A Trip of A Lifetime

Hello to all my loyal readers,

Apologies for not writing in awhile. I got back from vacation on Sunday and there’s been a lot to do to get our lives to rights. I still have what seems like an insurmountable load of laundry and the dishes seem to multiply…and so I type this with Dido’s ‘Sand In My Shoe’s playing. It’s become kind of my theme the last week. Dido is talking about a person she can’t forget. I’m thinking of a place I hope I never forget; The Bahamas. I can’t begin to really describe it well, so I’m including pictures. Hope you like them. This trip of a lifetime began a little over a year ago with booking and planning and it’s hard to believe that just last week I was finally in my dream destination with my husband, celebrating our tenth anniversary on The Norwegian Sky. What an incredible trip. Looking out at the light powdering of snow yesterday and bare, brown grass today, I can’t help but wish I was back there, at least for a little while. The words of Dido’s song fit exactly the way I feel about this wonderful little slice of heaven.

On Monday, January 12 my husband and I said goodbye to our daughter and my husband’s parents and boarded the ship from the Port of Miami, Florida. KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

The first night we just enjoyed a nice meal in a complimentary restaurant, enjoying being on vacation together. There were shows that evening, and though our room was small, it was our little haven when we needed to go rest. It was a funny little room, with just enough space to shimmy around the bed on one side, with a side table on my side of the bed, two little lamps over our heads and the tiniest bathroom I’ve ever been in. I’m pretty sure my locker in high school was roughly the same size as the shower. KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAKONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Still, we didn’t spend a lot of time in our room, and since I get seasick, we didn’t care if we saw the ocean bobbing up and down in the evening. Not to mention, if we really needed to get outside for fresh air, we were on the 9th floor and the outside started at the 6th floor. KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I really expected the ship to be hard to navigate, and that it would take forever to get from one end to the other, but my husband I figured out short cuts, took advantage of the elevator when things seemed too far away, and climbed stairs a lot. There’s something about knowing you’re taking in more calories than you usually would that motivates a person to take the stairs. Even when my legs were feeling like jelly after snorkeling for an hour and then walking around Nassau for a few more, I still climbed those stairs all the way from the 3rd floor to the 9th and after visiting the room, climbed the rest of the way to the 11th floor where our favourite buffet restaurants, the hot tubs, pools and the most incredible view of the ocean ever, awaited.

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The interior of the ship was pretty amazing too. The pattern on this carpet was interesting. If the boat was moving, I felt sick looking at it. If we were still though, I found it soothing. Go figure, right?

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Our first full day was January 13 and we arrived in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, only to discover that all excursions had to be cancelled due to rain, lightning and thunder.

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To say I was disappointed would be true. I got up early that morning to have breakfast before my excursion and as I ate, an announcement came over the PA, that all outdoor excursions were cancelled for the day. Of course, I shouldn’t have been surprised, since, as I ate my breakfast, I could see the bad weather we were having. Still, initially I was disappointed. Then I sucked it up, reminded myself that I was on vacation and that I had my husband to spend the day with. Not to mention, with all the excursions cancelled, the Sky staff prepared extra activities throughout the day for those of us who wanted them. In the end, I ended up spending a little time in the Mark Twain library,

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAwriting a letter to my daughter, and later in the day my husband and I enjoyed the quiet of the library to play crazy 8’s. The countdown version. I was feeling lucky, so I wagered that whoever lost had to go make the winner an ice cream cone at the soft serve ice cream machine on the pool deck. Of course, I lost. And then I had to figure out how to get the ice cream back to our room before it melted, because my husband decided to up the stakes by making the loser have to bring it to our stateroom.  Yeah. He’s cheeky that way. And how I figured it all out? I sampled some of the ice cream as it ran down the sides, even though it was vanilla and not chocolate. So, I may have lost the card game, but I don’t think I really lost the wager.

That evening we got all dressed up and dined at one of the two complimentary dining rooms, called The Palace.

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It was nice to not have to cook or clean up the dishes and to be waited on but not be paying extra. I really like these all inclusive cruise ideas. The food was amazing, both in the dining rooms and the buffets and there was always a lot of it. I never felt the craving, but I’m pretty sure if I’d had a craving for something to snack on at 2 in the morning, I could have. I know there was room service available for sure. What an incredible vacation. Something I will be cherishing for years to come. And of course, I gained a few inspirations for future stories. So, expect to hear about The Bahamas in one or more of my future books. 🙂

January 14, got up bright and early to have breakfast before the excursion I’d booked to replace the one that was cancelled the day before. Turns out, with the weather being much nicer and the water being chilly, that this excursion was going to be much better than the one before it. The cruise ship staff made it really easy to rebook excursions, and since my husband cancelled his due to a sprained wrist, we had excursion credit that we could use to book future excursions and for anything we wanted on the trip. This came in handy when we wanted a drink or two (I got a ginger ale the first night to calm some seasickness and a virgin colada another day while hanging out on the pool deck. My husband got a ginger ale one night and then some other kind of drink another night), for booking a future excursion, souvenirs, and finally, renting a clam shell for the last day, to keep my husband out of the sun, since he burns easily.

