Posts tagged Nassau
After eight days in the Bahamas it was time for us to return home.
We took a taxi to the airport, checked in and cleared Bahamian security. Then we noticed one improvement over the previous year. Last year, after clearing Bahamian security, we had to go through American security, another metal detector and such, then clear US Customs. This year, after clearing Bahamian security we went directly to US customs, avoiding the additional security check. This made things much easier for us.
We flew American Eagle to Miami, and, having already cleared Customs in Nassau, were able to go directly to our next flight. A week earlier we had a very very long walk through the terminal from the American Airlines area to the American Eagle area. We were pleased to see that a new rail line had opened in those eight days and we were able to take the train to the AA area. We appreciated that!
We had a smooth flight from Miami to DFW, and than another easy flight from DFW to Austin. We were home by 8:30 that evening.
It had been a great trip, we enjoyed every moment of it (other than the horrible meal at Twin Brothers). The weather was wonderful, the people friendly, and we came home totally relaxed
It was, in every way shape and form, a wonderful vacation!
Our time in Nassau was coming to an end. We decided to visit the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island—I had heard that they have an incredible aquarium and wanted to see it. Thankfully it lived up to its reputation.
Getting there was easy. We took the bus downtown, then the ferry across the harbor to Paradise Island. The ferry is small, holding 20-30 people at the most; the cost is $3 per person. On our way across the harbor a guide pointed out what he felt were some of the great sights along the way including a home owned by Nicolas Cage and a hospital where Anna Nicole Smith was once a patient. Let’s just say we were not impressed. At the end of the ride he added that he was not employed by the ferry company and would appreciate any tips we were willing to pay. I gave him a few bucks.
We had some great views of Atlantis as we arrived at Paradise Island. Our “guide” explained that the bridge connecting the two towers is a 10-room suite costing $25,000 per night. A bit rich for our tastes.
We had a 10-minute walk from the ferry pier to Atlantis. Atlantis is HUGE, with several buildings, many restaurants, water parks, beaches, and a casino, among other attractions. You can buy a full-day pass that allows access to all the attractions, or you can purchase a pass for only those you choose. We bought the Aquarium pass, $39 per person.
Atlantis has a great video on their website of the “marine habitat” that will give you a feel for the place. The video shows some people snorkeling among the fish: we never saw that during our visit.
We walked through their casino which was not very crowded at that time of the day. I did notice that this was definitely a high-roller casino, much more so than the one next door to our hotel.
We went down one floor to get to the aquarium: this gave us a chance to see the fish up close.
The aquarium has several areas (The Dig, Ruins Lagoon, Predator Lagoon, Mayan Temple Lagoon etc.) with different fish in each. You walk from one tank to another; one tank had sharks, another jellyfish, another seahorses, and so on. We found it quite enjoyable. Also, since we were underground we were comfortably out of the sun.
Although we did a lot of walking we truly enjoyed our visit to the Atlantis Aquarium. One of the fun things was to see how excited the children (and sometimes the adults! :-))were to see the fish up close! We had a great time; our visit to Atlantis was one of the highlights of our Nassau vacation! Atlantis, particularly if you have children, should be a “must-see” part of your Nassau trip!
Once the catamaran got us back to Paradise Island after our visit to Dolphin Encounter we took the bus back to Nassau and asked the driver to drop us off at Fish Fry instead of our hotel. Our first Fish Fry trip a few days earlier to Twin Brothers had been a total disaster; we decided to follow the recommendation from the man we had met on the bus a few days earlier and try Goldie’s. Thankfully, this turned out to be a wonderful suggestion.
Is Goldie’s fancy? No. Does it have a comfortable down-home feeling? Absolutely!
We ordered the same food we had ordered at Twin Brothers a few days earlier: conch fritters as an appetizer, then lobster tail for my wife and cracked conch for me. When the meal was brought to us we knew we were at the right place!
