Tag Archives: Nassau Bahamas

Atlantis Resort Naussau

Atlantis Paradise Resort, Nassau Bahamas

Welcome to Atlantis!

TRAVEL THERE: OFF TO ATLANTIS – ATLANTIS PARADISE ISLAND RESORT THAT IS

A lot of what happens to you during travel is a result of what you expect – but not all of it. I’m the sort that expects to have the time of my life, no matter what I have on the agenda, but even with the greatest attitude in the world you can have some unpleasant travel experiences. Going to visit Atlantis was one of those.

Atlantis Paradise Resort, Nassau Bahamas

Atlantis – a Nautical Wonderland

Planning for Atlantis

From the day I first started researching my cruise on Norwegian Epic, the port I was most excited about was Nassau.  I’ve dreamed of a vacation at the Atlantis Resort and though I’d only be there for a short while, I wanted to go visit and get a taste of what if would be like if I ever returned as a guest of the resort.

Visiting resorts  rather than staying at them is sort of a hobby with Bill and I.  We’re both interested in architecture and decor.  Marketing and customer service have played a role in both of our careers, so we enjoy comparing notes on how organizations succeed or fail at these important activities.  And who knows, I might want to blog about it.

Atlantis Paradise Resort, Nassau Bahama

Marvelous Decor as far as the eye can see

The resorts win.  We stroll through the place, have a drink at the bar or a meal in the restaurant and then become a walking, talking advertisement for the place.

Take The Phoenician in Scottsdale for instance.  I’ve visited several times and it’s high on my list of resorts I hope to stay at some day, but so far all I’ve done is have drinks on the patio.  However, my enthusiasm for the place has netted them a large number of guests, because when I run into anybody who tells me they’re going to Arizona, I tell them to stay at The Phoenician.  The reason I’m telling you this, is because I want you to know that I’ve visited many resorts over the years to sample rather than stay and never have I had as bad an experience as I had at Atlantis.

Atlantis Paradise Resort, Nassau Bahamas

What attention to detail!

In the beginning, I thought we might go on one of the shore excursions to Atlantis offered by NCL, but the excursions were focused on swimming with the dolphins and playing in the water park.  That wasn’t my primary interest.  I wanted to look around and visit the Aquarium.  I found several online posts that indicated that it was easy to get to the island and see attractions at the resort.  It was easy to get to Paradise Island, but seeing the resort was a whole ‘nother thing.

Lost on Paradise Island

After a bit of shopping in Nassau proper, we grabbed a cab outside the Straw Market and within minutes, our cabbie was letting us out in front of the resort.  We strolled into the nearest door and started gaping in awe at the gorgeous decor.  Now at least some part of the blame for our frustrations at Atlantis have to be blamed on the taxi driver.  He didn’t exactly chose the primary entrance to drop us off, but I have to shoulder some of the blame also.  I’d dreamed up this expedition and let myself get distracted by all the pretty stuff and didn’t get us going in the right direction.  After Bill took a few pictures of me by the dolphin statues, Deb headed off to the right and I followed.

Atlantis Paradise Resort, Nassau Bahama

SHELL we give you a tour? Tee Hee!

Now there wasn’t really anything wrong with heading to the right, because we saw some extraordinary stuff by wandering down that way, but we were also heading in the direction of Ms. Rude.  Perhaps if I’d have been paying attention, rather than being photographed, I would have sent us in the other direction. But then again, maybe not.

As it was, the further we went, the more we realized how alone we were. Certainly there was more activity someplace else.  We made a turn that took us to a busier section of the resort.  We saw a door that led outside and made a beeline for it.  Before we were able to get very far, a security guard pointed us back inside and told us to see the concierge.   We found the concierge, who pointed us further down the counter and each time we started to explain what we wanted, we were directed further down the counter to another person, until we reached Ms. Rude.

I won’t bother you with the details of the conversation, but the bottom line was, “Either pay us $40 per person or go home,” and the message was delivered with the distinct implication that we should go home.  After all the money Atlantis spends trying to get you to their resort, this was pretty sad.

