Bahama Mama Anyone?

July 11, 2015 — Leave a comment

sunset-at-sea-2Ok we’re hooked. Even more so now.

It has become clear to us that cruising is our greatest vacation. From the moment we set out for the airport until we step off the ship at our final port – it is the closest I think we can come to being completely unplugged and sincerely relaxed. Time seems to stand still onboard a cruise and even though it’s a relatively short trip and the days slowly tick away…there is no urgency, no sense of running out of time. Even as the last days approach you don’t feel … “Oh no it’s almost over!” but rather the sense is “We still have two more days left.”

Not until you head back to wherever you call home that the feeling sets in that it’s over…for now. And then life begins to flood back in as thoughts of children, work, home and everything else we deal with in our daily lives rises back to the surface and becomes top of mind again. But those feelings only serve as added motivation for us to plan more cruises.

The Norwegian Gem

The view of the back of the ship from our penthouse suite balcony as we cruised to the Bahamas.

The view of the back of the ship from our penthouse suite balcony as we cruised to the Bahamas.

Jill and I recently took our second cruise together this past June.  We embarked on an 8 day cruise to the Bahamas aboard the Norwegian Gem.

After our cruise last year we realized a few things that we wanted to do differently and try this time around.  Top of the list was more time at sea.  Not that we didn’t enjoy the ports of call last year – there were just too many.  Getting off every day at another port we realized made for long, tiring days.  So Jill searched the cruise lines finding an 8 day cruise to the Bahamas aboard the Norwegian Gem that included 4 days at sea and 3 ports of call not counting our embarkation port – New York CIty – the perfect cruise!

The Gem is a great ship – it’s in good shape but you can tell some things need updating. We’ve since learned that we missed seeing her after a dry dock visit by a few months – maybe the Gem will be our first repeat.  One of the other things we knew we wanted to try was a higher class of stateroom.  Last year we had an ocean view – this year we splurged and booked an aft facing penthouse suite – complete with a butler and concierge to attend to our needs.

The room was spacious and the bed had to be one of the best beds I have ever slept on that was not in my house.  Every night our butler would leave another edible goodie for us to snack on.  Every morning started with a fresh cup of coffee made right in our room and then enjoyed on our private balcony as we perused the daily newsletter – as we planned our day ahead.

What better way to cruise - a penthouse suite.

What better way to cruise – a penthouse suite.

The first couple of mornings we decided to order breakfast served in our room. The food was very good – but we soon realized that one of the perks of being in a penthouse suite was exclusive access to Cagney’s Steakhouse for breakfast and lunch. Needless to say we never ate another breakfast in our room – as the choices and quality of food was far superior at Cagney’s.

Dinner and Drinks

As part of the package that Jill secured for us – NCL’s Ultimate Dining Package and Ultimate Beverage Package were included. So for us this meant we could eat at any of the specialty restaurants and enjoy any cocktail we wanted (with some minor limitations).  We ate at all but 2 of the restaurants and only once in the main dining room.

After our experience on Holland America last year our expectations where pretty high with the food.  Our first meal in the Grand Pacific dining room…was just OK.  Not great but certainly not up to the level of food and service we enjoyed last year. Our favorite place to eat ending up being Cagney’s – great steaks every time.  We also ate at Moderno – a Brazilian steakhouse and Teppanyaki – both very good.  We even enjoyed lunch at Le Bistro during 2nd City’s Murder Mystery lunch.

The Gem Casino - time to get our gamble on.

The Gem Casino – time to get our gamble on.

We Are Gamblers After All

So yes – one of the other considerations we give to our vacation planning is the proximity to any casinos. How much better can you have it then to have your casino go where you go? We really enjoyed playing in the casino on the ship last year – as the staff got to know us making it even more enjoyable than just the gambling itself – so our hopes were high that we’d have a repeat of that on this cruise.

We were not disappointed..  In fact – the casino on the Gem was better than Holland America with more table games and more slots.  The staff was incredible and as often happens with us – within a day or two – many of the staff knew us by name and would say hi to us as we walked through the casino.

Yes We Did Get Off The Ship

Believe it or not we did get off the ship and out of the casino.  Port Canaveral was not interesting to us so we decided to make it a spa day and enjoyed a relaxing massage after lunch. In Nassau – we visited Atlantis but we were not impressed with Nassau itself.  Very run down and dirty – not a place I think we’ll return to.

This is how fair skin people sunbathe. Enjoying a Bahama Mama (or 2) on Great Stirrup Cay.

This is how fair skin people sunbathe. Enjoying a Bahama Mama (or 2) on Great Stirrup Cay.

Our favorite port was NCL’s private island Great Stirrup Cay.  It was my first experience on a “tropical island” – not sure how tropical it really is as I think the Florida Keys are farther south – but it was amazing.  Jill and I found a quiet, shady spot to stretch out and enjoy a few Bahama Mama’s.

The only disappointing thing about the island was the food the provided as part of a lunch buffet.  Again it was not horrible – hamburger/hotdog type food – but knowing we could have returned to the ship to have a better meal had us regretting our decision to grab a quick bite on the island.  Next time we’ll just enjoy the beach and surf and head back for better fare.

On To The Next

So here we are – a few weeks removed from heaven onboard the ship – and our thoughts continually return to our 8 days of peace and serenity.  It is truly one of the best ways to spend your time away from reality.  The memories will last us a lifetime but that is not enough to quench the desire we both share to travel together.  Even though this adventure has ended – Jill and I have already planned out our next one…Bermuda 2016 here we come!

Check out some pictures from our trip in our Bahama Cruise 2015 gallery.

Tommy D

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