Chiny. O – It is so easy tomake “travelutions”, the difficult part is accomplishing them. Being a goal getter, our guest nomad set her mind to explore more and visit at least five countries at the end of the year. Unlike most of us, her goals have been accomplished and she is looking forwarding to setting new goals for the coming year! Motivated by her all time favorite movie, Titanic, she opted to explore one of the countries on a cruise ship. Read all about her exciting and unforgettable adventure. Instagram – @sk8rgal
This year, 2015 is my year of learning. Even though I had a very eventful 2014 and wasn’t going to let 2015 go by. I kicked it off this year by taking twenty eight working days off from work to explore and have a good time. I had a list of countries and cities I was going to visit and America was one of them . While in America, I wanted to do something outside the conventional shopping, six flags or visiting friends and family. “Chiny, get on a cruise ship to the Bahamas”, I said to myself. And in the spirit of my new beginning year, I found myself planning a cruise to the Bahamas!
I have, for so long, nursed the idea of a cruise but I hadn’t found the right crowd to go with. I called up my high school mate and asked if she was open to the idea of cruising to the Bahamas. My girl had already gone on a Bahamas cruise but she indulged me. Truth is I was reluctant to travel to D.C to see her *covers face*. Coming from a climate with an average of 27 degrees Celsius all year round, I’m really not about that D.C cold and snow storm life. I was really excited and couldn’t wait to get aboard!
My friend being claustrophobic surely dented our wallets and we couldn’t stay in a budget friendly room on the cruise ship. Due to my friend’s “condition”, we had to book a Junior Suite with a balcony on the 10th floor for our stay! This came with a 250 dollar cruise credit which we could spend on board. We met up at the Royal Caribbean harbor around Biscayne Bay area in Miami. Checking in was stress free for us as per occupants on the 10th floor, LOL. Our suitcases were taken in, passports got screened, we filled required forms, got allocated rooms and we boarded THE MAJESTY OF THE SEAS.
As we got on Her Royal Highness, I wowed, omged, yipped, I couldn’t contain my excitement. While the rooms were being prepared, we took the opportunity to grab something to eat and soak in the Miami Sky Line one more time before takeoff. We got to our room (on the 10th floor); and our suitcases were waiting at the door. We ran unto the balcony and the view was so surreal. All the money spent was worth it and I was convinced this was indeed the best way to be on a cruise not in a match box room, LMAO. I was going to be on the sea for the next 3 days with my own view and seats!
A couple of hours later, there was a welcome party hosted on the 11th floor which had the pool and other major fun activities. The entertainment crew began and the party started, while the engines of the ship revved and started to push back for departure. I had read up and watched loads of movies on cruise ships *insert a scene from Titanic here* but I really didn’t know what to expect. I was thrilled and anxious and curious at the same time.
I must state that this cruise ship was like a town center, it’s unimaginable. There is so much to do, too much in fact, the list is endless and you are not forced to do anything. There is a timed dinner setting and even if you choose to skip it, there are still restaurants open to cater to you. There are arts shows, day care for kids, pools, clubs, Italian lounge, Caribbean lounge, art sales, comedy shows, adult themed comedy, different restaurants, fitness center, beverage packages, spa treatments, shore and land excursions, specialty dining, relaxing spa…phew!!. Least I forget, we had rock climbing classes on day one. We also got free ice cream at the pool side. Everyone had a dinner slot and our dinner was the moonlight dining between 6.30pm-8.30pm. On one of the days, we had to dress up in our “Sunday’s best” for dinner.
- COCO CAY ISLAND: This Island is owned by the Royal Caribbean International, owners of the cruise ship, and is reserved exclusively for cruise ship guests. Feeder boats came to pick us up and transported us to the little private island. It was really a refreshing and cool environment. Activities ranging from sailing, swimming, diving, under water boat rides, jet skiing, parasailing, snorkeling, nature walks including loads of places to relax and soak in some vitamin D! We passed on the water activities as we had done all that on previous holidays. We spotted an array of hammocks, got on one, read our novels and talked about everything from high school, family and work. We had not seen each other in forever so it was the perfect atmosphere and time to catch up. The swimmers, parasailers, divers, snorkelers etc were all within our view and entire environment was colorful and alive.
