It’s the final day of our 4-night Bahamas getaway cruise, which means we are sadly packing up our bags and getting ready to drive back home tomorrow.
Why can’t every week go as quickly as it does when you’re on vacation?
Today, we arrived early in the morning to Nassau, Bahamas. Angie and I were responsible today and set our alarms for a gnarly 8:30 AM to ensure we wouldn’t sleep another morning away.
I was again surprised to see the ship was already noticeably quiet, meaning most people were up earlier than we were to start their Nassau day. We didn’t have any issues with getting a seat in the Windjammer and the coffee bar was wide open - all good ways to start our morning.
We allocated 30 minutes to have breakfast and another 30 minutes to get ready for the day. Our goal was to be off the ship by 9:30 and we were successfully off the ship right around that time.
Good Morning, Nassau
As I mentioned yesterday, we had Resort for a Day passes to the RIU Palace in Nassau. This all-inclusive resort is located on Paradise Island right next to Atlantis. It looked to be about a 10 minute drive from the port to the resort.
Our passes for the day were around $100 each and included access to the pools (including chairs and towels), unlimited alcoholic drinks and unlimited food. The pass was valid from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, but Mariner’s gangway up time was 3:00 PM for all aboard.
I don’t like to play with fire when it comes to all aboard time. You won’t see me cutting it close.
During my Semester at Sea abroad program, we would be punished with ‘dock time’ if we were late to the ship. Dock time was the ultimate punishment because for every 15 minutes you were late for all aboard time, you’d lose an hour of port time at the next stop. Needless to say, it’s engrained in me to give at least 30-60 minutes of buffer time for returning to the ship.
As we walked off the ship in Nassau, we were docked next to Carnival Freedom and Disney Magic. I might be biased, but Mariner looked to be in the best shape of the 3 ships.
There was a ton of construction, apparently for a new cruise port terminal in Nassau that’s being built. We probably had a solid 10 minute walk as we zigzagged through the construction. Finally, we reached the main road outside of the current terminal, which is basically a few tents.
A lady wearing an official looking vest asked if we were going to Paradise Island and we told her we were headed to the RIU Palace. She had us join a large group of others heading to Paradise Island. I was actually fine with this - as two women traveling together, I prefer to be in a larger group just to be safe.
RIU Palace - Resort for a Day
The drive was a quick 10 minutes and I initially was very impressed with Paradise Island’s curb appeal. We walked into the RIU Palace right at 10:00 AM, as we had hoped, and waited in line to check in. The lobby was beautiful with plenty of views of the pool and ocean.
In alignment with our theme this entire cruise, it was quite windy as we walked outside to the pool area. There were 2 pools, one of which was an infinity pool overlooking the ocean. There was a swim-up bar and plenty of chairs to choose from.
The wind was a bit overwhelming when we first arrived, so we walked around the resort for a bit to see what it looked like. As you can guess, we are loyal cruisers so we haven’t really been to an all-inclusive resort before.
Angie ordered a vanilla milkshake from the snack bar inside - a wild start to our unlimited drinking! We noticed that people seemed to be enjoying the infinity pool without getting blown over, so I grabbed a drink and we snagged a spot on the corner near the infinity's edge.
The infinity pool had a gorgeous view of the ocean with some lounging chairs partially submerged in the water. The pool was super nice and the bar was blocking us from the majority of the wind. The temperature was perfect. We settled nicely into the infinity pool and had a mini photoshoot with the picturesque views.
The other pool appeared to be less protected from the wind, so we stayed comfortable in the infinity pool near the swim-up bar. The RIU Palace also has a private, direct access to the beach. The water was gorgeously blue, but the red flag and giant waves made us appreciate the infinity pool.
We also met some nice gals traveling from Las Vegas. This is one of my favorite parts of traveling - getting to meet and connect people from all over the world!
Between the views, pina coladas and new found friends, it seemed like the time really flew by.
Lunch was being served both poolside and in the buffet. Since cruising is essentially one big buffet, we opted to try the Caribbean-style buffet poolside. We tried the rice, jerk pork and jerk chicken. All of it was delicious and hit the spot.
Since we needed to return to the ship by 3:00 PM, we started to pack up around 1:30 PM. We had to check-out of the resort, in which the front desk would return my ID that they held and would cut off our wristbands.
The line, unfortunately, wasn’t moving quickly as many people had now arrived to check-in to their rooms at the resort. We waited probably 15 minutes before I approached the bellhop to ask if he could arrange a taxi for us to go back to the ship.
The bellhop went behind the front desk and returned my ID while also cutting off our wristbands. I wasn’t getting too worried about the time at this point, as we had an hour to get back on the ship.
Our taxi driver promptly returned us to the port where we walked and zigzagged through the construction again.
We made it back to the ship by 2:15 PM, which was still plenty of time.
Overall, we really enjoyed our time at RIU Resort. It had a party-vibe with lots of groups and friends traveling together, perhaps for bachelor and bachelorette parties. There was a wide array of people there though, so I think people of all ages would enjoy this. The unlimited food and drink is a great perk. The infinity pool and beach access are also great amenities.
I would check to see how long you have in port and how early you can check in for your resort pass. We could check in at 10:00 AM and needed to be back on the ship by 3:00PM, which only gave us about 4 solid hours of the 8 hour pass. If our ship was in port longer, or if the resort had let us in earlier, we would have gotten more of our money’s worth.
