Thursday, May 24, 2012

In the Bahamas The Out Islands Rule

    The popularity of the Bahamas is easy to understand. After all, it’s a tropical paradise. 
The islands, surrounded by crystal clear water, are clement with vivacious and tranquil islets.
    There are 700 islands, including uninhabited cays and large rocks, totaling a landmass of 5,382 sq. miles.
The best way to be “in” the Bahamas is to visit one of the Out Islands.

    The Out Islands of the Bahamas include: The Abacos, Acklins, Andros, Bimini, Cat Island, Eleuthera, Harbour Island, The Exumas and Long Island.
    They may not be as well known as Nassau or the Grand Bahamas, but each one of the Out Islands has its own warm, charming and laidback personality.
    Not sure which island to try first?
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation (BMOTA) will point you in the right direction. 
    If you want an exotic locale, away from the hustle and bustle; remote, but not too isolated, The Exumas and Long Island are just what the doctor ordered.    
LONG ISLAND is tucked away from all the regular tourist trappings. There are peaceful villages, wonderful, sandy secluded beaches, old plantation ruins, caves and hidden coves.


    The STELLA MARIS RESORT CLUB is a key property on the island. Whether you’re traveling on business, for leisure, a romantic getaway, with the family or just want some quiet time for yourself, there is something for everyone.
The resort offers panoramic ocean view rooms, water front and beach front Bahamas bungalows (some even with private pool).
The Club offers everything from pools, cycling, table tennis, a gym, several beaches, snorkel excursions, boat cruises and more.
The resort’s main restaurant offers both  international and Bahamian cuisine. It also has the island’s largest selection of fine wines.
    Highlights include the Long Island Museum, St. Peter’s & St. Paul’s Catholic Church, and the exploratory Hamilton’s Cave. The tour of the cave is fascinating and educational as is Deans Bluehole, the world's deepest blue hole (underwater sinkhole), which plunges 202 meters (663ft) to the ocean floor, in a bay west of Clarence Town on Long Island.


    The CAPE SANTA MARIA RESORT is not to be missed.  This is a boutique resort with only 20 bungalows designed in the classic Bahamian style and a handful of villas, located steps from the beach.
    The property, which has high-speed internet, is classy, seductive, yet relaxed and inviting. The Villas at Cape Santa Maria feature new, high-end amenities. If you need it, they’ve got it.
    THE EXUMA ISLANDS, which are a part of the many islands that make up the Bahamas, is actually a group of 365 tiny islands known for their pristine beaches, snorkeling, sailing and fishing. It’s also the largest island of the Exuma island chain. Whether you are looking for a non-stop party or you simply want to enjoy the area’s culture, you’ll find it there.
    The Exumas is a historical smorgasbord. Check out one or all of the following: Allan’s Cay Iguanas, highlighting fearsome looking yet gentle lizards;  Thunderball Grotto, a hollowed out island near Staniel Cay, which is great for snorkeling. There you can eyeball tropical fish, rare sponges and corals.
    Historical highlights include: Rolle Town Tombs, Cotton Plantation Ruins & Loyalist Tombs, St. Christopher Anglican Church, Tropic of Cancer at Pelican Beach, Pompey Monument/Ole Jail House, Three Sister’s Rocks, The Ferry Bridge, Patience House and the Shark Lady of the Exumas (an unusual museum and shop located in the home of Gloria Patience).
     Great Exuma Island is the largest of the Exuma Islands and the location of Exuma’s capital city, George Town, which is 35 miles southeast of Nassau, stretches more than 120 miles and has a population of approximately 3,600.
    There is much to enjoy because The Exuma Islands, described as ‘the fastest growing island in The Bahamas,’ have traditions, plus a profound admiration of history.
    Anywhere you stay in the Bahamas – you win. Whether you’re staying at a resort, renting a villa or you’ve purchased some enviably exquisite property – you can’t go wrong. Following are some suggestions.


    THE PALM BAY BEACH CLUB is quiet and quaint. Depending on the location of your room, it’s only a few steps to the beach.
    The property boasts more than 70 beachside cottages and hillside villas, two swimming pools, jacuzzis, a beach bar and grill, water sports and a shuttle service to George Town.