Atlantis Paradise Resort, Nassau Bahama

We are WHERE?

Now, I’d be the first to admit that they’re probably inundated every day with cruise ship idiots that want to freeload on their beach and I don’t blame them for protecting themselves from said freeloaders, but they shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.  We weren’t necessarily interested in paying $120 for the privilege of walking by their pool, but given the opportunity to eat in a decent restaurant, we might have dropped even more than that.  What blew me away was the rude way that the woman delivered her message.  We were earnestly trying to patronize the place.  We just didn’t want to hang out on the beach and didn’t feel like we should have to pay for something we didn’t want.

Marina Village, Atlantic Paradise Resort, Nassau Bahamas

Even Ms. Rude admitted that we could visit Marina Village. Wowza!

In the end, she whipped out a map and showed me all the places we couldn’t go.  It appeared we might as well go back to the ship, but talking among ourselves, we decided to get another opinion.  In another part of the facility we found that we could actually go to the casino, something Ms. Rude had indicated we couldn’t do.  This message was delivered with slightly less angst than Ms. Rude showered upon us, but only slightly less.

Back on Track

Then we did find the casino and I’m sharing the pictures below.  It really is a gorgeous place, but if I were you, I’d stay away in droves.  The marketing department might be trying to get you there, but the employees would rather you stayed home.

After standing around with our mouths open gawking at the Chihuly-laden casino, we visited the marina.  I think I’ve made it very clear here in my blog that I am a big fan of Chihuly, but I’d somehow missed the news that Chihuly had decorated Atlantis’ casino or if I had known, I forgot.  If I was impressed with the Chihulys, it was nothing compared to the jaw dropping my husband experienced when we found Marina Village.

Marina Village

Marina Village itself is nothing to write home about.  It’s a pleasant little venue, but pretty much deserted.  The best restaurants seemed to only be opened at night and the rest were fast food – Quinzo’s Johnny Rockets, etc.  We ended up grabbing a pizza.  A good pizza, but not what we’d planned when we first discussed having a meal at Atlantis – but I wasn’t about to spend $120 so that we could drop another $120 for a meal.

Atlantis Paradise Island Resort, Nassau Bahamas

The price of admission

Should cruise passengers visit Atlantis?  I’d say if water parks and a swim with the dolphins was of interest to you, then yes, go on a shore excursion with your cruise line.  If you just want to see the Chihuly’s, then by all means, head on over there.  I’d say that I’m glad I saw them.  If you want to play on their beach and think it would be worth $40 per person, the price of a taxi both ways and the price of whatever you ate or drank while there, then go for it.  If you want to go get a taste of Atlantis, then forget it.  The taste we had left a bitter flavor in our mouths.

Bill took the picture to the right so you could see the different price levels for a day at Atlantis.  The Epic doesn’t get into port until noon and leaves by six.  Perhaps if we’d had more time to really have a “day” at Atlantis, these prices would have been more palatable – or if we were staying at another hotel, it would be worth it to enjoy the Atlantis experience.  As it is, I wish I’d have planned something else.

As promised.  Here’s Bill’s photolog of the Atlantis Casino and environs.  As for the rest of the cruise, there’s not much left.  Come back next week and find out what might be the Epic’s best kept secret!

3 Comments

Filed under Accommodations, ART, Attractions, Cruising, Decorative Arts, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL, Travel Planning

Shop Local on Cruises

DSC_0654

Buy it whenever or wherever you find it. don’t be disappointed later.

TRAVEL THERE:  HAVE MORE FUN CRUISING WHEN YOU SHOP LOCAL

So I’ve told you all about our be-jeweled shopping experiences, but when you’re in the islands, don’t forget the local markets.  We didn’t shop in any jewelry stores in St. Maarten.  Perhaps if we did, my Diamonds International bracelet would have another charm.  In Marigot, St. Martin, on the French side, we enjoyed a local arts and crafts market.