Three Strikes on the SkyPad
Back on the ship, I made one final attempt for the SkyPad. I dressed in workout gear and put on my closed toe shoes. I even tried to yank off my wedding ring to make sure I didn’t have any jewelry. To no one’s surprise, my fingers were swollen from the heat, eating and alcohol so I was not successful at removing all my jewelry.
As I trekked up to the SkyPad, I saw the long line coming around the stairs. Filled with determination, I made my way to the line where the employee would approve my outfit. I guess my ring was no problem but Angie’s shorts were too short and my top didn’t cover enough of my arms. We discretely traded shirts so Angie could capture me doing the SkyPad.
I think the universe was laughing when I wrote the SkyPad was on my top 3 things I wanted to do for this cruise. They only had 1 trampoline in use and there were probably 12 adolescents in front of me. A storm was brewing in the distance and the employees told everyone they could stay in line but the SkyPad would close if it started to rain.
At this point, I accepted that I wasn’t meant to do the SkyPad. Most of the people in line were significantly younger than I, so I also didn’t want to take a spot from one of the kids if the line happened to magically move fast and the rain stayed away.
We made our way to the Solarium to grab a cocktail and drown my sorrows of 3 failed attempts at the SkyPad. Angie said how she hoped maybe we could grab one of the daybeds in the Solarium to watch the sail away from port.
Well, fate just wasn’t on our side again because all of the daybeds were taken. What made me super frustrated was that all 3 daybeds on one side of the Solarium were ‘taken’ but no one was using them.
Cruising is officially back because the chair hogs are back in full swing!
As we sailed away from port, Angie and I waited at least 20 minutes and no one returned to the daybeds. One of the beds simply had a beach bag on the corner so we sat on the opposite side while watching the ship sail off.
We agreed if the person came back to the bed, we would just move to another spot. After sitting on the edge for some time, we hear a voice that says “uhm, can you not sit by my stuff?”
I responded that I was sorry, but no one was using it. She grabbed a towel from the adjacent daybed (that no one was currently using either) and draped it across the entire bed to claim her territory.
Essentially, she was hogging 2 of the coveted daybeds and walked away!
Angie and I were pretty surprised that she was blatantly hogging the beds and didn’t even use the daybed after telling us not to sit ‘by’ her stuff.
I wish people could be more considerate on these packed sailings. In the full hour that we were in the Solarium, not one person laid on the daybeds that they were saving.
Jamie's Italian for Dinner
All the chair hogging got me worked up, so we went back to our cabin and got ready for dinner. We had a reservation for Jamie’s Italian tonight and we were both very excited. Our reservation wasn’t until 6:00 PM but we arrived a little early and were accommodated without problem.
The first time we ate at Jamie’s was on Spectrum of the Seas during our China sailing. We had been craving a sense of cruise normalcy during that time, so Jamie’s really hit the spot and knocked it out of the park on our first impressions. We also dined back in February at Jamie’s with our parents on Harmony of the Seas.
Angie and I die for good Italian food, so we came hungry. We started with the black truffle arancini and ultimate garlic cheese bread. Both of these were delicious. We’ve also enjoyed the meat plank before, but we skipped this time around since it was just the two of us.
For pastas, we ordered the carbonara, truffle tagliatelle and bolognese in the smaller portions. We both agreed that the truffle pasta was the winner, which was also our favorite last time.
Angie ordered the lasagne for an entree and I ordered the beef short rib. Angie’s lasagne was delightful, rich in sauce and plenty of cheesy layers. My short rib was tender and very flavorful. We opted to polish off our meals with the pavlova and epic brownie. The pavlova is always a hit and Angie hoarded it mostly to herself; I wasn’t mad though, because the brownie was also rich, fudgy and decadent.
The service was excellent again and we commented how we’ve had such fast services during all of our meals.
The two of us got talking to the table next to us - an older couple from Chicago area. We were chatting away until we realized it was nearly 7:00 PM and we had to go to the Royal Theatre for the show. The final headliner tonight was a variety show featuring the previous night’s juggler and the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers. It was a lovely show to end the cruise.
And yes, the family-friendly juggler comedian mentioned flatulence (as I predicted) multiple times.
We finished our night with one final drink at The Bamboo Room. Angie and I both enjoyed a mojito. I also wanted to say goodbye to our Ukranian bartender we met, as he really tugged at my heartstrings the first day.
Here we all are on this cruise, a carefree vacation, while some of the crew members have families in an active war zone. The crew work so hard while sailing on these cruise ships and they receive very little time off. Most of the time, these crew members are working to support their families back in their home countries.
With a deployed spouse myself, I empathize greatly with the sacrifices they make being away from family. I know personally how hard that is to be separated from your family and miss milestones, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
I always keep this on my mind and in my heart when I finalize my gratuities on the last day. I want to recognize the crew members that really make cruising so special for us and reward those who go above and beyond to cater to our needs.
After our last mojito and a farewell to The Bamboo Room, we came back to our stateroom and packed our bags. The saddest moment of the cruise - truly!
So that brings us to the end of our sister cruise! We had the best time sharing this experience together and capturing all the incredible (and unexpected!) moments. We still can’t believe our ship was hit by a cargo ship on the first day - nonetheless that our first day was meant to be a sea day.
Thanks for following along and hope to see you all back at sea soon!