Thursday, 1 October 2015

BEWITCHING BAHAMAS.......CAPTIVATING COCO CAY!

Born and brought up in a sea side town I am much more comfortable with sea than mountains,deserts or forests.Ships-passenger ,cargo or naval- was a familiar sight to me from day one.Naturally I had the opportunity to visit them many times....

Earliest memory of such a visit could be in 1958, at my age eight  when one of my maternal uncles migrated to US, at a time when aeroplanes  were difficult to access from India.Later my brother and I could visit an oil tanker including the engine room and  meet the captain,thanks to my father who was then working with Shell Oil Co.I remember that I have  twice visited naval ships including air craft carrier while in  school.When many of my engineering college friends joined various shipping lines as marine engineers, whenever their ships anchored at Kochi, I used to visit them as much possible to enjoy Orange Boom,Cutty Sark or Lucky Strike, a rarity in India those days! While at Doha, another sea side city, I have visited few ships, while sighting a ship was more easier than seeing a camel.Some time back when we visited the Greek Isles, we had a day time cruise but in a small vessel.......

But my dream of spending few days in a luxury liner became fruitful only recently when we -Geetha and I- could cruise in a Royal Caribbean ship to Bahamas...... to alluring  uninhabited island of Coco Cay...




'Enchantment of Seas'.....
The checking in process at the hall of port Canaveral, Orlando,US, before we could board the ship, was much smoother,systematic and courteous than expected.Their announcement for the disabled and old passengers to board first was appreciable,something India has to pick up yet, in spite we claim ourselves more humane than west.But their instruction not to take along booze on board was annoying but understandable- that's the way they make money!As soon as we walked into the impressive  central atrium of the ship and went around a bit,while waiting few minutes for our allotted state room to be ready, gave my mind a signal that the voyage was going to be very good.This Finnish built cruise liner 'Enchantment Of Seas' of Royal Caribbean International looked grand to me as we enjoyed their facilities for the next three days.

Lavish food- not limited to continental- served in spacious and well kept dining halls, live shows staged in large and luxurious theater with balconies, bars in different sizes and themes,crowded casino, comfortable lounges- may be half a dozen of them, so many big and fast elevators including panoramic ones in action,quiet library,quite of number of cafes including one for internet, shopping arcades were all to five star standards. Swimming pools,spa,beauty saloons were all there apart from facilities for sports lovers such as mini golf course,jogging track,fitness centers, facility for rock climbing........could me more.

Passengers-2400 of them- were a mix of young,old and very old couples or families,may be half of them Americans and the other half from rest of the world.As I have been harping for some time, Indian participation is growing in many ways in cruise liners as well.On the first day evening in the central atrium with its multi storied circular balconies full of passengers, there was an introduction program done by the captain of the ship Thomas. While he announced number and nationality of crew in the ship, the respective flag of the country is exhibited by few crew and selectively a popular song from that country is played.Indians were the highest among the crew-120 out of 840.And when it came to the turn of India, a popular Punjabi Bankara tune was played and you can view live what happened in the following short videos:-



                                                            'Live' Indian participation

Captivating Coco Cay....
Coco Cay was the second and the last stop over of the cruise, the first being Nassua, capital of Bahamas.As the ship anchored few kilometers- may be 10- from the island,passengers started disembarking to boats provided to ferry to this magical, uninhabited island. When we landed in the wooden jetty, first thing which I noticed was availability of wheelchairs there too!Coco Cay is on the tip of the chain of Berry Islands of The Bahamas.The tropical island is just amazing with its clean white sandy beaches and crystal clear blue water around. This is privately leased by Royal Caribbean International which has done the facilities and maintains the same exclusively for their passengers, as I understand.As one enters the island signs on freshly painted boards are all over.


                                       'Enchantment Of Seas' anchored off isle of Coco Cay

The hosts have set everything in place for the visitors to relax and enjoy this uninhabited island which covers 140 acres.Apart from Swimming and sun bathing, aquatic facilities such as scuba diving, snorkeling,ride in glass bottomed boat around the island and others were available.It was a good change that no WiFi or internet was available in the island.A market mostly for clothing,hats and souvenirs were there run by Bahamians called 'Straw Market'. I befriended one of the shop keepers by talk & asked him with US being so close why he has not migrated there.His answer was not expected-"Oh no.I dont want to live there the way discrimination exists for black". He continued "Here I am happy"!

Frozen 'Coco Loco' in tall glasses put on a bench was too tempting for me not to buy.It is a cocktail frozen drink-mix of rum,cream of coconut and fruit juices blended with ice which is famous for Bahamas.I collected one of it on the way to board glass bottomed boat ride. The trip was good as expected with the live and humorous talk of the driver cum tour guide than what we could see round.I had compared this man's performance to those in the same trade at my home town Kochi. Has to agree that Kochi has to learn a lot in spite we have a lot more to offer to international tourists.

The BBQ lunch they provided on the island was just superb - not only the dishes but also the way the buffet was arranged on the sandy beach was a good change as well as enjoyable.

The whole journey in the ship was smooth without any rolls caused by wind or waves. This is because huge retractable stabilizers on both sides beneath the water level on the sides of the ship are fitted as I could understand later from one of my cousins who is is veteran marine chief engineer.


Note:Photos and videos are mine.