Two things about this post:
- For most of my life, I never imagined that I would be going on a babymoon. Me? A mother? And a babymoon? Until recently, a babymoon seemed about as likely to me as going on a trip to the moon.
- I also never expected–should the babymoon thing actually happen someday–that I would be spending it running around Nassau on an Amazing Race-style scavenger hunt with a bunch of strangers from a cruise ship and a gregarious guide named Leroy.
As I’m sure most of us would agree, though, life doesn’t always (does it ever?) turn out like we ever imagined or expected, which is why I ended up on with my husband on our babymoon in Nassau on a sunny morning in winter competing with six other couples and families to win an elusive Grand Prize (which was, as we’d come to find out, simply bragging rights). But who else on a day-long short excursion in the Bahamas can claim, after it’s all over, that they won a grueling, fast-paced competition, especially while 23 weeks pregnant? That’s the kind of dinner conversation I wanted to have once we were all back on the boat and dining on our appetizers.
So here’s how the whole thing happened. The pregnancy part came first, of course, and then after that came the speculation that, although we’d lived in Florida for two years already, we still hadn’t done the weekend getaway that everyone—and I mean everyone—talks about when you move here. From my new hair stylist at the salon by my house to the cashier I always chatted with at Trader Joe’s, nearly everyone I’d met who’d asked me what I’d done so far in Florida couldn’t believe that I hadn’t yet taken a weekend cruise to the Bahamas. Not only is the port a mere 45-minute drive from Orlando, everyone would tell me, but the trip is only 3 days long and if you keep the drinking down, it won’t even cost you all that much. Plus, all that gorgeous white sand and laidback Bahamian lifestyle….
When the time came, then, for us to decide how we might want to spend a weekend together celebrating this little miracle inside me, a Bahamas cruise seemed perfect. What a unique chance, we decided, for us to finally see what a 3-day cruise from Cape Canaveral to Nassau and back might be like. Though I’d been on a cruise to the Dominican Republic on a very small passenger ship before, neither of us had ever been on a mid- or large-sized cruise ship, so we decided that, since life will inevitably become a little more complicated after our little guy makes his debut this April, we’d book the trip. Plus, since most cruise lines don’t recommend women in their third trimester to cruise (just in case, you know, the baby decides he wants to come early or something), and since we were planning on doing our babymoon right before Christmas when I was still solidly into my second trimester, the timing was perfect.
The other thing is that my husband Ryan and I have never been much for spending an entire day sitting on a beach somewhere, so we knew we wanted an excursion that would give us a tiny sense of the local culture, be safe for the baby, and stretch us in new ways and allow us to meet some Bahamians. I also didn’t want to be caught dead in a bathing suit, so, after scrolling through the list (and crossing off anything related to scuba-diving, water slides, parasailing, or renting a private beach bungalow for the day), I found exactly what I wanted to do on our babymoon.
“Ryan?” I said, looking up from my phone as we drove the 45 minutes to Cape Canaveral from our home in Orlando. “I think I’ve found the perfect excursion.” Nassau Native Quest. The thumbnail was a picture of a crowd of smiling faces with their hands thrown up in the air on a beautiful blue beach. And most of the people were holding local souvenirs or wearing hats or playing drums.
“Which one?” he asked. “Is it safe for the bambino?”
“I think so,” I said, scanning the description. Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime! read the emphatic description. This is where the big kids at heart play! A life experience that’s has the perfect amount of AMAZING RACE and SURVIVOR theme, with an excessive quantity of FUN!
That sounded right up our alley. Besides, who doesn’t love exclamation points?
Nassau Native Quest is a group competition that will challenge your 5 senses as you explore our history and taste our culture in a fun and exciting way. From a city bus tour scavenger hunt, games with iconic cultural items, and samples of our native foods, treats, rums, specialty drinks, and bush teas; this tour has something for everyone, including free time at the beach.
What better way, I thought, to explore Nassau’s history and culture in the very short time that we had than with a scavenger hunt around the city, games on the beach, and a tasting of local delicacies? Plus, the excursion had nearly a perfect rating out of 187 reviewers and was $59.99 per person, so it came with recommendations and was a lot more affordable than many of the other options on the list.
So that’s how it happened.
We battled our shipmates in a rapid-fire scavenger hunt around the city, trying to identify who was who in the city’s prominent statues and monuments and to remember which colorful building was the library and which one the state capital. We played relay-style games with coconuts, sponges, treasure chests, and conch shells, and we sat under an umbrella on the beach and tried jams and jellies, conch salad, and a number of freshly-squeezed fruit juices.
We talked about history for hours with Leroy, who grew up in Nassau and got his Bachelor’s degree at UF, we shared our interests in travel, and history, and language, and we talked about the future of tourism and the complex impact that some of the larger-scale operations have had on the island. Although people like us, the temporary tourists we were that day, have brought important tourism dollars to the island, some of the resorts (mostly American- and Chinese-owned) have taken a lot of street traffic and potential business away from the local mom-and-pop shops that used to line the shores of their pristine beaches. Like anywhere, tourism is complicated, and so are the choices we make that lead us to things like babymoons and cruises and the uncertainty of what’s next in this life.
What was the verdict? Well, our team lost the competition in a colossal way, but at the end of the day, I think we still had the most interesting contribution to our dinner conversation. After all, we were the only ones at the table who could talk about how to properly make conch salad and who could describe the difference between the tropical tastes of the soursop and the jackfruit. That, to me, makes for a pretty good babymoon.
A special thanks to Carnival Cruise Lines for sponsoring our babymoon to the Bahamas and for introducing us to the city of Nassau.