I am of those people who love to travel, it is actually one of my favorite pastimes. But with all my comings and goings there was one dream, one method of travel that I had yet to enjoy until recently. This was the experience of traveling on a cruise. When such cruises are advertised on television or in travel magazines, one wonders whether it will be that particular boat that one will eventually have the opportunity to enjoy. The fascinating part of such a trip is that the traveling experience is a big part of the relaxation. It is compelling to hear the memories and stories of those who have sailed the seas in this fashion. Immediately the imagination takes flight and just the first thought of a boat that looks more like a city, islands of pure white sand, picturesque villages, big tropical cities, in short everything comes together in a mental picture that makes you want to set out from and take a break from your routine of daily living.
This adventure began for me when some friends who like to travel called me and suggested that we take a trip to the Bahamas on a cruise. “Think about if you would like to come they said,” but the truth is that my response time was instant. I couldn’t believe it, my dream of traveling on a floating resort had arrived. At first many scenarios went through my mind the famous cruise ships from movies and TV like the series Fantasy Island, or another classic series -one of my favorites- Love Boat and of course the movie Titanic, but above all, what struck me most was thinking how those massive boats resembled floating cities that seem to glide over rather than sail the seas.
Arriving at the port of Jacksonville and seeing such a modern marvel of a ship is incredible, but more surprising is the sheer dimensions and feeling that one is entering into a different reality. It is like a big hotel-resort, the cruise ship has everything one could imagine on board. From the beginning of the trip the crew welcomed us with great warmth. A few hours after we boarded on the Carnival ship we were moving slowly out to sea. I never forget the moment when we sailed onto the open water and watched the land slowly fade until nothing but sea and sky surrounded us. Upon arriving to the room we encountered a unique turn down service where the staff had left towels shaped like figures of animals and chocolates on our beds. It was a memorable welcome on this fascinating journey. The body of the boat holds untold wonders, there is everything here, restaurants, gym, steam room, spa, swimming pool for children and adults, casinos and of course the nightlife party clubs. Every night offers a different set of variety shows, but the experience of sitting in the evening twilight on one of the many terraces and looking at the sky as it fills with sparkling stars is unforgettable.
The first stop on this particular trip was Half Moon Cay. This is a small island belonging to the Bahamas; I was captivated with its white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters of multiple hues of blue and green that seem so surreal you may think you are dreaming. I don’t want to leave out that the island had a picturesque village too. It was surrounded by palm trees and lush vegetation and above all infused with very friendly people. There is something I want to highlight about the honesty of the staff of Carnival Cruise Lines. One of my friends forgot a camera at the beach, the last people to leave the island were the staff crew members. We gave up the camera for lost but to our great surprise it arrived by post 15 days after the cruise. The staff identified the owner by the pictures and honestly returned the camera intact with a special note.
The next stop saw us in the capital of the Bahamas: Nassau. It was a wonderfully exciting arrival. The ship began its technical maneuvers to begin docking at around 5:30 am. One of my friends told me go out to the bow with camera in hand, where we watched a rosy-fingered dawn spread her lights over this fanciful Caribbean island. The sea breeze was just perfect and everything pointed to the prospect of a beautiful day awaiting us. We were not alone in the harbor other cruises of equal size were anchored nearby too.
One of the most spectacular views upon arrival was that of the famous Hotel Atlantis Beach Tower on Paradise Island. Honestly is a place that once you’ve entered you might feel like never coming out. It is like being in a resort paradise with unique and impressive displays of art and relaxation. This hotel is one of only two in the world and its aquariums which surround the hotel give you an up close encounter with the curious creatures of the sea.
With the passing of the day the temperature was definitely rising and we explored much of the colonial and laid back areas of the city. There are many markets to explore and places to find refreshing portions of fish and cool fruit flavored drinks. People are especially friendly and cheerful. There is much to see for sale and trade and clothing stores have great prices on some of the best brands in the world. Overall, I recommend visiting the typical market for their crafts are truly admirable and especially colorful. After a fabulous day it was time to leave the Bahamas with new found nostalgia, but a definite desire to return.
Finally, the last day of the cruise arrived. We departed from the port with a memorable dinner, including good food, glasses of wine and an after dinner show that brought us to our feet with cheers and applause. It was fascinating to meet the many guests and staff from all over the world who come to work on the cruise line. At the conclusion of the trip I reflected on how fortunate I was to have lived this experience. What a vacation! I certainly recommend to anyone who is thinking about a cruise to go ahead and take the leap, it is a worthwhile and unforgettable experience and one which you will definitely want to share with others as I have.