We went on a Disney Cruise just before Christmas in December 2018 with our friends the Riedels. See more about it at the 2018 Christmas Disney Cruise page. After a day at Castaway Cay, we were ready to explore the port of Nassau in the Bahamas…
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Unlike the previous morning, we did not have any early morning plans this time around, so we got to sleep in all the way until 7:00 instead of getting up at 5:30. That was nice! We went through our usual morning routine, and we and the Riedels headed out to breakfast around 8:15. No big rush to get there or anything, and that was just fine.
As we almost alway do, we headed up to Cabanas for their breakfast buffet. But this time around, we did not have to be as careful about what we would eat for breakfast, since we did not have a big run coming up right after we ate. We all enjoyed the buffet as we always do. I got Mickey waffles, fruit, hash browns, scrambled eggs, and sausage. And I topped it off with some orange juice, too. Delicious.
While we were eating at our usual table outside of the restaurant, we could see that there were two other ships in the port with us. It looked like it would be a rather busy day in Nassau. But we knew it would not be too bad, because nothing we ever do there is all that crowded.
We went back to our rooms to finish getting ready before heading out to Nassau. While we were there, we watched another ship slowly back into port next to ours. That made four ships, which was the same number as was there on our previous visit. Cool!
Once everyone was ready, we walked down the stairs to the gangway and exited the ship. I made sure that we had our driver’s licenses as well as our ship cards, after seeing someone have a hard time leaving Nassau last year without his license.
We walked down the way between the ships, stopping for some photos at the aft of our ship, as we usually do. And then we saw that there were actually five ships in the port, not four. Wow! That was the most we had ever seen.
As everyone has to do, we walked into Festival Place, which had been undergoing renovations the last time we were there. Off to the left was a holiday display with a Christmas tree and plastic figures of Santa, Mrs. Claus, the wise men, a snowman, and a few others. A nice little touch for the Christmas season. But we did not linger there long, exiting the building to be out and in the city of Nassau.
Once we left the building, we started hearing the noises. Vendors in the small shops outside Festival Place calling out to those walking by, cars passing by on the street, taxi and carriage drivers calling out to those who were looking for rides, people talking as they walked through. It was a small little version of chaos and confusion, and I loved it. I was immediately reminded of why I love coming to Nassau, even if we never do anything exciting there. While in many ways it is similar to some things back home, it is a different country with different customs, different laws, and people driving on the wrong side of the street. At least it is wrong to us, but I know it is right to them. And we have been there enough times now that I feel comfortable in some strange way. It does not overwhelm me like it might have the first few times that we visited.
We walked out to the main street to go to some of the shops, and we immediately noticed that there were bleachers all up and down the street, which made the road even more crowded than usual. Down the way, there was a large grandstand going up 20 feet or more. It looked like the bleachers were still being put together, too. Was this for some sort of Christmas parade? Actually, we later realized that they were probably having a big parade for the Bahamas Bowl football game that was held a few days after we were there. That would explain it.
I also saw that there were Christmas lights on some of the trees and light poles. However, they were off at that time, as you would imagine on a bright, sunny day. I thought it would be cool to see them on after the sun went down, but I knew we would need to be back on the ship by that time. To me, it did not feel all that much like Christmas with the warm weather and sun, but I know that is typical Christmas weather for those that live there. I could probably adjust to that pretty quickly if I had the chance.
To make it feel a little more like Christmas, we stopped at a shop that always sells Christmas stuff. We have gotten some Christmas ornaments from there before, but never right before Christmas. It was even better being there during the actual Christmas season!
The main shop we were heading for was Del Sol, where everything that they sell changes color in the sun. I enjoyed the steel drum player outside of the store, and he was playing Christmas carols on his steel drum. I always like the sound of a good steel drum, and it was neat to see him there. I did not find anything for me there, but then I had just gotten a Del Sol shirt in Hawaiʻi a few months earlier. Laura and the Riedel girls got some color changing nail polish, which is always cool. And I did turn in my email address to get a free color-changing ring. The checkout girl picked out a pirate skull and crossbones ring from their selection, which was fine with me. I proudly wore it the rest of the day.
