Thursday, April 19, 2018

Things to Do: Half Moon Cay, Bahamas


HALF MOON CAY
Located about 100 miles from Nassau, and about 18 miles from Eleuthera.

I wasn’t much impressed by the fact that most Caribbean cruise lines have their own private island until I experienced it first-hand on my Holland American Line mini cruise aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam.

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas, in the foreground, Holland America Line's Nieuw Amsterdam ship in the background
Half Moon Cay, Bahamas, in the foreground, Holland America Line's Nieuw Amsterdam ship in the background

On the December day my ship went to Half Moon Cay--the island HAL shares with its Carnival sister ships--Black Santa was on board the spacious tender that delivered us to the island.  He got lots of attention and provided quite a contrast with the brilliant turquoise Caribbean waters but still found a few minutes to check his e-mail.  The ship anchored scenically off shore while the tenders continued transporting guests to and fro all day.

Black Santa on Holland America Line's Nieuw Amsterdam ship tender
Black Santa on Holland America Line's Nieuw Amsterdam ship tender

In 2017, Holland America Line celebrated 20 years of sailing to Half Moon Cay.  And also that year, Porthole Magazine’s readers voted the island the best cruise private island--again, as they have done for 17 years in a row.  Formerly known as Little San Salvador Island, it was renamed Half Moon Cay in a nod to its gorgeous 2.5-mile-long, crescent-shaped beach. 

Half Moon Cay beach in Bahamas
Half Moon Cay beach in Bahamas

We started our visit with a Calypso Island Tram Tour through the island’s palm tree-lined back road.  It took us from one end to the other, past a natural 700-acre lagoon, and with visits to the horse stables and the manta ray lagoon where some of our shipmates were in the water busy petting the flapping creatures.




Half Moon Cay in Bahamas
Half Moon Cay in Bahamas

Activities available here at additional cost include a glass-bottom boat ride, several bike tours, and horseback riding in the ocean.  Rentals are available for every kind of water sports equipment, including sailboats, catamarans, paddle boards, water bikes, kayaks, snorkeling gear, and wave runners.  It is even possible to rent a private villa with beach boy butler service.  Private clamshells can be rented, too, but plenty of free lounge chairs line the beach making it easy to just sit back and relax and do some wading in the warm, clear, gorgeous water.

water activities on Half Moon Cay in Bahamas, Holland America Line's Niew Amsterdam in background
water activities on Half Moon Cay in Bahamas, Holland America Line's Niew Amsterdam in background

On board beverage packages don’t apply here, which probably helps keep some people from drinking excessively.  But there is nothing quite like a frozen pina colada or a nice cold beer to put a chill on the heat, and Captain Morgan’s Bar inside a faux shipwreck is just the place to go for that.  Back in from the beach, a complimentary barbecue buffet lunch includes burgers, potato salad, desserts, and non-alcoholic beverages.  However, many passengers opt to pay an additional fee and head to the ocean-front, open-air Lobster Shack for delicious fresh grilled lobster with Caribbean beans n' rice.

Carole Terwilliger Meyers sips a pina colada on Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
Carole Terwilliger Meyers sips a pina colada on Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Captain Morgan's Bar on Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
Captain Morgan's Bar on Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

lobster plates at Lobster Shack on Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
lobster plates at Lobster Shack on Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Passengers return to the beckoning ship whenever they are ready, which, if the ship didn't have such wonderful amenities, might be never.




More cruises.

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Things to Do: 9 Fine Things about cruising that float my boat


9 Fine Things about cruising that float my boat

I have only taken a few cruises.  Most recently, I boarded Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam in Fort Lauderdale and cruised through the Bahamas for four nights.  It was just right.  In fact, I think I’m ready now for a more traditional week-long cruise.

●You only have to unpack and repack once.

●If you pay a little more for a cabin with a bathtub and verandah, you can leave your door open to the lapping of the sea.
sunset view in the Bahamas from cabin verandah of Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam
sunset view in the Bahamas from cabin verandah of Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam

●A ship is like Disneyland for adults, pay one price and then play and dine until your dear heart is content.
soup service aboard Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam
soup service aboard Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam

eggs Benedict aboard Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam
eggs Benedict aboard Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam

●You can listen to interesting port lectures by experts, either in a theater or in the comfort of your cabin on closed-circuit TV.

●The up-to-date technology of cabin TVs allows checking the daily dining menus in your room.  And now many cruise lines provide complimentary use of their own app.  You can check on your account balance, the day’s special activities, the daily menus, and the ship map, and even make dinner reservations.

●I love a special dessert in one of the specialty coffee shops.  But the cappuccinos and lattes do cost additional.
dessert aboard Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam
dessert aboard Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam

●I also loved coming back to the room in the evening to find a sweet towel animal on my bed--or hanging on the curtain!
towel monkey in cabin aboard Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam
towel monkey in cabin aboard Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam

●There’s no need to go to the gym.  You can exercise by taking the steps instead of the elevators.  That means you don’t have to feel guilty about that special dessert in the coffee shop.

●Sometimes you can get a really good deal on a last-minute cruise.



More cruises.

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers