VACATION TRIPS TO BAHAMAS

Transportation by Cruise:

Armando Magtalas Balajadia went to Bahamas on January 30, 2011 by taking a cruise from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. He attend the 4-day convention of 5LINX National Convention held at Fort Lauderdale Convention Center from January 26 - 29, 2011. After the convention, he supposed to visit in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and its neighbor cities with his friends and business partners especially Alicia de Jesus but they changed their plan because they saw the brochure of Discovery Cruise Line at the main lobby of convention center that offers the same day round trip cruise to Bahamas. Discovery Cruise Line is located at Port Everglades. Port Everglades is only 2 miles from Ramada Hotel Fort Lauderdale Airport/Cruise Port where he and his friends and business partners were staying during the 4-day convention. The cruise fare is only $149 per person for the same day round trip cruise from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA to Freeport, Bahamas. Unfortunately, his friends and business partners were not able to bring their passport, the cruise line did not allow them to enter in the cruise. Passport or green card is required to travel outside of United States. The inspectors from Department of Homeland Security at the port of entry of Port Everglades are also very strict especially when it comes with the inspection of passports and green cards. Since Armando is always have a passport card in his wallet, he was allowed by the cruise line to enter in the cruise. Passport card is only applicable to travel in other countries by land transportation and by the cruise. If anyone will travel by the air, then passport is required because all the airports will stamp the passports. Because of this, only Armando had a tour in Bahamas while his friends and business partners were decided to visit in Miami, Florida and its neighbor cities.

Discovery Cruise Line offers a same day round trip to Bahamas everyday from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. They have also 2 to 7 days trip to Bahamas especially if they will travel to different islands there. Armando booked the same day round trip to Bahamas on January 30, 2011 because he will go back to work at Morton Salt in Newark, California on the following day. As mentioned earlier that the cruise fare is only $149 including the taxes for the same day round trip cruise. The cruise fare includes the breakfast buffet, lunch buffet, and dinner buffet. All kinds of cocktails and drinks are also included in the cruise fair. If any passenger would like to get a cabin, then there will an additional fee of $45 per cabin in one day. If any passenger would like to get a locker instead of cabin to store their things there, then there will be an additional fee of $10. Upon the arrival in Bahamas, there's an additional fee for the excursions. The fee is ranging from $30 to $60 depending with the type of excursion that a passenger will choose.

Geography:

The Bahamas, officially the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a stable developing nation consisting of 29 islands, 661 cays, and 2,387 islets (rocks). It is located in the Atlantic Ocean north of Cuba and Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti), northwest of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and southeast of the United States (nearest to the state of Florida). Its total land area is 13,939 km2 (5,382 sq mi), with an estimated population of 330,000. Its capital is Nassau. Geographically, The Bahamas lie in the same island chain as Cuba, Hispaniola and the Turks and Caicos Islands; the designation of Bahamas refers normally to the Commonwealth and not the geographic chain.

The closest island to the United States is Bimini, which is also known as the gateway to The Bahamas. The island of Abaco is to the east of Grand Bahama. The south easternmost island is Inagua. The largest island is Andros Island. Other inhabited islands include Eleuthera, Cat Island, Long Island, San Salvador Island, Acklins, Crooked Island, Exuma and Mayaguana. Nassau, capital city of The Bahamas, lies on the island of New Providence. All the islands are low and flat, with ridges that usually rise no more than 15 to 20 m (49 to 66 ft). The highest point in the country is Mount Alvernia, formerly called Como Hill, which has an altitude of 63 meters (207 ft) on Cat Island.

History and Culture:

The name "Bahamas" comes from the Spanish baja mar meaning shallow sea, and is an archipelago of over 700 islands stretching over 258,998 square km in the western Atlantic Ocean. Originally inhabited by the Lucayans, a branch of the Arawakan-speaking Taino people, The Bahamas were the site of Columbus' first landfall in the New World in 1492. Although the Spanish never colonized The Bahamas, they shipped the native Lucayans to slavery in Hispaniola. The islands were mostly deserted from 1513 to 1648, when British colonists from Bermuda settled on the island of Eleuthera.

The Bahamas became a Crown Colony in 1718 when the British clamped down on piracy. Following the American War of Independence, thousands of pro-British loyalists and enslaved Africans moved to The Bahamas and set up a plantation economy. The slave trade was abolished in the British Empire in 1807 and many Africans liberated from slave ships by the Royal Navy were settled in The Bahamas during the 19th century. Slavery itself was abolished in 1834 and the descendants of enslaved and liberated Africans form the bulk of The Bahamas's population today.

