February 1-5, 2010
Several weeks ago our friends from SoCal, Tom & Mary, emailed us that they were going to be in Miami to go on a cruise to the Bahamas. A couple of weeks later we decided, “Why not join them on the cruise, if there’s space available and the price is right?” We figured that we wouldn’t ever fly into Miami and go on this cruise, but since we were already there, “Why not?”
After going online at www.ncl.com (Norwegian Cruise Line), I found there were rooms available and the prices were OK. A week before the cruise, I booked our room online.
When we planned to be in south Florida, we hadn’t planned to go on a cruise. We had to pick up some cruise clothing for Mary Anne. We also needed to get a suitcase to pack everything to take onto the cruise-ship. TJ Maxx had the best and lowest price for that!
Then we had to find a suitable kennel to board Nick. Google was helpful. But it was a bit of a challenge to find out where our RV park was located in southwest Miami (we use Garmin GPS program). We checked a place out between the RV park and the Port of Miami. The Canine Country Club had good reviews online. That’s where we took Nick on the morning of the cruise.
We saw Tom and Mary in a nearby line while we were checking in for the cruise. They’d flown into Orlando several days earlier and had spent time with relatives. We were glad to have gotten to the dock. We’d all run into heavy rain about ten miles from the port. And I mean heavy!
Tom and I first got to know each other nearly thirty years ago. He was one of the instructors in my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy program. We kept in touch with each other over the years. Then, over ten years ago he was hired by Kaiser Permanente as a psychotherapist, in the same department where I worked. Over the succeeding years, Mary Anne and I have enjoyed our friendship with Tom and Mary.
Our ship was the Norwegian Sky. It can carry about 2300 passengers, plus a crew of about 1000.
After getting checked in, we had lunch in the 11th deck café. We had a table in the aft of the ship, underneath a large canvas cover. While we were eating we monitored the heavy, approaching clouds. Then the rain started pouring down! It really rained hard for about half an hour. The temperature was about seventy degrees.
Mary Anne and I had watched CSI Miami on TV the night before. On that show, Miami’s skyline was shown in beautiful sunlight. We saw that same skyline against the backdrop of heavy and dark rain clouds!
The ship departed shortly after five o’clock, headed for Freeport, on Grand Bahama. Freeport is about 120 miles northeast of Miami. After dinner, we all headed into the ship’s theatre and played bingo. None of us won anything! But we had fun.
It was a bright, sunny, and windy morning when the Norwegian Sky put into the dock in Freeport.
In 1955, Wallace Groves, a financier from Virginia with lumber interests on the island, was granted 50,000 acres of pine woods with large areas of swamp and scrubland by the Bahamian government. Groves was also given a mandate to economically develop the area. The city of Freeport was built. It now is the second most populous city in The Bahamas (about 27,000) after the capital, Nassau.
In August 1955 a port authority agreement was signed with the Bahamian Government. The agreement states that businesses in the Freeport area don’t pay taxes until 2054.
Mary Anne I had had signed up to take a “semi-sub” ride this morning. At the appointed time of nine o’clock, we were sitting on a bench underneath a sign, “Sea Adventure Ride.” Ten minutes later a young woman who was seated next to Mary Anne said that the ride had been cancelled due to heavy seas! We then went up to another young woman, this one wearing a Sea Adventure shirt, and asked about that. She confirmed that the rides had all been cancelled for that day because of rough water. And that’s how we found out about all that. Nobody at the Cruise Activities desk had bothered to tell us about the cancellation.
So we wandered around the touristy shops on the dock. Freeport is about a half-hour taxi ride from the shopping area on Grand Bahama. We decided we didn’t need to spend any more money to go over there. An hour later we were back on the ship for the day. Both of us read murder mysteries that we’d brought along.
Before going to dinner, I stopped at the Cruise Activities desk and asked why we hadn’t been notified about the ride cancellation. I pointed out that the tickets said that the activities proceed rain or shine, and that passengers could not cancel out after six o’clock the day preceding an activity. The desk attendant said they had known about 8 AM that that my tour had been cancelled. She indicated that they’d tried to contact everybody on the ride. I pointed out that we had not been called and no voice mail had been left on our stateroom phone. She said that the trip had been credited back to our credit cards.
I then asked about the kayak and snorkeling activity for the next day, at Nassau, that I had already made. The attendant then told me that they likely were going to cancel that trip because I was the only one signed up! I asked when they were going to let me know. She said, “Tomorrow.” I retorted, “And how then am I going to get on any other rides tomorrow morning?” She then cancelled me out. Mary Anne and I both got reservations for a semi-sub ride out of Nassau the following morning. Phew!
Tom and Mary’s activity took them to Wyndham Resort. They had heavy rain that morning. Tom said they also had chilly wind during their time there.
Tom & Mary joined us for before dinner drinks on the aft-deck of the ship during a beautiful sunset. After a fine dinner, we all went to the ship’s theatre and watched a comedian do humorous and outlandishly funny and obvious “magic” tricks.
After the comedian, the high energy Welsh cruise director recruited three couples onto the stage to play a “Newlywed/Not So Newlywed Comedy Game Show.” One couple, from Kauai, had been married three days. Another couple, from Tulsa, had about twenty years of marriage. The other couple, from Florida, had been married fifty-nine years! The questions were hot and spicy! The answers generally matched the questions. What fun!