I’m so excited to share our Bahamas vacation with you all! I LOVE surprises. Really, really love them. I also love gifting – so when Michael’s birthday started approaching, I decided I wanted to do something special for him! He had mentioned in passing that he wished we could go on a vacation again. And really, we were pretty overdue – I’m pretty sure the last time we planned a vacation for just us was our honeymoon almost 4 years ago! We both think cruising is one of the best ways to vacation, so I had the idea to surprise him with one!
I did a lot of research and decided to book with Norwegian. We’ve both cruised with them before and really enjoyed it! After booking, the hardest part was keeping the secret from him for a few weeks! There were several times that I felt like I was just going to burst…but somehow I managed to keep it in!
The day before we left I tiptoed around the house packing our suitcases, locking doors behind me, and talking on the phone to our family in closets – ha! I even managed to get our suitcases out to the car without him noticing – thank goodness he decided to work in his office with the door closed that day! That night we went out to dinner with family, and I was terrified that he was going to open the trunk for some random reason!
It was FINALLY the morning of the cruise, and I woke up around 5:30. Michael was so confused as to why I was awake that early – but I just said I needed to use the bathroom and tiptoed out of bed. Not wanting to wake him earlier than necessary, I decided to shower and get ready before telling him what was going on. He told me later that he heard the shower turn on, and was wondering what the heck I was doing!
Once I was ready and had packed up the rest of my things, I walked back into our room to wake him up by telling him we were going on an adventure! He first just looked at me, and then this huge smile slowly spread across his face. He asked where we were going, but I decided not to tell him until we got there!
The cruise was leaving from Miami, about five and a half hours or so from Jacksonville. So when we were about halfway there, I decided I just had to tell him – I couldn’t wait anymore! We stopped for lunch, and gave him the card that told him where we were going – he was so excited!
Since I couldn’t take one of our actual cameras everywhere, a lot of these images are from our iPhones (so ignore the quality! ha!)!
Of course we had to get a selfie with Miami in the background!
Our first full day was at Great Stirrup Cay – Norwegian’s private island! We LOVED it – we were the only ship there that day and the weather was beautiful! GSC is a small island with beautiful beaches,jet ski and snorkel rentals, bars, and a BBQ place. No one actually lives on the island, so the crew brought over a HUGE BBQ spread for lunch! And just like on the ship, everything was free! We enjoyed juicy burgers, great salads, and the sweetest pineapple I’ve had in a long time!
I wish I could have taken one of the DSLRs, but since they didn’t have any lockers and we wanted to snorkel, I wasn’t about to leave one on the beach! Instead, I bought a waterproof fanny pack (YUP so cool) from Amazon that we used to keep our passports, key cards, cash, and an iPhone in. It worked out great!
We took a tender to the island, so we were able to snap this shot of our ship!
Pulling up to Great Stirrup Cay!
Once everyone got off the tender, most people headed straight to the main beach. The main beach had a DJ, a bunch of bars, and the grill. But I had read online that if you took the tram to the other side of the island, there was a beautiful lagoon that was much quieter and much more private! So we immediately headed toward the tram, and ended up being the only ones on it! When I told the driver we wanted to go to the last stop, he smiled and said “ohh someone did some research!” Haha! I’m pretty sure it’s not possible to be too prepared for anything in life! And the preparation was SO worth it – because this was the lagoon!
See those tiny blue chairs on the far side of the beach, near the ship?
That’s where we ended up! There were only 4 or 5 chairs there, and we had that stretch of beach completely to ourselves the entire time we were there (well almost – there were also hundreds of baby hermit crabs!).
The water was clear and beautiful, and the lagoon was so calm! It made for great snorkeling conditions!
The lagoon was fed by a channel, so we decided to explore it! We saw a bunch of fish, and a sting ray! Aren’t the channels beautiful?! We had so much fun adventuring!
Leaving Great Stirrup Cay and heading back to the ship!
Once we were back, we brought out our real camera!
It’s really hard to get photos of ourselves with a DSLR! So first we took pictures of each other. . .
And then we tried a selfie, but that didn’t really work out.
So finally we asked someone that was walking by to take one of us! This sounds like an easy solution, but normally it’s really not! Our cameras are not set up like point and shoots – you don’t hold down the shutter half way to focus, then all the way to take the picture. Instead, focusing is done by using another button, and typically strangers don’t get it! But this one didn’t turn out half bad! We were impressed!
The next stop was Nassau! When researching the Bahamas, I thought that visiting some of the historical sites would be really fun and interesting! So once we were off the ship, we asked for directions to the Queen’s Staircase.
When we arrived, a native tour guide told us all about the history of the steps. In the 18th century, Britain had colonized the Bahamas, but were fearful of attacks. They decided they needed an escape route in case such an attack were to happen, and brought in slaves from Africa who carved out this massive passage in rock. Hundreds of these slaves died during excavation. In 1837, Queen Victoria signed a declaration to abolish slavery, and the slaves became the original Bahamians. They decided to name the steps after her, and each step was symbolic of a year of her reign.
The guide was so knowledgeable and personable, and offered to take a photo for us! This one isn’t quite as in focus, but I still like it! 🙂
The guide also gave us a great piece of advice after he asked if we were on our honeymoon (we told him no, just celebrating a birthday!).
“Remember, your honeymoon never has to end! You can always be on your honeymoon!”
I love that.
After the Queen’s Staircase, we decided to walk back to the ship as we could see rain clouds in the distance.
I love this guy – he insisted on carrying my back pack for me even though its peach and polka dots! Always a gentleman.
We enjoyed live shows, a great birthday dinner (complete with the loudest rendition of “Happy Birthday” I’ve ever heard!), and each other’s company on our final evening! And definitely wanted to stay a few more days! Haha!
Who else has been on a cruise?! Which cruise line do you like best? What destinations did you love? We’re definitely going to be planning another and would love to hear your recommendations!