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Reload this page Visiting the Bahamas

Here are my notes on Disney's cruise to their private island and Nassau, The Bahamas in the northern Caribbean.


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Set screen The Disney Cruise

    Disney Magic and its twin the Disney Wonder (new in 1999) are two of the three largest ships in the world — towers over "The Big Red Boat" on the left.

    Its 964 foot length is as long as the Eiffel Tower is high. Its 106 foot beam (width) allows for a 975 seat theatre. Most of the 875 Staterooms have a wall between 2 sinks and the shower tub. 281 rooms have verandahs.

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    Disney Cruise Line website

    The boats depart from Port Canaveral Cruise Terminal 8 on the Northwest (inland Side A). . There's an arcade and play area there. The Magic sails 7 day cruises.

    Bring a book

    The "Disney experience" includes long lines. Also, one would think that a ship carrying 2,400 passengers served by 927 crew members from 40+ nations would have a library. But noooo! You're welcome to buy Disney books in the shop, though. And there are no VCR's for the TV's in rooms.

    Sign-up for extras as soon as you get on the boat

    Bypass the lines by showing your shore-side room cardkey from a Disney hotel, which admits you directly onto the ship.

    Sit on the front of the bus

    • Ask for a non-smoking room and an upgrade.
    • Sign up for seaside massages early. They sell within hours of boarding, even at $55 for 25 minutes.
    • Sign up for meals at Palo, the ships adults-only restaurant ($5 per person cover charge).
    • Get beepers for each older kid as well for yourself.

    Wear an alarm watch.

    One reporter did not see a clock anywhere on board. But in order for passengers to rotate through the restaurants while keeping the same table mates and waiter, an inflexible schedule is needed.

    Coordinate Schedules.

    If you want to enjoy the highlights of the ship with your older children,

    Use the Personal Navigiator sheet listing times for on-board entertainment and daily events to coordinate options for children, teen, adult, and family activities.

    • Do your 9-12 year old kids want to be in the Peter Pan birthday party and TV news production at the Oceaneer Lab or the arcade? Are they interested in pool parties where the characters dance with the kids?
    • Will your teen want to hang out at Common Grounds teen coffeehouse on Deck 9 or participant in the nighttime volleyball game on the Wide World of Sports deck?
Enjoy these highlights as a family:
  • The entire Animator's Palate restaurant — including the server's uniforms — change from black and white to color.
  • Junkanoo night at Parrot Cay features appetizers of conch fritters and plantain chips. Are they as good as the ones from on this pageNaussau?
  • At Lumiere's — themed after the movie "Beauty and the Beast" — each table has an enchanted rose encased in glass, just like the one in the movie.

What do you remember most about the three original Broadway-style Disney musical productions:
  • "Voyage of the Ghost Ship"
  • "Disney Dream" ( recommends staying past the final bows for the extra surprise).
  • Hercules
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Know the Disney characters and stories

    There are several inside jokes during the shows. Rent those movies so you don't miss out.
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Set screen Castaway Cay

    On public maps, at 77.32.283 west longitude by 26.4.608 north latitude, Castaway Cay is listed as Gorda Cay, sheltered from the Atlantic ocean by the Grand Abacos island . to the east.

    Based on advice from Arlene :

    Get out early.

    Get in line to rent a sailboat or bicycle if you're not into swimming or sunbathing. Go snorkling early before people kick up sand and reduce visibility. Even though you won't need to take tenders to shore because the ship is docked to Disney's own island, you'll need to take a quarter-mile tram ride to the beach.

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    Sneak out food from Topsider's.

    There's no food on the adult beach at Castaway Cay.

    Bring your own mask and fins

    Save the $25 rental fee for used snorkle equipment and come with a more comfortable diving mask. Finding the hidden mickey under the water is one of the "must do" activities of the trip.

    You won't swim with dolphins (or sharks) here because an underwater steel net separates the beach from the ocean.

    How much deeper would the ocean be if sponges didn't live there?

    Bring a star map

    You won't believe how many stars there are when you're not in the middle of a million city lights.

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Set screen The Caribbean

    I think that April is the best time to visit the caribbean because hurricanes may come with the rainy season from May to November. Plus, accommodation costs about 30% more in the winter — when people on the Eastern seaboard want to chill out.

