FREEPORT, 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. At 8:00am, the gates at Port Everglades are already closed for debarkation and then at exactly 9:00am, the cruise departed the pier. While sailing to Freeport, Bahamas, they are serving breakfast buffet and everyone loves that especially the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. After eating the breakfast buffet, some passengers were sleeping , some passengers were singing at videoke bar, some passengers were swimming at the pool, some passengers were playing games, some passengers were gambling at casino area, and some passengers were watching movies at theater room. Armando was enjoyed in all activities in the cruise. He also did socializing to other passengers, crews, and people working in the cruise. Discovery Cruise Line is also a good cruise because the cruise is also big and there are many activities there that you will enjoy while sailing for many hours. By the way, the sailing time from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA to Freeport, Bahamas is approximately 4 hours. The fare is $149 per day and it is a same day round trip cruise. The cruise fare is good enough to cover the breakfast buffet, lunch buffet, dinner buffet, the cost of gasoline, and of course to pay the people who are working in the cruise. Giving the tip during the breakfast buffet, lunch buffet, and dinner buffet will be appreciated by the cruise line. 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. Armando paid $35 for the excursion at Junkanoo Beach Club and Port Lucaya Marketplace. The cruise arrived at exactly 1:00pm and then everyone took a shuttle bus going to Junkanoo Beach Club and Port Lucaya Marketplace.

After the tour at Junkanoo Beach Club and Port Lucaya Marketplace, everyone took a shuttle bus at 4:00pm going back to pier. At 4:30pm, the gates at Freeport Harbour are already closed for debarkation and then at exactly 5:00pm, the cruise departed the pier. While sailing back to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA, some passengers are sleeping , some passengers are singing at videoke bar, some passengers are swimming at the pool, some passengers are playing games, some passengers are gambling at casino area, and some passengers are watching movies at theater room. At 7:00pm, all passengers were invited for the dinner buffet and everyone loves the steak and seafood. Armando was enjoyed in all activities in the cruise. He also did socializing to other passengers, crews, and people working in the cruise. Although, the ocean was windy and cold, all passengers were still viewing the ocean while sailing. At 9:00pm, the cruise arrived at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. The inspectors from Department of Homeland Security at the port of entry of Port Everglades are very strict especially when it comes with the inspection of passports, green cards, and baggage. By the way, all tobaccos from Cuba are not allowed to bring anywhere in United States of America. In Bahamas, the people there are selling Cuban tobaccos because Bahamas is a neighbor country of Cuba. The inspection was long also about 1½ hours because they are inspecting the baggage of all passengers. At the arrival area of Port Everglades, there are many shuttle buses that will go to the hotels and resorts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. This is a memorable cruise trip for Armando because it is his first trip to Bahamas and this is an unexpected plan.

Geography:

Freeport is a city and free trade zone on the island of Grand Bahama, located approximately 55 miles east-northeast of Fort Lauderdale, Florida and is a district of the Bahamas.

Freeport, the island’s capital city and the second largest city in the islands, is one of the best-known destinations in the Bahamas. The city was specifically designed for the tourist trade, and as a result features terrific duty-free shopping and many attractions to keep visitors entertained and enthralled. The 10-acre International Bazaar in downtown Freeport is divided into sections that represent different parts of the world, each with its own collection of shops and restaurants. You can easily spend a whole day exploring the Bazaar, and when you run out of money, just pay a visit to the Bahamia Casino nearby!

After the sunsets in Freeport, the night comes alive with entertainment and spectacle. Sit back and enjoy a dazzling show at the Casino Royale Theater, Joker’s Wild, or Club Tropicana, or visit one of the many nightclubs where you can catch the sounds of local bands. If you’re feeling lucky, the gaming action at the casinos rolls on virtually non-stop, featuring craps, blackjack, roulette, mini-baccarat, and all of the latest slot machines. There are also lessons for novice gamblers as well as the Sports Book betting facility, where you can place wagers on football, basketball, or hockey games. Later, when you’ve had your fill of partying and playing the odds, you can search out a cozy bar on the beach and watch the moonlight skip across the ocean while you eat conch fritters and toss back Bahama Mamas.

Nature lovers will want to leave the modern amenities behind to explore the eco-structure of the Bahamas in Freeport’s Garden of the Groves, an 11-acre botanical park filled with plants, flowers, trees, and waterfalls. The Rand Nature Center offers 100 acres of winding nature trails showcasing native Bahamian plants. You can experience all the major habitats found on Grand Bahama in the 40-acre Lucayan National Park, famous for its limestone caves. You can even explore one of the two caves that are open to the public, if you’re not afraid of bats! Water sports of all kinds abound on Grand Bahama, from cruises and deep-sea fishing to swimming with dolphins and sharks. Snorkelers and scuba divers will find themselves right at home in the waters around the island exploring some of the world’s loveliest coral reefs. Guided tours are available everywhere, with the best spots located near Deadman’s Reef on the island’s west end.

The Pirates of the Bahamas Theme Park, right on the beach in Freeport, provides the perfect atmosphere for a day full of beach activities. The Kidd’s Camp offers adult supervision for children of all ages, with swings and seesaws, climbing and digging equipment, and a professional miniature golf course. Ping-pong tables, basketball courts, and all kinds of water sports are also available. You can eat from the galley of a "sunken" pirate battleship while you drink grog, and then at sunset compete in a line dancing or Macarena dance contest around a beach bonfire. Depending on how good a dancer you are, you might even win a prize!

