4-Night Bahamas Cruise on Enchantment of the Seas
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Sometimes you just need a quick break from reality, need to relax, and take things at a slower pace. A cruise is a perfect way to do just that. You get to explore multiple places in one trip without the hassle of re-packing your bags. A cruise is like an all-inclusive resort ... that moves! After the cruise we took for our honeymoon in June 2017, we were eager to get back to a boat. A short, 3 or 4-night cruise provides a great getaway at an affordable price. Here is an overview of what we did, how much it costs, and tips from our experience.
Day 1: Flight To Miami
10:30 pm - Flight lands in Miami
11:00 pm - Lyft to Sleep Inn Miami International Airport
This hotel was supposed to have a free airport shuttle, but it was not operational that day. Instead, they paid for our 3-minute taxi to the hotel. In general, I'd recommend Sleep Inn for affordable, clean accommodations. Courteous front staff.
Day 2: Boarding Cruise
12:00 pm - Lyft to Port
The airport and our hotel is only a 10-15 minutes drive to the port. The hotels near the port are significantly more expensive and would only cut your commute to the port the morning of the cruise by a couple minutes.
4:00 pm - Ship Departs
There were 4 other ships in port, all scheduled to leave at the same time. We were the last on the list, so we actually did not pull away until closer to 5:30 pm. Good thing too: we were able to view the beautiful sunset with Miami still in the background!
Day 3: Nassau, Bahamas
8:00 am - Arrive in Nassau
9:30 am - 5:00 pm - Atlantis Aquaventure
After pricing it out, we bought tickets to Atlantis through Royal Caribbean. It was a similar price if we were to buy direct with Atlantis, but the Royal excursion included transport to/from the ship and a lunch pass. The morning transfer to Atlantis was hectic: a crowded line of people trying to get through a single gate and onto buses. The line went fast and was organized chaos. There was a line of buses outside of Atlantis to take you back to the boat whenever you are ready to leave.
Access to the waterpark is a pricey excursion, but there are few other options in Nassau. The price was similar to the upgrade to a balcony room and we favored a full day experience than the ability to see the sea from our bed. We got to ride countless water slides, including a few that went through a shark tank and chill on the not-so-lazy river. It was fairly crowded but the water slide lines were never too long (even with 4 ships in port).
11:59 pm - Depart from Nassau
Day 4: Coco Cay, Bahamas
8:00 am - Arrive in Cococay
We were the second group of people off the ship and arrived at a nearly empty paradise. Cococay is a private island owned by Royal Caribbean with plenty of island and beach activities, a nature trail, hundreds beach chairs, a bbq buffet, crystal clear water, and more. While there are several ways Royal can squeeze even more money out of you, we had an amazing day just relaxing on the beach and walking around the island.
5:00 pm - Depart from Cococay
Day 5: Key West, Florida
10:00 am - Arrive in Key West
To start our day, we took a 5-mile walk around the island. We saw Truman's Little White House, the southernmost point of the continental United States, an eerie cemetery, mile marker 0, and Duval Street.
For more information about our walk, read about it on our guide of walking around Key West.
2:00 pm - Parasailing
Imagine this. You get released up 800 feet above the ocean with a parachute behind you, being dragged around by a speedboat. Sounds like it would feel like an exhilarating roller coaster, right? Nope. It is actually very peaceful and calm all the way up there. You are floating. And then you look down and realize that the boat is slowly getting closer and they are pulling you in. If you are like me and have a minor fear of heights, the experience is both too long and too short at the same time.
A+ would recommend. Book this experience independently, it is a lot cheaper than through the cruise ship, despite using the same tour operator.
6:00 pm - Depart from Key West
Day 6: Miami, Florida
7:30 am - Arrive in Miami
9:00 am - Everglades Eco-Adventure
We could not get a flight out of Miami until late afternoon and struggled on what to do with our extra time. Our options were renting a car and heading to Miami Beach and downtown Miami, getting a day pass for a Miami Beach hotel, or exploring the Everglades. All were roughly the same price, so we went with the option we were most excited about: the Everglades. Who doesn't love being surrounded by alligators, right?
We booked through the cruise-line and were let off the ship in a special group, boarded a bus with our luggage, and were taken to gator park by two hilarious guides. The gator park ticket includes a scenic airboat ride over the Everglades marshland and an informative gator show. The adrenaline-filled airboat ride darted us left and right through the marshes. Slowing down around known gator territories. We saw 4 chillaxing female gators, which can wait days until their next kill. After the boat ride, an exotic animal rescuer held a show about alligators, crocodiles, and birds. The handler treated the animals well, most of which he had rescued. After the show, they allow you to hold a baby alligator for an extra charge, which we passed on. We had time for lunch and then were dropped off at the airport. Our short little adventure in the Everglades was over. All in all, visiting the Everglades was a much better way to spend 4 hours than going straight to the airport. Wildlife will always trump airport lounges.
Below is the total expenses of our entire 6 day trip for two people. We went during one of the busiest times of the year, December, and booked everything less than a month in advance. We used points to pay for our flights and hotel. We booked our cruise during a sale for 50% off the 2nd guest. Royal Caribbean has regular sales, one of the best being 30% off all guests. The cruise also came with $50 of onboard credit, which we used towards our excursions. You can likely get this trip under $1k if you book farther in advance, go during the off-season, and avoid the more extravagant excursions (i.e. Atlantis).
Cruise Fare and Gratuities .... $ 990
1-Night stay in Miami ............... $ 95
Lyft to Port ............................. $ 10
Everglades Tour ..................... $ 142
Parasailing ............................. $ 118
Atlantis Day Pass .................... $ 285
Total ........................................ $ 1,640
The total cost can go up if you opt for a drink package ($350), book an excursion for the day at CoCo Cay, or add flights.
- Arrive the day before embarkation. The cruise will depart whether your plane is delayed or not. To reduce any chance of missing your cruise or an expensive flight to the first port, spend a night before (at least) near the port.
- If you pack light, carry on all your luggage with you while boarding. If you drop your luggage off with porters, you might not see it again until late the first day. Having everything with you will allow you to make use of the mostly-empty pool and change again before dinner. Or you can just unpack your stuff when the rooms open at 2 pm. If you packed a lot, just carry on a separate small bag with a change of clothes, swimsuit, and whatever you would need before dinnertime.
- If you have extra onboard credit that you won't use, go to the casino and transfer your onboard credit into gambling credit. You can then either immediately cash out (and they will give you actual cash, not just put it back in your account) or try your luck at a couple pulls of the slot machine.
- Most cruise ships, especially the older ones, have very few outlets in the room. Bring a surge protector to expand the number of things you can charge at once.