    Junkanoo (pronounced junk-en-NOO) are street festivals are held on Boxing Day (December 26, the day after Christmas Eve) and New Year's Day. The Lonely Planet guide describes this event as:

    The nation's most famous festival has been called 'the centerpiece of Bahamian culture.' ... Mostly it's a big blow-out for the local masses, and a tropical Mardi Gras ... Bahamians are not shy about wearing as little as possible, nor about wining (making sexual contact while dancing) with complete strangers.

  • Expedia, Hot Wired, Fodor's Lycos

    • Snorkle above the coral reefs around the cays (pronounced "keys"). The water is so warm you can linger in it for hours. But watch out for stinging jellyfish. 3 hour tour.
    • See a shipwreck where brilliant tropical fish gather aboard a 1 1/2 hour glass bottom boat tour.
    • Parasail around the high-rise.
    • Hike or bike around a mangrove forest.
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Set screen Around Nassau

    Nassau (on New Providence island) “the sprawling, crowded capital, has become nearly indistinguishable from many US cities. It's a far cry from the rustic and rowdy village once favored by pirates.” — The Lonely Planet Guide
From Prince George Wharf, where ships disgorge their hordes:

  • Pick up a free Trailblazer map at the Tourist Information Centre at Rawson Square, at, or call 326-9772/9781 from 8:30am to 5:00pm weekdays, or 377-6806/6833 from 5:00pm to 11:00pm daily.
  • View costumes and musical instruments at the Junkanoo Expo Museum (open 9-5).
  • Walk past waterfront shops going west on Woods Rogers Walk to the the largest Straw Market in the world (a real tourist trap).
  • There's another Tourist Info Center at the Market Plaza .
  • The Pompey Museum on Bay St. recounts the history of slavery and emancipation in The Bahamas. (Hours: 10 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday, to 1:00 pm Saturday. Closed Sunday and holidays). Admission: $1.00 adults, $0.50 children. Telephone (242) 326-2566/2568.
  • Walk south on Georges Street to the Pirates of Nassau Museum.
  • West one block on Marlborough (after 11:30 am) is the Conch Fritters Bar & Grill.

Further west of downtown:

  • Walk over man-made Arawak Cay, where locals hangout and eat conch, and descend 20 feet below the sea within the Underwater Observatory, then swim the snorkle trail at the Crystal Marine Park. There's a ferry service back to the big boats at Woodes Rogers Walk.
  • Going south, the torture chamber tour in Fort Charlotte are conducted by guides in period costumes.
  • the lush Royal Victoria Garden Tropical has over 300 species, including flamingos (the national bird) which turn on command at 11, 2, and 4.
  • 3 miles west from downtown on W. Bay St. is Cable Beach , the most beautiful beach on the island.

South of downtown:

  • Take a taxi south down Market Street to check out a ship's stairway in the Balcony House (open 10-1 & 2-4, M, W, F).
  • Go eastbound on East Hill St past the Post Office
  • Walk north up Parliament to visit the Nassau Historical Library and Museum to see an underground dungeon, model ships, and a museum dedicated to the history of Lucayan Indians (indigenous people exterminated by Spanish conquistadores). (open 10-8 M-Thu, -5 Fri, -4 Sat)
  • Walk east to The Queen's Staircase to climb down the unfinished achievement of 500 slaves who labored for 16 years to carve a 102 ft vway through the limestone ridge until the abolition of slavery in 1834.

Northward back downtown:

  • Go north on Elizabeth avenue to the Bahamas Historical Society Museum
  • Parliament Square is surrounded by the country's major government buildings.
  • on to the Moses Shopping Plaza on Bay Street, the heart of the shopping district.
  • The casinos of Paradise Island is east on Bay St.
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Set screen The Bahamas

    For a longer tour, bicycle around the New Providence island:
    • North on Shippingham Avenue is the Heritage Village.
    • The Bacardi Rum distillery is at the south shore of the island.
    • other stuff

    The Bahamas is by far the most popular port-of-call for cruise ships among the 700 islands in the Caribbean.

    The Bahamas consists of several islands. It's outer islands are also called the "Family islands".

    San Salvador island is where Columbus first reached land in 1492.

    Politically, the Bahamas are considered part of the Caribbean, among the West Indies (all the islands between North and South America).

    But geographically, the Bahamas are not part of the Caribbean, but the North American plate between the Atlantic Ocean the Gulf Stream. —Yahoo

    The US dollars is usually at par with the Bahamian dollar. But why is Queen Elizabeth on Bahamian dollar bills? The British queen is their Head of State. Well ... the country became an independent state in 1965, but as part of  the British Commonwealth.  

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