Christmas Time Cruising

Mike, Sara, and Mary joined Lynn and I for Christmas this year.  When we’re together we often visit a theme park, but since we liked our last cruise so much, we decided to take a holiday cruise instead.  We booked on Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas and departed from Port Canaveral for Nassau and Coco Cay on Friday, Dec. 21st.

Port Canaveral is about an hour east of Orlando on the 528 Beachline.  We found parking right at the pier and the embarkation wasn’t too bad, although there was a line getting through security.

Overall  the Monarch of the Seas was very enjoyable.  The food was good (the Strawberry Pavlova dessert was a BIG hit!), and so was the service.  Our staterooms were in different parts of the ship this time, which made coordination a little more difficult – but we worked it out.  Once nice thing about sailing at this time of year is that the ship was fully decked out for the holidays – Christmas trees, gingerbread houses, and other seasonal touches.

Seasons Greetings!
Ship’s decorations in the main atrium

We departed Port Canaveral late in the afternoon.  The weather was nice for the whole cruise and although Friday’s sunset wasn’t that great Saturday’s sunrise made up for it:

Pre-dawn clouds
Pre-dawn clouds in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida

We arrived in Nassau Saturday afternoon and spent time shopping.  Then Mike and Sara found us a great place to sample the local food (the Bahamian Cookin’ Restaurant) where we enjoyed their Conch Fritters.  After that, we all boarded a catamaran for a sunset tour of the harbor.  The low light combined with a moving boat made for a challenging photo-op, but I did get a few nice images.  One of the highlights was seeing Oprah Winfrey’s pair of side by side mansions (with a huge matching yacht).  I guess she uses the second mansion for guests – quite impressive.

Nassau harbor at night
Nassau harbor at night from the sunset cruise catamaran.  I thought the red and green running lights were an unexpected seasonal bonus!

From Nassau, we sailed to the Berry Islands where Royal Caribbean has exclusive use of Coco Cay (also known as Little Stirrup Cay).  They’ve set the place up for cruise passengers to enjoy beach time, snorkeling, shopping at a straw market, parasailing, wave runners, an aqua park, kayaking, hammocks, and of course – food. We had kayak reservations for first thing in the morning.  The wind was really blowing and even though we were a bit worried about it we went anyway.  It was a workout, but worth it in the end.  We paddled about a mile to a sand bar off of Big Stirrup Cay, where I made this photo:

A starfish in the ocean
A starfish in the ocean near a sand bar at Big Stirrup Cay.  We haven’t been able to ID this one – our guide told us it isn’t common.

Later, back on Coco Cay we relaxed, shopped, and yes, ate too much. Mike and Sara also went snorkeling and saw fish, Sting Rays, Spotted Eagle Rays, and coral.

Sara and Mike enjoy the view
Sara and Mike enjoy the view from our Coco Cay cabana

It was a wonderful way to spend time with our family.  Except for the wind, the weather was great and not at all typical of the season in most of the country.  Poor Mike and Sara had to return home to winter storms and snow.  I imagine it was a bit of a change!

You can click any of the photos above to see larger versions on Flickr and I’ve posted several more from our cruise in this set.

This is my last post of 2012.  I’ll be back next year and I hope you will too.  May you, your family, and your friends all have a happy and prosperous new year.  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now, get cruising and make some photos!

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

About Ed Rosack

I live in Central Florida and enjoy exploring the area. I'm interested in nature and wildlife photography - and many other things. I'm the chief reporter, lead writer, managing editor, main photographer, and publisher of the Central Florida Photo Ops website hosted at www.edrosack.com. You can also see more of my photos on my Flickr stream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/

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