Over the centuries, each new population that has settled in The Bahamas, with their different backgrounds, traditions and beliefs, has shaped Bahamian culture into the unique, colorful patchwork of life and lifestyles that it is today. The Islands of The Bahamas gained independence from Great Britain on 10 July 1973, which is celebrated as Bahamian Independence Day. As a member of the British Commonwealth, The Bahamas has a symbolic link to Great Britain, with an appointed Governor-General representing the Queen of England, and as an example of the continued British influence on Bahamian government, who continues observance of the historical Changing of the Guards. There is much pomp and ceremony, as the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band performs. The ceremony takes place at Government House (the office and residence of the Governor-General) in Nassau every two weeks.

There are two ethnic groups in Bahamas: Afro-Bahamians and European Bahamians. Afro-Bahamians or Bahamians of African descent are Bahamians whose ancestry lies within the continent of Africa, most notably West Africa. The first Africans to arrive to The Bahamas came from Bermuda with the Eleutheran Adventurers as freed slaves looking for a new life. Currently, Afro-Bahamians are the largest ethnic group in The Bahamas, accounting for some 85% of the country's population. European Bahamians, or Bahamians of European descent, numbering about 38,000, are mainly the descendants of the British Puritans and American Loyalists who arrived in 1649 and 1783 respectively. They form the largest minority group in The Bahamas making up some 12% of the population. A small portion of the European Bahamian population is descended from Greek labourers who came to help develop the sponging industry in the 1900s. Although making up less than 1% of the nation's population, they have been able to preserve their distinct Greek culture.

The majority of Bahamians live on New Providence Island, home of the capital city, Nassau. There, you will find most are of West African descent whose ancestors were enslaved and brought here to work on cotton plantations. The majority of the other residents are descendants of English settlers. Some are even related to Loyalists who fled the southern U.S. during the American Revolution. When Britain abolished slavery in 1834, life there on the islands changed dramatically. Plantation life ended and locals tried their hand at sponging, fishing or farming. The lack of fertile cropland led the people to become a nation of seafarers.

The Junkanoo Parade:

Although the roots of the Junkanoo parade remain subject to long and passionate debates, what is agreed is that, after centuries of practice, today's cultural extravaganzas have become the most entertaining street carnivals of not only The Bahamas, but also the world at large.

With the costumes, dance and music inspired by a different theme each time, preparations for the Boxing Day, New Year's Day and summer time Junkanoo literally take months and bring together men and women from all different walks of life.

Legend has it that you haven't needed an excuse to party in The Bahamas for well over 500 years. But ask folks here at the top of the Caribbean how The Bahamas Junkanoo Tradition got started and they'll all tell you a different story; with many believing it was established by John Canoe, a legendary West African Prince, who outwitted the English and became a local hero; and others suspecting it comes from the French ‘gens inconnus,’ which translates as 'unknown' or 'masked people'.

The most popular belief, however, is that it developed from the days of slavery. The influx of Loyalists in the late 18th Century brought many enslaved people who were given three days off at Christmas, which they celebrated by singing and dancing in colorful masks, traveling from house to house, often on stilts. Junkanoo nearly vanished after slavery was abolished but the revival of the festival in The Bahamas now provides entertainment for many thousands.

Long before the spectacular 'rush-out', the exuberant Junkanoo dance troupes - groups of up to 1,000 - will have been busy rehearsing their dazzling routines. The musicians will have perfected the hypnotic rhythms they'll perform day and night on a cacophony of goatskin drums, cowbells, whistles and horns, and the imaginative costume designers will have worked non-stop to weave their own special magic with beautifully colored crepe paper and cardboard.

As the Junkanoo parade moves through the streets of downtown Nassau in the early hours of the morning (generally from 2am to 10am), the energy of the dancers and the beat of the music motivates the vast crowds of supporters and spectators to start moving in their seats, or on their feet, or in the trees, or on balconies - wherever they have found a spot from which to watch this soul-stirring festival! At the end of the famous Junkanoo procession, judges award cash prizes for the best music, best costume and best overall group presentation.

The liveliest and largest of the sensational Bahamas Junkanoo party parades is in Nassau, but you can also experience the intoxicating carnival atmosphere on Grand Bahama Island, Eleuthera/Harbour Island, Bimini, The Exumas and The Abacos. And whether it’s the children’s rush or the big parade, you will be treated to an incredible splash of colourful splendour. So time your visit to our islands to be here for Junkanoo and you’ll be more than welcome to jump in, enjoy the beat, feel the rush and have some fun!

