Sunday, July 09, 2006

Disney Cruise, 2006 (Continued)

On the second day of our cruise, Ellen brought some breakfast back to the room from the buffet. We ate a little and then went up to the bow on deck ten to watch as the ship got closer to Nassau.

Bow - Heading towards Nassau

I took a while, but we got closer and closer. Ellen went back to the room to retrieve the video camera. She brought it out and had it on for a few seconds. It stopped working because the extreme change in environment from our stateroom to outside. We didn't really use the video camera at all after that. Most of the footage we recorded is of Port Canaveral.

The harbor pilot came out to the ship in a small boat and we passed into the harbor. There were stubby little tugs and a few small pleasure craft around. Our ship turned around and backed into the dock area. We pulled into the docks, near some other ships and some Bahamian naval vessels. Then we went to go ready for our shore excursion. Rather than just hang around in Nassau, we paid for a trip to the Atlantis resort. The price included a bus ride, a meal voucher, and access to the attractions, pools, and beaches in Atlantis.

The bus went about 40 through crowded city streets, and I was certain we would either run someone over or hit another vehicle, but we didn't. I couldn't really take any good photos along the way because the ride was kind of wild. Nassau looked like an interesting place, but we zoomed off to the resort. A guide from the resort led us all the way from our ship and through a little tour of some of the resort facilities. Atlantis has what they refer to as an aquarium but what I refer to as a fish-display. For some reason, we had to pick up our beach towels before going into the aquarium.

The so-called aquarium at Atlantis is a lot like the Atlantis Marine World aquarium in Riverhead, NY. In my opinion, neither of them is really a proper aquarium. Real aquariums have either extensive scientific or educational value, or both, and neither Atlantis facility has either of these in any abundance. Atlantis Marine World in New York has tiny enclosures for its animals, and every single enclosure has some kind of sign like "Sponsored by Bill's Outboard Motor Repair - Freeport, NY" near it. They also have an area where you can feed the rays. For a few bucks you get about five tiny little fish. And this is right after you pay admission. As if they don't feed the rays or the rays couldn't fend for themselves in the wild. One thing that Atlantis in New York has in common with its Bahamian counterpart is its name, and along with it, a blending of human mythology with a fish display that exists purely for our entertainment (and to make money for their operators). In the New York Atlantis, there are large Atlantian murals and sculptures. In the resort in the Bahamas, the scenery in the enclosures are mostly sculptures of a fictitious sunken ancient city. Atlantis in the Bahamas is a little better that the Riverhead aquarium, in that the enclosures are vastly larger and more suited to the sizes of their occupants. There are also no sponsorship signs around the Bahamian aquarium, which is another slight improvement. There are also no signs , for the most part, that say what you are looking at or explain anything about marine life. So those are two fish displays. One in New York, one in the Bahamas. But they are not aquariums.

After we walked trough the aquarium (which is basically a long hallway with the enclosures set into its walls and above it), we came into the hotel area tried to figure out where we were and how to get to the beach. An employee showed us on our map. We were hungry by now, and we decided to use our meal vouchers. They were basically only good for things like hot dogs and hamburgers. The guy at the concession stand was really sour and grumpy. I got a chicken sandwich, which was of fast food quality. We then looked for a place to change into our bathing suits. There were no changing rooms per se, so we took turns going into restrooms near the pool area.

The restroom adventures were the thing that really made me dislike Atlantis. They're supposed to be a five star resort, and yet, all of the restrooms I ventured into made any portable toilet you can think of look like a NASA clean room or a surgical operating theater. People are so disgusting. For whoever had used that bathroom, being in the bathroom door was just as good as having a proper seat on the commode.