Visitors to Grand Bahama may find it hard to decide where to stay, because the choices seem endless. Whether you choose a charming waterfront hotel or a deluxe modern resort, you can count on gracious service and genuine hospitality. There are accommodations for every taste, from the Our Lucaya Beach & Golf Resort’s luxurious modern atmosphere to Paradise Cove’s apartment-type rooms with full kitchens. The The Royal Oasis Golf Resort & Casino in Freeport, one of the island’s largest hotels, is adjacent to two 18-hole golf courses as well as the International Bazaar. The Grand Bahama Beach Hotel was completely gutted and refurbished two years ago, and several 4-star and 5-star hotels and resorts have opened in recent years. But if all the modern glitz and glamour isn’t your cup of tea, check out Pinder’s Point, Smith’s Point, or another of the sleepy settlements off the beaten path, where you can relax in a quieter atmosphere.

The Junkanoo Beach Club:

The Junkanoo Beach Club is the finest non-hotel facility of its kind on Grand Bahama Island. Only five minutes away from the hub of activity at Port Lucaya Marketplace, the beach club is located on a beautiful beach with ample parking right at the door. A few steps from your car or bus and you’re on the beach. And here’s the best news of all-admission is free and beach chairs are only $5 for the day. Other places may charge $20 for a day pass or $10 for a beach chair. Ask your transportation provider about these charges. Pedal boats, kayaks and beach floats are free. Jet Ski rentals are available. They also offer free pickup and return from all hotels and guest houses.

Upon the arrival at Junkanoo Beach Club on January 30, 2011 at 1:30pm after the 30 minute drive from the pier, Armando Magtalas Balajadia and the other passengers of Discovery Cruise Line had their buffet lunch there. Their dishes there are extremely delicious but unique taste and flavor. The dishes there are coleslaw, potato salad, grilled chicken, grilled pork ribs, Bahamian rice with pigeon peas, fried snapper fillet with tartar sauce, and lemonade. They have also conch salad for only B$10 or US$10. Conch is a mollusk or marine snail that grows in the ocean of Bahamas. You can make it into a salad from the live conch by removing its meat from the shell and cut into small pieces mixed with lime juice, salt, pepper, vinegar, olive oil, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. This is looks like a ceviche from Mexico but it is delicious and has a sweet taste of fresh conch. After the buffet lunch at 2:30pm, everyone went to the beach to swim in the ocean there. The ocean is so beautiful with the bluish color with the beige color of the sand. Since the temperature there was 85°F, almost everyone went to swim in the ocean. There are some stores there that you can buy souvenir items like clothes, mugs, handicrafts, and so on but there are many stores at the straw market in Port Lucaya Marketplace.

Port Lucaya Marketplace:

Port Lucaya Marketplace and Marina, established in 1988, is located across from the beach in Lucaya. This 12-acre picturesque waterfront complex comprises 55 Shops, 32 Restaurants and Bars, and is also home to Count Basie Square, featuring dancing and live entertainment by local bands nightly. Armando Magtalas Balajadia and the other passengers of Discovery Cruise Line went there on January 30, 2011 at 3:00pm to have a tour there and shopping as well. Some of the passengers were preferred to stay and swim at Junkanoo Beach Club because the beach is really beautiful. He did shopping, buying souvenir items, cookbook, flags, and collecting Bahamian dollars and coins. Also, he did socializing to Bahamian people. Bahamian people are mostly blacks and they are friendly and very approachable especially to the visitors and tourists. There are many people in Port Lucaya Marketplace everyday because it is a main tourist attraction in Freeport. Freeport is also a peaceful and lesser crime area because the law enforcers there are also strict.

Lucayan National Park:

Lucayan National Park encompasses one of the longest-known underwater cave systems in the world, with over six miles of caves, caverns, and tunnels charted. The cool dark recesses of the cavern provide shelter and nursery sites for migratory bats in the summer. Specially adapted to dark, underwater environments, the blind Remipedia has existed in Grand Bahama caves for millions of years prior to its discovery in the late 1970s in the Lucayan caverns. The cave system protected in this park represents an important part of both the natural and historic heritage of The Bahamas.

Above ground, the Park exhibits all of the Bahamian vegetative zones. An extensive trail and boardwalk (link to Support page) allows visitors to explore this feature. Epiphytic bromeliads and orchids begin blooming along this trail in late spring to early summer while bonsai like ming trees delight visitors year round. The spectacular Gold Rock Creek Beach, features one of the highest coastal dunes on the island, richly vegetated with cocoplum, sabal palm, cinnecord, sea grape, casaurina and other tropical trees. The Park protects a portion of Gold Rock Creek which supports a productive mangrove ecosystem. From the boardwalk one may observe saltwater fishes, wading birds and waterfowl among the stilt like roots.

Lucayan National Park is named after the original inhabitants of The Bahamas. In 1986, archaeologists discovered skeletal remains of indigenous Lucayans on the floor of Burial Mound, the second of two underwater caves in the park. In addition, artifacts were found in other areas of the park - evidence of pre-Columbian settlement in the area.

Weather:

Freeport enjoys a subtropical climate with mild winters. Seldom do temperatures drop below 60 °F (16 °C). Average temperatures range in the low to upper 80s, with water temperature varying between 72° and 78° F. The winters are usually cool (mid 60's to 70's) and dry (with the exception of some rainfall due to Cold Fronts), while the summers are usually hot and wet.

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