Freeport island of Bahamas represents the unlikable side of otherwise dreamy summer vacation spot; industrialization. It has more of “official” feel to it. Apart from rundown hotel buildings which went bankrupt, this second largest populated island of Bahamas houses factories of oil refining, cement, salt, pharmaceutical and steel pipe manufacturing.
We have pre-booked excursion; close encounter with dolphins. Bottle-nos dolphins are very playful mammals. Though transport to the dolphin pens took almost more then an hour which consisted of first half-n-hour drive in van to designated port and then more 20-30 minutes by small motor boat, all transport paid off with ample amount of close interaction time with dolphins.
There was nothing attractive apart from excursions and few local market places. Once returned back to our cruise Carnival, we had no other option but to leisurely participate as audience to last night’s various attractions. There was pleasing farewell surprise at our daily dinner restaurant when suddenly all catering cruise staff started singing and tapping to melodious songs.
Next day early morning we had to prepare for disembarking back to Orlando. And plan judiciously for three more days in Orlando, Florida.
Things-to-do: Get everything ready at night for next day landing. Do plan out early breakfast considering your time-slot. Pay attention to public announcement to know off-loading time slot for your deck well in advance.
Third day port of call of my 4 night vigil over cruise Carnival was port Nassau of Bahamas. We had opted for excursion on Nassau which is nothing but close encounter with sea lions.
Things to do: If you really interested in excursions which are very many, try to buy from cruise site. It has advantage of less stressing time-keeping. They will definitely make you returned in time to your respective cruise before it lifts the anchor at early evening.
Monetary note: Mostly you can only opt for single excursion per day. Also they seems expensive enough not to try more then one. On an average it will cost you around $100 per person.
On Nassau, it was bright and sunny. Our mood was matching the bright colors of structures adorning the beautiful port of Nassau. Once our jovial guide has brought all excursionists to their ferry boat to get everyone on Blue lagoon island, we realized that Bahamas was more of water then land. Nassau is capital of Bahamas. It has one celebrity spot called Atlantis hotel cum water adventure land and visitor spots such as hey market, historical stairs and similar. Nothing is as engaging as crystal blue water and white sand dotted with palm trees.
I had a feeling that Blue lagoon island was specifically molded for travelers. It consisted of enticing beach with dreamy azure tinted water, multitudes of water activities, hammocks and lay-downs under snooze induced palm trees, wooden bridges connecting various spots and a few spots supplying margarita and tropical colorful drinks. All tick offs for dream island getaway.
Our encounter with sea-lion was novel and fun. Californian sea lions are cute playful carnivores. They were trained well in their breeding pens. Other pens had other more playful mammal partner, bottle-nose dolphins.
Monetary note: All these close encounters are relatively expensive but unique. Following the tradition of any popular travel spot, all captures you need to buy from them which again burn extra hole in your pocket (starting from $20 to $80 or more based on number of digital copy you choose).
Once done with encounter, we kill our time on the beach and frolicking around in clear crystal water.
Brief visit to straw market is more then enough to fill your local merchandise shopping itch which comprises of colorful sea trinkets, conchs, shells, beads, sea faring antiquities and such.
Once back to Carnival ship, we prepared for scheduled mega deck party which was more of mid-sea dance party at night. After midnight, adults only area opened for late night party goers with more of night club feel.
We retired late night to our stateroom to get mandatory recuperating enough sleep and to be ready for next day port of call; Freeport island.
Previously on Carnival cruise and Bahamas: Day 1, Day 2
… is how day 2 defined by our choice of cruise, Carnival.
Strikingly blue sky, dazzlingly reflected on deep blue to turquoise water, stretching beyond infinity was as meditative as sailing on ship could conjure up; until that serene experience interrupted by occasional materialistic on-board activities. You will realize the true power of sea as nature when pathetically labeled “best camera” digital devices failed to capture seamless transitions of all the shades of blue. Also when your eyes failed to make sense of the end of stretching sea while it trying to make sense of sliver of a line called horizon where two blues of sky and sea handshake. Moment like this where the definition of infinity might have created or better infinity itself is conceived.
Day 2 was started off with hefty breakfast. Frolicking on deck pools and slides while one of the cruise host conducting participatory games was making the whole ship comes alive as collective organism. Carnival also had adult retreat areas for those who wants to cuddle up out of all the commotion, appropriately supplied with lay-downs.
