Crystal clear water, soft white sand, paradise…those are just some of the words that come to mind when I think of the Caribbean. I was fortunate enough to have experienced two Caribbean cruises this year – one with my boyfriend and the other with my girlfriends.
The cruise with my girlfriends, which departed from Miami, Florida, occurred in late July aboard the Carnival Sensation, during which time I conducted photo sessions on the beautiful islands of Nassau (Bahamas), Half Moon Cay (Bahamas), and Grand Turk (Turks and Caicos).
Although the best time to photograph is during the “golden hour”, just before sunrise or sunset, we weren’t afforded that luxury due to Carnival’s time restrictions for each port of call. The middle of the day with no shaded areas is definitely not the ideal time for photo sessions due to the harsh light. However, we made the best of it and the photos turned out great, due in large part to the easygoing and adventurous nature of my friends!
NASSAU, THE BAHAMAS
While the other ladies went parasailing, Somala and I went on the garden and city tour so we could focus on her photo session. Our first stop was at the Nassau Adastra Gardens, which is home to dozens of species of animals, lush tropical gardens, and the beautiful Caribbean flamingo, among other things. We were allowed an hour there to roam on our own, and the attraction wasn’t crowded, so that worked to our advantage. We took a break to watch the flamingo show, and it was amazing to see the flamingos enter the arena, synchronize and march to the trainer’s commands – they were a sight to behold!
Our second stop was at Fort Charlotte, a British-colonial era fort built on a hill overlooking the harbor of Nassau. The fort has a moat, dungeons, underground passageways and many cannons, which according to our tour bus driver, have never been fired in an act of aggression. Although we had the option of using a tour guide, we ventured out on our own so we could continue the photo session. The fort is huge and gorgeous, and the gray and white stone walls served as natural light reflectors.
Below are some photos from our time in Nassau.
HALF MOON CAY, THE BAHAMAS
Half Moon Cay is by far my favorite island to visit this cruise because the turquoise water is SO pristine, and ours was the only ship in port that day, which lends to the private island feel. While the other ladies went horseback riding, Sina and I explored the island and took advantage of the beautiful scenery for her photo session. It was so hot that day, but the setting was too beautiful to dwell on the relentless sun, and we got some great photos.
I had the DiCAPac waterproof case for my Nikon, and was able to utilize it for some beach and water shots without worrying about sand and water getting into the camera unit. The best part of the day was spending over an hour in the cool water after the photo session - the best reward! I could have spent many more hours on this island just chilling in the water and napping on the hammock, but alas, we had to get in line to board the tender boat back to our ship.
Below are some photos from our time in Half Moon Cay.
GRAND TURK, TURKS & CAICOS
The ladies and I decided we would all do a snorkel and stingray excursion during our time at Grand Turk, after which I would conduct a photo session for Sandy and Michelle. Now, we all figured this would be a relaxing excursion but alas, it did not begin that way. Of our group of six, three of us do not know how to swim (myself included). I’m used to snorkeling at beaches in Hawaii and Aruba (wearing a life jacket), but this experience was completely different. We took a catamaran to a designated snorkeling spot about 2-3 miles offshore, and the water was REALLY choppy. Well, what ended up happening was that my fellow non-swimmer friends and I were holding onto a donut while one of the tour guides pulled us along. Heck no was I going to let go of the donut and risk drowning (the life jacket doesn't even register in my mind at this point). Suffice it to say that we did not see any fish during our 25 minutes in the water; we were too busy trying to stay “afloat” and keeping our heads above water. (We tipped the tour guide accordingly for being so patient and working so hard to pull the donut.)
We were taken to a secluded beach for the stingray portion of the excursion, and that was SO.MUCH.BETTER. While the other girls stayed with the group, Michelle, Sandy and I ventured a few feet away to conduct the photo session. We were so glad to be in calm water and the soft sand that it was easy for us to laugh our way through the photo session! Again, the DiCAPac waterproof case is such a great piece of equipment to have on hand because I was literally knocked down by waves a few times and was rolling around in the soft sand to get certain shots; however, I LOVED it! Unfortunately we only had less than 30 minutes at this beach, but the time we did have was used effectively. I don't know how to swim, but am oddly attracted to water sports and LOVE being around water.
Below are some photos from our time in Turks and Caicos.
This trip wasn’t all work and no play for me! We relaxed on the ship, soaked up the Caribbean sun at some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and indulged in delicious food! Speaking of which, Michelle, Sina and I are foodies, so we booked the Chef’s Table experience on the ship, which ended up being one of the highlights of our trip (and it was a steal for $75).
The experience started off with champagne in the lobby to meet the Sous Chef, waitstaff, and other diners, followed by a tour of the galley (we even got to see how their famous chocolate melting cake was made!), and a chef-hosted multi-course dinner. Carnival’s Sous Chef, the waiters and other staff treated us like royalty. The food and wine pairings were fantastic! Below are some photos of the creations that we were treated to that evening.
Although I didn’t get to experience sunrises and sunsets on any of the islands, I still got to enjoy them from the comfort of my cabin balcony and the various ship areas. Below are a couple snapshots of the sunrises and sunsets I saw each evening:
RANDOM SELFIES AND SNAPSHOTS
If my friends didn't think to ask me to pose for photos, I wouldn't have any this trip of myself. Thank goodness for thoughtful girlfriends - love you all! (Pardon the quality of the cellphone photos.)