As you’ve probably read by now, I sit firmly on the fence as far as cruise opinions. Truthfully, I don’t love them because it’s not my preferred way to travel. However, my husband does enjoy them and I’m not one to turn down a trip or new experience.
What I’ve learned About Cruise Life
I’ve discovered some things about myself on the two cruises I’ve taken. First, I’m not a joiner. You won’t find me joining the line dancing on the lido deck or the bingo games on the main deck. I have good intentions and I tell myself that I will take full advantage of the entertainment options available on the cruise. But I just don’t. And I’ve decided to be okay with that.
Second, I’m not much of a relaxer. You’re unlikely to find me sitting on a deck chair with a big floppy hat and a good book. I find it difficult to claim a deck chair and even if I find one, I struggle. It’s too windy. It’s too sunny. I’m too bored.
Instead, I find myself perpetually wandering the ship or retreating to my cabin. There I do research of absolutely no importance. I plan my next meal or my next snack. I research our next port of call and plan out my day. And I complain about the frailty of the onboard Wi-Fi, which never seems to work great even though I shell out the money for the best plan.
Cruise Ports of Call
And for the most part, I’m not enamored with the stops we’ve made on our two cruises. They seem very contrived or manufactured. They don’t seem authentic to the beautiful islands that we visit, but rather a small industry grown up around the port completely devoid of local culture. And they’ve felt crowded.
What about private islands? Oh they’re beautiful beach paradises and I do agree they’re fabulous if you’re just looking for a day at the beach. But I want a little something more from my travels. I want to see and touch and taste local culture. I want to learn something about the places I visit.
And the stops where you have to tender, or take a small boat from the ship to the port, are the worst. We’re stopped in the water and I want to get off the ship. It’s quite like that feeling on an airplane when the captain turns off the seatbelt light. But there’s a hierarchy in the tendering process. It comes down to who paid for what priority or excursion. Then you’re moved onto the tender quite like cattle headed for auction.
Naturally Beautiful Bimini: A Breath of Fresh Air and Sunshine
Our last cruise, however, offered something a little different. When I saw Bimini was a stop on the cruise, I knew very little about it and expected even less.
The only thing that I knew for certain was that Bimini was a fairly new port. I knew that it had dock, rather than tender, and that was a bit of a plus.
Everything I read online told me to rent a golf cart, so I made a quick call to one I found online and reserved a four-seater cart for us. The reservation process felt very informal and I was more than a little nervous that any type of reservation had actually been taken.
We walked down the length of the dock and quickly found our way onto one of the free trams. I didn’t feel especially confident we’d gotten on the right one, but within a few stops we found ourselves at the golf cart rental. And, to our surprise, they had our reservation. For just about $60 cash we had our cart for the day.
Right away this stop felt a little different than the others I’d experienced from the cruising industry. There weren’t a lot of vendors crowded around the port selling the same cheaply manufactured good and t-shirts. Everything looked a little more authentic.
A Little Background About Naturally Beautiful Bimini
Bimini is actually a series of three islands (North Bimini, South Bimini and East Bimini) located about 55 nautical miles off the coast of Miami. The larger two islands are home to the cruise port (North Bimini) and the airport (South Bimini) and ferry service is available between the two. The population of the island chain is about 2000 residents.
North Bimini, where you’ll get off the ship, is about seven miles long in total. In addition to golf carts, you can access a Resorts World tram to get around. The tram only runs between the cruise terminal and Resorts World properties, but it’s free. I highly recommend you pay for the cart. Not only is it a lot of fun, but you’ll have more freedom to explore the island.
Resorts and Excursions
I also won’t expand upon any of the other excursion offerings. There were options available for fishing, snorkeling, exploring a shipwreck and more. While I’m certain they were lovely, they just didn’t fit the experience we wanted to have.
We didn’t spend any time at Resorts World. You can either pay at the door or purchase this as an excursion from the cruise company. With a pool, beach, food and music it seemed like a perfect beach day. We were looking for a chance to explore the island. Cruises are about options, so you’ll have to decide which is best for you and your travel partners.
Our Adventures on Bimini
We made our way around the island, as far from the cruise port as we could get, stumbling on little shops and eateries alongside the road. We enjoyed fresh conch salad and fried conch and enjoyed seeing the island in its natural beauty, communing with the locals.
There, in a small shopping area, we found a small shop where the owners, two young men, made and bottled their own drinks. They were large and very inexpensive at $10 each (cruise and resort sponsored drinks were closer to $20 near the port). They were also delicious and quite strong. While an officer told me there were no rules against drinking while driving a golf cart, so long as you didn’t hurt anyone, I don’t advise you try it. In fact, two of us were designated cart drivers for the trip.
My favorite things in Bimini were the beaches. The water was clear and beautiful and the beaches we found were nearly deserted. Multiple times during the day we found ourselves alone on a beautiful beach. It was my favorite part of the entire cruise.
You can read ahead of time to get some reviews of the local beaches. I haven’t included my reviews and I recommend you skip them. If you have a cart, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the island and it’s magical just discovering them long the way.
We hope you find yourself in Bimini. It was a wonderful stop on our cruise, but you can also access the island by plane or by ferry from the Fort Lauderdale or Miami area. In addition to visiting the beaches and trying some local conch delicacies, make sure you stop by the ruins of Ernest Hemmingway’s home, see the blow hole at the of the island and check out the Bimini Road which is said to be part of the lost city of Atlantis.
No matter how or where you travel, keep adventuring. There’s so much to see and do both here and Ohio and beyond. And make sure you check back with us often for more of our favorite travels.
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