Things-to-note: Professional photographer scattered everywhere on the major cruise events and on the deck were eager to capture you randomly. Posing is free. See how it all came out on their designated pictures wall.
After satisfied with our late morning to noon desk excursion and once tanning started to settle in ferociously, we had to get down to seclusion in our stateroom and be prepared for evening extravaganza.
Evening of the 2nd day on cruise wanted us to don our best attires and be presented at designated shoot-outs scattered in elegant main foyer as well as main deck. Cruise’s professional photographers tried to capture those opulent moments in stills.
Things-to-do: Always carry at least one of your best formal attire; suits for men and gowns or elegant tops, dresses for ladies. It will pay off once you see how your photographs came out on digital wall (And you need to pay more for physical copy)
Carnival had evening live shows planned for all of the evenings which we used to attend on regular basis at their superbly decorated amphitheater. Shows were all nice and mesmerizing with good visual and musical mixture. After dinner, we attended late night adult comedy shows which were actually quite funny and then retired for next day’s port of call early morning.
Things-to-note: Carnival had sumptuous lunch buffet options and delicious dinner variety. Even more then expected vegan options available for my vegan friends. One Indian dish also available daily with complementary "papad"(Indian side delicacy) and pickle for my Indian friends.
Above golden truth stated at Allegiant website has notoriously played it’s sinister part for us. We had chosen to fly to Orlando considering the fact that we had cheap flight options available during first two weeks of April. Given the fact that spring holidays were over in diminishing March, choosing April has its advantages in terms of flight options. But…
Caution 1: Manage you luggage well. Try to plan in advance and register number of luggages from Allegiant website. It will cost $10 less than at the airport. Allegiant has check-in baggage restricted to 40 lbs, cabin baggage to 20 lbs and only one free limited size personal belonging.
Things to remember 1: Allegiant has some really cheap options if there are no traveling reservations on day or time. We got flight tickets under $80 per person, to and fro. Check the calendar early on Allegiant website.
Caution 2: All Allegiant flights arrive at Sanford airport which is 60-70 miles away from port Canaveral and 50-60 miles to park area of Orlando.
Things-to-do: Do the on-line check-in which will be open 24 hours prior to departure.
I found Orlando flight conveniently “available” in the morning around 9:00 AM. Though had to settle up with returning flight at early 6:00 AM in the morning.
Once landed at Sanford, drive to port Canaveral was dotted with pleasant palm variants along the road with intermittent bright blue water bodies. Orlando was in full bloom at the start of summer.
We choose Carnival as our 4 night cruise expedition, leaving from port Canaveral to Nassau to Freeport and back at the port. There are various other cruise options available from Orlando or Miami other than Carnival. Aligning of the boarding date with other traveling plan, availability of the appropriate stateroom and budget were few of the major factors for selecting Carnival. Boarding the cruise was easy and more comfortable then boarding flight. Everything was arranged and planned out by cruise management beautifully.
Things-to-remember 2: Always carry passports. No need for Bahamas visa for valid US citizens provided they have green-card or valid stamped work visa.
Caution 3: select stateroom not too aft or too fore and at least at or above deck 4 if you have sea sickness. We had our stateroom at deck 6 where it was almost standstill all the time and won’t have any feeling of traveling on-board the ship. Choose as per your capacity of fulfilling the sea travel.
Things-to-do: Complete on-line pre-requisites on cruise’s website and set up your account in advance. On cruise, all you need is cruise access card which will also act as on-board currency for everything. On the last day, you will get receipt of all your spendings which has been debited from your linked credit card.
Settling down immediately after securing our room with tropical drinks, it was all about getting your way around the ship and be familiar with cruise’s mandatory emergency security briefing. Deck party has started once cruise raised the anchor. Once the tethering’s were severed, so as the connection with other outer world. Next 4 days, it was all about sun decked pools, beach-wear and sunglasses, various tropical alcoholic drinks in hot colors and tiny umbrellas perched atop, full-volume DJ’s, group dance and all the other hosting of hilarious fun activities, live shows, live musics and much more. Party has just started……..
Oncoming spring of 2019 sprouted fresh buds of desires for long travel after prolonged dormant winter here in Indianapolis. It was easy choice when you think of fleeing the cold; east coast or west coast. As west coast was partially ( very much partially, in fact) touch-based in winter of 2017, choice has befallen on east coast this time. And destination was Orlando, Florida.
