Saturday, September 27, 2008

Parents just want to have fun - one way to have an excursion without the kids

When cruising with Royal Caribbean or Disney cruise line - look for a day at Labadee/CocoCay (for Royal Caribbean) or Castaway Cay (for Disney) when choosing your cruise. When the ships dock at these private beach areas - the kids clubs are moved to the beach. So if you want to remember what it's like to be adults again and do an adult activity without the kids, choose an excursion during one of these port days.

The kids will stay safe and very happily entertained by the kids club on the beach (the clubs are positioned away from the water and are enclosed by fences to ensure security).

You can choose to go on a waverunner tour, go snorkeling, kayaking, sailing or just soak up the sun on the Adult only beach areas.

So for our last cruise, we decided to try an excursion without the kids. We have always been nervous about leaving them on the ships while we were in we thought this would be the best way to calm our fears. So we got to Castaway Cay and checked the kids into the Disney Oceaneer Club (and Lab). No problems. Off to our tour.

Waverunner Tour

One Hour - Castaway Cay

We meet at Boat Beach at 10am. We sign our lives away, saying we won't sue Disney or the tour operator if we are eaten by a We are given a brief safety speech - no sharp turns, no going off on your own, no donuts, if you are pregnant you can't go on this tour. Then we are given the technical speech - on button - check. Off button - check. If you turn sharply and the waverunner flips you off, try to climb back on or wait for the tour operator to help you (at this point I am thinking I am SHARK BAIT).

Have I mentioned that the Bahamas are the most SHARK FILLED waters in the world? They suit us up with yellow life vests - I am thinking I am just going to look like a big floating Twinkie in the water. The shark will take a bite and think "Heyyyy where's the cream filling????"

So we get on the hubby is in his glory...smiling from ear to ear. We pull out with the group....the objective is to stay in ONE line. The leaders of the group (including the hubby) rev it up and race top speed past the Pirates of the Caribbean ghost ship The Flying Dutchman...and continue to race (for what seems to me to be hours but was about 4 minutes.)

Holding onto these wave runners, getting sprayed in the face full blast with salt water while you hold onto the handles of the bucking bronco...thinking of the scene from Jaws when the great white comes up out of the water...yeah by this point it is safe to say I was freaking Open throttle, full speed out in open water. I am still smiling...but secretly hating my hubby for wanting to do this...Did you know waverunners have no brakes? lol Yes I knew this but it becomes a little more real when you are suppose to pull in closely with the others. (bump, I wonder if I have money to pay for damage)

The tour leader takes us out to a deserted island which he says is a "bird sanctuary". He tells us to jump off our waverunners into the water and walk onto shore. There he asks us to pick up a handful of sand, then proceeds to tell us that it is actually fish poop (ewwww) cause one fish poops up to a ton of sand/year (little known facts I didn't EVER need nor WANT to know)At this point the salt water is making the bug bites I got in Florida itchy. So I scratch my leg...which starts bleeding. Oh great, now I am my own CHUM BUCKET. Pieces of shark knowledge start filling my head, sharks can smell a drop of blood miles away. It will send them into a feeding frenzy trying to find the dying fish. I can't shake the images from the movie "Open Water".

Ohhh happy day we get BACK onto the waverunners. Back out into open water full speed, I am certain I will have bruises on my legs from jumping the waves. I couldn't stay IN the line and kept going off into the waverunners wake. I fought and fought to bring myself back in line. I became the last one in line, lagging behind everyone else....the boat waiting for ME. By the time I arrive at the next stopping point, I am no longer smiling. Now I am contemplating divorce. Happy Anniversary, now sign these divorce papers.

We listen to a little more info about the area from the tour guide. Then I brace myself for the trek back to the beach. I am determined not to be the last in line. I don't care if it kills me. I am going to point my waverunner in the direction of the leaders watercraft. I am going to go full throttle, get sprayed in the face, hang on for dear life, forget the pain in my arms and legs and be in the head of the pack. So I gun it and get in line...pushing any thoughts of bodily harm behind me, we race out in the open ocean, full speed past the cruise ship, wave at everyone onboard like we are in some waverunner parade. And we get back to the beach ahead of everyone else!!!! I take a deep breath and kiss the sand, thankful I am not dead. I have muscles hurting in my body that I didn't know I had. Hubby is happy...totally in his glory. I decide that maybe I can keep him around for another 11 years. The tour operator walks over to us and says "How was your ride?". I say "Um, exhilarating" And he says "Great, how many sharks did you see? Usually we see alot" EEEK!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Blackbeards Cay Stingray Excursion - Nassau Bahamas

Activity Level: Moderate
Duration: 4.5-5 hours
Price (through cruise line): Adult: $49 (ages 10 and up)
Child: $39 (ages 3-9)
Ages: 3 And Up

First let me start by saying that this place is the MOST beautiful place ever, better than Castaway Cay {}...better than any beach anywhere. And we've been to alot of beaches.

At 9:45 we were to meet in Diversions (on Wonder) to meet with the Crew Member to take us to Nassau.

By 10am, we got off the ship as a group and met up with Tyrone from the Stingray Tour. A short walk through the port building and out the other side to the boat. We boarded the boat for a 20 minute ride to Blackbeards Cay (had to turn around for a family who missed the boat but still arrived in about 25-30minutes.

There are two sides for swimming....

the swimming area WITHOUT the stingrays....

And the stingray enclosure area.

They provide the mask, goggles and vest - no charge

And they provide the squid....

to feed these guys (who are debarbed)

You can leave the water as much as you want. The area is shallow. My 4 year old felt safer on dry land. (funny cause SHE was the one who wanted to swim with the rays)

You can come and go as you please during the stingray feeding times. They are every hour. They also serve lunch (included with the excursion) - the choices were hamburger/cheeseburger/pizza, bag of chip and a soft drink.

For $10 you can hold the stingray and get a professional picture taken with it. For $10 you can get your arrival photo of you and your family at the dock. For $17, you can do a combo package and get both.

There are restroom facilities here - very clean. You can get the kids hair braided and buy some local items set up on a table. My kids were a little freaked out by the rays. Some other kids had NO problems. They were all happy on the regular beach side. The one with no rays. That is until a Wild ray - complete with barb swam into the area and freaked them ALL out of the
We would NO DOUBT book this excursion again. The beach was better than Castaway Cay. It truly had a "deserted island" feel to it. We loved it!