2016 Panama Canal Cruise
March 13 - Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
What time is it? On a cruise you really don't care except at dinner. If you have a seating time, you should show up at the dining room or else you have to go to the buffet. The other exception is for shore excursions. If you don't get to the meeting place when you are supposed to, you will forfeit what you paid for the excursion. The reason I am mentioning this is because we had a shore excursion at 10:00. Because we had to take a tender to the island which takes a while, I wanted to get up early enough to make connections. I set the alarm on my iPad for 6:30. We got up, got dressed and went to breakfast. All of the breakfast stations were not open yet and the were very few people there. We got on one of the first tender boats to Half Moon Cay and checked into the information desk. This was when I discovered that the island time was an hour earlier than my iPad time. I hadn't realized that the iPad automatically reset for daylight savings time and that we got up an hour earlier than we had to. My mistake.
To our advantage, we had an opportunity to walk around this end of the island to get oriented and to take some photos. The sun was bright and there were a few clouds hanging around the horizon. It was a bit humid and starting to warm up. We found the beach, a very small church (nobody was in it even though it was Sunday), a few bars (some customers) and the food pavilion. While waiting for our excursion, we sat at a bar on the main pavilion drinking water and listening to a Bahamian woman singing Carribean songs and playing a steel drum.
Our excursion was a narrated tram ride around the island. We were transported on the back of a flatbed truck which had four rows of benches and an awning that protected us from the sun. Our guide was a friendly, articulate Bahamian woman who told us the history of the island and explained the various sights that we visited. We stopped several times and got our of the truck twice. One stop was at a corral where horses were kept along with Ted, the lonely donkey. The other stop was at a lagoon where very tame sting rays were imprisoned in a large area. Another excursion with a small group was wading in this area observing the rays along with other marine life.
We enjoyed the tour because it gave us a better feel of the island and what the cruise lines have done for/to it. The island is owned by the government which has signed a long-term lease with several cruise lines including Holland American Lines. (Other accounts say that it is owned by Holland America Lines). The cruise companies have spent a lot of money developing it for their customers. The beaches are pristine with soft white sand which sets off the light blue water. Services are abundant - shops, bars, rest rooms, outdoor showers to wash off your sand and salt water, a playground for kids and a food pavilion for lunch. We had lunch in the pavilion which was served by our ship's crew. It was a BBQ with all of the normal side dishes. We shared a picnic table with an Aussie couple and several chickens and roosters which were roaming around the grounds looking for handouts.
After lunch we went to the beach. We managed to find a couple of lounge chairs in the shade. We alternated going into the water so that we could keep an eye on our valuables. The water was really clear and warm. I hadn't been in the ocean for several years. It felt good. Ann took a couple of turns and managed a few laps near the buoys.
Back on the ship, we were able to kill the rest of the afternoon doing very little. Dinner was with Bob and Sandy again. The third couple for our table had not found it yet. Ann had soup, veal and a fig cake. I had crab cakes with a mild wasabi sauce, a devilled egg with shredded crab, sliced chicken with a peanut coconut sauce and a chocolate mint cake. In the dining room, you can order as much as you want - multiple appetizers, entrees and desserts
After dinner we did two laps on the promenade deck. Then we went to the 8:00 show where we saw a very good stand-up comedian interspersed with emergency announcements about smoke coming from the bakery. It proved to be a non-event. Bed time was at 10:00 or so with a warning to turn our clocks ahead by an hour before morning.
This is our route to get here: