Cruise in the Bahama's

I had the pleasure of being able to take a cruise as a reward trip through the company I work for. I have mentioned a few times on this blog that my employer is very flexible in 'where' I work as long as I can get to my customers when I need to be on site with them. This has allowed us to live on the boat and just ensure we are fairly close to an airport for travel primarily within the US.

So with this reward trip quickly coming up, we had some changes in our personal plans and Deb was nota able to attend.  I know how much my dad loves boats and even mentioned once that he would like to take a cruise to Alaska so I reached out to him to see if his Passport was still active but it had already expired for him and there was not time to renew it in the short window to departure.  I checked with my Mom who doesn't like water, get motion sickness, doesn't swim and gets nervous on long bridges.  It went something like this, "Mom, do you want to go on a cruise?"  Mom says "What, no I don't think so, wait, I really should, this could be cool, I am so nervous, let me think about it, never mind, I will do it.  Book it"  so in that one long sentence and 45 second conversation she talked herself in and out of it 3 times and then swallowed her fears and agreed.  I was really happy she did that as I was convinced she would enjoy the cruise and it was a neat chance for her to get a sense about the company that I work for and how well they show their appreciation.  By way of example about the company, I was departing on Wednesday morning to fly to the port of departure.  On Sunday afternoon, I called the company and said there was a change of plans and that I wanted to see if they could make sure that the stateroom had 2 beds rather than a king that was booked for me and Deb.  They not only agreed to do that, but called me back later that same night confirming everything had been switched and since they had another room already planned on the boat, they could give her her own stateroom to allow both of us our privacy.  (See pretty darn cool company)

Mom in her Safety Drill Muster Station
So we met in the Miami airport and the company picked us up, took our luggage and shuttled us right onto the ship.   The first step was to go meet for the Muster Station and Safety drill which Mom took completely in stride.

There was a welcome reception the first night just as we were scheduled to depart port and it was on the pool deck with a band and generally pleasant.  Mom and I had dinner reservations at the Italian restaurant that night for dinner so as we went from the reception to the restaurant on the boat (on deck 10 at the aft end of the ship), we were now just a bit offshore and it was already bobbing pretty good in the water.    I kept checking with Mom and she was still doing good, she had taken her dramamine and had her wrist bands for motion sickness.

The appetizers came, all good, but you could definitely feel the ship rolling a bit.  I looked it up online and there about 8-10 foot seas and 25Knots of wind.  The entree came and we were both about stuffed from the first course, but started to eat and then mom had that look that said "I think I want to leave this restaurant before I fall over or get sick"  So I held her arm and we swayed between the tables and had a hard time walking straight down the gall without holding onto a rial.   Mom went right to bed.  

My Cioppino (Very good)
I actually got really annoyed at myself for not being able to walk a straight line, I am the only one from our company that was on this trip that live on a boat, and I didn't want to be staggering around in front of my co-workers, so I walked every deck and staircase on that ship to get my sea legs under me.  after about 45 minutes I was able to control the sway, but felt better about my movements on the boat.

The ship was scheduled to get to Nassau Bahamas early in the morning about 7am and I woke up a few times through the night from the movement of the ship.  I was so tempted to call my Mom and see how she was doing at night, but I didn't want to call in the event she had actually fallen asleep, I didn't want to wake her.  As it turned out, once she fell asleep, she was good, it didn't wake her up so that was the new plan.  Get to sleep before the ship moves again.

When I woke up about 4:30 am or so, I stepped out on the balcony and I could see a bit of light starting to form over the horizon, but the Sun wasn't visible yet.  I decided to clamp the go-pro on the railing of my balcony and just went back in and went to sleep.  I woke up again when we were moored at the cruise ship dock and the battery on the go pro dead.
(See the video below for a fast motion view of the sunrise and even seeing the Pilot boat come on out and meet us.  The battery ran out (or memory filled) right as we turned the boat around and were backing into our slip, so it is a pretty cool video. (about 1 hour played at about 60 seconds total).

We went on our excursions on shore which was to go to a chocolate factory and we got to learn about how to make chocolate but more important we got a lesson in how to make our own chocolates (note to self, this is going to be a hard week on my diet).  We donned our hair nets and chocolate surgery gowns and then got to make a candy bar in a mold from the Grayclif Chocolate factory and put our own goodies in it (I choose coconut and chocolate chips).

We then were challenged by the most awesome tour guide I have had in a long time.

She wanted us to make our name in chocolate, then some chocolate clusters and a chocolate heart, and then she got quiet for a few minutes so I made a sailboat too :).  I also dipped some fruit and marshmallows into the chocolate for some really good snacking while we worked.  This was a really fun event and we had a blast making the chocolate and eating it later.  Seriously the tour guide on this was so excited about her job, it was contagious and she made you have fun even if you were not sure you wanted to.  After spending time giving us samples of Cocoa beans, and the refinement and roasting of it as well as seeing some of the really cool candies they make including a chocolate high heeled shoe.

From here it was time to go to the Rum Distillery.  It was the John Watling Distillery and it was a fairly short tour compared to others I have been on.  The tour was still pretty neat to hear the history of this also being owned by a pirate named John Watling where there is a lot of history about pirates in the area.  This was a completely hand crafted distillery that made Vodka and 3 different aged rums.  When I say hand crafted I mean it, there is no machinery.  When we were on the tour, we could see the drum and spigots they hand fill the bottles from.  We also saw a woman that was putting the tables and the rope neck decoration on each bottle by hand.

From the tour we then went into the gift shop, they do sell rum after all, and after getting a bit of info on the different ones they sell, they led us into a private tasting.  This was really cool as well and we had them explain each one and how to cleanse the pallet between different rum tasting.  They had a bar there were they were willing to make you any drink you wanted as well.   I got a great picture of Tino working behind the bar.  As I went to take the picture, he said, have someone else take the picture, you should come behind the bar with me.  So I certainly did.

All in all the Bahamian people were really really cool, warm and friendly.  He was just one of many that we met that proved this to us with each discussion and interaction.

We went back to the boat and dropped off our Rum.  Of course we bought some.  We had lunch on the boat and then decided to walk around down town and do a bit of shopping and checking out the area.  Again the people proved again how great they were.
We shopped and then sat and had us a dish of Cracked Conch and a Kalik beer.  If you go to the Bahamas you have to drink Kalik which is the Bahamian beer.   As we walked back around downtown, we started to head back toward the ship and I was telling my Mom that the ship we are on is a really small ship (it holds about 500 guests and some of the larger ones will have over 3000 guests on them.  As we walked through the terminal and onto the docks, there was a larger Carnival Cruise ship next to us and seeing the difference was pretty amazing.

As we were planning on leaving Nassau that night at midnight, I thought it would be cool to get some footage off the bow of the ship to see the waves I thought I saw breaking just beyond the breakwater.
You could see this (zoomed in) but you can see the size of these rollers, they were going right over the breakwater in some places.
Once we left Nassau, we had a short trip to Stirrup Cay for the next morning for a day of beach play and relaxation.  I again put the camera out in the morning to capture the sunrise from our anchor off this small private island.  See the video for that clip as well as many other videos from the adventures of the first 2 days in the Bahamas.  

Below is a youtube video showing the highlights of the trip and arrival/departure in a couple of locations in the Bahamas for your viewing pleasure.  I have been watching a ton of "Wicked Salty" and his cruising in the Abacos, I kept thinking it would be cool to see him at some anchorage.
If you are receiving this blog via email or on a device that won't play the embedded video, click this link for the video directly on Youtube.  The link is