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Home > Member Reviews > Raynedayplayer's Port Reviews of Half Moon Cay, Nassau, Freeport

Raynedayplayer's Port Reviews of Half Moon Cay, Nassau, Freeport
Carnival Ecstasy cruise in August 2012
Member Name: Raynedayplayer
Cruise Date: August 2012
Embarkation: other
Destination: Bahamas
Member Review: Raynedayplayer's Carnival Ecstasy Review
Half Moon Cay
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
~~Day 3--Half Moon Cay: Carnival's private island

RENT THE CABANA. If you are planning on spending the day, I cannot recommend more highly than renting the cabana. We had #12 which is a little further down, just past the restrooms. Here is what you get--2 cushioned loungers, 2 cushioned chairs, a table for 4, an air conditioner, a misting fan, 4 floats, towels, chips & salsa, fruit, sodas, water, ice and shade. everyone gets a bbq style lunch with burgers, dogs, jerk chicken, fruit, lemonade, tea,and desert. Walking from our cabana to lunch was a little ways away....but worth it to not be in the middle of chaos.

The food was just okay....my favorite---the spice cake and the brownie.

*note: we were the only ship in port, so it wasn't overwhelmingly crowded.

Unpleasantries: The very LONG line without shade, to get the tender boat back to the ship. It was overpoweringly hot, and being from a state (Arizona) where we spend a good majority of our time above 110, that's saying something. On the return, the staff seemed disorganized as we waited on the tender for 20 minutes before we could get back to the ship. Lots of people were showing signs of heat distress at this point. We left at 2:00, the last tender was at 3p....I can't imagine what those folks had to endure.

Pleasantries: If you walk past all of the cabanas ALL the way to the other side of the CAY (by the rocks)...we snorkeled here with no one around....keep in mind that this is probably NOT a Carnival sanctioned area, it is about 3/4 of a mile down the beach....but if you like adventure, curly tailed lizards, sponge coral, and yellow damsel fish with no people, then this is the place to go.

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Nassau
City Tour Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
~~Day 4: Nassau--a cultural look.

Let the adventure begin. You do not have to tender here....bonus! We did not book a sanctioned Carnival excursion. We started our adventure by walking to the Queen's Staircase. Yes, you can book a cab right off the pier, but we thought walking would be more fun and you get to see what YOU want to see. Whew, and what a walk it was. The walk was lovely, but the areas that you go through aren't as "pretty" as maybe what the taxis/cabs might show you...but we never felt unsafe, it gave us an authentic Bahamian feel. The Queen's staircase was really beautiful, we then up the 65 steps to the fort and water tower. It was an excellent adventure. We walked back down to Bay street and picked up a public bus for $1.25 and took it to the fish market under the bridge (the one that leads to Paradise Island).

*note, this part is probably not for the faint of heart. The bus for $1.25 is pretty run down, and you will probably be the only tourists on it, but...if you want to see the "real Nassau", then its a blast. The fish market under the bridge is....Pewee, stinky and dirty. But the people are real, honest, and hard working. We purchased some local fruit: a sugar apple, which was super yummy and some Genip(Spanish Lime)that was okay in flavor, but had the wonderful attribute of turning your tongue numb---not a favorite of my friend---I thought it was amusing and it made me giggle. :)

After the fish market, we asked a bus driver if he went to the straw market, he said yes. Well....he did go to the straw market, but he went all the way around the island first. If you are going to do this....you MUST have ample time as this bus ride took us around 45 minutes to an hour. But we got to see the Nassau, that most tourists don't. We learned a lot, it was relaxing and fun, but NOT touristy. It wasn't pretty, clean or manicured, it was "Nassau, behind the scenes" adventure tour....and guess what...it was $1.25 each. Once we were close to port, the bus driver dropped us at the straw market. zzzzz If you want a bunch of made in China, or Taiwan stuff....then this is the place. Can't say I wasn't disappointed as I am an avid lover/purchaser of authentic art and craft. I however, did not find any here. The vendors purchased the straw items in bulk (probably China)and then embroidered gaudy things on them....I will give them credit that they did the embroidering, but we did not find any vendor, who did the straw work. The vendors were aggressive in their selling practices, but given the close proximity to the next vendor and the state of their economy... they have to be. No harm, no foul....just be prepared to be approached.

A JAMMIN' AWESOME LUNCH: We ate at Skans(Skanz), just a stroll down between the straw market and the ship. Wow, better than the food on the ship. We had conch chowder, Bahamian bean stew (everyone's favorite at the table), shrimp sandwich, and curry chicken......all of them were fabulous and home cooked. We drank a local beer, Sands...which was like a medium bodied pilsner, iced tea (clean and refreshing). I would highly recommend eating here!!!!

Favorite sign: Protect ya Tings.........wear a rubber every time.


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Freeport
City Tour Rating: 5+ out of 5+
Day 5: Freeport

You will port in an industrial area. There really is no shopping to speak of, other than the Carnival sanctioned vendors....so plan to book something away from port!!!! We booked the Carnival sanctioned tour: The city and BREWERY tour ($40 per person). We weren't quite sure as this one didn't have many reviews. We were taken by bus (driver Bryce) on a short tour of the island, went to a local shopping market (mostly everything was closed), and then to the brewery. Some reviews will complain that the vendors weren't open, but lets keep in mind, the economy. We have been hit hard, so they have been hit hard. There were many businesses on the island that have been forced to close, just as we have experienced in Arizona and beyond. It is not anyone's fault, it is simply a sign of the times....no one was closed to ruin your cruise experience. (getting off my soap box now)....There is a little candy shop, that has pretty typical candy...but if you look behind the counter, they have these wonderful pockets of yumminess. They were pattys...which resembled pasties. We had the pizza flavored, and the beef, another couple had the chicken....the beef was the favorite. Pretty soon....the whole bus was getting them. The lovely lady behind the counter was so excited for us to try them, she even let me sample some tamarind sauce that they had just made....ooo tasty!! Back to the bus, we were dropped off at another vendor location that had fruits, crafts, and shells. I bought some more sugar apples and shared them with some tour mates....fun for all. The vendors were super nice....there is an intriguing shaman who makes medicinal herbal tonics if you are willing to try one. Neat stories, neat people. Off to the brewery, short tour....really hot and humid inside....but all the beer you can drink til the tour is over, in an air conditioned location. :) We got to sample 5 beers plus a non alcoholic malt beer (maltz beer---German sweet beer), you picked the one you liked, or a few, and drank until it was time to leave....A great time all around. The other tourists were great and we made some new friends, the tour was nice, the beer was good and cold. Back to the pier, we ate a one of the small shacks next to the ship...we had conch salad, cracked lobster, and garlic conch.....OMG....super, super delicious and fresh. Back to the ship, it rained as we sailed away. Great ending to a pretty perfect day.


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