My husband and I decided on an impromptu cruise since we didn't get a chance to go on a honeymoon after getting married couple months ago. We should have done a more thorough research regarding cruise ships as well as destinations we were going to visit, but I figured all cruises are about the same and it cant be that bad. At least I didnt pay a ton for tickets. We drove in (thankfully it was only a 3 hour drive from Charlotte, NC), the check in process was fairly simple.
First thing to take into consideration is the cost of parking. It's $17 per day or $85 total for 5 days which is quite a bit. There are really no other low cost alternatives with the exception of staying an extra day in Charleston and leaving your car at the hotel parking lot (some will allow it up to 2 weeks). Again, I should have done more research and went with a hotel option to save money. Once we got on the boat, right away I could tell this ship was OLD, I mean at least 20 years old. The decor is extremely dated. Weird retro lights, funky carpeting. Not what I expected, but ok. We dropped our things off at the cabin which was fine, small but clean and went to the safety briefing. Afterwards we decided to explore.
The ship looked even worse after walking around. Everything was super dated and falling apart. There are glass cases displaying various alcoholic beverages throughout the ship instead of perhaps something remotely interesting such as historical pieces or anything pertaining to Bahamas. Food was pretty mediocre at best, some days the Buffet was decent enough, other days it was downright horrible. For breakfast there was some type of egg concoction that made from god knows what, but it did not taste like eggs. Anyways, to make the story short, here's a list of pros and cons:
1) The price of the ticket itself was fairly inexpensive, around $325 per person plus tips.
2) We didnt have any issues getting on the ship and there were no lines getting there at 2 pm.
3) The staff is pretty amazing, they work hard non stop from the dusk til dawn. They are like little ants, running around, carrying dishes, cleaning, cooking, etc. Our dinner server was an extremely nice man, we enjoyed learning about his background.
4) The evening dining at Jubilee was pretty good with variety of dishes every evening, don't forget to go to the brunch, which is also served at the formal dining room and is very good compared to the buffet food upstairs.
5) The room, while small had basic necessities, the staff always kept it clean.
6) Watching the sunset in the evenings was pretty neat, if you could find a quiet spot away from all the hustle.
1) The cost of parking is pretty steep so take that into consideration
2) The activity schedule was underwhelming to say the least. Unless you're over 50 years old who enjoys gambling and drinking non stop, or parents with kids, there's nothing to do for anyone in their 20's or early 30's. We went to couple comedy shows which were pretty lame. One thing that struck me as odd was that more than 1/2 of the itinerary for the day was just highlighting sales on their tacky jewelry and booze. Any of the events that seemed even remotely interesting, were not free. If they had something where you could enter a raffle or win required an additional fee. The spa services are not included in the ticket and are very expensive ($150 for massage? really?)
3) Drink are not cheap, expect to pay $10+ for any drink. They have specials on some things, but its only like a $1 off. You can buy a drinking pass, but its like $60 a day and not worth it unless you drink more than 6 drinks per day which we didnt.
4) The obnoxious photographers. Ugh, where do you even begin. You can't even enjoy a quiet dinner without them shoving a camera in your face. They are everywhere, its very uncomfortable. When we returned from Nassau, they were even taking photos of people getting on the boat. Why?? Not to mention the cheesy backdrops and daily self indulgent photo sessions. I don't know why anyone would pay money for it.
5) Food was ok for the most part. The desserts are really good in both the buffet section and formal dining. The buffet food was hit or miss. Some of it was very bland or stale, some was better. Stick with dining options and brunches if you can. Its a longer wait, but well worth it.
6) Things like water in your cabin and laundry services cost extra. Pretty much expect to pay extra for everything except food. They try to upsell everything even if you don't need it.
7) The pool is super tiny and the 4 hot tubs they have are almost always occupied. There's a spot called Serenity Spa that offers a more secluded area in the back of the ship with 2 tubs, but they were occupied most of the time.
8) We found ourselves spending most of the days in the cabin or eating, there was just nothing for us to do.
This part has nothing to do with a ship, but tips for those getting off at Freeport or Nassau.
1) Freeport is mostly an industrial city. There's a small marketplace at Port Lucaya which boasts amazing shops/restaurants. Don't believe it. It's a bunch of local vendors selling tacky plastic souveniers and t shirts. Nothing I would spend money on. We wandered around for a bit and then bought an excursion from one of the booths there for a "tour" to Lucayan National Park, Basically a bus driver was the tour guide. Almost an hour of driving, we got to this place. He showed us one small cave and told us there's a beach across the street. Because it was drizzling, we only got a chance to swim for maybe 20 mins. This excursion was definitely not worth the $110 they charged us. If you find something interesting to do at Freeport, read reviews first. I recommend going with a more reputable company and not random street vendors, or you'll probably be safe booking through the cruise.
2) Nassau was a lot nicer and we were able to book early snorkeling tour. The snorkeling itself wasn't bad, except that there were only a handful of reef and fish. The water was a bit cold, so maybe they've migrated somewhere else. At least our guide was nice and showed us around Paradise Island. Little Tip, avoid the Fish Fry, unless you want to be harassed by every single restaurant owner trying to sell their food. It was expensive and mediocre. We then made a mistake of renting a scooter from one of the companies at the port. I burned my leg on the exhaust pipe since there was nothing covering it and no one warned us about it. We planned this great romantic beach trip and half way, our scooter broke down. After calling a company and waiting over an hour for them to show up (they said it would take 10 mins), we had no choice but to go back to the cruise because it was almost departure time. So basically we didn't get a chance to swim at all or take any photos at the beach. Again, nothing against scooters, but do your research and find a reputable company with good reviews and newer bikes, not some worn down piece of junk.
To sum it up, if you want to go on a cruise, do a thorough research and learn from our mistakes. I don't recommend this particular cruise due to the age of the ship and destinations, but we will most likely try another one with better reputation.
Tour guide was very friendly, we were able to have a whole boat to ourselves. We were little disappointed with a lack of reefs and fish, but overall it was still a nice trip.View All undefined undefined Reviews