The best day of the whole cruise

Trip Start Feb 21, 2010
Trip End Feb 28, 2010

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Flag of Bahamas  , Grand Bahama Island,
Friday, February 26, 2010

We skipped the exercising this morning, as this was the only port that we actually booked an excursion. I normally try to avoid paying the ship's prices for excursions, as they mark them up a lot. I booked through the cruise line here, though, since the ship docks in an industrial area away from anything worth seeing and also, because of the short time here, I wasn’t going to take a chance on getting delayed getting back to the ship. Keith and I were going in different directions as well. Keith wanted to scuba dive, and since I don’t scuba dive, I chose to go on a kayaking excursion.

We ordered room service since I had to be off the ship by 7:15. They only offer continential breakfast in the morning from room service, but that was fine and there was nothing wrong with it. It was a bit chilly, but promised to be a nice day. There were 12 of us on this excursion—a family of 6 from Vermont, a couple from Maryland, a family of 3 from Utah ( A Mom and 2 sons) and me. We went to the Lucayan National Park for our nature and kayak excursion.

The 40-acre park, established in 1982, provides an interesting glimpse at the island's flora. One doesn't think of pine trees as tropical, but I saw them with my own eyes. The park is also home to one of the world's longest underwater cave systems with over six miles of caves, caverns, and tunnels charted. Lucayan National Park is named after the original inhabitants of the Bahamas. In 1986, archaeologists discovered skeletal remains of indigenous Lucayans on the floor of Burial Mound, the second of two underwater caves in the park. It wasn't until that part of a roof caved in during the construction of a pathway that anyone even knew these caves existed. The Lucayans would shelter here from hurricanes in order to get away from the angry gods.  

We took a look at Ben's Cave and then went over to Burial Mound Cave. Along the way, our guide told us stories of when he was a child he played in this area and had no idea there were caves. He would come to get water and to gather native plants to use for medicinal purposes.

After that, we walked over to the kayak launch area. I was the only solo person on the tour and since the kayaks were 2 man kayaks, I was paired with one of the boys from Utah, Philip, who was a member of his high school crew team. He is going to be attending UCSD in the fall on a crew scholarship and majoring in BioChem for PreMed. 

It was a leisurely ride down the inland creek lined with mangroves. The water wasn’t deep—2 ½ to 4 feet deep. The family of 6 had a rather loud daughter whose sole desire it seemed was to flip her kayak and her brother into the creek. She settled for splashing him with the paddle. She wasn’t very good at steering and kept running into people ( intentionally?). We all agreed that she shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car! We saw needle fish, Sargeant Majors and parrot fish.

After the kayaking we saw where the US had a tracking station for the moon missions and where they filmed the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. We then walked a path through mangroves and came out to what has to be the most beautiful beach I have ever seen, Gold Rock Beach. Part of it was used for the Pirates movies. This is a protected beach as it is part of the National Park. We had a picnic lunch there before returning to the ship.

Keith enjoyed his scuba diving and said it was the best diving he has ever done. They took them out to a place off shore near the Radisson and as soon as he got in the water he saw a 6’ reef shark and then a 4’ one. He saw lots of fish and enjoyed it immensely. He got back after I did. Since he hadn’t had lunch, we went up to the Mermaid Grille so he could get a bit to eat. We left Freeport at 2:00. We decided to go sit in the Jacuzzi for awhile and then take showers. We had a Cruise Critic meet and greet at 4:00 and only 4 of us showed up. We had a drink and went back to dress for dinner. It was our last cruise elegant night.We brought a bottle of champagne with us that we had gotten from Jaime, the cruise director. We had sent her a note asking her to contact one of the dancers for us, as we know her parents.  I guess anyone who writes to Jaime gets a gift and we got a bottle of champagne. She came to the meet and greet and we told her who we were, so she called the daughter right then and we said hello. The dancer had hurt her knee and we didn’t get to see her dance. Anyway, we took the champagne with us to dinner and shared it. The other two table mates were missing, so it was just the four of us. The other couple didn't know it was cruise elegant night and felt badly that they weren't dressed as we were. They were allowed in to the diing room anyway, so that tells you how stringent the cruise line is about dress codes. At least they weren't in a bathrobe, as we saw one woman one morning at the buffet. Dinner was acceptable. It was escargots night. Keith’s were hot, but mine sat on the counter for 15 minutes and were only lukewarm when I got them. I had ordered some corn chowder as well,and they gave me that first. That was disappointing and would have rather had the escargot first. They would have been terrific had they been hot. I had chateaubriand for an entrée and that was good even though it was only warm. Some things taste good even when not hot. I ordered the baked Alaska for dessert, but it was basically a slice of Neopolitan ice cream with some meringue. After dinner, we went to one of the lounges and danced a little. It was really too jazzy to dance to, but we managed to dance a little before the evening show. It was fine—your typical Las Vegas type song and dance show.

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