That aside, we went down to the beach. It was just as crowded as Jones Beach on a nice summer day. We were a bit wary about putting our belongs down and going in the water, but we choose a place and did just that. We faced the beach while in the water to keep an eye on our stuff. The beach was the part of Atlantis I enjoyed the most. The waves were fun to ride, even though my throat and eyes were burning from the salty seawater. After the beach, we went to a lagoon area with no waves. The water was kind of stagnant and shallow, so we went off to the pool. We were in the pool for an equally short time. We then got out and rinsed off. We looked for another place to change. We found some bathrooms in the hotel itself. You would think that these would be cleaner than the poolside bathrooms, but I saw many of the same horrors. Just as I finished changing and bent down to fix my footwear, my sunglasses (the cheap kind from the drugstore, but still nice) slipped out of my pocket and fell on the floor. Knowing what I knew about these bathrooms, I picked them up with a piece of tissue paper and mournfully discarded them in a trash receptacle. Ellen made fun of me for throwing out the glasses, but I guess the women's room was cleaner than the men's.

I seem to go through sunglasses pretty quickly. Its a good thing Ellen has not bought me nice ones like she once planned to. I should just order them in bulk. On this cruise alone, this was the first of three pairs of sunglasses I would have.

After we changed, we walked around to some more of the aquarium areas and saw the sharks. Then we headed back to the bus for Nassau. It started to rain a little on the way to the bus, but it soon let up. It was rush hour when we started rolling back to Nassau. This ride was not as frantic as the first, but it was still a bit fast. I again attempted to take pictures from the bus.

Food shack seen from bus.

The sign on this little shack (above) reads:
This is it. Try Me Take-Away. Open Sun-Sun, 5 A.M. to 5 P.M., Phone: 394-0392.

Royal Poinciana

A lot of the area that the bus drove through looked rundown, but still somehow romantic. The bus dropped us off near the ship terminal in Nassau, and we decided to walk around one of the city blocks. They are mostly full of t-shirt shops and places selling cuban cigars and duty-free liquor. Its a little like present day Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, in that every single establishment is catering to the tourist mobs. Of course, I was part of that mob on this day. We looked at all of the trinkets, cheap t-shirts and passed the stands selling fake designer handbags. Cigar smoke loomed down every alley. We stopped at a local liquor shop in search of the local beer.

Kalik is a lot like the first beer you will have anywhere when you want to try something local. Every state and country has their own light-ish beer and it is one that you will encounter in most places that serve alcohol. Its kind of like, every country has there own Bud, a cheap beer that is easy to drink. Yet, it is still exotic enough for me to seek them out. The Kalik that I tried was better than most of these local types of beer. You can but single bottles in the liquor stores of Nassau, and they'll open it for you and put it in a little paper bag so that you can drink it on the street. Of course, I asked them not to throw out the cap. A souvenir. Kalik comes in a few varieties. There is the regular, the light, and gold (extra strength). Seeing as how I would probably only have one in my entire stay, I opted for the later. I tasted pretty good for a beer with a higher ABV. It was worth every penny.

We walked around the block. There were some locals getting ready for some kind of festival. I saw a kid, he looked well off, grifting this tourist couple. It looked like they were buying his sob story. There were two-wheel horse carriages giving rides. The horses looked small and malnurished. We passed some police and fire trucks that looked like they were out for the festival. It started to drizzle and we headed back towards the ship. Then it started to rain, and then it let up just before we got onboard.

Amber Jack

We got ready and dressed up for our second dinner on the ship. Before going to eat, we went down to the ship's store to find me some new sunglasses. I didn't really like their selection. Just as we were about to head up one deck for dinner, I noticed the cashiers were dressed up as pirates. They noticed me trying to take their photo and invited us behind the counter for a photo op:

Super special pirate friends photo

We had some time to kill before dinner. We went to the Cadillac piano lounge in the Route 66 area. I tried to order a whiskey sour. The waiter kept asking me what kind of whiskey I wanted. I asked him if he had any recommendations and he just repeated his questions. I don't know anything about whiskey, but he kept prodding me to name a brand. I kept prodding him for recommendation. Somehow, I got my drink.

We headed off to Triton's. We thought we had to dress up. Everyone else was dressed casually, and most were wearing pirate bandanas. It was pirate night. We found our own pirate bandanas at our seats. Dinner was good, but not as good as Palos. We were spoiled on the first day. We did get our first taste of our dining staff.

Ellen tried on her pirate bandana when we got back to the room. We went for a walk and looked at the stars. Then we went to bed.

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