Monday, May 24, 2010

Cruise to the Bahamas: Day 2

Our second day on the ship was our port day in Nassau. Jonathan got the earliest start by hitting the ship's gym at 7am, and the rest of us were up and ready for breakfast when he got back shortly after 8:30am. Now, there are several breakfast options onboard, but we kinda prefer the main dining room, which is seated as-you-arrive for breakfast, as opposed to assigned seating. Also, the menu is the same every morning, so you can try different things. Bryan when with the bagel & lox, Ebad chose the poached eggs, Jonathan went with the french toast, and I chose a ham and cheese omelet. Ebad thought poached eggs were pretty good, Bryan enjoyed the toasted bagel so much that he ordered it again the following morning, and Jonathan thought the french toast was good. I thought the omelet was about average, honestly. But, to be fair, I usually have a bunch of veggies in my omelet, so maybe I just wasn't accustomed to just ham and cheese. I also had a banana, which was surprisingly served already sliced! There were various side dishes ordered, but I can only personally brag about the hashbrowns, which were wonderful. I found it to me amusing that we each chose a different juice that morning. I chose apple, Bryan went orange, JB went tomato, and Ebad tried grapefruit. I left the boys to decide on our course of action for the island (we weren't able to decide on activities sooner because our group members were kinda in-limbo for a while), and headed off to a gemstone seminar. It was very informative, and I specifically learned a lot about the difference in buying diamonds for various pieces of jewelry and various settings. I also made friends with the destination shopper, who later gave me an extra freebie coupon. I headed up to meet the boys on deck and struggled a bit to get to the area where we planned to meet, LoL. We watched the ship port in the Bahamas, and then headed down to change quickly before we got off of the ship. The boys booked us on a historical tour of the island that began at 1pm. We had just under an hour to grab a quick bite, and Jonathan and I thought we had a great places in mind. However, for whatever reason, about half of the places were closed, if not more. This left long lines and we cut it really short. We ordered fried conch, baked turkey wings, rice, and plantains, and ate as we walked back to the pier. The conch was among the worst I've ever had (and when conch is good, I'm in love), and the rice wasn't very tasty. The plantains were average, which is what I expect from a street vendor. The turkey, however, was fantastic. Actually, perhaps phenomenal. I'd get it again in a heartbeat, and I kinda only eat turkey like three times a year (not counting sliced deli meat, of course!).

We got back to the pier in the nick of time, and hopped a bus to get to the start of our tour. There, we handed in our tickets and got in a roomy van with air conditioning (hard to come by in other countries we've been to). We had a little over two hours of informative commentary as we rode through the streets of Nassau. Not only did we see some landmarks, like two forts and the Queen's Staircase, but we also got to see a lot of the actual island. Last time Jonathan and I were in Nassau, we stayed on the Paradise Island side for the most part, but had a cab-tour of the wealthy areas of Nassau... this time we saw the poverty-stricken and middle-class areas, and heard a lot about the school systems, the politics, and how the hospitals are run. We thought it was very reasonable at $30pp. I don't know that Bryan or Ebad enjoyed it as much as we did, but there were no complaints, and we know that, at the very least, they found the canons at the forts and the views around the city enjoyable.
The tour guide was nice enough to drop us off downtown, so we did a little shopping before heading back to the ship. I enjoy the Straw Market quite a bit, since you can see all sorts of interesting handicrafts. However, you do get harassed by the vendors pretty hardcore, so I didn't buy anything this time. I did get some great aquamarine pieces and another loose sapphire at other stores in Nassau, though. Ebad and Bryan got some ice cream, then we went to the Tortuga shoppe. Jonathan and I love that place (it's a chain throughout the Caribbean), but we didn't get anything this time. Bryan picked up a few souvenirs for people, and then we stopped and sent a postcard before heading back to the ship.We decided at that point that we weren't going to spend the evening in Nassau. Although the ship was docked until 6am the next day, it had gotten so rundown since the last time we were there that there wasn't too incredibly much to do. So, we headed up to the Lido to grab an afternoon snack (hamburgers, hotdogs, pizza, chicken tenders), and then we split up. Jonathan and I went to lay in the sun and then enjoy a hot tub, Ebad took a nap, and Bryan just laid out.

We get dressed for dinner (it's elegant night, and I was excited to wear a new floor-length summer dress I had picked up at Kmart of all places), and head to the Captain's Party about 7:45pm. We only got one free round since we arrived so late, but we did have front row seats for all of the officer introductions. We were right on-time for dinner, but the dining room was surprisingly swamped (most of the time it's not as crowded on port days). We get the cheese plates brought out, then the soups (I got the pumpkin, which is my favorite of the Carnival soups), then other appetizers. I had ordered the proscuitto ruffles, and for the first time, my order never came. I might have gotten upset, except a) Bryan let me have some of his, b) I wasn't starving, and c) I was really into reading an autobiography by the first American to have completed a contract on a Carnival cruise ship in the dining room. Because of the third in particular, I was able to recognize how much extra weight our head waiter was pulling, and since he was otherwise magnificent, I didn't mention it. I ordered the lobster and shrimp, which came with mashed potatoes and broccoli. A couple of the guys also had this, but then they also had the prime rib with baked potato and onion rings. The lobster was great, and I wish I had ordered a second one from the get-go. The shrimp and mashed potato were also scrumptious, and the guys reported great things about the meat, but not the potato, LoL. My favorite Carnival dessert was served that night, the banana layer cake. That with a side of chocolate ice cream was fabulous. When we got back to the room, the nightly towel animal greeted us... this time a frog! Ebad and JB hit the casino for a bit, while Bryan and I talked. Bryan headed off to meet some people, and I visited the art gallery and took some photos of various areas of the ship. At midnight we went up to the Lido for the Mexican buffet, but we weren't very hungry. Plus, nothing was that great, except for the mozzarella cheeses and the chocolate cake. From there we did some wandering, enjoyed the evening air, and people-watched a bit before bed.

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