Torrey and “Tommy Bahama” - Bahaman Cruise: South Beach (Miami, Florida), Key West (Florida); Nassau (Bahamas); Coco Cay (Bahamas)
For Christmas of 2010 I decided to surprise my boyfriend Tom with a vacation to the Bahamas! I found a great deal and booked without hesitation –
this was going to be epic… our first “real” vacation (no raccoons here!) and Tom’s first time out of the country. So we got him a passport before celebrating Christmas, brought in the New Year (2011) – and off we were!
The quick flight brought us to Miami, Florida for the night–
where we paid a ridiculous $50 on a taxi to our budget/dump hotel in the ghetto. (South Beach is for celebrities… not us.) We dressed up and got the hell out of our dumpy room for the night, crossing into the star-studded South Beach for an evening to remember. The strip was fantastic – Gucci-wearing jetsetters browsing
boutiques lining the cobblestone walkways – Italian lights on palm trees swaying above countless outdoor eateries… we weren’t in the ghetto anymore. After
exploring a bit we decided on a mid-priced restaurant where we imbibed on cocktails and enjoyed homemade shrimp pasta over candlelight. After dinner I convinced Tom to sit at one of the ritzy hookah lounges calling our names where we enjoyed some apple hookah straight from the pipe.
The night wasn’t over as we had to explore the famed clubs! The strip of bars lining the beach was impressive… the over-served patrons were not.
We settled at “Clevelanders”, a bar complete with a dance floor over a pool which winds through the entire outdoor establishment. Pretty cool to say the least. After deciding we had spent enough money for one night, we took the pricey taxi back to our side of town.
The next morning we hauled our luggage back to the strip where we grabbed cheap bagels and spent the morning at Miami Beach. The water was blue, the sun was shining, and our whole Cruise was ahead of us! After a while it was time to get on the ship: “Majesty of the Seas”. We checked in, reluctantly participated in the mandatory safety run, and sipped some mojitos to celebrate our departure. The ship was stacked with two large pools, hot tubs, a club,
piano bar, casino, theatre, dining rooms, and Johnny Rockets. The food was endless and the drinks kept coming. We entered heaven for the next 4 days.
Bob Marley rang through the speakers as we waved goodbye to the Miami skyline setting in the sun. A fancy dinner was to follow where we ordered the cheapest bottle of red and couldn’t decide between entrees so ordered two each. (This repeated every evening… fat.)
That night we gambled in the casino,
watched the live pianist, and danced in the club. Not too shabby.
The next morning we awoke to all-you-can-eat breakfast and the Florida Keys! We ferried over to Key West and explored the tiny town for the day. I loved the vibe here – pastel summer homes lined the streets where fresh
flowers were blooming and adorable shops sold trinkets and takeaways. There were an odd number of Key Lime Pie shops, and plenty of beer gardens where it is
perfectly legal to walk the town with cold brews. We of course did. We made it to Ernest Hemingway’s house, the beach, and the Southernmost Point of the
continental US… just 90 miles to Cuba. Back on the ship hours later we relaxed in the hot tub before Tom decided to join the main event… the Belly Flop contest. My man placed second with the whole ship watching…
We just had to indulge in Johnny Rockets burgers and milkshakes with a view of pure ocean… only to dress up for another extravagant dinner just
a few hours later. Fat.
We later caught a show in the theatre with live singing and dancing, followed by some time in the piano bar where I spontaneously joined the pianist with some singing of my own.
Ah… there is nothing like a morning at sea. To sunbathe on the ship deck and see nothing but cobalt blue waves in the distance is pure serenity. To add a bucket cheap Fosters beers is ideal. We could have done this all day, but as we saw the Atlantis resort freshly painted corral and beaming in the distance, we were immediately anxious to explore Nassau...
Now I must admit – my obsession with the Mary-Kate and Ashley flick “Holiday In The Sun” took large part in my excitement to see the famed Atlantis resort in my pre-teen years… I had been dreaming of coming here since I was a skinny fourteen year old twin wannabe. So as Tom and I ferried over to the strip of white sand claimed by the massive resort, I cared less about the celebrity homes our driver was pointing out and more about the destination.
Once we arrived, the place was as magical as I’d imagined. Perfectly groomed beaches and lush gardens were met with unbelievable aquariums housing dancing fish of every color. Every once and a while a massive manta ray would swim by, or a dolphin, or shark. WOW.
Tom and I refused to fork over $60 each to simply swim there for the day, so after getting frustrated with what the over-priced packages had to offer, we forfeited and found the only free public beach to rest our towels.
Cabbage beach was no eyesore with its pure blue waters, crashing waves, and silky soft sand. As the sun set we decided to walk towards the Atlantis just to
see how close we could get to the beach without being thrown out. Turns out we could walk right in from the back without being spotted by security! It was surreal. We were walking the entirety of the grounds at sunset, without a sole in site. We went to every lagoon, beach, and fountain. We even went inside and enjoyed the free aquarium exhibit where we held starfish and saw alien-like
underwater creatures that blew our minds. We enjoyed cocktails (we snuck them
from our room on the cruise ship) on the beach alone at dawn.
After getting our fill of Atlantis, we just had to stop at the Senor Frog’s – Nassau edition. We shared a couple of Coronas in the raging bar held on stilts above the ocean before making our way back to the ship.
We somehow drunkenly dressed up for another fancy dinner/theatre combo that evening, followed by a dance party on the top deck where I had dance-offs with the ship’s professional dancers courtesy of some liquid courage.
Our last day full day on the ship was sad. We forced away our hangovers to be the first to meet Coco Cay Island… we were also the last to leave. This place was euphoric. Sure it was fake and all man-made, but who
cares? What Coco Cay lacked in authenticity it made up for in beauty. Tom napped on our slice of paradise while I swam and held my own self-timer photo shoot. We
walked the perimeter of the island and decided to rent a paddle boat and float out to sea. We could see the corral right through the clear water, and even ran into a large-scale stingray. This day was my favorite – it was painful to leave. I knew we had full-time desk jobs and a nasty winter ahead of us back home. Couldn’t we just hide in a palm tree and leave on the next ship over? Tom and I both agreed we could live here at least for a few months.
Our last night was one of decadence with a fancy seafood dinner, a comedy show, and the final onstage performance by the Cruise line entertainers.
We stayed up on the ship deck looking at the stars until our eyes wouldn’t stay open. It was back to reality tomorrow. Snowy Chicago was calling our names…
While some travelers frown upon package vacations or Cruises in general, I for one am I fan. Is it true adventure? No. But that makes it no less enjoyable for me. After Tom’s first cruise he confidently decided he was sold, and dubbed himself a “cruise guy”… so I am sure this will not be our last.