We interviewed Mary, one of our awesome cruisers, about her recent experience booking her Bahamas vacation with Bahamas Landing and the amazing vacation she had with her husband. Read on for her tips and anecdotes.
How did your Bahamas vacation start?
My husband and I wanted to make the trip as affordable as possible, so we spent a lot of time researching different ways to make the most of the vacation while saving money at the same time. We flew into Miami International Airport and booked a room on Airbnb for one night. The morning of the cruise, we took a train ride to West Palm Beach, where the port was, and took a cab to the port itself. This was an hour and a half train ride, but it only cost about $10. We got to the port around 3:00.
What happened when you arrived at the port?
It was a medium sized Celebration cruise ship. There were no other cruise boats in the water at the time, so I knew exactly where we needed to go. First, we reached a gate where we showed our identification and ticketing information.
Traveler’s tip: Since you are traveling internationally, you must bring your passport or passport card to check in.
We were then directed to another booth where we were asked to choose our food packages. We could choose from buffet only (which was open pretty much all the time), or we could choose from the formal meal selection. There was no extra charge for the formal meals, but they wanted us to choose which meals would be formal and which would be buffet. There were several options for meals, such as beef wellington, coconut shrimp, tuna and other great dishes.
Since Freeport, Bahamas is only 90 miles from West Palm Beach, this cruise is more of an experience than strictly a mode of transportation. If the ship was traveling at full speed, it would arrive in an hour or so. But, our vacation package was an overnight experience on the ship, so the engines weren’t engaged throughout the trip. The ship floats gently toward its destination while the passengers dine, dance, and swim.
Tell us what you thought about the ship and your first night on board.
So, we were on board the ship by about 3:00 pm, and were slated to set sail at about 6:00 pm. We took our bags to our room and set up our belongings. The room was pretty small, as is common on cruise ships. I think it was about 120 square feet. We also chose a room without a window, so I opted to keep the bathroom light on since the room went pitch black without it.
We were allowed to explore the ship until dinner. There was a pool and a small casino and a lounge, along with some duty-free shops. We sat on the deck and watched the other (non-cruise) ships come and go.
We ate dinner after the ship set sail. We were seated at a table with six other couples. We were presented with a menu with several options for appetizers, entrees and desserts. I ordered the beef wellington and my husband ordered fish. The food was very good and we were surprised that, when we asked, they brought out multiple desserts for us to try.
After dinner we went to the casino and played a few of the games. The minimum bet was low, so we were able to play without spending a lot. After that we went to a show on the main stage. It was a multicultural dance program, with intricate costumes and interesting music. It was about an hour and a half long and my husband and I enjoyed it. They had a server who brought us drink orders if we asked for them.
There are shows all night on the boat, which is great for people who don’t want to go to bed. We also visited the lounge/bar, where they had music and comedy acts until late at night.
We went to bed around 11:00. I noticed that it was really windy, which made it seem colder. I had to tie my hair up and wished I had a jacket. When we got to our room, my husband turned on a live NBA game and we went to sleep.
Tell us about your experiences after you reached Freeport, Bahamas.
Around 7:00 am, I heard loud noises and I woke up, worried that something was wrong. We went up to the deck and realized that we were docking. They had to turn the engines on to get into the right position, and we weren’t used to hearing engines. So, we got some coffee and watched the sun come up. Then, we got ourselves ready, ate some breakfast, and disembarked.
I was imagining that there would be a lively port waiting for us with shopping and restaurants, but there wasn’t much there. There were other boats and a line of taxi vans, waiting to take us to our hotels. We shared a taxi with another family and our driver gave us his personal number. He said he could come pick us up anytime during our vacation.
Traveler’s Tip: The taxis dropped us off around 9:00 and the hotel didn’t allow check-in until 2:00. We had to find a place to relax with our luggage while we waited. We ended up going down to the beach while we waited, but some planning would have made all of this more comfortable.
What did you think about your resort?
We paid a little extra for our hotel because we wanted it to be all inclusive. The hotel was Viva Wyndham. It was a nice hotel with a big pool that was right on the beach. Everything was clean and the water was beautiful. It was warm and a little humid, but the weather was pretty much perfect. The resort provided lounge chairs and palm shelters on the beach and there was a snack bar with free food and drinks.
Since we had the all-inclusive package, our meals were free. There were several options for dinner, but all of the restaurants require a reservation, other that the Junkanoo, which is an all day buffet. The food was great and we enjoyed not worrying about paying for the meals.
There were many activities on the property. There were dance classes by the pool, a trivia game at the bar, free use of water sports, even a trapeze artist. The beach was private, but there were locals walking up and down the beach selling trinkets and offering to braid my hair.
What else did you do in the Bahamas, outside of the resort?
On our second day we visited Port Lucaya, one of the large shopping centers in the Bahamas. Port Lucaya is similar to a flea market, with dozens of booths, all offering different things. Straw is used very frequently by artists and craftsmen in the Bahamas, so pretty much anything you can imagine is made out of straw and sold at Port Lucaya. There was painted pottery, t-shirts, beach towels, sun glasses, art, and many more interesting things.
There was also dining, including a Subway and some other American restaurants. We tried some fried conch and hush puppies. The conch was delicious, once I got past the slightly tough texture. There was also an Irish pub and another casino.
Sounds like you had a great time. What did you think of your Bahamas vacation overall?
Because we were able to save so much money, I would say that it was a great experience and one I want to do again. It was a fun beach vacation at one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. The water was blue and warm, the sand was soft, the weather was perfect, the food was great, and we made some great memories.
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