Government:

The Constitution of The Bahamas is based on the Westminster model: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch.

As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, The Bahamas recognises Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State. The Governor-General is Her Majesty's representative in The Bahamas and is a symbol of the nation's unity. The Cabinet is the executive branch and has general control of the government of The Bahamas. The Cabinet has to comprise at least nine ministers, inclusive of the Prime Minister and Attorney General. Parliament is the legislative branch and consists of a Senate and a House of Assembly. Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, Parliament may make laws for the peace, order and good government of The Bahamas. Judicial authority is vested in the judicature, comprising the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, with such jurisdiction, powers and authority as may be conferred on these courts by the Constitution or by any other law.

National Anthem:

March On, Bahamaland is the national anthem of the Bahamas. It was composed by Timothy Gibson and adopted in 1973.

Economy:

By the terms of GDP per capita, the Bahamas is the fourth richest country in the Americas (following Bermuda, the United States and Canada), the richest one that lies south of the Mexico - US border, as well as the richest one in the world whose population is predominantly of African origin. However these statistics conceal an uneven distribution of wealth and some notable economic and social development challenges faced by the country which is designated by the U.N. as a Small Island Developing State.

Bahamas is one of the most prosperous countries in the Caribbean region, The Bahamas relies on tourism to generate most of its economic activity. Tourism as an industry not only accounts for over 60 percent of the Bahamian GDP, but provides jobs for more than half the country's workforce.[19] After tourism, the next most important economic sector is financial services, accounting for some 15 percent of GDP.

The government has adopted incentives to encourage foreign financial business, and further banking and finance reforms are in progress. The government plans to merge the regulatory functions of key financial institutions, including the Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBB) and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Central Bank administers restrictions and controls on capital and money market instruments. The Bahamas International Securities Exchange currently consists of 19 listed public companies. Reflecting the relative soundness of the banking system (mostly populated by Canadian banks), the impact of the global financial crisis on the financial sector has been limited.

The economy has a very competitive tax regime. The government derives its revenue from import tariffs, license fees, property and stamp taxes, but there is no income tax, corporate tax, capital gains tax, value-added tax (VAT), or wealth tax. Payroll taxes fund social insurance benefits. In the most recent year, Overall tax revenue as a percentage of GDP is 21.8 percent.[citation needed] Authorities are trying to increase tax compliance and collection in the wake of the global crisis. Inflation has been moderate, averaging 3.7 percent between 2006 and 2008.

Languages and Dialects:

English is their official language. Although, you might hear Bahamian English. It’s a mixture of Queen’s diction, African influence and island dialect. The “h” is often dropped, so it sounds like “ouse” for “house” or “t’anks” for “thanks.” Their dialect and idioms were influenced by African slaves, English Puritans and other settlers. Because of this combination, you will hear a unique language found only on The Islands Of The Bahamas. For instance, if you hear “day clean” they mean “daybreak” and “first fowl crow” means the first cry a rooster makes in the morning. These idioms are typical of Bahamian English.

Religion:

More than 90 percent of the population of the Bahamas professes a religion, and anecdotal evidence suggests that most attend services regularly. Religion in the Bahamas reflects the country's diversity. Protestant Christian denominations including Baptists (35 percent), Anglicans (15 percent), Pentecostals (8 percent), Church of God (5 percent), Seventh-day Adventists (5 percent), and Methodists (4 percent) are in the majority, but there are also significant Roman Catholic (14 percent) and Greek Orthodox populations. Smaller Jewish, Baha'i, Jehovah's Witness and Muslim communities also are active. A small number of Bahamians and Haitians, particularly those living in the Family Islands, practice Obeah, a form of African shamanism. A small but stable number of citizens identify themselves as Rastafarians, while some members of the small resident Guyanese and Indian populations practice Hinduism and other South Asian religions. Although many unaffiliated Protestant congregations are almost exclusively black, most mainstream churches are integrated racially.

Weather:

The trade winds that blow almost continually throughout The Islands of The Bahamas give the islands a warm, agreeable climate which hardly varies all year round. The most refreshing time to explore is between September and May, when the temperature averages 21-24°C (70-75°F), with the more northerly islands around 5° cooler than the southern islands. The rest of the year is a bit warmer, with higher humidity in the summer months and temperatures between 27 and 29°C (80-85°F). Night-time temperatures are generally 5-7° cooler and sea surface temperatures vary between 23°C (74°F) in February and 29°C (84°F) in August.

