Nassau was our last port of call for our cruise. The ship docked much earlier than it did at Cape Canaveral, so we woke up at 7 and were out the door for breakfast at Cafe Promenade at 7:25. After about a half hour we met up with out group and disembarked by 8:20.
As with our Florida day, our entire group was not able to decide on one excursion. All but four of us selected a dolphin encounter. We actually booked it through Costco instead of through Royal Caribbean. I really can’t remember why, but after reading reviews, we thought it was a better quality for a lesser price. When we booked we also were able to use a coupon code, so saved an extra 10 or 15%.
Since it wasn’t a Royal Caribbean excursion there were no signs or meeting places near the ship. Instead, our printed directions asked us to meet at Senor Frog’s. This caused a certain amount of worry amongst certain people in our group. Would we be able to find Senor Frog’s? What if we couldn’t? What would we do? None of these fears came to pass-as the ship was docking, Senor Frog’s was easily visible on the main strip. It was a ten minute walk.
Before long a boat came to take us to Balmoral Island. We had hoped that maybe we could do our dolphin encounter early, but no such luck. We were on the island by 9:30, but still needed to wait until 10:30 for our slot. No worries, we were able to lounge in the chairs on the small beach and play in the water (both sea and pool). I didn’t explore much, but it seemed part of a larger resort.
At 10:30 we got our pre-tour talk about the different rules. This is where reading reviews online helped to manage expectations. We knew that we were unable to take pictures or video while in the water, and that there would be a photographer for us. We could purchase the pictures and video in a package. Knowing this, were weren’t upset at the prices or rules. In the end I was actually glad they took pictures for us, as it allowed us to just enjoy the experience.
We were advised to wear our shoes in the water due to sharp rocks, and told the ways we’d interact with Dixon (our dolphin). Then we went in! My great-aunt decided at the last minute to just watch us from under an umbrella. I think she was not confident about being in the water. Everyone else, including my 90 year-old grandmother went in.
Overall we were really impressed with the amount of time we spent with the dolphin and with the quality of the interaction. Dixon was up close and with us for a large portion of the time, and we were the only group in the corral with him.
I had been hesitant about the dolphin encounter due to the treatment of the animals. It seemed like they were well-cared for and had enough space, but I’m not an expert. We had done some research ahead of time and it seemed that Costco felt this company treated the dolphins well. I hope this is the case. It was really the highlight of the trip for many of our group.
The photo and video packages were expensive but not unreasonable. Again, looking into the prices beforehand lessened the sticker shock. For our group of 12, we paid $288. It made much more sense to buy as a group rather than the three individual groups (a photo/video package for one family would have been $129). This was for almost 100 photos and videos. Per picture, it was actually quite reasonable. They burned it onto a disk for us and we were good to go! (Where are all the pictures? I’m not 100% sure of copyright on them).
Once the encounter was done and the pictures were purchased, we really just wanted to be on our way. While there were plenty of boats to get to Balmoral, the boats going back were much more sparse and crowded. I think the general idea is to get people to stay on the island the whole day and spend more money. But we wanted to shop and stroll around Nassau.
We got our boat back around 1:15 (the encounter ended at 11:45) and split up to shop and tour. Me and the girls were with my parents and we just hit a few stores and souvenir stands. My husband took my grandmother and aunt back to the ship in a taxi, then hit the town touring and visiting some breweries.
Back on the ship, we hit the Windjammer for tea and scones. Our evening consisted of dinner, shuffleboard and karaoke. We were on our way back to New Jersey and facing our two last days at sea.