Our next stop was the Straw Market. Not because we had any specific agenda, but rather because we were walking past it and someone in our group (probably me) said, “Hey, let’s go in the straw market!” I am not sure if the Riedels had ever been in there before, but it is like a large flea market back home with individual vendors selling their stuff.
When we made our first pass through the building, we got around to the back, near the waterfront. There was a tent set up there, and something big was going on. At that moment, they were singing the Bahamas national anthem, and everyone was standing up and singing the song. Not just those in the tent, either. All of the vendors anywhere near that part of the Straw Market that could hear it were also singing along. They got much more participation than when the United States national anthem is played, interestingly. While the others looked around at some more of the vendors’ items, I hung around a bit to see what was going on. The lady who was in charge then introduced the Very Reverend Harry Bain, the Dean of Nassau from Christ Church Cathedral. He then led a prayer. It was not just any simple prayer, but one of the most beautiful prayers I have heard. As it turns out, Laura was hearing the same prayer down at the other end of the tent, and she also commented on how beautiful it was. Next, the lady in charge continued her remarks, and I eventually figured out that there had been a competition of the Straw Market vendors to create Christmas wreaths. This ceremony was to award the winners of the competition. What a nice idea!
After leaving the Straw Market, we walked out around the British Colonial Hilton, teasing Karen for not getting us a room there back when she worked for Hilton. In front of the hotel, we took a photo with the statue of Woodes Rogers, who was a governor of the Bahamas way back in the day. Around on the far side of the hotel was the site of the old British fort, although all that remains now is a well and an archway. I doubt that the arch is original, and I am not sure about the well, but they are interesting reminders of the days when forts were necessary to fight of pirates and other invaders.
We then walked up the street leading away from the waterfront, going in the direction of Christ Church Cathedral, where we had stopped in a few times before. We had not necessarily planned to visit the church this time around. But as we got close we could hear the music of the pipe organ coming from inside. Laura and I had always wanted to hear the pipe organ being played, so of course we went in.
Once inside, we immediately heard that the songs that were being played were Christmas carols. Because we come from a church with only acappella music, it was fascinating to hear the music from the pipes surrounding us as it echoed throughout the sanctuary. We stayed around to hear several songs, and we looked around the building while we were in there as well. I am sure there is lots more history to the building and the congregation than the little that I know about it, and we always enjoy stopping by there.
We walked on up the street, turning near the government house to go back parallel to the waterfront. We had thought about going to the library, where Laura and I had been before, but we decided to keep going instead. We did stop in the Gucci store because Katie wanted to say she had been in there, although we knew that we definitely would not be able to afford anything in there. And we were correct.
It was almost time for lunch, and we decided to head back to the ship. But we stopped for a few moments to see the large Christmas tree near the courthouse, and I decided to climb up the tall bleachers to get a good view of the courthouse, too.
On our way back to the ship, we stopped at one of the vendors outside of Festival Place to get a Coke. Yes, we could get Coke for free back on the ship. But the Bahamas Cokes have real sugar instead of corn syrup, and that just tastes better to us old timers who grew up drinking Cokes that were made with real sugar before they switched in the United States. The Riedels just bought one Coke to share once they got back on the ship, and they were not quite as impressed with the sugary taste. It is not a major difference, but it is there if you are used to it.
We walked back through Festival Place, stopping at the security check because we had to. But we were prepared, so we did not have any problems getting back through. Then we walked back past the other ships and onto our ship, getting our cards scanned to let them know that we were back on board. And getting our bags scanned to let them know we didn’t bring anything we shouldn’t bring.
Up next is more from this day, including Pirate Night. Check back soon for the next part of the 2018 Christmas Disney Cruise trip report!