|All photos by Laine Doss|
|Beer and conch fritters...better in the Bahamas!|
When they're planing a weekend getaway, most Miamians think one of two ways: Mickey Mouse hell in Orlando, or drinking and fishing in the Keys. But we sometimes forget there's an entirely different country just 60 miles away from us, filled with fresh seafood, white powder sand, and really, really cheap beer.
Last weekend, Cultist was invited to try out the fast ferry service to Freeport on Grand Bahama Island. Ferry Express
, operated by Baleria, departs daily from Port Everglades
in Fort Lauderdale. The ferry seats about 460 passengers and travels at a top speed of 32 knots (about 36 MPH). The ride takes about two and a half hours each way and, while it's not really a time saver when comparing it to a flight, it is cheaper and offers benefits like being able to move around, shop for duty-free booze, watch a movie, and have a snack.
|All photos by Laine Doss|
|First class all the way.|
Like an airplane, the ferry offers economy and first-class seating. Opt
for the first-class which, unlike on airplanes, is only about $20 more
each way. For the extra expense, you'll get reclining seats, a lounge area,
and a complimentary movie.
Like catching a flight, you've got to
be at the ferry terminal an hour and a half before its 10 a.m.
departure. That sounds lousier than it is, because boarding takes place at
about 9 a.m., and waiting on the ferry is pretty pleasant.
underway, be prepared for speed. This sucker is fast! Buy a beer, sit
back, and enjoy the ride. The company is planning on putting in a
casino and making some other improvements, but for now, download a few
books or movies to your iPad or watch for flying fish and dolphins out
|That's some wake from the ferry...|
A big "con" for the ferry is the fact that going outside
is prohibited....something about "safety." Psh. There is, however, a smoking deck, a leftover feature
from when the catamaran did European shuttle service. You can thank all those
stringent U.S. Coast Guard safety regulations for the fact that you
can't get any more sun.
|Duty Free on board.|
A big "pro" is the ability to buy cheap booze and snacks on board.
The ferry docks in Freeport and it's
about a 20 minute taxi ride to the main tourist area of Port Lucaya. If you're just crossing over for the day, the ferry offers a daytripper fare of $49 per person each way
(not including additional taxes and fees). But if, like us, you're staying overnight on the
island, you can book packages including ferry and accommodations,
starting at $149 for two nights at a Freeport hotel.
|Say hello to my little friend....|
The Pelican Bay Hotel
is located adjacent to Port Lucaya Marketplace and
the marina. The boutique-style resort has three pools, a dockside bar
and restaurant, and complimentary goldfish to keep you company in your
1850 Eller Drive, Fort Lauderdale, FL