The ports of call this year were Nassau, Bahamas and Samana, Dominican Republic. Our ship arrived at these ports in the morning and allowed us to go ashore for a few hours.
One Love Gospel Cruise 2011 itinerary. Click map for larger view.
Our ship left Miami Sunday evening and by Monday morning we were docked in Nassau, Bahamas. I had a potentially embarrassing start that morning. Traci and I liked to leave our balcony curtain open to take advantage of the ocean view and sunlight. Since our cabin balcony was not facing the city of Nassau, I decided to leave our curtain wide open. I came out of the shower and was digging in my suitcase to find my underwear. I happened to turn around and noticed that a huge Disney cruise ship had silently pulled into port and docked beside our ship. As I looked out of our balcony door, I could clearly see people on the balconies of the Disney ship. I was just hoping they could not see me in my birthday suit. I quickly closed our curtain until I was dressed.
Our ship was in port with two larger ships: Disney Dream and Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas. I was particular fascinated with the Disney ship because its top deck features a glass water slide that protrudes over the side of the ship. I’m sure it is a frightening experience to zip along that water slide.
This was my third visit to Nassau. Traci and I wanted to try something a little different. We booked a Segway tour shore excursion. I had never ridden a Segway but have always been curious about this gadget ever since it was unveiled with great fanfare in 2001. It is a two-wheeled, self-balancing, motorized vehicle.
I had booked the 1:45 PM Segway tour online the week before the cruise. We received our tickets in our cabin. I was just happy I looked closely at them. I realized that morning that our tour time had been changed to 10:45 AM. I had to find Traci in the fitness center and then rush to meet our tour group.
There were 10 of us doing the 10:45 Segway tour. We were driven from the pier to the Segway center. We were given elbow pads, knee pads, and a helmet. The company also supplied disposable head caps to be worn under the helmet. I appreciated this sanitary measure.
After some instructions, we were each assigned a Segway and given about 15 minutes to get adjusted to riding the machines. It didn't take long to get the hang of it. To accelerate forward, you press your toes into the pad. To slow down, you dig your heels in. You rotate right or left by tilting the handle bar. The only challenge was getting used to ascending and descending a hill. You have to make sure you get a up enough speed to climb the hill but you have to lean back to descend it. There was a small mound of dirt on which we practiced.
padded up for the Segway tour
Traci was a little nervous at first.
our Segway dance
The weather that day was very nice. It was sunny but windy. I probably should describe it as breezy since that sounds more tropical. The actual Segway tour lasted an hour. We traveled mainly on sidewalks and only had to cross one busy street. Our guides stopped traffic as we crossed. We were led to Junkanoo Beach where one of our guides told us about the history of slavery and pirates in the Bahamas. We continued to a section of the island called Fish Fry. The name itself got me hungry. Fish Fry is comprised of many seafood restaurants, but we were only there for sightseeing – not for dining. Our next stop was an Fort Charlotte which was built by the British in 1789 but was never used. We were then led to a soccer field where we took pictures before we headed back to our starting point. We had a fun time with this Segway tour.
We arrived at Samana early Wednesday morning. This was the third time Traci and I have been to the Dominican Republic. Each time we visited a different city - Punta Cana, Santa Domingo, and now Samana. From the ship, Samana looked fascinating. I could see lush, green palm jungles. Unfortunately, the town was not as scenic once we were ashore.
Our ship anchored at sea and we had to be tendered ashore. Traci and I had booked the Samana Caves & Mangroves shore excursion but we found out the night before that the excursion was cancelled due to lack of participation. I was disappointed but things like this sometimes happen on cruise vacations. Instead, Traci and I decided we would spend our time exploring Samana on foot.
We were greeted on shore by a meringue band and dancers. As we walked along the sidewalk, we were approached by numerous taxi drivers who were aggressively trying to sell us tours. They all seemed to be selling the same tour ranging from $15 to $30 per person depending on your negotiating skills. From what I could tell, the tour consisted of visiting a rural home, the beach, a waterfall, and a shopping center. Traci and I decided not to do a tour. We kept walking and passed through a craft market. There were aggressive vendors there selling coral jewelry and artwork.
As we continued to walk, I was beginning to realize that out of all the places we've visited in the Dominican Republic, Samana was the least impressive. There were mangy dogs roaming the streets and trash in the water. Cars and mopeds sped along the potholed streets. The scenery improved a bit when we reached the colorful buildings of the Pueblo Principle Plaza Mall. Traci browsed the shops while I stood outside and watched some kids playing baseball in a park across the street. The Dominican Republic pumps out some great baseball players. I could not help but wonder if I was watching a future baseball star.
meringue dancers greet us
paintings for sale
Pueblo Principle Plaza Mall
We made our way back to the dock to be tendered back to the ship, but not before stopping back through the craft market where Traci put her haggling skills to the test on a jewelry set purchase. She got them to drop the price a little.
It seemed no sooner than I was starting to get into the cruise life, our vacation was coming to an end. The concert for the final night was the passenger choir competition. One choir was coached by James Fortune and the other by Ricky Dillard. The judges for this competition were Fred Hammond, Marvin Sapp, and Elroy Smith (Radio One executive). As an added treat, the Clark Sisters also performed.
After the concert, Traci and I headed back to our cabin to pack. We had received several giveaways from sponsors during the week. We were concerned about keeping our luggage under 50 pounds. We always bring our luggage scale so that we can check the weight of our bags before we get to the airport.
On the morning of disembarkation, we needed to vacate our cabin by 9 AM. We were wide awake by 6:30 AM thanks to a wide roll of the ship. We had a relatively smooth ride the whole week but for some reason on this particular morning, the ship began to roll slowly to the left and then to the right. These rolls were so wide that our bathroom door flung open. Traci and I joked it was the captain giving us our wake-up call so that we would all leave the ship on-time.
Despite the "wake-up call", it was quite a while before we were able to exit the ship. For some reason, there was a long delay before the ship received clearance. We eventually arrived at Fort Lauderdale Airport around 11 AM which gave us plenty of time to make our 3:40 PM flight. Unfortunately, there were some people on our shuttle bus that were rushing to make their noon flight. I hope they made it.
Once again, I thought the Radio One - One Love Gospel cruise was a success. It was a nice getaway that whet my appetite for more travel. I especially liked the fully live concerts in the Stardust Theater, the comedy shows, and the food. The One Love Cruise is one of Traci's favorite cruises and since I also enjoy it, chances are good that we will sign up to go again. Main Page...