New Year’s Eve has symbolized a new beginning for us. William and I met in January 2010. Although we both didn’t know it then, it was the beginning of our life together! Every year we have reminisced about our first New Year’s Eve celebration together in 2011, a Bahama cruise. It was time to revive this New Year tradition, but with a little twist, a tennis cruise to the Bahamas!
2011 – our first New Years cruise – tennistravelsite.com
We chose to cruise on the Carnival Victory three day cruise to the Bahamas, out of Miami, Florida. It was a great opportunity to enjoy warm weather in the winter. The cruise we chose worked perfectly with our long four-day holiday weekend.
Carnival Victory – Bahamas tennis cruise – tennistravelsite.com
Day 1 Bahamas Tennis Cruise – Embarkation
We flew in the morning of the cruise on the first flight out of Newark, New Jersey to Miami, Florida (travel tip: if you fly out the same day as the cruise, purchase cruise insurance in case of trip interruptions). When we booked the Carnival cruise, we decided to upgrade our room to a suite. We didn’t know it at the time, but this gave us Priority boarding. We also chose the option “First to the Fun.” (travel tip: Carnival Cruise Line offered a limited number of “First to the Fun” upgrades, which allowed an express check in and express departure, as well as, first one off the ship for excursions!). We breezed through the check-in process. We were literally in the first group of cruisers on the ship. The biggest perk (and best) for our Priority boarding, first to the fun, was that our suite was ready as soon as we boarded. Not only that, we were provided complimentary one-liter bottles of water for our journey. We were very impressed with our room which had a living room area, and two closet areas. The second closet area had a vanity area, which was perfect. The bathroom had a shower and soaking tub. From the start, Carnival Victory had exceeded our expectations. Our cabin steward was always available for us for any questions or concerns, throughout the entire voyage. As our ship embarked on its journey to the Bahamas, we enjoyed the lovely late afternoon, sailing by the Miami coastline. We could even see Key Biscayne in the distance.
We chose a late dinner seating each evening. As we waited for our time at the main bar, we noticed a 70s song game going on. The Cruise Director on our ship had so many people watching the show, cruisers were watching from the rails overlooking the bar, as far up as you could see, as everyone sang 70s songs, some better than others. It was a great way to start the cruise.
Carnival Victory – Bahamas tennis cruise – tennistravelsite.com
Day 2 Baha Mar – Nassau, Bahamas
On previous trips to the Bahamas we had either stayed at the Atlantis (tip: a Marriott property), or on our cruise ship(our floating resort). We have booked a room for a night at the Atlantis in the past iso that we would have resort privileges during our day. This time, we looked into other tennis options available to us in the Bahamas. We had noticed advertisements for the Resort Baha Mar. The resort property was fairly new and welcomed us to play tennis if there was court availability at the Racquet Club at Baha Mar. We contacted the tennis facility prior to the cruise, and booked our lesson prior to leaving for our cruise. The Baha Mar resort area (golf, tennis, casinos (largest casino in the Bahamas), and more) had multiple resorts on property, such as the Grand Hyatt.
We started our day by taking a short taxi ride to Baha Mar. Baha Mara is located in the Cable Beach section of the beautiful island. Our taxi driver drove us along the coast line. The turquoise waters of the Caribbean seemed very inviting. There were a couple of public beaches that many of the cruisers had found to spend their Bahama day, en route to the Baha Mar.
When we arrived at Baha Mara, we walked a few minutes to the tennis facility, Racquet Club at Baha Mara, run by Peter Burwash International. The property was absolutely beautiful with 9 tennis courts (1 grass court, 2 har-tru courts and 6 lighted hard courts)! As we walked onto the tennis facility, we first passed the showcase grass tennis court! We quickly decided that we would love to come back to this beautiful tennis facility to spend more time playing tennis. We were warmly greeted, as we confirmed our semi-private lesson we had booked (tennis travel tip: This facility had tennis racquets for rent). We were a little early, so we also checked out the rest of the tennis facility. All the courts were in pristine condition. We had an excellent hitting session with our teaching tennis Pro. We worked on our doubles strategy! The Baha Mara was a tennis paradise! It was a great way to start out our day in the Bahamas. It gave us the rest of the day to relax and enjoy the warm Caribbean weather.
Day 3 Day at Sea
Each evening, during the turn down service, along with an animal towel, guests were provided a newsletter outlining the next day’s ship entertainment, activities, dining times along with all the other important information needed for a successful day.
Our leisurely morning at sea started with breakfast in the dining room. As we walked to our dining room, through the casino area, we ran into another couple. The woman said “I love tennis, too!” I was wearing my Lacoa Sports “I ❤️ Tennis” shirt. We decided to have breakfast together. We shared our tennis experience in the Bahamas. The other couple was amazed and wished they could have joined us It was amazing how tennis brought us together with others!
Since it was just the two of us traveling, we decided to take in the sun in the adult section of the ship, the Serenity Lounge. It was quiet, as the ship was cradled in the Caribbean ocean. It was great to have a relaxing day!
Although there were specialty restaurants on the ship, we chose to dine at our assigned time. We were provided a table number and seated with another couple. The first moments when meeting our seatmates were a little awkward; however, we quickly became fast friends. The wait staff in the dining room were always on the ball, and provided a highly energetic production each evening during the dessert presentation.
During the evening,we found in one of the lounges, a duo singing latin music. It was great to dance rumbas and salsas, right before dinner! We enjoyed our last dinner on the ship with our new friends.
Day 4 – The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Florida
It seemed implausible that we would surpass our time on the “fun ship,” but, as we left the port of Miami (tennis tip: the Port of Miami has two tennis courts at a public park directly across from the cruise port), we anxiously anticipated our last leg of our New Years vacation. Our last excursion was an evening stay at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne (on New Years Eve).
We took advantage of the early debarkation, so we could make our tennis drill in Key Biscayne. We called to make sure our spots in the drill were reserved. If you plan it right, you can participate in the morning tennis drill, or reserve courts to play tennis. Enjoy the resort. And then, the next day play tennis again! We always make time to visit the spa. The Ritz Carlton signature massage is relaxing. Most of the time, I book my appointment at the end of my stay after playing tennis, because it is great to leave the resort feeling relaxed after a wonderful massage!
The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne had several different New Years Eve parties planned for the evening (something for everyone). We chose the adult only Cabaret New Years Eve party with our favorite cuban band, the Grupo Nostalgia. Our party included several food presentations and drinks, as we listened and danced to our favorite band through the night. It was definitely a New Years Eve to remember, as the black and gold balloons flew from the ceiling above us at midnight, as we welcomed the new year!
Final Word – Bahamas Tennis Cruise
Visiting the Bahamas was a wonderful on our New Years Eve Bahamas tennis cruise. Finding time to play tennis and enjoying the Bahamas was special to us. We love to find wonderful places to play tennis. On this trip, we found the beautiful Racquet Club at Baha Mar in Nassau, Bahamas and then ended with our top notch tennis experience at the Cliff Drysdale Tennis Center, at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne. New Years has always been very special to us. It will be hard to best this past New Years experience.