Miami and a Bahamas Cruise

Friday 29 May to Friday 5 June 2015

travellingross rating = 8/10

The last work rotation was a hectic 16 days. A short one due to time owed from a longer rotation earlier this year. So there was not much time to ease back into it following my return from Amsterdam, which sucked cause it took me 5 days to get back into the time zone and hit fifth gear (it’s hard for me to admit that, as I used to claim there is no such thing as jet lag). Although that direct flight back was excellent with an economy comfort paid upgrade and landing at a decent afternoon hour versus the usual late night flight. There’s not much to report from a work front so I’ll include a couple photos and say it was training, budget planning, rain (350mm wettest month of the year), co hosting 5 Colorado school of mines visitors, stray dog ‘management’, and Suriname re elected their president. Interesting how developing countries care much more about elections than developed countries seem to.

I departed site a day after my sister’s birthday 28 May and had orchestrated a large group of us who all happened to be in Parbo at same time to have a night on the town. Something I would never do in Ghana so another sign I prefer this place. Great night and a rude awakening to get the 4 am shuttle to the airport for a 7:15am flight to Miami via Curacao. In the morning rush, I somehow lost my external hard drive that has my laptop and phone back-ups on it along with movies, music, and photos. Yeah so, my entire life ready for someone to hijack my identity. Weirdest thing is when I got to Miami the cable was in my suitcase, but not the actual device. I was sure it must be in the Suriname hotel but no. It’s a lesson to protect this like gold in future. Everything on there (except movies) is backed up on another external hard drive thanks to my OCD, so I don’t think I’ve lost much. Just hate losing stuff and this year is not trending well in that regard.

3 nights in Miami staying in a 5 star hotel was bliss. Time to sleep in, order room service each night, tick off some long due to-do list items. I usually file all my property and finance e-documents promptly but haven’t since November 2014. That’s just one example of how my organised life has got away from me since starting in Suriname.

On 1 June I set off on a 4 night Bahamas cruise. I’ve spent years thinking about whether I would like a cruise. Too old, too confining, crowded, hitting an iceberg. The usual hesitations. But with my placement in the Caribbean area I knew it was cruise moment of truth. After researching many farther afield options with different companies, I settled on a shorter Norwegian cruise in case I hated it. The reality was so different to expectations. Hard to spot a 65+ person with a diversity of ages, club techno music on the pool deck with a party atmosphere, big drinking culture, and lots of space. The balcony room was spacious enough with a bigger bathroom than expected but overall dated and tired. There were 3 stops but I didn’t get off at Nassau as it was rainy terrible weather. This suited me to have a chill catch up day.  They push the paid shore excursions but no obligation and I did my own thing. Easy enough except Grand Bahamas was a long taxi trip from port and not well organised. The evening entertainment is well structured and sort of corny, repeated. There is a casino on board and that surprised me although it shouldn’t.

Docking back in Miami at 7am, you had to be off the boat by 930am. I’m very glad to have done a cruise finally and rid some of the doubts. I would do another one, on a different company to compare and ideally around a few more islands. I do feel an obligation to get off at each stop so maybe a cruise with a couple full days at sea would suit me more.

My desire for a ‘do nothing’ break was not getting any more realistic as the night before docking back in Miami I booked flights and tickets to see the U2 concert in Denver as well as my good friend who was about to have baby number 1!

Random Observations

  1. I love that USA has everything I can get at home – groceries, snacks, restaurants. But that can be overwhelming to me who is less used to that choice and range nowadays. I walk into a store and almost step back at the number of aisles and check outs.
  2. I went to an Italian cafe and ordered a Greek salad. Delicious.
  3. Losing my external hard drive was eye opening to realise how much personal data I carried on that with such a care free attitude. Now it’s in the hands of someone who could choose to delete all the data by formatting it or go through all my files…and maybe steal my identity.
  4. Miami is easy for me
  5. I go through moments of wanting to party and be around a herd of people, to wanting to be alone in a hotel room without seeing another human being. Miami typically is associated with the former, but I craved the latter.  Especially after getting the party out of me in Parbo.
  6. Grand Bahamas – “this is where John Travolta’s son died” stated the taxi driver as the first opening line of her tourism remarks
  7. Cruise ship air con seemingly set to 16C so it is freezing inside
  8. The movement felt on the ship is more than I expected, like you’re drunk and swaying. This was only night one. Other days were never felt. Not sure why.
  9. Food is good
  10. Internet is $25 per day
  11. Champagne selection sucks – Presecco.
  12. Announcements get annoying and too frequent
  13. Many restaurant options, half complimentary. The others with a cover charge of $15-30
  14. Great Stirrup Cay was beautiful and exactly how I pictured the Bahamas. Walk further along the beach to find more secluded bays with some of the clearest water I’ve seen – where kayaks look like they are floating on air rather than gliding across the water surface.