After the epic journey across country, madness at Universal Studios and illness at Miami, we needed some R&R. Holidaying can be hard work!! This R&R came in the form of a 5 day/4 night cruise from Miami through the Bahamas. While we aren't typically the all-inclusive type travellers we thought that seeing as we were going to be in Miami it would be silly not to give a cruise a go.
Being tight backpackers, we opted for pretty much the best value (ie. cheapest) cruise we could fine, which was on the Norwegian Cruise Line Sky cruise ship. This 848 ft boat can host 2002 guests alongside a crew of 896. It has 12 different dining options, 5 spas, 2 pools, a gym, beauty spa, basketball court and driving nets.
We boarded on Monday morning and immediately headed to the buffet for a spot of lunch. We checked into our room early afternoon - a cozy (small) windowless room which only just fit the double bed. But we didn't plan on spending much time in there so we were not fussed.
After watching the sun set over Miami as we set sail, we headed to Crossings, one of the two free a la carte restaurants on board. We ordered our 3 course meals from the extensive menu and were pleasantly surprised at the impeccable service we received considering it was one of the included restaurants. Unfortunately I hit a massive wall around 15 minutes after dessert and had to slink off to bed while Doug, Benita and Tom enjoyed the rest of a bottle of champagne. Doug and Tom then carried on to the karaoke bar where they attempted a brother act of All out of love by Air Supply, which failed miserably due to a fast monitor and lack of song knowledge.
First stop on the cruise was Freeport, a shopping town which didn't overly appeal to us. We opted to stay on the boat instead and test out the facilities, including the deck chairs beside the pool, bball court, gym and driving range.
Day two was Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, and Paradise Island. We wandered through the bustling shops of Nassau where many tourist picked up tax-free bargains on jewellery and watches. We managed to get a free necklace thanks to a voucher on a map (Surprisingly we didn't have to do anything to get the necklace - simply show the voucher and it was mine!). We then ventured over to Paradise Island, 685 acres of pristine island hosting exclusive hotels, shops, bars, a golf course and casino. The Atlantis Hotel is one of the main hotels of this island and features its own private beach. The top suite there, called the Michael Jackson suite, costs $25,000 a night and is booked up for 3 years!
We wandered through the gorgeous Marina shopping village and through the Atlantis Hotel before heading down to the beach. We were greeted with white sand and some of the bluest water we have ever seen, and both agree that if we ever had an extra $50,000 to spend on a holiday, the Atlantis Hotel is where we would go.
After our 3.5 course meal (We ordered 6 starters to share, a main each and then 6 desserts to share!) we headed to Dazzles nightclub to watch, and hopefully participate in, the game show Newlywed, Not So Newlywed. In order to get one of the three coveted spots on the show, we had to compete against 10 other couples...in a snog off. Tom and I both quickly agreed if we were going to do it, we would do it properly so when the host shouted go, I jumped up and wrapped my leg around Tom's waist and we proceed to snog each others faces off fro approximately 1 minute until we were crowned the winner. Success!
We took our seats to compete against 2 other couples and were asked a series of 10 questions in which individually answered in secret and compared at the end. In the spirit of fun, there was of course no winner and each couple went home with a goodie bag which included a bottle of champagne. Well worth the pash rash.
We celebrated our win by having a couple of cocktails by the pool whilst watching the revellers in the White Hot Party. This was followed by Tom and Dougie attempt to redeem themselves at the Karaoke Bar by singing "9 to 5" (fail) and visiting the Longboarders Bar which served food-to-order until 5:30am. Tom thought it would be a good idea for him to order a beef hotdog, chicken wings, chips and a New York Cheesecake at 1am in the morning. This kicked off Tom's new routine of eating a beef hotdog before bed.
Our final day was spent at Great Stirrup Cay, NCL's own private island. It featured pristine beaches, cute huts for rent, colourful markets and a huge buffet serving area so we could enjoy eating lunch on the beach. We sunbaked, ate, swam and explored the several beaches and lagoons without being hassled by merchants, which was lovely.
We enjoyed our final 3.5 course meal together complete with our free bottle of champagne and beef hotdog before doing a spot of duty-free shopping before turning in for the night to get ready to be kicked off the boat at 9am.
Cruises have a reputation of being cheesy and perhaps a sub-standard type of holiday but we loved it. We would not have wanted it to be any longer but we found the service, food and facilities to be fantastic. The fact that our room got cleaned morning and night AND the cleaner actually knew our names was impressive. If you are expecting pure luxury, then this is not the trip for you but if you're looking for a relaxed, relatively inexpensive holiday (It cost us $700 in total for both including drinks) where you don't have to worry about anything, we would both highly recommend it.