Get Away With Fran

March 28, 2010

Island paradise on Norwegian Pearl cruise

Filed under: Cruise — admin @ 7:32 am


At our final port of call on our Norwegian Pearl cruise, guy pal continued his torture-by-snorkeling (just kidding, I actually really like it).

The stop was at Great Stirrup Cay, a lovely private Bahamas island owned by Norwegian Cruise Lines, where the sand is white and the seas blue and clear and containing lots and lots of marine life.

Our ship arrived near the island and anchored offshore around 10 a.m., but the weather was cloudy and rainy and didn’t look too promising. Guy and I got out our snorkel gear but carefully watched the skies, trying to figure out whether to go to shore or not (the ship was running tenders, but passengers in them looked wet and cold). By around 12:30 pm, the clouds seemed to be dispersing, so we decided to go for it. We were glad we did.

NPI_00_PrivateIslandSnorkel After grabbing delicious burgers at the beachside BBQ, we headed to the largest of the white sand beaches and immediately on entering the slightly chily water, I spotted a fish nearly 10 inches long. And then another. And soon so many my mind clicked to “Oh, another fish.”

I was enjoying swimming with the fishies and the quiet, peaceful space that snorkeling provides – the sounds are your own breathing and you are pleasantly buoyant. In the zone, you really start to feel like you’re in another world.

And then guy pal waved me out of my reverie by finding buried treasure. Really. A traditional Irish  Claddagh ring in silver, poking up from the sand.

However, it was heading further from shore, and towards a couple of little rocky islets, that guy found the treasure he was really looking for, a whole school of cuttle fish (which in his enthusiasm I gathered is something like snorkeling pay dirt).

Me, by this time I was laid out in a lounge chair onshore, my feet in the sand, soaking in the sun that had now managed to take over the sky. Ah, relaxation.

If you don’t bring your own snorkeling gear to the island, you can rent everything you need for $29. An island rule is everyone needs to wear a vest (if you have your own equipment, you can rent snorkeling vests separately for $5.99).

Norwegian Cruise Line announced earlier this month, at Cruise Shipping Miami, that it is renovating Great Stirrup to the tune of $20 million. And improvements include a new pier, so that ships can dock rather than tender. Other new features, to be completed this year, include an Aqua Park and stingray encounter experience.

Back on the ship, an experience we thoroughly enjoyed and would highly recommend is dinner in the Teppanyaki restaurant, where the chefs prepared a yummy flash grilled meal with a lot of flair – dinner comes with a show of spatula skills (well worth the $25 service charge).

And we got a big giggle watching a couple of nighttime events, a dance contest (that included a striptease of sorts from one of the male contestants), and Quest, a scavenger hunt where, well, anything can happen.

One of the wonderful things about a cruise is you will always finding something entertaining happening. At the same time, if you want to veg out, you are free to do that free.

Speaking of freedom, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Freestyle Cruising is still, in my opinion, one of the best inventions in cruising ever. Guy and I ate when we wanted (and always got a table for two easily). And played when we wanted (including watching very enthusiastic wagers in the ship’s large and active casino). And getting off the ship on disembarkation day was a breeze too (if you take your own bags you can disembark whenever you want).

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