Welcome back!  The first leg of our voyage ended and the second began back at the Port of New Orleans at the foot of the French Quarter.  Since this all happened on a Sunday and the Saints were hosting the Detroit Lions in a playoff game in the Superdome, a mere stone’s throw from the docks, my aspiring Saint’s cheerleader and I threw our computer in the backpack and disembarked the ship in search of a place we could check e-mail while enjoying some Big Easy food (think OYSTERS!) and watch the game.

Here’s an informational item to those not familiar with shipboard Wi-Fi policies: EXPENSIVE!!!  Once you board a ship you are dependent upon them for your every basic need including such mundane things as e-mail.   Merely 45 minutes on a very slow moving shipboard Internet will cost you $30.  And this price does not guarantee that you will be able to use it since you are considered a secondary user to the needs of the ship.

When you disembark the ship at the Erato Street terminal you will find yourself alongside the Riverwalk Mall.  A 15-minute walk through the mall will land you at a table in Drago’s with free WiFi, a tray of their famous BBQ oysters and an ice cold Abita beer in front of a big screen TV watching the Saints demoralize the Lions…

Hey, sharks have to eat too!

Paradise Island was about the only part of Nassau where we spent any time with the exception of a very long cab ride back to the boat through heavily congested streets.  I suppose there are a lot of other things to do in the way of beaches and diving but we really enjoyed the restaurants, bars, gardens and marine life at Atlantis and might even return here some day for an extended stay to explore the rest of the island.

We arrived back at the boat around dusk to find one of the Disney cruise ships berthed next door…

I don’t know who these guys are but I don’t believe they would be quite so gleeful if they had taken the time to ask about the pool this waterway empties into…

We were the last 2 aboard so my Bride ended up sitting in the Captain’s chair up front while I brought up the stern (that’s the back of the boat for you landlubbers).  If you look closely you will spot my cherubic face searching for my companion who I feared may actually have conned the captain into letting her pilot the ferry.  The ferry offered the added benefit of an ocean view of Atlantis...

Aquariums are right up there with boat rides in my companion’s opinion and Atlantis has one of the best anywhere…

The Rasta dudes were a bit less enthusiastic about the cold weather and wore several layers of clothing over their brightly colored Bob Marley shirts while keeping their dreadlocks securely tucked beneath their humongous hats to prevent them from freezing and subsequently snapping off…

This tunnel also affords you the opportunity to supervise the divers who are kept busy with small scrubby sponges continually cleaning algae from the glass so we tourists can bring home nice clear pictures of the assorted marine life as well as the occasional undersea janitor…

Arriving back aboard each evening our first thoughts always centered on food.  In addition to 2 fine dining restaurants and an even finer dining steakhouse for which you pay extra, there are also several buffets, a sushi bar, deli, fish and chips restaurant, a burger bar and a 24-hour pizza eatery. Getting something to eat was NOT a problem!  In spite of all this availability, I gained only 2 pounds and my Bride didn’t gain an ounce over the course of our voyage.  This is probably not something the cruise line wants us bragging about.  I believe our inability to add any significant girth had something to do with my Bride’s insistence that we take the stairs instead of the elevators whenever we changed decks.  I fought her tooth and nail on this decision and would sneak in elevator rides when she wasn’t with me; ergo, I gained 2 pounds and she didn’t!

Our final port of call was Nassau and their most famous attraction, Atlantis.  There are hundreds of cabs waiting at the dock to whisk you over the bridge to Paradise Island but we chose to take the inter-island ferry instead.  The price is the same as a cab ride but you have the added benefit of a 30-minute boat ride with a volunteer narrator telling you about the area and pointing out all of the homes owned by the rich and famous along the way.  The ferries hold 42 people, regardless of size, and they are determined that none leave the dock at less than capacity…

The next 2 days were spent at sea, arriving back in New Orleans on Sunday morning.  We transferred our luggage, including a steamer trunk full of t-shirts and girlie underwear, back to the Jeep and 3 hours later we were back in sweet home Alabama.

 I don’t know what we’ll be doing next but my Bride has already been scouring the internet in search of bargain cruises to just about any destination.  I’ve heard that cruises along the coast of Somalia are a real bargain right now.  See y’all next time.  Hugs, C&K

I wasted little time in hitting the casino and going after the fortune I was sure was waiting for me at the end of that slot machine handle…

Notice my t-shirts on the left versus hers on the right.  Mind you, this was only the t-shirts.  A major disparity was also blatantly obvious in the underwear category where I had packed 2 pair, one of which I would wash out each evening, while she packed 3 pair for each of the 15 days at sea and another dozen or so in case of an emergency.  I have not quite figured out what constitutes an underwear emergency...an impromptu audition as a Victoria’s Secret model perhaps?

The first of our 3 scheduled stops was Key West, Florida.  This was not to be, however, as winds in excess of 50 knots made docking the ship too hazardous to attempt.  We floated around offshore for several hours before the Captain gave in to Mother Nature and headed to the Bahamas.  Although the passengers received a refund of the Key West port charges, one couple had planned to be married in Key West and all of their wedding guests were on shore awaiting their arrival.  I suppose this may be what prompted the Captain to wait out the weather as long as he did.  We never heard if they had been compensated in any way for this personal disaster.

The next morning we made land beneath a cold and cloudy sky in Freeport.  Perhaps it was just the effect of the dreary weather, but we couldn’t really see any reason for cruise ships to visit this particular port.  The white sand beaches are most likely the primary draw for tourists and we did happen upon one celebrity who had apparently come here for that reason and didn’t seem to mind a bit of inclement weather…

Life simply does not get any better than this!

Our ship was scheduled to leave port at 4pm that afternoon but we didn’t actually get underway until nearly 6.  Hey, our Captain was Italian after all, not Swiss!  As we unpacked our bags and settled into our new cabin several decks closer to the 24 hour pizza joint, I noticed a slight difference between the quantity of clothing my Bride and I had brought along…

  Conquest - Part 2                                                     January 25, 2012

Within minutes of arriving I hit the “liberal” slot machines to amass the fortune needed to purchase a home next door.  After losing an entire dollar I was convinced that these things were rigged.  Have you ever noticed that everything “liberal” costs you money? 

My amateur marine biologist was getting pretty antsy about now and was anxious to leave the slot machines and crap tables in her wake as she dragged me down the stairs to the aquarium…

Notice how algae-free this picture turned out.  Good job, buddy! 

The resort has also constructed a waterway which flows lazily through the property and tubes are provided for those interested in exploring the place in this manner…

A tunnel constructed of six inch glass transects one section of the aquarium allowing for nose-to-nose encounters with a few of its larger inhabitants…