    The GRAND ISLE RESORT & SPA, a golf and oceanfront villa-only resort, located in Emerald Bay on the east coast of Great Exuma Island in the Bahamas, is an exquisite property. Luxurious, stylish and enviable only begin to describe the resort.
    If you just want to relax, there is a nearby spa.
    If you’re feeling adventurous, you can enjoy charter fishing, swimming, sailing, or exploring the many nearby uninhabited cays.

    THE FOUR SEASONS RESORT GREAT EXUMA at EMERALD BAY, one of the most accessible luxury island resorts from eastern North America, is, well, incredible. The property, which has 183 guest rooms and suites, is nestled by lagoons and the fairways of the Greg Norman-designed golf course.
    But don’t spend all of your time in the room – play some tennis, play golf, or get a massage at Tranquility Garden – a full-service spa. The resort is 15 minutes from the international airport and is a short 90-minutes from Florida and 35 minutes from Nassau.
    EMERALD BAY MARINA in Exuma is a Four Seasons resort residence. Once you visit this property you’ll understand why there is nothing like stylish living in the Bahamas. 
    A 470-acre community overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Emerald Bay, this resort is a spectacular example of the possibilities in Great Exuma.
    Dubbed one of the top five hottest properties in the Caribbean by the Wall Street Journal, FEBRUARY POINT on the island of Great Exuma is jaw-dropping spectacular.
    An upscale resort community, February Point offers some of the most popular oceanfront real estate in the Caribbean. Located on a private 80- acre peninsula, February Point just screams paradise.  You can either rent or own in this upscale community.
    Knowledge is power. Now that you have the information, what are you waiting for?
    Beaches, nightlife, fabulous food, warm sun, entertainment, adventure and luxury – it’s only a short plane ride away. 
    Just going to a destination is not enough. Do it well. Do it in style.
    It’s time to see and experience The Bahamas!
You can reach The Exumas via Bahamasair, which flies into Exuma International Airport.
    Airlines flying to Exuma from Nassau:

Bahamasair, Flamingo Air and Sky Unlimited.

***Note – Be sure to bring enough cash. There are not a lot of ATMs. Credit cards are not widely accepted, other than at the resorts. There are a few local groceries and some local places for eating out, but none of them accept credit cards. The U.S. dollar is an even exchange throughout the Bahamas.
    *September through May, island temperatures average 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit; the rest of the year is warmer, with temperatures between 80 and 85 degrees. Nighttime temperatures are generally cooler by five to seven degrees.
    *All U.S. citizens and foreign nationals traveling to the United States from The Bahamas are required to present a valid passport or another secure, accepted document to enter or re-enter the United States. For more information:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Celebrity Millennium rounds out celebrity cruises’ ambitious, $140-MILLION ‘solsticizing’ initiative

