THURSDAY. My first choice would have been to return to Long Island’s exquisite Gordon’s beach, but Mr. Whystayhome wanted to see Dean’s Blue Hole, so we took the shuttle for the short ride over to that beach. The shuttle driver recognized me from the previous week and asked why I wasn’t going back to Gordon’s!
Dean’s Blue Hole, with a depth of approximately 660’ is a favorite with divers. We missed a recent diving competition in which the winner descended to a depth of about 400’. The surrounding water is waist deep or less and is the usual clear, light blue Bahamas water and then it abruptly funnels down into a solid dark blue world that is a cross between royal and almost a navy blue. I went snorkeling around and across the hole and saw what people told me were sergeant majors, blue tangs, and unicorn fish, mostly around the periphery. The hole is interesting to look at from afar and to look down into while swimming across, but I still think that Gordon’s Beach has more to offer in terms of natural beauty.
Another great Chinese chicken salad at Silk and then some time to read/snooze on deck before the afternoon’s enrichment. Jay Wolfe’s story about the slave trade in the West Indies focused on the role of sugar/molasses in making slavery profitable. Enslaved Africans were brought to the Caribbean to grow the sugar cane which was made into molasses and shipped back to Africa to make rum. Once again, his talk was a pleasure to listen to.
After cocktails and chatting with friends in the Crystal Cove, it was time for another fabulous dinner at Uma Umi, followed by yet another hilarious show with John Joseph.
FRIDAY. Sea day/packing day. We went for breakfast in the dining room and then settled in for the day’s enrichment activities. Unfortunately, Jay Wolfe’s story this morning was a repeat of last week’s talk about Cuba.
Ken Walsh’s lecture today described the private residences of a number of US Presidents, from Mt. Vernon to Crawford, Texas to the Trump palaces. There were a lot of amusing anecdotes accompanying the photos of the Presidents relaxing in their homes. For example, during John Adams’ tenure, he spent 9 months at his private residence in Massachusetts, Congress ran amok, and he had to rush back to the capital to prevent war with France. Abraham Lincoln was rather sickly, so he moved into the Old Soldiers’ Home to recuperate. Ken entertained us with stories about the idiosyncrasies of more recent Presidents, and the hour passed quickly.
After lunch, we played bridge with the bridge teachers for several hours and continued to learn a lot from them. Cocktails in the Crystal Cove, where we had a nice time talking with the magician, and then a pre-ordered lobster and filet mignon dinner in Waterside where unfortunately, the cherry crumble was once again on the menu, rounded out the evening.
The ship had made a bunkering stop in Freeport and we were there for hours waiting for the Bahamians to refuel the ship. According to the Captain, for the first time in his 43-year career at sea, the shipping agent told the fueling station that the ship would be arriving for fueling at the time the Serenity had expected to leave Freeport, so when the ship made port around 1:00, there was no fuel available. The Serenity wound up leaving for Nassau at 2AM - 6 hours behind schedule.
SATURDAY. Disembarkation. Because of yesterday’s bunkering disaster, the Serenity got into Nassau three hours late, even though the Captain confided, “We drove the ship like we stole it.” By some amazing coordinated effort, all the luggage was offloaded by about 15 minutes after we made port. We started to get a little nervous, as our flight was at noon and we were still sitting on our airport transfer bus at the dock at 9:30 and we had read about the zoo at the airport.
The bus driver zoomed to the airport and we were in line with our luggage a little after 10. I couldn’t get VeriFLY to work, but it took only about 20 minutes until we were able to drop off our bags. Walking over to security, we noticed that there were a zillion more people in line to check in for AA, so it was a good thing our bus driver hustled.
Then we lucked out because the Nassau airport has just instituted TSA pre-check, so we skipped the line of hundreds of people waiting for screening, got through security in a few minutes and didn’t have to take out electronics or liquids or take off our shoes. Next up, Global Entry and once again, we were able to bypass the hundreds of people waiting in the customs and immigration line. The CBP agent who checked us in said that people don’t understand that the Bahamians are in charge of everything you waltz through before you get to US border patrol and take out their anger on the CBP folks. Sometimes, people become aggressive, the police are called, and immigration is shut down altogether. The agent estimated many people would be missing their flights today.
We waited in the Priority Pass lounge for our flight. Once again we were fortunate - there was no line to get in. We decided we did not need any more alcohol after our two-week idyl on the Serenity and had virtuous diet Cokes to wash down a surprisingly tasty lunch. There was no silverware, but the plates were decorated with doilies.
Although this cruise was a fill-in for a cancelled cruise to Norway and the Baltic, we had a fabulous time and I wouldn’t mind doing it again!