Last week, my family and I hopped aboard the Carnival Fascination for a four-night sailing to Freeport and Nassau, Bahamas.
With a record number of hurricanes wreaking havoc on the Caribbean this year and many areas destroyed, numerous ports of call were spared from damage and welcoming visitors, including the Bahamas.
As I mentioned in a recent blog post, I’m a strong believer in tourism playing a role to help revive areas in times of need. And during our visit, I was able to experience it firsthand in talking with Carnival crew members and those I met in port during our excursions too.
The words that kept coming to mind during our four days? ‘Thank you’. There was such a sense of thankfulness. They were all so thankful to have us there and asked for us to remind others that they were still open for business.
Time to Explore Nassau and Atlantis Bahamas
As soon as we stepped off the ship in Nassau, we were welcomed with plenty of sunshine and palm trees. My heart was instantly happy. Before our excursion left to tour Atlantis Bahamas, we walked over to Pompey Square – a waterfront park, just down the street from the cruise terminal.
It was here Maggie picked up a new skill — using a conch shell as a musical instrument! We loved chatting with the locals and the girls each got to pick out their own shells to bring home with us. (The perfect item for Molly to bring to school for show and tell.)
For our time in Nassau, we signed up for the Discover Atlantis excursion featuring a 45-minute walking tour of the resort and legendary aquariums. (I’ll have a full review to share soon.)
It had been probably 15 years since I had been to Atlantis Bahamas, so it was really great to visit again and learn more about the resort. The girls loved seeing the aquariums and Maggie was fascinated with the Bridge Suite — she kept asking why we couldn’t spend the night there. Our guide said it is a minimum of $25,000/night!
After the tour, we had access to the aquariums, casino, a small portion of the beach and restaurants — shuttle transportation was provided back to the ship every 30 minutes. Easy excursion and a great way to learn about the resort and experience a ‘new to us’ place.
We spent a bit of time walking around the resort and then hopped a quick shuttle back to the ship — the girls were ready for time at Carnival Waterworks park before dinner.
Beach Day Fun in Freeport, Bahamas
Up and early as we arrived in Freeport, the girls were very excited about getting to the beach on our last day. The All Inclusive Beach Getaway shore excursion was the hit of our cruise. Sunshine, palm trees, great food and plenty of activities – it was a well-deserved, beach day.
This excursion included free drinks (hello, fruity umbrella drinks!) and an all you can eat Caribbean buffet featuring fish, ribs, rice and peas, quesadillas (for the kids!), potatoes, conch fritters (my favorite!) and more. And with a live DJ spinning tunes and my umbrella chair, I was a happy mama.
During the 30-minute drive to the beach, our tour guide told us about the country and ways of life in the Bahamas. From schools to gas prices to why they drive on the opposite side of the road and more – we learned so much!
And the point that stood out the most to me — tourism is their number one industry. She thanked us all for visiting her hometown and let us know that visitors like us, spending money in her community, in turn provides her with a job as it does so many people on the island. Tourism and the cruising industry is vital to areas in the Caribbean.
A Trip Filled with Kindess and Gratitude
This trip was filled with great memories, but I’ll also remember it as a trip filled with gratitude and kindness. From the locals we met in both Nassau and Freeport and the fantastic crew on the ship.
The next sailing for the Carnival Fascination was to their new ‘home’ in St. Croix housing FEMA officials helping with hurricane recovery. Some of the crew would stay onboard the ship for the new journey, while others would reposition to new ships and some would take vacation earlier than planned. There was a sense of unknown as we left the ship, but one of great pride too knowing that so many were ready to help.
Throughout our cruise, guests could make hurricane-related donations directly via the Carnival HUB mobile app. In the casino on the final night of our sailing, it was announced that $30,000 was raised for those in need. Incredible!
So, if you’ve been hesitant to book a post-hurricane cruise, don’t be. As evident from my trip, there are many areas of the Caribbean ready to welcome you.
From the Bahamas to Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Belize, Key West and more, let’s help them. And when Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Croix and others are ready, let’s be there to support them too.
Are You Ready to Go Cruising?
** My family and I sailed on a four-night cruise onboard the Carnival Fascination as guests of Carnival Cruise Line. Thoughts and opinions here are my own. **