- There was no compulsion to get off her Majesty so other “cruise members” were back there eating, swimming and having a good time. After we had enough we got back to the ship, grabbed lunch and went to the fitness center to burn out our newly acquired calories. Guess what we ended up doing? Staring into the ocean and soaking up the view! We really couldn’t get enough! My friend was tired after that and decided to stay in the room. I wasn’t going to be held back, I took a shower and made it to the roof top. I made friends with a lovely older couple, a Retired Air force General and his girlfriend. It was an interesting conversation as he knew a lot about Nigeria and the security challenges. I woke up the sleeping beauty and we decided to take a tour of other floors right after dinner. We watched the most hilarious adult themed comedy show, went for an art exhibition and ended the night partying on the ship. At the party, I found my way to the DJ and slipped him my Nigerian CD for him to play. This put me in the zone and I took center stage and twirled and danced all night long. It was indeed an unforgettable night.
- NASSUA, BAHAMAS: My friend and I agreed to explore Nassau on our own rather than use the company tour as this was a cheaper option. The downside of not using the company tour is the boat doesn’t wait for you once it is set to take off (boat leaves at 5pm). You have to be mindful of the time. With its dazzling beaches, turquoise waters, colorful past and the vibrant Junkanoo culture, Nassau is an absolutely amazing place everyone must see. The city is on New Providence Island; just offshore is Paradise Island, home to luxury hotels and resorts. As we approached Nassau, we met a bunch of local drummers and danced away with them. Like us, some cruise members were going the cheaper route and we all shared a taxi for the city tour. There is also Royal tour for those interested in touring the Atlantis. I had toured the Atlantis during my trip to Dubai so I wasn’t particularly interested in that. The bus driver took us round town, gave us a mini tour of the city and we visited some historical sites. We went to the Junkanoo beach; it was a small but very lovely beach with loads of Island men looking to start a conversation. I must add, after we got back, I realized the bus driver exaggerated and even lied about some places during the tour…LOL. However, it was good fun and we asked to be dropped at the beach close to our ship. At about an hour to departure, we walk back to the habour and stopped at a souvenir market. I had to get my traditional fridge magnet and gifts for friends and family.
The last night was our formal dinner and everyone had to be dressed up. There were photographers to take pictures, pricey I must say, but we had our camera (well my friend had one and I am still waiting for most of the pictures till date…sigh). We decided to go to the Latino lounge onboard, listened to music and performances and even got to dance with a grand pa whose wife was gracious enough to make that happen.
From there went back to the shops to get more gifts and spend the rest of our on board credit. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience though short. I had to work with my friends timing and she could only get one day off work in addition to the weekend. A lot of things I did were not captured but I can say this cruise is great for everyone and I finally got to understand why most families love it.
Planning to take this cruise? Here are some helpful tips for you :
- Nigerian Passport holders require a visa to Bahamas (We didn’t until 2011, mine ended up not being checked when I got off in Nassau, but best to be cautious.
- I was in Miami so I applied for my Visa there at their consulate which cost $100(N20,000). It used toused to be $50, price changed this year and two days later my visa was out. Applying from Nigeria is long, you need to mail your application and passport out of the country.
- We stayed in a Junior Suite that cost $1,579.28(N316,000) for 2(tax and $88 travel insurance included) which came with a $250 cruise credit. There are cheaper rooms that start at $300(N60,000) for two.
- It’s good to get travel insurance so you can get part of your money back if you have a medical emergency and can’t make the trip.
- Food is inclusive; you only spend on food if you decide to eat anything outside the meals served daily.
- Local tour bus in Nassau- €20(N5,000), Royal Caribbean price-€80(N20,000) (See why we took the cheaper option). Do not forget to keep be cautious of time because the ship WILL leave you behind if you don’t get there at departure.
- Dining is part of the cruise vacation; there is a lot of variety, and the flexibility to plan your dinner whenever you are ready.
- Royal replenish Package- This is the drink package my friend and I opted for. It cost $28-$30 (N5,600- N6,000) for the duration on the ship. It is non-alcoholic package with unlimited drinks for one. My friend and I found ways to make it for 2 (wink)
- The ship has a diverse diverse crowd – honeymooners, bachelorette party crew, birthdays, family, friends, solo travelers, different combinations.
- Book early, even though last minute deals can be sweet too.
- If you get sea sick, there is a sea pill given on day 1.The ship would get rocky during sail, get ready to feel it while asleep or even walking around. When I got back to land, I still felt it was rocking.
- Things to Pack: shorts, t-shirts, sun dresses, swim suits, work out gear if you plan to use the fitness center, sneakers, flip flops, lots of sunscreen, camera, formal wear for dining, the longer the cruise, the more the formal dining and anything else you may need.
- Have a small bag with essentials on check in day, as it takes a while before the luggage gets to the room