“Aruba, Jamaica, ooo I wanna take ya; Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama…”
– Kokomo, Beach Boys
Well, I’m not a mama, but last Mr. Kisby did take me to the Bahamas for our 5th Wedding Anniversary! We opted to go to the Bahamas as part of a cruise giving us two new experiences in one trip! We began our search for a cruise with my fear of flying in mind. (Seriously, if they would just let me be in control and fly the dumb plane, then I’d feel a lot better about it…) This meant choosing a port that was close enough to drive to which for me means a 12 hour drive according to my Maps App or less. My criteria quickly narrowed our ports to Charleston, SC; Jacksonville, FL; Mobile, AL; and NOLA. Mr. Kisby began some research and found that with these in mind Carnival was the most budget friendly choice given we decided we were going three weeks before embarkation. With some browsing – very user friendly browsing I might add – we found that the Carnival Elation leaving from Jacksonville on July 10 for 5 days to the Bahamas best met our needs.
We began our journey on July 9 with the intent to drive to a Days Inn we had found near the port. On our way to Jacksonville, we stopped at The Varsity Cafe in Atlanta for lunch. I’m a major sucker for nostalgia, and I had previously been to The Varsity on my 11th Grade choir trip in 2000. I remembered it being super fun, so I told Mr. Kisby we were stopping there for lunch. For the first time ever, I tried a slaw dog! It was really good and that says a lot since I don’t normally eat hot dogs!!! The rest of the trip down – minus traffic in Atlanta – was very easygoing. There’s a lot of pretty countryside in Georgia and Florida. Also, there have bears along I-10 in Florida. Seriously…I was shocked to make it all the way to Florida and see signs warning us of bear crossing zones! Like they know to cross at the signs…Anyway we made it to the Days Inn without any issues, and I really enjoyed the proximity of the motel to a Walmart because I forgot to pack a loofah and some other cruise necessities. Come July 10, we both really liked the proximity of the port to the motel! After driving ALL day on Sunday, it was nice to not rush on Monday morning and only be 15 minutes from port.
My thrill with the cruise began while we were still driving to the port. Before we even parked, I was thrilled by the size of the ship. We were about to board the Carnival Elation – one of Carnival’s Fantasy class ships – and I felt like I was boarding a ship of dreams. I couldn’t believe how big it looked from the parking lot! You can imagine my excitement increasing with every step! The closer we got to the boat, the more I felt like a volcano about to explode! Going through the terminal even made me giddy. By the time we were on the ship, I felt like royalty! I couldn’t believe how beautiful everything was, how hyped the atmosphere was, and how nice all of the workers were! I walked around the ship in awe, remaining in awe as we indulged in an Italian buffet, and staying that way until we got to our room!
Let me tell you about the room! I was expecting something the size of a good closet from what I had heard over the years. Much to my surprise, it was about the size of a hotel room! For our first cruise, we went with a porthole room (a) because it was cheaper and we didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a room just to get sea sick and (b) because it is fun to say porthole. To celebrate our anniversary, we paid for one of the packages and they had our room fixed up for us with special decor, souvenirs, and a cake! We had plenty of space for us and all of our stuff to live comfortably for a week. Plus, we got to look out our porthole like we were spies!
Day 1 was very enjoyable, but Day 2 was even better! Day 2 we woke up early and got to see the sunrise over the ocean. There is nothing more breathtaking than watching the sunrise over the ocean and only being able to see the water surrounding you. This was one of the most serene feelings I’ve ever had in my life!
Serenity (both the views and the private 21 and over deck) aside, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about being “trapped” on a boat all day. My biggest fear with a cruise was that I would get bored because you couldn’t go anywhere that wasn’t on the boat. Guess what?!? There was no opportunity for boredom! Hungry? You could eat all day! Enjoy gambling? Go to the casino! Enjoy competitive activities? There were those all day! Are you into relaxing? Go to the spa! Sit on the deck with a book! Chill in the hot tub! Take a nap in the sun (with sunscreen if you’re like me)! There was never a dull moment! One of my favorite discoveries of Day 2 – that would continue to be utilized the remainder of the trip – was the Pizza Pirate restaurant! Hands down some of the best pizza I’ve ever had! We were also very pleased with the discovery of the coffee bar!
Day 3 brought the first port of call. This port was at a private island owned by Carnival called Half Moon Cay. The island was once a fort during some war time or another and is now utilized as a beach day getaway. Both the beach and the natural foliage of the island were breathtaking! As part of our anniversary trip, we decided to treat ourselves to a private cabana on the beach. Hands down…best decision of the trip! Our cabana had AC, a stocked cooler, porch with loungers, misting fans, snorkel gear, float loungers for the ocean, and more! We got to privately enjoy the beach for six hours! And our cabana was on the end, so it was even more secluded!
While at Half Moon Cay I learned how to snorkel! Way fun and it made me feel like a champ for our snorkel the next day in Nassau! It was also a great place to collect shells, see some cool almost clear fish, and just relax in the sun. I don’t know what was more fun, being in the water or sitting on the shore watching the water! I’d have to go back and try it all again for further research…
Day 4 brought us to Nassau. Here we booked a two reef snorkel. This was also a great trip! We took a boat about an hour from the port and got a great tour of several islands on the way to a reef. The reef we went to is famous for having Corona commercials filmed on it and a James Bond movie (I’ve never seen one so I can’t tell you which). In both snorkel locations, I was enamored by the plant life that was visible on the reef as well as the variety of fish. I tried to take some pictures, but I was so enamored that I just want to swim and swim in order to see everything possible! I highly recommend snorkeling in the Bahamas!
After snorkeling, we were so exhausted that we didn’t see much of Nassau. We bought some souvenirs and then headed back to the ship for some lunch and showers! One of my favorites sights in Nassau was the lighthouse below that was on the outskirts of the port. I love lighthouses and was enamored of the Nassau skyline in behind this one.
Day 5 was another Fun Day at Sea! This time we participated in some of the on board activities, but we mostly just relaxed and enjoyed our last day at sea. I loved just staring at the ocean and enjoying the tranquility associated with doing so. The ocean has always been one of the places where I feel most connected to the natural world around me, and being able to see nothing but the sea game an indescribable amount of calm!
I know this is a lot of info packed into a little bit, but there are so many possibilities on a cruise, that it can be overwhelming. If you choose to cruise with Carnival, then here are some highlights you must checkout:
- Pizza Pirate
- The French Onion Soup
- The Chocolate Molten Lava Cake (I liked it and I normally don’t like chocolate)
- The musical review shows
- Coffee Bar
- Serenity Deck (if you’re over 21) and Serenity Whirlpools
- The shops – you can win prizes without buying a thing!
- The library – it has board games and books!
- Pizza Pirate (it is worth multiple mentions!)
- The different musicians playing at various locations on the ship
- On this ship: The Gatsby Bar!
I can’t wait to cruise again!
#thegreatkaysby #travel #carnival #cruise #mrkisby #anniversarytrips #bahamas #halfmooncay #nassau #pizzapirate #carnivalelation