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What an excursion I had! Myself and a bunch of other snorkeling hopefuls boarded a catamaran called The Seahorse II which took us out to a reef somewhere out beside Nassau.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA The weather was perfect. Hot enough that I debated staying inside the cabin and was reminded to keep reapplying my sunscreen but the wind was cool enough when we got going to make me eager to stand on the deck and enjoy the view. When we arrived at the snorkel site and got into the water, it was quite cold. I don’t think I would have enjoyed getting into the water if I didn’t know there was hot sunshine to back to afterward. So, it was a good thing the snorkeling excursion for Freeport was cancelled. Snorkeling was amazing. At first, my mask kept leaking, so I took it back. Discovered it was cracked. Then I got a better mask and swam out from the end of the boat to the reef.

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If you’ve never snorkeled, it’s quite the experience. The first thing I would recommend, is to ditch the flippers. Those babies weighed me down and I never could get them to work well. Once I changed my mask and ditched the flippers, I felt much better. The second is to remind yourself that, this is the ocean and you are a good swimmer. The ocean is salty, so you will naturally float. If you’re not a good swimmer, the boat staff provide life jackets. I opted to avoid those, in case I got brave and wanted to duck dive. The reason I say to remind yourself that you’re a good swimmer (and that you can lift your head and take the mask off anytime, so you can breathe the air) is that, the moment you stick your head under the water, and forget that you can’t breathe through your nose anymore, you panic. I know I certainly did. It was the weirdest thing. I would put my face in the water, start breathing through the snorkel and immediately feel like I was being pulled down.

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I think this was an optical illusion of the beach floor seeming a long, long way away. Also, with a leaking mask and flippers that weighed a ton, I didn’t start out well. Once I told myself that it was all my head though, and forced myself to swim out to the reef with my face underwater, I was good.

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It was a windy day, and my second mask kept fogging up, so for a lot of stuff, I was filming blind. Still, I think they turned out pretty good. What an experience. I felt immersed in the fish, kind of like dropping down into a fish tank. Only, this one was huge, and though I tried to squash it, there was always the niggling thought that sharks live in these waters and enjoy fish. And people who look like seals with their flippers. Believe me, I kept an eye out for any strange shadows and schools of fish swimming frantically away. After awhile though, I reminded myself that there was a lifeguard on the boat and one in the water with us, and we were perfectly safe.

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After the snorkeling adventure, where I made two new friends that my husband and I then hung out with a lot for the rest of the cruise, it was time to return to port. I met my hubby there and we checked out Nassau for bit before heading back to the ship for lunch. After lunch I toured it alone. This was real Bahamas. There was a place called the Straw Market where locals hawked their wares and deals could be made, and there were local Bahamians everywhere. It wasn’t a big place (at least what I saw of it) but it had real local flavour and reminded me a lot of Africa. I really enjoyed the bargaining. It was interesting. Basically, a lady or man would stand out at the end of the straw market and then ask you to follow him or her to their booth, all the time weaving between stall after stall of things. I would have liked to look at them all, but if I tried to leave the booth I had been taken to, the item I was interested in kept dropping in price. We got a few souvenirs this way and I kind of got a kick out of the bargaining bit. I never actually had to utter a word. It was funny. There were lots of really interesting souvenirs to be had too. I found a couple turquoise stone bracelets, my husband found a wooden saxophone player and wooden dominoes in a wooden box, and I found a beautiful hemp purse that the seller sewed my daughter’s name into for free.

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Nassau was my favourite place for mingling with the locals and the excursion. The next day, Great Stirrup Cay, was my favourite place for beaches. Bright and early, my husband I climbed about a tender, which is a ship that looks a lot like a double decker bus. This took us to Norwegian’s own private island, where we had rented the clam shell. What an incredible, beautiful place. Palm trees everywhere, turquoise water, tide pools, a lagoon and a tram that took you all over the island for free.

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We saw iguanas and little birds with beautiful songs, all kinds of plants and two huge eagles on the top of an old lighthouse, one guarding the nest and the other flying back and forth, probably with food for the babies. I got to wander for a bit while my husband rested in the shade of our clam shell, and then had a wonderful buffet lunch that the cruise ship provided. After lunch my husband returned to the ship and I stayed for a few more hours, floating in the waves and swimming in the lagoon. The stress I let myself get into sometimes melted away, and such a feeling of peace settled on me. It was the same on the catamaran ride too. I couldn’t stop smiling as I took in all the sights and just enjoyed the freedom of being out on a boat on some of the most beautiful water I have ever seen. White sand, palm trees, home with terra cotta roofs, two flying fish…all of this made for an incredible view from the catamaran.

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It was hard to leave the island, knowing this was the last day we would be in The Bahamas, but I gathered my things together and headed back to the tender. That evening my husband and I and our new friends enjoyed dinner on the top deck while we sailed away from port. There’s nothing quite like sailing toward or away from a tropical island with good food on your plate, great conversation and laughter.

This was truly the trip of a lifetime. I hope I get back to The Bahamas again someday, but if I never do, I will have all these memories to cherish.

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Until next time, dream big and never give up! You never know where those dreams may take you.

Amy McGuire

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About Author Amy McGuire

Author of The Heart's Discovery, a YA Romance novel set mostly in British Columbia with a brief foray into Quito, Ecuador. Also the mother of a bubbly second grade redhead who adores turquoise, and wife to a very patient man. She lives in Toronto, the inspiration for so many of her place names and characters.
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One Response to A Trip of A Lifetime

  1. Pingback: A Day on a Catamaran near Paradise Island, Bahamas | Author Amy McGuire's Blog

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