90 Miles Away…Worlds Apart





I’ve written, rewritten, and am writing this blog again. I just simply cannot describe the time we had on our cruise. I’ve gone back and forth with different approaches, but nothing comes out right. So, here it is. Simply pictures with a bit of a description.  I didn’t take near enough pictures, but when you’re busy enjoying yourself, nothing else matters. Without further ado… I present, The Eastern Caribbean.

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Close your eyes, and pick any ocean or beach. It doesn’t matter which one as long as you can hear the waves gently rolling in, smell the salty sea, and feel the warm air against your face. Now open your eyes and ask yourself how far is paradise from that point? Well if you are on a cruise, it’s only a sail away. For a minute or two you can live vicariously through this blog, then wait for my next one on the ins and outs of cruising. Go put on your swim suit, grab your favorite drink, and find a shady area to lounge because you will most definitely want to imagine yourself in the Bahamas.

Our cruise sets sail from Galveston on the Carnival Freedom… not much to look at in port other than our cruise ship and major industry.

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At this point, we are about 2-3 hours from being on the ship, zigzagging through the security checkpoint and registration lines, then the gangway to the ship. After all that winding in the heat, we needed a drink.

Once onboard, we check to see if our room is available, put away our things, change out of our sweaty clothes, and find a cool spot to relax and enjoy a cold beverage.

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The casino is a logical place for some people (not me) as it has a bar and smoking area. Right before we leave, we must squish 5,000 people on both sides of ship Deck 3 for a safety briefing and one last head count affectionately called the “mustard” drill. We all think the same thing at this point: how do 150 people fit in one of those life boats? Where’s my door, Jack? Why did I change clothes to be this hot and sweaty again? 30-45 minutes later we are back in the casino bar cooling off.

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Fun Times

The next day is a sea day, so we make time to look through the Fun Times daily planner to check activities we want to do. We listen to the various bands, play a round of bingo, and catch one of the comedy shows. Because we are night owls, no alarms are set. Our cabin steward cleans our room late for this very reason.

Day 2 is a stop in Key West, Florida. We come in a bit late because of the tail winds of Tropical Storm Cyndi. Our ship captain is all pro at keeping us safe, yet on track. We have nothing planned, so we get off the ship to wander around and find lunch. While shopping at the port, I spy this beautiful cactus. I’m not sure what it’s called, but a closer look might result in a doctor visit. Further onto the island is a giant statue of the famous kiss. I somehow manage to get one shot with no people posing in front of it.

There are many historic places to visit in Key West. We get off the ship late, so we are a bit pressed for time on touring more than we did. In Key West, you can see Earnest Hemmingway’s home and visit the bar, Sloppy Joe’s, he frequented. Matter of fact, that is where we had lunch. The southernmost point in the US is here as well. When standing on this point, you are only 90 miles from Cuba, which seems like a world away when on dry land.

Our stop on Day 3 is Freeport, Bahamas. When we dock, it doesn’t look like much, and again we did not plan an excursion here. We get off to check out the shops at the port, but the blazing hot sun quickly ushers us back on board where we enjoy the adult pool in peace.

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By 5 pm ship time, Tim and I go back to the cabin to freshen up and listen to music in the Ateium Lobby again. This never gets old as the bands and genre are ever changing. Some we listen to over again because they are that good. We also check out one of the stage shows in the theater on board. No photography is allowed during these times, but I can tell you “Getaway Island” is a family friendly show about surviving life on a volcanic island. It isn’t my favorite show, but it is cute.

Day 4 of our journey takes us to beautiful, bustling Nassau, Bahamas. Because we did well in the casino a couple nights before, we treated ourself to a tour excursion of the islands. We board a bus with a few other families and head off to visit some tourist shops, historical places, and a rum factory. As we travel through town, the driver, who is also our guide, points out interesting sites, so I snap a few pictures.

I’m a sucker for history, so Fort Fincastle is right up my alley. It was a very small fort that never seen much hardship or war. I could see why it’s location was prime for its day. The three cannons were able to sight and shoot anything 180 degrees around that point. As you can see from the first photo below, our cruise port is a prime target. There are a few cells to keep hostiles, but they rarely seen action. The cells are huge and have built in air conditioning from long vents built into the walls of the fort. Aside from being stone, any captive would do well to not complain. The men of the group push the cannon along its tracks and yell “BOOM” to hit our “target”. The Queen’s Staircase is right below the fort as well as an old water tower built at the beginning of modern industry.

From there we move on to the John Watling Rum Distillery tour. The grounds are beautiful as well as the main house. There is a hand dug water well, detailed architectural pieces, and a few samples I have to try. We watch a few workers hand label and pack the rums for distribution among the Bahamian Islands. You can’t find this in the states. We poke our noses in barrels of aged rums… 150 proof has some get up and go!

We are scheduled a late departure this night because this is a Carnival Live Cruise!! How exciting! This is a surprise to us when we scheduled, so we are going to see Jeff Foxworthy! He is super funny, and we definitely have a great time. We leave at 11 pm ship time for our two day journey home. Docked at the next pier is a Naval Ship all dazzled in lights. Even Navy Seamen need to party sometimes. We pass a tiny lighthouse to guide ships around a point, and we disappear into the dark.

We set sail for two more sea days on our way home. It is a bittersweet time, so we try to take it easy and enjoy ourselves as much as possible. One must-do activity on the ship is to see one of the stage shows. There are three on our week long voyage that repeat a couple times throughout the week. I use the Carnival Hub App to keep track of events. It’s free on the ship’s wifi, and comes in handy for many reasons. That’ll be another post, so watch for it to come soon!

Tonight’s production is  “88 Keys”. I’ve never seen this one before, so it should be interesting. However, earlier in the day the Hub App changes to show our favorite musical performance, 80s Pop to the Max. We’ve watched this one 3 or 4 times before on previous cruises, and L*O*V*E*I*T!!! Naturally we are super excited to watch it again! 80s Pop to the Max is a music video review of many popular 80s songs. There are many wardrobe changes, stage resets, treadmills, and interactive video walls!! Awesomeness!!! It makes you want to get up and dance!

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Video Walls

The day we return back to Galveston is filled with mixed feelings. We pack the night before, have breakfast delivered to the room, and head into the hall to wait for our deck to be called. Another zigzagging line through customs to declare anything that has been purchased on the trip, then we are on the bus to the parking lot. Until next time, Carnival. We will definitely be seeing another ship soon!

What has been your favorite vacation? What do you do to save money for vacations? Leave me a comment! I love to hear about your adventures! 

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