates of Nassau. Located just around the corner from the Straw Market, I found this place quite by accident. Here you can board a replica of the pirate ship "Revenge" and enter the world of the infamous Blackbeard and his blood thirsty cronies. The rooms are dark and it may be a little scary to very young children, but my family really enjoyed our visit here.

The Atlantis Resort has become synonymous with Paradise Island! This mega compound offers so much that spending a day here is like sampling only one of Ben & Jerry’s many flavors! There is the beach of course, but people come here from the ship in droves to experience the jaw-dropping water slides, pools, lazy river, marine life exhibits…Ship sponsored shore excursions restrict areas you can visit, so choose carefully. For free reign of the resort, consider booking a room for the day and you will have access to everything.

All the islands of the Bahamas offer an overabundance of water related activities. Sailing, swimming with dolphins, snorkeling, diving, jet skiing, fishing, kayaking…it’s all available either as a shore excursion or on your own. Me, I’ll be swinging from a hammock on the beach with a slushy pink umbrella drink, glancing out into the turquoise sea…

Look into the beautiful NCL Jewel or NCL Gem for cruises that leave New York City headed for these exciting ports in 2010. What’s best is that you can cruise this identical itinerary five times and never have the same vacation twice! Whatever you, your friends or your family enjoy doing, they will find it on a Florida / Bahamas cruise vacation!

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