Currency and Money:

The local currency is the Bahamian dollar (B$), but it's tied to the US dollar at a 1:1 ratio and US dollars are accepted everywhere at par. There is thus no need for Americans to change money, and many tourist-oriented businesses will even give change back in US$. Do keep an eye out for the famous (but now rare) three-dollar bill and 15-cent coin, both originally made to ease the 1966 transition from British pounds to dollars, $3 being roughly equivalent to £1 and $0.15 approximating a shilling. When Armando visited in Bahamas, he collected Bahamian dollars and coins. He went to the stores to buy souvenir items and asked for a change in Bahamian dollars and coins instead of US dollars and coins. Most of the stores in Bahamas are accepting US dollars because most of the visitors and tourists are from USA. Also, the reason is the exchange rate is 1 Bahamian Dollar is equal to 1 US Dollar. Although most of the banks in Bahamas are closed on Sunday when he visited there, he was able to collect all Bahamian Dollars and coins from lowest to highest amount with the help of Bahamian folks and vendors.

Foods and Dishes:

The Bahamas are the delight of fresh seafood lovers who enjoy the bountifully rich treasures from the sea. Crawfish (local rock lobster) conch (pronounced 'konk'), land crabs, and fish such as Grouper, Yellow Tail and Red Snapper are local and tourist favorites.

Boiled fish and grits is a favorite breakfast. Boiled fish is also delicious served with homemade Island bread. Grouper is the most popular fish used for boiling. Bahamians are experts at cooking this fish which is flaky, white, tender and mild in flavor.

Conch (pronounced 'konk'), is a mollusk (shell fish like an oyster), is a perennial local seafood favorite. Unlike the slimy oyster the meat of conch is firm and white and is prepared in a variety of ways including conch chowder, conch stew, conch salad, popular conch fritters, and is also deep fried as "cracked conch".

Other specialties include Bahamian stew fish (made with celery, onions, tomatoes, spices and fish), Bahamian crawfish, peas n' rice (consisting of pigeon peas with salt, pork or bacon, tomatoes, celery, rice, thyme and pepper) and Johnny cake (pan-cooked bread made with butter, milk, flour, sugar, salt and baking powder).

A typical Bahamian meal consists of crab and rice, delicious steamed fish, served with baked macaroni and cheese and a good helping of potato salad. This is followed by desserts such as coconut or pineapple tart, bread pudding or guava duff, a delicious dessert that is made through a laborious process of folding the fruit into the dough and boiling and is served with a sauce. Such a typical meal also explains why their are so many Bahama Mama's and why heart disease and diabetes is so rampant in the Bahamas.

A typical Bahamian Christmas meal consists of baked ham and baked turkey with stuffing, green peas and rice, yam or sweet potato, baked macaroni and cheese, potato salad, coleslaw and vegetables.

Restaurants:

Here's the list of restaurants that are serving Bahamian dishes in San Francisco, California, USA and Philippines as follows:

Recipes:

There are so many dishes in Bahamas. As mentioned earlier that most of their dishes are seafood. Their dishes are also delicious and have authentic tastes. The people in Bahamas are also using Caribbean spices since Bahamas is also a Caribbean country. When Armando visited in Bahamas, he bought recipe book so that he will try to make Bahamian dishes when he get home in Newark, California, USA. The good thing for Bahamian dishes is that the ingredients are easy to find at most in groceries and supermarkets.

Unit of Measurement:

The unit of measurement in Bahamas is Metric System or System International (SI). They are using grams and kilograms for weight, meters and kilometers for distance, degrees Celsius for temperature, liters for volume, kilometers per hour for speed or velocity, calories and Joules for energy or heat, and so on. For the voltage, they are using 120 Volts, 60 Hz.

Driving:

In Bahamas, they are using the right hand driving method since they are colonized by Great Britain. Most of the countries that are colonized by Great Britain are using the right hand driving method. A U.S. Driver's license is valid in the Bahamas for up to three months. It is illegal for passengers under the age of five to travel in any vehicle without the proper child passenger seat holding them in place. Roads in Nassau and Freeport are generally adequate, but traffic congestion in those cities is rather frequent. Rural roads can be narrow and winding. Flooding occurs on roads in low-lying areas throughout the islands, including Nassau and Freeport.

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