There was lot to do and act upon when you sit down with intension of finalizing itinerary for Orlando which will result in less hectic and more relaxing travel plan. In fact, I realized that “relaxing” was not an option when covering Orlando with single-minded objective of vacationing. As if all theme parks of Disneyland and Universal Studio are not enough, you have Sea world, Miami, Key west and other attractions on your plate considering vicinity of the Tempa and Miami to Orlando. I had already planned to avail 6-7 days for the trip. Also I was aware of the fact that covering everything without any rest day would mean unnecessary exhaustion of monetary aspect as well as of vacation itself. Hence I settled down with below itinerary for my 7 day excursion to Orlando, Florida.
Day 1: Flying to Sanford from Indianapolis. Boarding the cruise for Bahamas from port Canaveral.
Cruise was primary factor of my whole Orlando visit. I chose 4 nights Bahamas Carnival cruise. More on that in next travelogue.
Day 2: Fun day on the ship.
Day 3: Visiting Nassau, capital of Bahamas.
Day 4: Port of call, Freeport. Another Bahamas island.
Day 5: Landing back to port Canaveral, Orlando. Visit to Kennedy space center.
Day 6: Visiting one park of Universal studio. Island of Adventure in my case.
Day 7: Visiting one park of Disneyland. Magical Kingdom in my case.
I’ll try to separate each day into travel blog each, encompassing various aspects such as prerequisites, to-do-list, not-to-do-list, expenses, things to carry, how, what and why of whatever I can think of along with lots of photos.
Your mileage and stretch can wary. So adopt whatever feel like doable for you if you are referring to my travelogue. Else enjoy the read.
PS: In the process, I will try to answer one of the universally fundamental question which was bothering humankind from day immemorial; which theme park is better, Disneyland or Universal studio ? I might not be in best position but I had my enough fill of rituals to move towards enlightenment. I will surely attain complete truth after more visits.
Only justification I can think of about delaying a blog of most prolific and exuberant event I experienced during my stay in Basel, Switzerland last year is that I felt outwitted and too small to capture the essence in mere words. Even pictures presented here in blog is tip of the iceberg; not in terms of size but in terms of joyous mood it represents in massive ways. Anyhow it’s always difficult to capture the event whose soul is music.
Fasnacht is the spring carnival of music, oranges, flowers, bands and lots and lots of confetti. More than that, it’s event of year-long practice and preparations of various processions and bands. You will be amazed by witnessing the hand-crafted mask and costumes representing underlying theme. This theme is called Sujet. It could be based on current events, political or renounced figures or some global event presented in sarcastic manner.
Various bands can be classified based on their instruments and play style and also their routes. Cliques play piccolo and Basler drums. Another brass band formation is called Gugge. Then there are Schnitzelbank singers with bard-like quality of singing away verses in satirical manner based on current events of Basel in Basel German. This three day celebration starts with 4:00 am Morgestraich; lantern procession showing various Sujet colorfully illuminated lanterns accompanied by Clique music play. With whole of old Basel drowned in darkness with lights turned off for Morgestraich, its sight to behold ( Though I lost opportunity to be present at Morgestraich due to night long excursions to nearby town of Liestal for fire parade followed by costume party and drank the hell out of myself )
Apart from the city-wide fun and frolic mood intermingled with processions and bands, some of the typical European celebration rules makes Fastnach one of the unique celebration to attend to.
During Fastnach everyone will be addressed on first-name terms irrespective of class, age or race to alleviate the ambience of getting acquainted and making new friends.
Theme of the most of the Sujet represents political figure and events in satirical light which itself points towards tradition of freedom of speech. Though any foul or offensive language and compromising behavior cannot be tolerated and regulated well by authority.
Most of the mask wore by groups are crafted carefully by groups using papier mâché These head-mask are called Larve.
As the cost of costumes, band and music instruments bear by participants themselves, there is a tradition of supporting them financially through buying Fastnach badges. Every year a competition held for artists to come up with badge designs. Winning design will be chosen for Fastnach badge by committee of Fastnach. Pinning a badge visibly has one more advantage of not becoming victim of confetti-shower from passing processions as being rude not to support the celebration in right mood.
Though there is lot more still left to know about this one of a kind carnival, it’s best to experience and explore which is, I think, common rule to every carnival, celebration and place.