Tuesday, 15 August 2006:
I woke up at 8:00 in the morning, still feeling tired, but having rested well. Knowing we had a 9:30 tour on shore, we scrambled to breakfast in the lower dining room, and a few pancakes and sausages later I was ready to go.
We made our way down to deck one and disembarked onto the Bahamas island of Nassau, where we met with our first tour guide, himself fittingly dressed as a pirate (the name of the tour was something along the lines of "Pirates of Nassau"), who led us on a short walk along the pier to our bus. The bus itself was kind of neat - since it's used for tours, it had been made very space efficient, in that the isle seats had a fold out seat that filled the isle, allowing for extra passengers. Interesting design.
Our driver took us around the local city, giving us all sorts of interesting tidbits of information along the way. For example, we drove by the police station and learned that all police stations are painted in a particular shade of light green, all public schools are painted yellow and white, and other government buildings are similarly colour coded.
And, spouting slogans such as 'the primary industry of the Bahamas is tourism', he also brought us to places to shop, cleverly positioned near an historic fort. Now, I'm not much of a shopper, so this didn't really appeal to me, but it was made worse for the fact that every single storefront (and they weren't stores, they were outdoor, one-sided kiosks) sold exactly the same stuff. It reminded me a lot of Italy, around all of the major touristy spots - everyone sells exactly the same things, usually at the same prices, and no one really has anything unique. So I was bored quickly, but then, after a long while, we moved on.
At the end of the tour, the bus driver dropped us by a pirate museum, where a separate museum guide took us around. It was okay, but not terribly exciting. Same with the Nassau tour as a whole - decent, but not necessarily worth the 20-some dollar ticket price.
Anyway, our group left the museum and went through a large covered bazaar... all the vendors in which were selling the identical merchandise we'd already seen. At some point, we split up, and I set out searching for a bookstore. I like to collect Bibles in the native languages of the countries I visit, or rather, since my trip to India, it is my goal to purchase a Bible in each country I visit, seeing as I missed out on doing this during my European adventures years ago. After a long search, and some help from local shopkeepers, I found a bookstore, and successfully located their religion section, which had quite a few Bibles... in English. Then I had my revelation: the national language in the Bahamas is English. Worse, the Bibles that they had on the shelves had themselves been published in the United States. Crumb!
Disheartened, I set back toward the boat, only to discover that, in my time inside, it had begun to pour outside. I did my best to navigate the streets that had the most awnings, but eventually I had to take the plunge and just get wet as I walked out along the pier. They scanned me back in at the ship and gave me a nice warm towel to dry off with, and I went back to the room to change into something that was less wet than my current attire.
I only had a small helping at lunch - that was all I could manage, still being somewhat stuffed from yesterday, and then went down to the room to write (the latter half of the journal from two days ago), and nap. Surprise surprise.
After the nap, I found a nice place out on deck 7 overlooking the port, where I sat with my computer, people watched, and typed. It may not be very "cruisy", but I came on this vacation so that I could have a chance to just sit back and write, so this is very valuable time to me. Unfortunately, it also happened to be a very noisy spot, just from engine and ship noise, and became even noisier when another cruise ship (a Royal Caribbean twin) pulled in to port right next to us.
Around 7:45, I made my way back to the room to change into my suit for the formal dinner, then met up with the others at our table. Dinner itself was excellent; after hearing good reviews from Chad and Matthew, I opted to try the escargot appetizer, and, a little to my surprise, it was quite delicious. I mean really really really delicious. And "free". And we could order more if we wanted, again for "free" (since it's all included in the cruise ticket price). The meal then, for me, was another salmon, which was pretty good, but it couldn't top the snails and their sauce. And then cheesecake for dessert.
Immediately after dinner, we all rushed to our rooms to grab our life jackets, then back to the centrum (right outside the dining rooms) where the photographers were doing pictures of everyone all dressed up. So we posed as a group of 10, wearing our tuxes / suits and our life jackets, garnering more than a few laughs of hysteria from passers-by.
Silly picture done, we deposited our life jackets back in our room and moved into the theatre for the 10:30 show: Boogie Wonderland, featuring musical and dance stylings of 70s artists like Stevie Wonder, Abba, and others. The show was decently entertaining, well choreographed, and well sung, but I was ready for it to be over when it finished 45 minutes later.
After the show, we all went back to the rooms to change into much more comfortable clothing, and also to find that the maid service people had some fun - they'd made a small plush animal shape out of a towel and put Matthew's sunglasses on it. Very cute. We found out the other rooms also had various animals and accouterments waiting for them. And then we made our way top deck to the pools to watch the party going-ons there. I stayed until the others decided to go upstairs to the upper most lounge to smoke cigars - I opted to head to bed instead.
Except I couldn't. For whatever reason, my keycard decided not to work. 20 tries later, I went up to the purser's desk to ask them to fix / replace the card, but it turns out their system was down. Okay, I can understand that, and it is 1:00 in the morning, so maybe the person who would be fixing it can't get to it until morning. The woman on duty (Kimberly) was very friendly, and called room service to go let me into the room. So I went and waited. And waited. 15 minutes later I went back to Kimberly, and she called room service again. And I went back down and waited again. And waited. And about 1:40 Matthew (and the others) came back, so he let me into the room. I called the purser's desk to tell them, and then fell asleep.