Wendy and I went on a cruise to the Caribbean from May 1 to May 5.  We were on the Majesty of the Seas, a ship operated by Royal Caribbean.  The ship left out of Miami on Monday afternoon.  On Tuesday morning, we arrived at New Providence Island, Bahamas.  This island is home to the city of Nassau.  We spent the morning walking around town and seeing some historic sites and shops.  We were harassed by a barrage of locals trying to sell us things or drive us around town.  After eating lunch back on the ship, we took a ferry to Paradise Island where we spent the afternoon battling the big waves on the beach.  On Wednesday, we went to CocoCay, a private island in the Bahamas owned by (or at least solely inhabited by) Royal Caribbean and its guests.  It was awesome.  Nobody was trying to sell us anything or drive us anywhere.  We did a little snorkeling and walking around.  The water was crystal clear and totally calm.  On Thursday, we arrived at Key West and had to go through customs so that we could be allowed back into the US (the Bahamas are British, I believe).  We walked around the island and saw some major landmarks.  We also visited Ernest Hemingway's house, which is home to 30 or 40 polydactyl cats.  By Friday morning, we were back in Miami and on a plane back home.  I still feel like I'm moving, and it's been a few days. 

From what I've heard (and seen on my honeymoon in Jamaica), most Caribbean islands are pretty poor and have a bunch of people that will try to sell you things as soon as you step foot on their beautiful little islands.  I'm not a fan of this.  In fact, it's really quite annoying.  I understand that people need to do things to make a living.  But I found it interesting that the inhabitants of Key West didn't pick up on this annoying practice.  Sure, Key West isn't quite as poor as other Caribbean islands, but the people still need to work to make a living.  They had the same types of shops selling the same kinds of things.  They had the same modes of transportation in and around the island.  Yet they sat around and waited for people to come up to them.  And obviously they're relatively successful, because they'd be out of business if they weren't.  So my conclusion is that the annoying people on Caribbean islands have no need to be annoying.  If I want to buy a banana leaf picture frame, I'll go into their hut and buy one.  If I want a Prada bag, I'll go into their little shack and buy one.  There's no need to harass me. 

All in all, the cruise was a pretty good way to take a vacation.  It's basically a floating, moving hotel that transports you to different destinations.  They provide all your meals, though alcohol and soda cost extra.  They plan out a bunch of activities (called excursions) to do when you get to a destination.  These all cost money, and some of them weren't worth the cost.  Our only excursion was snorkeling at CocoCay.  Some of the other excursions were things like scuba diving, parasailing, tours, etc.  Instead of doing these things, we did our own thing on each island.  One interesting thing about the cruise is that tipping is highly suggested.  It's done at the end of the cruise by giving your waiter and room attendant an envelope with some money.  I'm not a fan of tipping, but I did it anyway.  The final price came out to be about $150 more than the actual price of the cruise.  Not a very pleasant little surprise, but there's no way around it.  At least we got to spend a few days in the warm, sunny Caribbean. #travel