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Cruise Askew, Day 2 in Freeport March 6, 2009

Posted by Trisha Lyn Fawver in General Rambling.
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Day two started bright and early with Katie and I getting up at 7 ish.  Not really my idea of fun on a vacation to get up earlier than I do when not on vacation, but we’d docked in Freeport and jam packed our time there with an island bus tour and a glass bottom boat tour.  To steal Katie’s wording from her blog, Freeport was not the tropical island paradise that we’d imagined.  Freeport is the industrual capital of the Bahamas on the main island Grand Bahama Island. 

As a disclaimer since I take a LOT of photos and talk a LOT about my experiences, this is only day 2 up until our getting back on the boat after being on shore.  The formal dinner was that night on board and that requires a post by itself, apparently.  Yes I ramble that much!

We made our way down to the gangway and off the ship to where the tours were.  We were informed that, while on our tour, we should stay on the last stop the bus made because that’s where the glass bottom boat would leave from.  Otherwise we’d waste a bunch of time taking the bus back to the cruise ship port and then another bus back to the port for the boat.  So on our way to our first stop, a market in downtown Freeport, we started snapping photos of the local scenery.

There were markets and similar stands everywhere on the island, which were commonly referred to as “straw markets”.  Katie described them as a cross between a flea market and an art festival, but I’d really say they were strongly more flea market.  Most merchants sold local straw woven bags and necklaces and such, with a lot of other trinkety things like t-shirts 3 for $10 and shot glasses 2 for $5.  Of course, being a collector of shot glasses, I got one.  We spent about 20 minutes at the market and I almost missed the bus because of a group of other tourists lingering in the small stall that I wanted a shot glass from (I hadn’t seen the same one at any of the other stalls).  But I made it on and we were off.  Here’s some photos from the market:

On our way to the next stop, Taino Beach, we were driven through some of the neighborhoods of the island.  The tour guide/bus driver told us that this upper-class neighborhood was mostly 3-4 bedroom houses that ranged from about $100,000 – $200,000.  Since we’d already been told that the Bahamian dollar exchanges at a 1:1 rate with the US dollar, I was really irritated to know that a super nice house in the Bahamas is way cheaper than a comparable house here in the SF Bay area!  Someone I mentioned that too reminded me that the crime rate in the non-tourist areas is pretty high though, so I guess that’s the trade off.  We were told more facts about Freeport and the Bahamas, and soon we arrived at the Junkanoo Beach Club at Taino Beach.

We were there for about 30 minutes, enough time for Katie and I to sink our feet into the crystal clear Caribbean Ocean and walk on the soft sugary sand of the beach.  The overcast weather was a bit of a downer since we were hoping for blue skies like you see in photos, but it was still absolutely gorgeous. 

We ran into our travel companions Linnitt and Kory as we left – they’d chosen the shore excursion that was just spending the day at Junkanoo to soak up the sand and waves.  So we said a quick hi & bye to them and were back on the bus heading to our final stop, Port Lucaya.  This area is one of the main tourist areas of the island, where many of the resorts are located, the casino, and the port where all recreational vessels are docked (for the most part).  So while we were only supposed to be there for an hour with the bus tour, we took the advise of the tour guides at the ship’s dock and stayed a couple hours in Port Lucaya waiting for the Glass Bottom Boat tour we’d scheduled. 

This was great, because it gave us plenty of time to wander around the shops, where we discoverd a Harley-Davidson store.  My dad collects t-shirts from various Harley stores, so of course I HAD to get him a Harley of Freeport shirt!  We also stopped in one of the drug stores there to get some munchies to take back onto the boat.  The gift shop on board really didn’t have much in the way of snacks to keep around the stateroom, and didn’t have my staple caffinated beverage, Mountain Dew, at all, so I grabbed a couple bottles and some snacks to take back, as did Katie.  We wandered around for a long while trying to decide on where to eat lunch.  Katie wanted to sample some local fare, but unfortunately all the restaurants were pretty mainstream and the only local fare they had was conch, but she wasn’t quite ready to give that a shot, so we ended up having some strawberry daiquiries and really American food at Rum Runners (she had a hot dog, I had a grilled cheese sandwich… adventurous, aren’t we?). 

Finally it was time to go on the glass bottom boat tour.  We found the place to turn our tickets in and were led to the boat and got on. 

We set out of the bay area, past the jetty and out into the open waters.  The water the boat was in was incredibly clear, so it was easy to see every plant and random fish as we headed out to our first stop.  We finally arrived above a coral reef with tons of fish swimming around.  I was worried that the photos I was taking through the glass below wouldn’t be that great, but the clarity of the Caribbean really helped that endeavor.

They gave us some hamburger buns and let us toss them over the side to feed the fish.  I didn’t expect them to rush to the surface, but they did and it was really cool to see them schooling around just under the surface.  A couple of small kids tossed in their buns whole instead of breaking them into bits like the rest of us did, and it was a massacre!  The fish went nuts, of course.  We then took off towards a ship wreck in deeper water, which Katie and I were looking forward too.  They also promised that there would be sharks there, which was also exciting.  Unfortunately when we got there, divers were on the wreck, which meant the boat couldn’t hover over it.  Bummer.  But, we did see sharks!  Since the water was a bit deeper, we couldn’t see a lot of detail, mostly just silhouettes.  But even that was nifty.

The small boat was rocking a lot and it wasn’t making me feel all that great, but I still wish it had gone on longer.  We got back to the dock and, smartly, went straight for where the tour busses were to get back to the ship.  They’d given us return vouchers when we got off at Port Lucaya, so we just jumped back onto the first bus that was headed back to the Sensation.  Good for us, even though we thought we had time to spare, because we got back right about 3:30, the time they told us we HAD to be back on the ship by. 

So, like I said at the beginning of this post, that evening on board after we set sail and said bye bye to Freeport, the formal Captain’s dinner was scheduled.  That, my friends, requires more time to process and a whole other post.

Posted via web from From the desk of Trisha Lyn Fawver

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