International vacations are usually on the top of everyone’s wish list, and college students are no exception. What if I told you that you could leave in the morning on cruise to another country, explore that country, and make it back in time for The Late Show? What if all of that was possible for less than $150?
Discovery Cruise Lines’ All-Inclusive Bahamas Fun Day Vacation takes passengers on a one day cruise to Grand Bahama Island, the fourth largest island in the Bahamas. I had the opportunity to sail on the Discovery Sun and was pleasantly surprised with how much is offered both on the ship and off. Here are some of your options for how to get the most out of your cruise experience.
First off, once you board the ship (security checks take close to an hour so arrive early), passengers are given an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet on one of the upper decks. There one would find everything from eggs to pancakes to bacon to fresh cooked-to-order omelets. Granted, it’s pretty much what you’d find at the dining hall at breakfast, but hey, it’s on a giant ship so that adds cool points.
Once the ship set sail there are plenty of things to do to keep someone occupied as they journey into international waters. The thing that will probably excite most of you college students is that your fare not only includes the breakfast and dinner buffets, but it also includes all your drinks… all day. Yes, all the alcohol you could probably ever want. Or, if you’re like me, all the Shirley Temples and Pepsis you could want.
The game room has everything from Dance Dance Revolution to old school Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. Also in the game room is a number of Wii systems that are open to passengers who’d rather play golf or bowl. For the more competitive travelers, the room also sports ping-pong tables and a foosball table.
For those of you who are into different kinds of games, the on-ship casino might be more up your alley. With everything from slots to blackjack, the casino provides those who want to make a few bucks an opportunity to lose a few in the process (once the ship hits international waters, of course.)
If limbo and dance contests are more your style, the top deck is where the party is. The sound of the DJ blasting along with the contestants spills over to the deck below, where a salt-water pool is located at the stern of the ship. There you can lay out on deck chairs by the pool while sipping your drinks and taking in the sunshine.
The movie room shows newly released to DVD movies that you can watch in what are pretty much coach airline seats.
You also have the option of getting a cabin for the day (costs around $55 dollars extra) where you can store your belongings and nap if you need to (I had a cabin, and let me tell you that nap was fabulous after an extremely long day.) This is a fairly hefty extra cost so if you opt out of getting a cabin, there are a few lounges around the ship where you can relax and nap if you wish. Napping on a deck chair in the sun is always a lovely option as well
Once you reach your final destination of Free Port on Grand Bahama Island, there are a number of options for you. If you already have an idea of where you want to go in Free Port, there are taxis at the port that you can take wherever you want to go.
If you’re like me and have no idea where on earth you’d even begin in the Bahamas, Discovery is kind enough to provide organized excursion options for your convenience (for an extra fee, of course.) I chose to go on the beach and shopping excursion which first took me to a beach resort that boasts one of the largest pools on the island (it also has a pretty sweet water slide) as well as plenty of beach options such as jet ski rentals. From there we were taken by ferry to local shops where you can see the famous Straw Markets (think Bahamian Chinatown.)
Spencer Del, a Bahamian student studying here at UM, says that the food is the one of the biggest reasons everyone should check out the Bahamas.
“You get seafood here in Miami, but they don’t really cook it right,” said Del. “It’s way better in the Bahamas. People should start with the conch salad.” (Note: the bus driver that took our group to the beach resort said that conch salad is actually an aphrodisiac. Do with that information what you will.)
Other excursion options include a beach only trip, and a guided and narrated sight seeing tour of the city.
On the way back, you are served your included dinner buffet. You could also choose to upgrade to the al-a-carte dinner where you get your choice of an appetizer, a soup or salad, an entrée, and a desert, all for about $25 per person. Gentlemen, this is a great idea for a lovely (and impressive) date. Just saying.
As well as the things I mentioned before, the return cruise also offers you the chance to dance the night away to either a video DJ or a live band. The free drinks continue until you get back home and dock in Port Everglades at around 10 o’clock that night.
“The day cruise is a great way for students to get away. They don’t have a lot of time to vacation and this allows them to take a mini-vacation to another country where they can relax and have fun away from school,” said Anthony Parker, Director of Entertainment and Communication at Discovery.
Kere Blair, who graduated from UM in 2003 and was home from Los Angeles visiting family, highly recommended the cruise to UM students.
“It’s a fantastic way to get away from the stresses of school,” said Blair. “I had a great time. I thought it was beautiful and I love the Bahamas. I don’t really gamble, so I just drank, ate, and was merry.”
So, if you’ve always wanted to see another country but figured you’d never have time, the one-day cruise is a perfect option for a unique escape in the midst of school time stress.
If You Go:
FEES: $129.99 per person.
SPECIALS: Book before November 15 and get $50 off per couple.
Sail free the month of your birthday; just pay port fees (around $40)
DAILY SAILING SCHEDULE
(No sailing on Wednesdays)
Departure: Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale 9:30 am (gates close at 8:00am – be there no later than 7 am for check in)
Arrival: Freeport, Grand Bahama 1:30 pm
Please allow time for debarkation and transportation on island.
Departure: Freeport, Grand Bahama 5:15 pm
Arrival: Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale 10:30 pm
WHAT TO BRING: Valid Passport, Swim suit, Change of clothes, Towel, Camera
PARKING: At the port: $18, At the Park and Go lot: $12 ($11 for AAA members)
EXCURSION COSTS: beach: $20 / beach and shopping: $30/ sightseeing: $30
AL-A-CARTE DINNER: $25
CABIN: $55 and up.
MORE INFORMATION and BOOKING: http://www.discoverycruiseline.com/home/day_cruise
Editor’s Note: Discovery Cruise Line provided Jenna King’s trip free of charge.