Shopping Local in Marigot

You’re always at a disadvantage at your first port of call.  Though we weren’t in jewelry stores, there was some lovely jewelry in Marigot.  The difference was that it was all handmade from natural materials, like shells, wood and natural beads.  Had I really known then what I know now, I would have picked out a trinket for my mother there, but I wasn’t as well educated then.  The prices were great.  We got a cap for Bill that said, “Bad to the bone,” for $5.  Debbie bought the first part of my birthday present, a sundress for $20 dollars.  The jewelry that I liked ran from $40 up to a whole lot.  We saw some beautiful wood carving, but we weren’t in the market for it.  All in all a pleasant and affordable shopping experience.

We didn’t get a chance to shop with the locals in St. Thomas, because we were too busy getting free jewelry, but there was what appeared to be a very active market near the main shopping district in Charlotte Amalie.  If we’d had more time there, I think we would have enjoyed it.

Nassau’s Straw Market

If you’re looking for something made out of straw, though, I’d say Nassau’s Straw Market is the place to go. We passed through it on our way to find a taxi to take us to Atlantis and were overwhelmed by the experience. That’s not my favorite kind of shopping.  The first thing that assails you as you enter the market is the sheer number of items for sale. The aisles are narrow and there is no degree of separation between the booths. What’s more, the goods are stacked up almost to the high roof. This is not a place for the claustrophobic.

After Atlantis, I came back to the Straw Market, because I was desperate.   I remembered fondly the natural handmade jewelry in Marigot, but that’s not what they have at the Straw Market.  They have straw.

My mom is not the sort that you can just give the first thing you happen upon. She has very discerning taste, and it’s complicated by her arthritis, her un-pierced ears and her indifference to scarves and shawls. She doesn’t wear hats either and purses have to be of just the right size.

The Bahamian natives are not bashful. If you so much as glance their way, they start trying to bargain with you for whatever they think might have caught your eye. If you don’t glance their way, then they’re going to say or do whatever they need to do to get it. Well, anything is a bit of an exaggeration. I have been places where they are more aggressive No one grabbed my arm to stop me or cursed me out for not shopping with them.

Local Bargaining

Still, I was was happy when I saw an attractive straw clutch offered by someone who seemed more interested in their phone call than my American dollars. Deb and I considered the pros and cons of her offerings and she eventually got off the phone.

“Twenty dollars,” she said.

“American?” I was getting good at this.

For you, yes.” I considered her offer while Deb and I compared similar clutches at her booth. People nearby started waving handbags of all sorts at us. “Seventeen fifty,” the lady said.

“Fifteen,” I countered. It was well worth the twenty, but I wasn’t about to pay the first price. I had the feeling I could have gotten her down even further by playing the walk-away game, but I felt sorry for her stuck in the loud crowded market all day and pulled out my money.

Success!  I’d found something for Mom.  It wasn’t really enough, but I corrected that problem with some costume clip earring that I found a few door down from the Straw Market.

When it comes to shopping local, first be sure to know what currency you’re bargaining in.  Then be sure to bargain.  Some prices are set, but usually you can get a little off, even if it’s just to get Euro prices for American dollars.  If you see something you like, buy it when you find it.  That goes for local shopping and jewelry shopping.  The boat was not going back to St. Maarten, so I couldn’t get Mom one of the cool bracelets I saw there.

There’s not much of the cruise left, but come back next week and hear about dinner at La Cucina.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Shopping, TRAVEL, Travel Planning

Jewelry Shopping – St. Thomas vs. Nassau

Nassau Bahamas

Shopping in crowded Nassau. Faces of innocent bystanders hidden. Perhaps their husbands didn’t realize they were shopping!

TRAVEL THERE: IS JEWELRY SHOPPING BETTER ON ST THOMAS OR NASSAU

I’ve already told you what a good time we had shopping in St. Thomas. Our tour dropped us off right at Charlotte Amalie’s Main Street and we had about an hour of blissful shopping. There were few shoppers and most of the stores we entered were absolutely gorgeous.  With just enough exceptions to prove the rule, all the clerks and shopkeepers were marvelously polite and eager to please.  It was like being in shopping heaven.  Too bad we really didn’t appreciate how lucky we were.