MIAMI – May 14, 2012 – One of the most ambitious revitalization initiatives in the history of the cruise industry has just been completed. Celebrity CruisesCelebrity Millennium set sail Saturday from the Port of Miami, fresh from becoming the fourth and final Millennium Class ship to complete the line’s $140-million “Solsticizing” process, incorporating a host of the venues and experiences guests love most on the Solstice Class ships. The initiative was completed within less than two years, with each ship completing the massive transformation over the course of an only three-week drydock period.                                                      
“Solsticizing has been such an exciting initiative for us – and more importantly, for our guests, as indicated by their response to each of our Solsticized ships,” said Celebrity’s President & CEO Dan Hanrahan. “Our Millennium Class ships already had a large and loyal following, having repeatedly ranked at the top of many of the world’s most prestigious consumer polls, and their original style, design and ambience served as significant inspiration for the design of the Solstice Class. So now, we’re bringing it full circle, incorporating on the entire Millennium Class what our guests enjoy most on the Solstice Class. It ties our whole fleet together in a very powerful way.”
One of the many Solstice Class features added to the Millennium Class ships* is Celebrity’s trendsetting AquaClass category of staterooms, with spacious, private verandas; exclusive access to the stylish specialty restaurant, Blu; complimentary access to the Persian Garden and Relaxation Room in the AquaSpa; a personal Spa Concierge to book exotic AquaSpa treatments; use of plush Frette bathrobes and slippers; enhanced personal care products, and plentiful in-room amenities, including Hansgrohe shower heads, fog-free bathroom mirrors, aromatherapy selections, and daily deliveries of complimentary bottled water and teas. [*Note: AquaClass and its host of amenities will be added to Celebrity Constellation in 2013.]
Another Celebrity exclusive – “Qsine,” the novel restaurant introduced on Celebrity Eclipse in 2010 and Celebrity Silhouette this year – is also dazzling guests on Celebrity Infinity, Celebrity Summit and Celebrity Millennium as a result of each ship’s revitalization. The first restaurant at sea to present a menu and wine list on an iPadTM, Qsine serves a blend of classic and contemporary dishes in custom-made serveware, such as spring rolls served in vertical springs, and popcorn shrimp in theater-style popcorn boxes. Described in press reviews as “the latest and most innovative restaurant,” “cutting-edge,” and “appealingly quirky,” the restaurant and menu were designed to take what guests expect of a specialty restaurant and “turn it upside down” in a captivating, entertaining and flavorful way.
Joining AquaClass, Blu and Qsine* in the “Solsticizing” initiative are:
  • the hip Celebrity iLounge, which debuted on Celebrity Eclipse and made Celebrity Cruises the industry’s first Authorized Apple Reseller (to be added to Celebrity Constellation in 2013).
  • Celebrity’s “eXhale” bedding program, in partnership with Reverie®, a leader in the field of luxury bedding. Hand-made in the U.S. with natural raw materials such as bamboo and sustainable natural rubber, the mattresses are almost entirely recyclable and biodegradable, feature removable, hypo-allergenic, antibacterial and dust mite-resistant covers, and a breathable, plush pillow top with a patented air flow design. Rounding out Celebrity’s eXhale bedding program are custom-embroidered, 100% Egyptian cotton linens (to be added to Celebrity Constellation in 2013).
  • A new twist within Celebrity’s casually elegant bar, Michael’s Club, where its selection of fine whiskies, cognac, bourbons and scotches is now complemented with craft beers, including 50 international selections (the new Michael’s Club concept will be added to Celebrity Constellation in 2013)
  • the “cool,” ice-topped Martini Bar and Crush
  • Celebrity’s vibrant creperie, Bistro on Five
  • the inviting CafĂ© al Bacio and Gelateria
  • Cellarmasters wine bar, complete with the “Enomatic” state-of-the-art wine serving system – an industry-first when it debuted on Celebrity Solstice – allowing guests to select wines by the glass, at the touch of a button
  • entirely new verandas added to the ship’s spacious, luxurious Celebrity Suites
  • additional new oceanview and inside staterooms
  • an expanded collection of original, contemporary art
* During the Solsticizing of Celebrity Constellation in 2010, the Solstice Class-inspired specialty restaurant “Tuscan Grille” – an Italian-themed steakhouse – was added to the ship, within the space occupied by Qsine on her sister ships.
Celebrity Millennium is currently on a Panama Canal voyage from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego. Following a 5-night wine-themed cruise from San Diego to Vancouver May 27, the ship will offer 7-night Northbound and Southbound Alaska sailings between Vancouver and Seward, Alaska.                                                                            
About Celebrity Cruises:
Celebrity Cruises’ iconic “X” is the mark of modern luxury, with its cool, contemporary design and warm spaces; dining experiences where the design of the venues is as important as the cuisine; and the amazing service that only Celebrity can provide, all created to provide an unmatchable experience for vacationers’ precious time. In addition to offering vacations visiting all continents, Celebrity also presents immersive cruisetour experiences in Alaska, Australia/New Zealand, Canada, Europe and South America. One of the fastest-growing major cruise lines, Celebrity is one of five cruise brands operated by global cruise vacation company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE, OSE: RCL). Celebrity’s fleet currently consists of 10 ships, with an additional Solstice Class ship, Celebrity Reflection, scheduled to join the fleet in fall 2012. For more information, dial 1-800-437-3111, visit, or call your travel agent. Follow the brand socially at

# # #