Crystal Serenity takes travelers off the beaten path for unique island experiences
The Islands of The Bahamas are renowned for their crystal blue waters, sun-drenched beaches, and balmy breezes, but often what warms visitors most is the hospitality and friendliness of the Bahamian people. Whether pointing the way to a favorite local beach or sharing the storied history of the islands they love, their heartfelt pride shines through.
In anticipation of Crystal Serenity’s upcoming collection of Luxury Bahamas Escapes this summer we asked our Bahamian friends if they could share some of cultural and historic highlights of the islands they call home. We cannot wait for guests to experience the treasured places that give these islands their singular charm….
Travelers know the best way to experience the true culture of a place is to go where the locals go, and in Nassau, locals go to Arawak Cay, also known as the “The Fish Fry”, for the delectable fried snapper served daily. The restaurants of Arawak Cay are famous for island favorites including grilled shrimp and lobster and of course conch, either battered and fried or served “scorched” and spiced with lime, onions, and peppers, and washed down with a cold Kalik beer.
As you feast, you might be lucky enough to hear a local Junkanoo Band practicing or performing. Junkanoo is the exuberant musical pulse of The Bahamas and a part of the island nation’s West African heritage, blending the sounds of cowbells, whistles, and conch shell horns with the percussive beats of traditional goat skin drums. Crystal Serenity guests will be treated to a celebration of Junkanoo music, dancing, and colorful costumes before sail away from Nassau on every Bahamas voyage.
Bahamian spirited traditions also include John Watling’s Distillery located at the Buena Vista estate in Nassau, using techniques passed down through generations to hand blend its small-batch rum. Explore the historic estate which dates to 1789 and sample the rum, carefully aged in white oak bourbon barrels, either on its own or blended into a refreshing Bahamian cocktail. Crystal Serenity guests will also have the chance to purchase a bottle of this special island favorite aboard the ship on Bahamas sailings.
Just off the coast of Bennett’s Harbor in South Bimini lies the S.S. Sapona Wreck. Originally one of a fleet of concrete ships commissioned by Woodrow Wilson during World War I when steel was in short supply, the Sapona was decommissioned, sold, and eventually became a floating warehouse for storing and distributing liquor in Bimini during Prohibition. The ship ran aground during a hurricane in 1926 and now sits in 15 ft of water off the coast, an amazing dive and snorkel spot and photo opportunity.
Another place of intrigue just below the ocean surface is the Bimini Road. Off the coast of North Bimini, this formation of large, smooth rectangular rocks stretches 1,500 feet long in an orderly row beneath the sea. Is it a natural rock formation as scientists claim or the ancient road to the lost city of Atlantis? All we know is that it is a spectacular scuba spot and our favorite island mystery.
On Long Island, one of The Bahamas’ most scenic retreats, is the natural wonder of Dean’s Blue Hole, believed to be the deepest landlocked blue hole in the world. Rimmed by a limestone cliff and a shallow sand bank covered with crystal-clear water, Dean’s Blue Hole suddenly plunges 663 feet deep into the ocean, with water so clear that visibility can reach beyond 100 feet. The hole’s east wall is a haven for colorful tropical fish and sometimes gliding stingrays and turtles.
In Big Major Cay in the Exumas, experience a wildlife encounter like no other – the adorable swimming pigs of Exuma! Visitors delight in the unique chance to swim with, pet and photograph these friendly island animals. The pigs are not native, and the island is uninhabited, so the theory is that they were left there by sailors or perhaps swam over from a nearby shipwreck. Either way a selfie with the #swimmingpigs is a great souvenir!
For another authentic souvenir from the Exumas visit the Exuma Straw Market, full of island crafts made by local ladies renowned for their friendliness. Watch them strip the palm fronds and shape them into woven bags and baskets in an art that stretches back generations. Crystal’s “Sights and Tastes of Great Exuma” excursion features a visit to the Straw Market and a taste of local favorites overlooking Tropic of Cancer Beach, the prettiest beach in the Exuma chain located at 23 26N 75 35W, the latitude line for the Tropic of Cancer.
A landmark on the island of San Salvador reaches back in time to commemorate Christopher Columbus and his first footsteps in the New World. He is widely believed to have landed on the shores of San Salvador in 1492, and a white cross monument near the water’s edge marks his historic landfall. Beyond the beach and beneath the waves a monument of the sea floor marks the spot where his ship dropped anchor, reshaping history forever.
The aquamarine waters that Columbus and his sailors affectionately named “Baha Mar”, or shallow sea, still captivate visitors to this day, a brilliant backdrop for the fascinating history, colorful culture and friendly, welcoming people of The Bahamas.
Crystal Serenity Luxury Bahamas Escapes will feature a collection of more than 30 new, 7-night cruises round-trip from Nassau or Bimini to explore the pristine beaches and natural wonders of the Bahamas. Cruise fares start at $1,999 per guest, including $500 Book Now Savings and $500 air savings along with Best Available Savings, $125 per person As You Wish shipboard credit and Crystal Society Savings doubling to five percent, new-to-Crystal guests saving 2.5 percent and solo fares starting at just 125 percent.