The Shopping Seminar

Having enjoyed our shopping in St. Thomas so much, we were eager to attend the shopping seminar on our third at-sea day on the Norwegian Epic.  We hadn’t planned on shopping at all in Nassau, but we’d caught the island shopping bug.  The seminar was interesting, not grippingly so, but a pleasant way to spend the morning.  I was hoping for more in the way of drawings and give-aways, but the idea was to get us to spend our money, not to give us anything.  I learned a little about a new diamond cut and the new vein of tanzanite.  The new tanzanite returned to the lighter colors of the first discovery, rather than retaining the dark colors that have been available most recently.

Our favorite discovery was Del Sol.  Everything in their shop changes color in the sun, including the fingernail polish.  Deb loved it so much she added it to her shopping list.  The most important information was a reminder the shops  close at five, a couple of hours before our departure time. We needed to shop in the morning.  Over lunch  we informed our husband what they should expect.

We arrived in port at noon on the fourth day of the cruise.  After our shopping, we planned to head over to Atlantis Resort for a peek and it’s skyline loomed large on the horizon.  As soon as the boat docked we dragged our husbands towards Bay Street.

Shopping in Nassau

Shopping Nassau was a whole ‘nother thing and it wasn’t a better thing.  The first thing we noticed was how crowded it was.  Nassau serves a lot more ships than St. Thomas.  Many of the cruises are just three day jaunts out of Miami, devoted primarily to the art of shopping. We’d been told that this larger audience meant a larger stock of merchandise to enjoy.  Thanks, but no thanks.  I enjoyed the quieter streets of Charlotte Amalie.

There weren’t as many freebies in Nassau either.  We anxiously looked forward to getting our shopping packet when we got off the boat, but all we found was an offer from Diamonds International and another from Effy.  We’d gotten a coupon in the seminar to complement the Effy coupon in the shopping packet.  In St. Thomas we’d had to pay a minimal amount for the earrings to match our necklace, but in Nassau, because of the shopping seminar we got earrings for free.

Perhaps because of the larger crowds, the salespeople aren’t as happy to distribute their free goodies as they had been in St. Thomas.  There was the same begrudging hesitancy I’d remembered from Cozumel, one that led to my happy surprise at the alacrity of the St. Thomas jewelers.  The good news was that for each island the big stores offer a different freebie.  In St. Thomas we’d gotten garnets at Effy, but in Nassau it was amethysts.  I was particularly happy about that, because I had an amethyst ring begging for some companions.  Diamonds International offers you a charm bracelet at your first port and then other charms at your other stops.  The fun of it for frequent cruisers is that you’re not getting the same old thing all the time.  You could start a collection of sorts.

We hoped to do some additional shopping in Nassau, but were stymied.  We looked for a Milano Jewelers, because Deb was beginning to regret that she hadn’t clued into what a great deal the sterling silver necklaces were.  We found the Milano stores, but when we asked about the necklaces all we got was a look that suggested we were crazy and some mumbled assurance the cheap sliver necklaces weren’t available on this island.

We also searched out a Little Switzerland store, because I still hadn’t found a gift for my mom and the bracelets I’d seen on St. Thomas seemed like the best bet.  Lest you think I was unwilling to share all the free goodies I’d gotten so far, my mom’s ears are not pierced and her advanced arthritis prohibited her from operating the clasps on necklaces.  So I had lots of goodies to share with folks at home, they just weren’t going to work for my mom.  Unfortunately, the Little Switzerland store we found had a very limited selection in their very tiny Impulse department.  I didn’t see anything that looked like Mom.

We took a break from shopping to visit the Atlantis Resort, but I’ll tell you about that in a couple of weeks.  I also shopped at the Nassau Straw Market on the way back to the ship, but I’ll compare that to the locals market in Marigot, St. Martin next week.  Until then, happy shopping.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Shopping, TRAVEL