If you’re looking for a quick getaway, while taking minimal vacation days, and still getting to enjoy those beautiful blue waters of the Bahamas, you’ve come to the right place. I recently had the opportunity to sail aboard Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s Grand Classica, on a weekend sailing to Freeport Bahamas. The trip was certainly quick, but it also packed a punch, as it came to fun in the sun. I know many of you are eager to hear my take on this, new to me, cruise line. Let’s jump right into the details.
Day 1 – Port of Palm Beach
Due to some schedule restraints, I flew into Miami the morning of the cruise. I of course then needed to make my way up to the port in Palm Beach. I did some research pre-cruise and decided the best and most affordable option, would be to take the Tri Rail from the terminal in MIA to its final north stop of Mangonia Park. Riding the Tri Rail between these two stops takes about 2 hours and is the full length of the Tri Rail operations. Doing this one-way trip will run you $5 for non-peak times and $8.75 during peak times. From Mangonia Park it’s a quick Uber ride over to the port.
I arrived at the terminal around 12:30pm. It is a much smaller port than Miami or Fort Lauderdale and is quite easy to navigate. There wasn’t any confusion on where I needed to go. I quickly made my way from my Uber, through security, and up to check in. Unfortunately, things really slowed down here. Between some issues with the check in system and several check in agents being out sick, the seemingly short line took quite a while. I will preface this and say that I would not expect this to occur all the time, and its literally my only complaint of the entire trip.
Once you get through check in, there is a spot in the terminal where you can book excursions, buy drink ticket packages, and make specialty dining reservations. If you plan on buying any of these, I suggest getting it out of the way here in the terminal. I decided to get one, ten pack, of drink tickets. They are $90 including gratuity. My plan of attack for drinks was to use my tickets for mixed drinks and buy buckets when having beer (buy 4 beers and get 5th free). This plan sort of worked out well, except that I had a couple tickets left on the last night. I suppose I’ll just have to come back and use them another time!
Muster drill is also held in the terminal before boarding. You check in with your cabin number, watch a short video, and you are quickly on your way. Painless and easy in my opinion.
I finally boarded the Grand Classica around 1:30pm. I went and dropped off my bags in my cabin and quickly headed up to the pool deck in search of food. I had been up since 3:30am heading to the airport and never had a chance to eat.
After grabbing a burger and fries at the Rock Grill, I spent the rest of the afternoon poolside, enjoying the beautiful weather. There is a main pool midship, and an adults only pool in the aft. There are also two hot tubs all the way aft, behind the adults only pool. At this point the beers were flowing and a live band was performing pool side. Life was good! I snagged some sunset photos before heading back to the cabin around 7:00 pm to get ready for dinner.
Tonight, I would be dining in the Yellow Elder, which is Grand Classica’s main dining room. Service was great, and the selections were plentiful. There was a lot more selection than I anticipated, considering there were only about 250 guests onboard. I started with shrimp cocktail and seafood chowder. My main course was chicken marsala, and the highlight of the meal was the raspberry cheesecake for dessert. I almost splurged to eat in the specialty restaurant both nights, but after the experience here, I was glad I went to the main dining room tonight.
After dinner I spent about 20 minutes in the casino. I planned on staying longer, but I was so tired from being up so early that morning. If I didn’t keep moving, I would have fallen asleep. I ventured up to the pool deck at this point and stumbled upon pool side karaoke! I spent quite a bit of time here and had a lot of fun singing. I haven’t seen karaoke done pool side before, and I have to say, I really liked the concept. As karaoke started to dwindle, I went in search of the night club. After striking out at a couple venues I thought it would be held in, I finally found it in the Regal Room. I stayed here until about 1:30am, at which point I was beyond ready for bed. The club was still happening when I left, so I’m not sure how late things kept going. It was a long and fun day 1, tomorrow we are in Freeport Bahamas!
Day 2 – Freeport Bahamas
I got up around 8:00am this morning to grab breakfast and check out the views of Freeport. Our excursion to Viva Wyndham resort was meeting at 9:30am so there wasn’t much time to sleep in. The breakfast buffet was limited, but sufficient. It had your usual fare of scrambled eggs, bacon/sausage, hash browns, breads, pastries, and fruit. Again, with only around 250 passengers onboard, I didn’t expect it to be extravagant. After fueling up on breakfast and grabbing my essentials to for the day, I went to the meeting point for my excursion. The all-inclusive resort for the day was $99 per person. This included all food and beverages, including alcohol.
We were escorted out to a double decker bus which would take us on about a 30 minute ride to the resort. There is a tour operator onboard the bus who tells you all about Freeport and some of its history. The ride went by quick and before long we arrived at the Viva Wyndham. Upon arrival we had to wait in line to obtain wrist bands. If I had one complaint about the excursion, this would be it. They easily could have sorted out the wrist bands on the bus ride over.
Once in the resort, my day was a very laid back one. I spent most of the day lounging on the beach or by the pool. There are two main bars, one between the entrance and the pool area and one near the beach. They served a light food fare, including hamburgers and hot dogs by the beach bar and there was a Bahamian buffet served in the building which houses the pool bar. One thing to mention, you cannot exit the buffet area with your food. It must be consumed on the premises.
After a lazy day, I made my way back to the ship around 4:00pm. My afternoon was similar to the previous day, pool, hot tub, and some buckets of beer. At this point I’m realizing just how fast two days goes by, and soon after I got in the hot tub, the Grand Classica was headed back to Palm Beach.
Tonight’s dinner would be at Admiral’s Steak and Seafood. This is Grand Classica’s specialty restaurant. I started with salmon tartar and a tomato and mozzarella salad. I went with the NY Strip for my main course, and wrapped things up with a pistachio crème brulee. I was so full by time dessert came I didn’t think I’d take more than a bite. It was so good that I ended up eating almost the whole thing. I would say the surcharge is worth the selection at Admiral’s, though after my experience on night one in Yellow Elder, it’s not a must.
After dinner I went and cashed out my casino voucher. I was so tired, and full from dinner, I was about to go to bed, but I ended up sticking around for the glow party which was held in the encore lounge midship. At this point I got a bit of a second wind and managed to stay up until around 11:30pm or so. The last night came to a close and I would be disembarking in the morning.
Disembarkation & Wrap up
I vacated my cabin around 8:00 am and grabbed a quick bite to eat at the buffet. The rest of disembarkation was uneventful other than a semi long line going through customs. I didn’t quite understand, as there was only 250 passengers onboard. In addition, all the other FL ports just let you walk out if you are a US passport holder. I’m not sure if this was something specific to Palm Beach or the Grand Classica. In any case, I was on my way to the Tri Rail station in no time. The Tri Rail worked just as good on the trip back to MIA. I had a 1:30 pm flight and made it there in plenty of time, even with the two-hour train ride.
So here is the question everyone has been asking me, “Did you enjoy the sailing, and would you sail with BPCL again?”. The short answer is, absolutely. I enjoyed the food, the atmosphere, and the destination. It is relatively inexpensive, and I only had to take one day of work off. It certainly has a place in the market. I have to say all this with one caveat, I probably wouldn’t fly all the way down from CT and only do a 2 day sailing again. It was just a lot of travel and I was exhausted when the two days were over. I can see myself adding a sailing on to extend a trip or add a couple consecutive sailings together. Of course, if you live locally, this is a perfect quick getaway. Either way, I will definitely be back to sail the Grand Classica again soon! If you want any other info on Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, you can find it via their website here.
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