The next day we did more exploring of the city and had breakfast at the newer Café du Monde in the mall. We tried our luck in the Harrah’s Casino, but it didn’t really have any machines that we enjoy playing. We went to a place called Coop’s for an early dinner after it was recommended by our son. We got there at 5:30 and there was already a line to get inside. We waited about 20 minutes to get in and we both decided to try the fried chicken although there were a lot of good Cajun choices there. This is another place we would recommend. The restaurant was also located near the start of the first officially scheduled Mardi Gras parade. We had seen a real informal Mardi Gras parade before, but this was our first parade that we have ever seen at night. About 10 years ago we took a day trip from Biloxi to watch a Mardi Gras parade, but it was in the daytime and had a very different feel. This night parade was a little wilder. It was officially called the Bohemian Krewe but there were several other krewes who participated. A krewe is nothing more than a social organization (neighborhood, club, etc.) that gets together and puts on a parade or ball for the Mardi Gras. They do this year after year, trying to improve their performance from the previous year. The earlier parades of Mardi Gras are performed by the newer krewes and are less sophisticated. The floats and costumes are much more home made as opposed to being professionally done with the major parades. But regardless of the level of the sophistication, the enthusiasm was certainly there! It was a blast watching them.
Our ship was delayed getting into port the next day because of bad weather and seas on the way back to New Orleans. We boarded the ship 4 hours later than anticipated but that wasn’t any great concern since Royal Caribbean did an excellent job in notifying us of this delay.
We arrived in Key West around 11:30 and it was very enjoyable to watch us pull into the port. The weather was beautiful, and everyone was hustling about the city. We took a leisurely walk around the city checking some of the marinas and restaurants in the area. We checked out several shops and finally made our MUST stop at Kermit’s for a little Key Lime Pie. Sharon had her chocolate keylime pie on a stick and Greg had a traditional piece on a plate. There are a lot of places to get Key Lime pie, but Kermit’s is probably the best known. From there we walked over to Duval Street. Sharon wanted to see the southernmost tip of the US (again), but Greg headed towards a park that was the southernmost tip but didn’t have the memorial plaque that Sharon wanted to see. After getting some new directions we headed back to Duvall Street and went to the very end of the street where there is a marker showing the Most Southern Tip of the United States.
Nassau’s arrival was late also at around 2:00 PM but we were in port until midnight. We really had nothing planned and didn’t really want to go to any of the places that we had previously been, so we decided to go to the Fish Fry which was about a 25-minute walk from the port. We typically eat at Andros when we go there but this time, we tried out Twin Brothers. Pricing was very similar between the two places, but Twin Brothers was a little nicer inside and the air conditioning a little better. On the other hand, we preferred the food just a little better at Andros. From there we walked along the beach, did some shopping as we walked back to the ship.
On previous trips to Nassau we have gone to the Blue Lagoon which is a nice private beach and offers you an opportunity to swim with the dolphins or sea lions. This was the first place we ever swam with the dolphins and it was quite an experience. The beach is nice with more facilities than most Nassau beaches although it still doesn’t compare to most of the nicer Caribbean beaches.
We arrived at Coco Cay early at around 8AM and were pleased to find out we would be the only ship in port that day. Usually Royal Caribbean has two ships there each day except when one of the large Oasis class ships is there. It turned out that the Anthem of the Seas out of Bayonne could not make it down to the Bahamas because of the weather leaving us all by ourselves at the island. This was our fourth trip to Coco Cay within the last 2 months and we continue to be impressed with this newly redesigned Royal Caribbean Bahamian Island. They had opened Chill Beach, South Beach and Coco Beach Club since the last time we had been there. Our Royal Caribbean Business Development Manager had given us the name of the Island General Manager to contact in order to get a tour of these new areas. This GM had just gone on vacation the day before we arrived, but the new GM was more than happy to give us a tour. We could view Chill Beach and South Beach on our own, but Coco Beach Club was an exclusive area that required a separate entry fee to visit. This area has 20 over the water cabanas that are very nice although a little pricey ($1000+ for 6 people). There are less expensive cabanas on the beach and the little restaurant area was nicer than any other spot on the island. Although this area didn’t have any real activities, it was a really nice place to get away from the crowds.
We spent the day at South Beach which was a little further away from the ship and therefore had fewer people. Right in front of our beach chairs was a floating bar where you could swim over, order a drink and then just float around drinking it, or take a seat at the floating bar to enjoy your beverage. The water was cold to go over to the bar but that didn’t stop folks to visit. Also nearby was a Snack Shack which served a selection of sandwiches, sides and desserts. This was a very enjoyable area. With the addition of these new beaches and clubs, Royal Caribbean has more than doubled the beach area on the island.
On our recent trips to Coco Cay we have gone to the Thrill Water Park which is spectacular. There are some great and thrilling tube rides in this park along with other raft rides. You could do these rides all day and have a great time. The crowds peak between 10AM to 2PM but if you go outside these times the lines aren’t typically too bad. There is also a huge wave pool and some other activity pools in the park. The pricing has a lot of fluctuation and you need to keep checking prices. If you can find it for less than $30 a person you are doing well but don’t be shocked if you see if for $99 a person. You can also get a cabana in the park which provides both a really nice place to lounge when not doing the rides plus the cabana cost includes the cost for 6 person’s entrance fees into the park. This is usually a pretty good deal, but the cabanas go very quickly. The cabanas include a concierge at your service for the day, 6 pool towels, cooler filled with water bottles, a locker for your valuables and an USB outlet for your electronics.
If you haven’t been to Coco Cay within the last year, we highly recommend you find a cruise that goes there. It is the nicest out island now in the Bahamas. It even surpasses Disney’s Castaway Cay in our opinion. Royal Caribbean has hit a home run with its redesign of this island!
Now back to New Orleans and home after 2 relaxing sea days!
Greg and Sharon