The conch fritters were delicious. My wife’s lobster tail was tender, moist, and flavorful: she could easily cut it with her knife. My cracked conch had a delicious taste that was so sadly lacking a few days earlier. The plantain was tender and moist, easy to cut with my fork, and full of flavor when I bit into it.
And there were no roaches.
In short, THIS was the wonderful meal we had looked forward to for so long. As my wife and I said, we did have our wonderful anniversary meal, but it was a few days late. Thank you Goldie’s for making it so special!
Perhaps you’ve seen stories about places where you can to get in the water and interact with dolphins. My wife and I have wanted to to this for a long time, and I wondered if there was a place where we could do this while we were in Nassau.
Thankfully, the Internet can be a great source at times like this! I found the Bahamas.com website. (You can follow them on Twitter as I do, @Bahamas1) I wrote and asked if there was a place in the Bahamas to “meet the dolphins.”
I visited both websites and decided that Dolphin Encounters looked like our best bet. I liked the idea of the private island, the catamaran ride to get there, and what was, I hoped, an area that would not be as crowded as Atlantis, so I made reservations with them. This was one of the best decisions of the trip!
Their bus picked us up at the hotel and took us to the ferry terminal at Paradise Island. After a short wait we boarded their catamaran for the ride to Blue Lagoon Island. I mentioned in a prior post that this was hurricane season and our hotel was not crowded; the same could be said of our boat. It was a double-deck that could easily seat 125-150 people. For our trip there were only 6 passengers: my wife and I and two other couples.
It was a very enjoyable ride. We saw some incredible homes as we left Paradise Island. Once we got into open water the boat increased speed and we had a wonderful breeze. The seas were calm, it was a smooth ride, and twenty minutes later we arrived at Blue Lagoon Island.
We got off the boat and went for our training session where they taught us about dolphins, and our upcoming encounter with them. The guide explained how they train the dolphins to follow their instructions and gave us valuable information. For example, the way to tell a male dolphin from a female dolphin is to look below their belly and count the slits: two slits for a male, four for a female. We were also cautioned that when we rubbed the dolphin we should not rub near those slits or we “would end up with a friend for life!”
Everyone had their swimsuits on under their clothing, so after our training session ended we had time to take off our clothes and put them into lockers before we met the dolphins.
We went to a pool and got our briefing from our hosts. The pool was deep. deep enough for the dolphins to be able to swim in and out of it from their cove. There was an underwater platform at one end of the pool, we would kneel on that for our “meeting” with the dolphins. Eight people were able get in the pool at a time, my wife and I were in the second group.
We got into the pool and got down on our knees. The trainer had the dolphin come up to us and give each of us a kiss. Then it put its head on our shoulder so we could give it a hug. I have to tell you that is a special moment!
Then the trainer had the dolphin open its mouth wide as she told us to “put your hand in there and feel his teeth!” Let me tell you that the dolphin has a lot of teeth and this did not seem the most appealing thing to do. (That’s a fancy way for saying it was scary! )
Then the dolphin flipped onto his back and we were allowed to rub his tummy. We remembered the earlier warning and made sure we did not rub him below the navel, no need for a new friend!
Our final treat was the chance to feed the dolphin. The trainer gave us each a small fish that we held high up in front of us: the trainer blew her whistle and the dolphin jumped out of the water and very gently took the fish from our hands.
After that our time with the dolphin was over and we left the pool so the next group would have their chance. We had some time to visit the souvenir shop, purchase photos of us with the dolphin, and relax before the ride back to Paradise Island.
Blue Lagoon Island has beaches that people can use before/after their dolphin encounter. Many people had done that, spending the day on the Island. Our boat back to Paradise Island was the last one of the day so it was much more crowded than our first one as all the beach-goers were heading back too.
Dolphin Encounter at Blue Lagoon Island was a wonderful experience. We’ve hugged a dolphin and can take that item off our bucket list. If you are looking for a pleasant way to spend the day on your Nassau trip, you could not do better than this!
