Cruising Day 2 – Half Moon Cay

Location Half Moon Cay 24 34.439N 75.57.867W

The ship steamed 224 nautical miles overnight to put us in the Bahamas early morning.

And our morning started off very early. Susan and I had put a breakfast order in for coffee and a muffin for between 6 and 6:30. On the Quo Vadimus Susan is up around 5:30. Today we were both sound, deeply sound asleep at 6AM when the bang came at the door. Expecting a pot of coffee and a muffin Susan was ill prepared for the 2 foot by 3 foot tray table. She had to quickly clean the coffee table off so the waiter could move the tray into place.

We’ll try a different plan on Tuesday.

The boat made better time than expected, so they were ready to offload people to Half Moon Cay by 8:30. Since we had been up for awhile we were some of the first to get onto the tender.

Back in 1990 Holland Cruise line leased a cay from the Bahama government for 99 years for around $6.5 million. They then did about $17 million in work to build a protected harbor, three generators, staff housing for 80 people and a few miles of beach for swimming. Oh and a cell tower.

Since then between 4 and 7 Holland and Carnival cruise liners stop each week to drop passengers off for the day. It’s a pretty nice setup, there are chairs, cabanas, a special kids play space, jet ski rental, glass-bottom boat tours and of course, three different themed bars. Your own private beach that you share with 2,000 strangers. In our case, I’ll bet only about 1,000 people got off, so it was not very crowded.

Our “tour of the day” was the Eco-tour of the inner lagoon. While we were in a glass-bottom boat, they took great pains to say it was an Eco-tour, not a glass-bottom boat tour. (I think to keep the official glass-bottom boat tour people from getting cranky.

Our small group of 8 people set off in our Eco-boat across the lagoon. The lagoon covers 117 acres and is about 5 miles long. Depth ranges from 1 foot to 17 feet. The transparent bottom of the eco boat let us look at a variety of fish, conch, sea cucumbers, and a number of different kinds of coral.

It was a pretty interesting tour. The boat ends up at the mouth of the lagoon. There was a incoming tide and it was ripping through the entrance. I asked about the water depth and was told at high tide it was about 3 feet. So much for coming back in the Quo Vadimus for another visit.

The water is very, very clear, it was easy to see the bottom, even at the deep parts. The last time we saw water this clear was in Canada. Up there it’s a combination of the lard rock and lack of people. Here it’s the hard coral and lack of people.

Guest transportation around the island is via these large trucks with four rows of facing seats. Think of the war movies with everyone loaded in the back of the truck and you have the right picture. Lucky for us the rides around the island are short.

We got a ride over to the lunch pavilion. It was a surprising spread with seafood salad, slaw, a tossed salad and a potato salad with mango in it. (Yea, weird on paper, but pretty good to eat) Protein choices were hot dogs, hamburger, sausages, chicken, island style beef and the ever popular veggie burger.

After lunch we walked down the beach to the “Captain Morgan Shots Fired” bar. It was a 80′ pirate ship that looked like it had been in a battle. There were large “splintered” holes in the side. Inside was a stage for a band (today was a lone steel drum player working with pre-recorded backing an a large long bar. Upstairs was more tables and a few more steps up a poop-deck with another set of tables. Very festive and pirate like.

We sat for awhile looking at the bright blue water and white sand. I can see how people really get hooked on the Bahamas as a place to vacation.

From our ship we headed down the beach. The sand is a fine white powder, finer than any other sand I’ve seen. The water was warm and the waves were very light. A picture perfect day at the beach.

Our next stop was the “I could stay here forever” bar. A catchy name and it does catch the spirt of the place. It’s located up on the dune and it also has two levels. We were able to score two seats looking out across the sand and across the water to our boat. Very peaceful and tranquil. The water coming in lapping at the shore makes for an almost zen like relaxation.

But time moves on and our drinks were gone and we moved down the beach towards the water tenders. We were soon headed back to the Nieuw Amsterdam.

When we got closer we noticed that there was not an anchor out, nor was there a mooring ball. I then remembered the special drives and bow thrusters. The boat was keeping itself in position. This brought up new possibilities for the Quo Vadimus, I could replace the drives in my boat and not have to worry about anchoring any longer. Something else to add to the list of things to buy with our lottery winnings.

The afternoon went by pretty easily. Susan did another spa thing and I sat by the pool working on the blog posts. (I got a Zagg keyboard cover for the iPad and some really nice local editing software (thanks Miss Linda for the suggestion). The iPad now acts like a mini-laptop and I’m good to go. I’ll find out in two weeks how good the upload part really is when I go to post these on the blog.

As I next to the pool, the sunshade closed part of the way. A pretty neat way to deal with the setting sun making it uncomfortable for guests.

I was able to get a quick beard trim in before dinner. The salon girl was good, and figured out pretty quick that I was’t interested in the up-sell process.

We did a quick dinner at the “Lido Buffet” and then headed to the “Theater at Sea” theater (yea, redundant) for the Captains Toast and to see the show. Since it’s a formal night most people were dressed in suits and fancy dresses. I put on my formal polo shirt (the black one) to fit in.

The Captain and his officers are all Dutch. He’s been a Captain of a cruise ship for the last 20 years and has been the Captain of the Niew Amsterdam since she set sail. He’s in his mid 40′s, so he will be around for awhile. I’ll need to look up how you become a cruise ship captain, but I may have missed my window.

The dance / musical review was pretty good. The back wall is a Jumbotron screen, so they had backdrops of New York locations. They sang standard NY songs like “In a New York State of Mind”.

The stage was a lot more complex than you would think for a boat. The Jumbotron flew up into the flyspace. There was a front elevator that went across the stage it was about 8′ deep. The center of the stage was a turntable and there were three elevators that both went above and below the stage level. They were able to use it for lots of good staging.

We had free champagne with the show (Yay Holland) and it was interesting to walk along the slightly lurching hallway to the stern of the boat.

About 1/2 way back there was a club with the “BB King All-Star Band” playing blues. They were very good and there were a number of couples that danced. We stayed for their first set. They play almost every night so I’ll get a chance to hear them again.

Today’s towel animal is a stingray. It’s super easy to make, take a towel, fold into a square. Now make a 1″ wide diagonal lump across the towel. Add googly eyes at the end of the diagonal and you have your stingray.