NCL CRUISE TO BAHAMAS  (MY BIRTHDAY GIFT)

1For years I kept on promising myself I will one day go on a sea cruise, but I gave up each time for two very simple reasons. Firstly – although I love the sea, I can’t swim (I actually have a serious fear of water because of a childhood swimming accident). Secondly – I am way too “agitated” and active to imagine that I could ever stay “locked” on a ship with thousands of other strangers. In the middle of the ocean! Surrounded by…water!!! Well, this was the year when my Beau ignored all of my fears and offered me a cruise to Bahamas as a birthday gift. Therefore, we boarded the Norwegian Sky cruise ship (NCL – Norwegian Cruise Line) from the port of Miami, Florida, USA.

6On the cruise ship everything looked like an “all inclusive” resort at sea. Only the alcoholic beverages were paid for separately with the room key card (to which a credit card was attached electronically). Our cabin/room was sort of tiny in size, but big enough for sleeping and changing in there as we have not spent much time in the room. This is because the ship’s fun schedule included many events, presentations and performances throughout the day. In addition, the vessel had 12 floors and almost 300 meters on each floor, so we’ve wandered far and wide from the casino to the shops, from swimming pools to the gyms, from the Jacuzzi to the gorgeous Auditorium where we watched a variety of shows, stand-up comedy and games like “Deal or no Deal”, “Bingo”, “Not so newlyweds.”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS
9Our main destination was Nassau, the capital of Bahamas (an archipelago which consists of about 700 coral islands – only 69 are inhabited- all the others being too small or too wild to be populated). Nassau is a North American state located in the Atlantic Ocean, east of Florida of the United States and north of Cuba. To me, Nassau did not seem as an extraordinary place, maybe because I was expecting the tropical atmosphere and the luxury of the “rich” as seen before on the finest glossy postcards. Indeed, I have seen the “rich” part of the city and its astonishing villas (Oprah, Tom Cruise, Beyoncé, Michael Jordan are just some of the artists who have spent between 30 and 50 million dollars on a Bahamian house), but I also saw the unsanitary streets, with rickety houses and naked, dirty children running through the dumps, carrying drinking water with some metal cans, water collected from a muddy street pump, the only source of drinking water in those poor neighborhoods. During the day we spent in Nassau, we also visited Fort Charlotte (an historical place, but nothing special outside the moldy walls) and we stopped by the Queen’s staircase (and climbed up and down those 66 famous stairs).

7In conclusion, Nassau did not impress me in a particular way, but it was an interesting experience. Even the main street (Bay Street) filled with shops of all kinds did not thrill me much, although one could find here everything from T-shirts with Bahamian slogans to handbags, jewelry, super expensive watches and precious stones. However, let us not forget that Bahamas is highly sought after place by wealthy people who want to purchase expensive items and jewelry; this country is a tax haven where valuable goods can cost a third or half less than in other parts of the world – duty free shopping, of course!

14The third day we spent on an island that belongs to Norwegian Cruise Line; it is called Great Stirrup Cay. NCL bought the island in the 70s and, over time, it was transformed into a little paradise (that has absolutely everything you see in an “all inclusive” resort on earth, less the hotel). The island is always taken by storm by the tourists desiring a good splashing, parasailing, kayaking or snorkeling in its clear turquoise waters. If for a long time I thought that these sea cruises are more suitable for rich, older people or for those comfortable enough with a “boring” life style surrounded by waters, today I don’t  have the same opinion. I can say without exaggeration and from my own experience, that nobody had time to get bored on our NCL cruise.11

The NCL services were excellent throughout the entire time we spent on board. We were about 2500 tourists and the age of more than 80% of us was between 16-45 years. There were a few kids aboard, but far fewer than you see in a tropical land resort. Besides, every hour was covered by different activities, courses, crafting for parents and children, dance classes, parties and funny games. Even for those who didn’t want to get off the ship in different ports, there were all sorts of attractive events and auctions that took place aboard.

3The nights were covered by all kinds of parties and the Jacuzzi and the pools on deck were open until midnight. Meals could be either served at the buffets (dozens of dishes and sweets were tastefully displayed) or one could have opted for a meal at the stylish restaurants as their menus a la carte were presented (and they tasted) as the ones in the wold’s luxury restaurants. We dined mostly in those restaurants (“Palace” and “Crossings” were our favorites) where we had the nice surprise of meeting Mrs. Ionela Oprisan, the manager of all restaurants on the Norwegian Sky cruise ship. With her hospitable charm (that surely honors her many years spent aboard) Mrs. Oprisan treated us like…pretty much royals. In fact, we observed her (and her employees) throughout the entire trip and they treated their guests of different nationalities with equal professionalism and dignity.
13My birthday dinner was wonderful, and the restaurant crew made sure I was having the time of my life, from their good wishes and incredible services, to their amazing food and the surprise cake they offered me at the end of the dinner. Andrei and Sabin, our waiters that night were also amazing, for which I thank them again from the bottom of my heart. In conclusion, Bahamas was one exciting, beautiful, interesting “gift” and this trip radically changed my opinion about cruises in general. Certainly this will not be my last experience of this kind and I will certainly travel again with Norwegian Sky because of their exceptional service and the beautiful memories I now have.

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