My wife and I spent our first few days in Nassau relaxing. laying on the beach, and basically chilling out. We had planned on doing nothing for those first few days, and that is exactly what we did.
But our third day in Nassau would be different, a day we had looked forward to for ten months!
Last year we ate incredible seafood at Twin Brothers Seafood & Steakhouse at Arawak Cay. Arawak Cay, a,k,a, Fish Fry, is an area of seafood restaurants, one next to another. Some are nice with indoor seating, others are little more than a small kitchen with picnic tables in front. We ate at Twin Brothers last year and enjoyed it so much that we ate there three times in four days. We could hardly wait to return!
But there were some issues. Before we left on the trip I visited Trip Advisor to read recent reviews of Twin Brothers, and what I found was troubling. While some reviews were positive, others were horribly negative. Several reviews talked about how bad the food was, how poor the service was. One reviewer talked about how he did not enjoy the cockroach races! My wife and I talked about this and it made no sense to us, we loved the place! So, to heck with the reviews, we decided to go there and once again enjoy great food as we had done the previous year. Last year we ate there on my wife’s birthday; this year we’d be there for our wedding anniversary! It turned out to be a very bad decision on our part.
We arrived at Fish Fry and found that the two-story-tall Twin Brothers we ate at last year was closed for refurbishing; not a problem though, it had moved to a smaller location just a few doors away.
We went in and were seated at a booth. We looked at the menu, but really did not need to since we already knew what we wanted. I ordered conch fritters as an appetizer, then cracked conch with rice and plantain as my meal. My wife ordered lobster tail with rice and a baked potato. For our beverage we each ordered a piña colada/strawberry daiquiri.
Our first problem came when we got our drinks. Instead of getting the wonderful swirled drink we got last year (see the photo in my article from last year) we got a cup with piña colada on the bottom and strawberry on top. In other words we had a half glass of strawberry flavored beverage on top of a half glass piña colada. This was not what we expected but we were more hungry than we were thirsty, we knew our food would be great, so we did not say anything.
The waitress brought our conch fritter appetizer and it was wonderful! Sadly, everything went rapidly downhill after that.
My wife got her lobster tail and had an immediate problem. The lobster was so dry, so tough, that she could not cut it with her knife. She called over the waitress and said “This is so tough I can’t even cut it.” Without missing a beat the waitress replied “Okay, I’ll get you a sharper knife.” Wrong thing to say to my wife.
“This is lobster jerky! If this is so tough that I can’t even cut it with my knife there is no way I’ll be able to chew it, I want another one!” The waitress thought about it for a moment and agreed to get her another lobster tail.
In the meantime I tried my cracked conch. I hoped for the tasty treat I had the year before, but was sadly disappointed. This tasted as if it had been breaded in flour with no extra seasoning. I did not know conch could taste so bland, but this did.
They brought my wife another lobster tail and it was better; not good, but certainly better. At least she was able to cut this one with her knife.
Her steaming baked potato, wrapped in aluminum foil was her side dish. She sliced through it and then looked for the butter; there was none. She called the waitress and asked for the butter. In the States butter always comes with a baked potato. Does that not happen in the Bahamas or was this more bad service? We didn’t know but they did bring her the butter.
She spread it on the potato and tried to eat it. She found the center part of the potato was tender but the outer part was so tough that she could not cut it. Was it raw or burnt? We couldn’t tell, but the potato was terrible. It’s hard to ruin a baked potato!
While she was battling her food I tried my side dishes.
The rice was okay. Nothing special, but liked baked potato, it’s hard to ruin rice. The plantain however was so dry and tough that it was difficult to chew without slicing it into very small bites. Plantain should be moist, this certainly was not. While my wife had been served lobster jerky I had plantain jerky. I left most of it on the plate.
Our wedding anniversary dinner had turned into a disaster.
And then there were the roaches.
Early in the meal we saw a medium size roach run up the wall and quickly back down. This was daytime, roaches normally don’t come out unless it is dark, but this one did not seem to know that.
A few moments later we saw another roach, a smaller one run up the wall and back down.
And then the third roach was the smallest of all. But it was on my napkin! I quickly smashed it.
At this point I made a great mistake. I should have demanded to speak to the manager, but by now we were so disgusted by the bad food, bad service, and roaches that we just wanted to get out of there! We paid our bill and left.
We took the bus back to our hotel; when we boarded the gentleman in the seat across from us asked if we had liked our dinner at Fish Fry. We quickly let him know how miserable it was.
He took out his business card, wrote a phone number on the back, handed it to me, and said “I hate to hear that. It’s important to us that we take care of the tourists who are our guests. Call the number on my card; that is the Tourism Ministry. You won’t get an operator at that number, you’ll go straight through to someone who needs to hear this story.” We thanked him for that information.
He also recommended we come back to Fish Fry and eat at Goldie’s restaurant. We did that two nights later and had a wonderful meal; more about that in another post.
On Monday morning I called the Tourism Ministry and told the lady how bad our trip to Twin Brothers had been. She was shocked, apologized several times, and said that I would not only get a formal letter of apology from the Minister of Tourism, but that a ministry representative would come to our hotel the next day to apologize to us face-to-face. I thanked her, told her that was not really necessary, but that I hoped something could be done about the roach problem. “If you see three roaches, there are hundreds and hundreds more in the wall that you don’t see.”
She agreed and promised to send an environmental team to do an immediate inspection.
The next day was our last full day in Nassau and we spent most of it on the beach. When we got back to our room late that afternoon we had a message from the Tourism Ministry. I returned the call and spoke to another official. She also apologized, told us that an environmental inspection had been scheduled, and she hoped we’d return to the Bahamas. I thanked her for the call.
I don’t know what happened after that, if the inspection took place or what the results were. I do know this however; you need to STAY AWAY FROM TWIN BROTHERS!
Last year my wife and I had a wonderful eight-day trip to Nassau in the Bahamas; we liked it so much that we agreed to return this year. And return we did for another eight days.
We planned the same trip as last year: fly to Nassau on American Airlines/American Eagle, and stay at the Sheraton Cable Beach resort.
We flew from Austin to DFW, then connected to our Miami flight. That flight went smoothly until the pilot announced that a thunderstorm had shut the Miami airport and we would land 20 minutes late. The good news was that the weather had cleared by the time we landed; the bad news was that it had made a total mess of all departures for the rest of the afternoon.
We got off our AA flight and walked to the American Eagle departure area. And walked, and walked and walked. AE was at the far end of the terminal from where we had arrived, leaving us a very long 15-20 minute walk to get there. Once we did I saw that some outbound flights had been delayed by as much as three hours; then we sat down to rest after our absurdly long walk from our AA arrival gate.
Our flight was scheduled to depart at 4 p.m. At 4:05 the flight originally scheduled for 1:10 departed, so things did not look good for us. Thankfully we started to board our flight shortly before 5 and were on the ground in Nassau by 6. After a short taxi ride we were in our room at the Sheraton by 6:30.
Sheraton upgraded us to a “junior suite,” so we had a spacious room. It was similar to the one we had last year but was higher up (6th floor) giving us a wonderful view from our balcony.
We were tired from the trip and called it an early night. When we woke up the next morning it was raining so hard that we couldn’t even see the beach. But storms don’t last long in that area and it quickly cleared giving us the chance to get some sun.
Once we got to the beach I noticed one thing: it was virtually deserted. I counted less than three dozen people on the entire beach. This being hurricane season many people stay away from the Bahamas, so many that the Wyndham hotel and casino next door shut down for the entire month. We had no problem with this, we were glad to be away from the crowds.
We rested on the beach, enjoying the warm weather and sunny skies. We had several events planned for the trip, including eating some great seafood, swimming with the dolphins, and visiting the Atlantis resort. More on those in the next post. But on our first two days, we were happy just to lay on the beach and relax.