This is the recounting of an adventure that left me one hobbly cruise short of a world record. Everything you will be reading is 100% an honest, fun and ridiculous story that I can only laugh about in the present, because I have gotten over the raw events that occurred. This is the story of that day.
Cruise Line: Carnival
Method of Transportation: Scooter
If you’ve ever gone on a cruise before then you’ll know all about those ridiculous hours that sometimes plague each destination, “Wake up at 5:30-6:00am, have a rushed breakfast, and then be off the ship for your 7:00am experience of the day”.
I was on vacation with less eager friends than I, and none of us were enthused about paying to shorten our sleep. It just wasn’t going to happen. So we slept into the glorious hour of 7:00am, somehow missed every opportunity for a real excursion, and were left to fend for ourselves.
Not a big deal at all, most of the cruisers don’t even go on excursions anyways. Instead they opt to experience the island as they want, at the pace they choose. So call us lackadaisical, call us lazy, but either way… Yes. Yes we were. But who cares, we were on vacation, heading to the industrious yet beautiful city of Nassau.
Nassau is on a beautiful and highly developed island called New Providence in the Caribbean. It is the capital of the Bahamas, and is the destination for hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. The only thing more incredible than its natural sites, are the unnatural developments popping up all around the island.
Perhaps you’ve heard of “Atlantis”? If you’re thinking of the sunken lost empire off the coast of Greece (presumably), then you wouldn’t be too far off. It’s a glorious Atlantis themed water park/hotel perfectly placed on a Bahamian beach on Nassau’s Paradise Island. Some incredible things that you might have heard of are the under aquarium water slides – letting you get as close to sleeping with the fishes as you’ll ever want to be – and the largest casino in the Caribbean.
But where was I? Oh yes, so I was just in the midst of waking up at 7:00am to get off my cruise ship in time to see enough of Nassau, and not feel rushed when my ship disembarks from the port at the obscure midday hour of 3:00pm.
When you’re getting off a cruise ship, expect locals to try and sell you everything from goods to excursions. Warning: It can be a bit overwhelming. Vendors shout aggressively at you, trying to rope you into something you’re not entirely sure about. A word of warning, no matter how safe and trustworthy most of them are, be very cautious. Practically none of the vendors are associated with the cruise lines, and none of them are regulated.
When you buy an excursion on a Cruise ship, your cruise line has already verified the seller and made sure that the experience is worth it for them to be associated with. This vetting process comes at a premium on board, costing you 2-3 times more than you would expect to pay. But they also often come with additional amenities, and some of the cruise lines will fight your battle for you if there’s ever an issue that occurs on your excursion. Not the case if you go through an unverified, random seller that happens to solicit you while you’re just getting off the cruise ship.
So anyways I finished breakfast, and began disembarking the ship with my friends. The sun was shining. The birds were chirping. And the industrial noise of large generators and machinery was drifting across the dock. It was going to be a good day.
When we left the ship, we had no idea what we were going to do. We knew we had to see the island and – as it was the first time there for a few of my friends – we knew we had to see a lot of it. We only had limited time but we weren’t going to stress. We would do what we could to make the most of it.
So here we are, walking down a port of vendors, and we had no clue where to start. Big mistake. If you don’t have a set plan when you get off the ship, then you run the risk of being enticed by everyone. But hey, sometimes this leads to a memorable experience.
First seller: Let’s do it!
You’re probably wondering what excursion could we possibly have bought so quickly? I’ll give you a hint, it’s got two wheels, an engine that purrs like a golf cart, it’s in a headline way up above, and it’s got a top speed that your grandma can run faster than. Answer: a scooter!
With one quick signature, a brief glance at a driver’s license (that could have expired decades ago, or even worse never even been the person they’re renting the vehicle to), and we’re off to the races. Trust me, they will let practically anyone drive one of these things. Who cares that it goes 50KM/H down busy Bahamian roads. As long as they get their money from you, so that they can make an “honest” living.
But wait! Sorry, I am misleading you. They definitely did a drivers test. We had to drive up 5 spaces in a parking lot, circle around, and then head back. This was our extensive 3KM/H drivers test that would tell them we could handle a motorized two wheeled vehicle on highways all around a foreign island – on the left side of the road might I add. You can thank the British for that piece of culture. But it doesn’t matter, it’s a cruise. It’s supposed to be filled with adventure! But the problem wasn’t that they let people rent one of these scooters. Oh no, the problem was that they let ME rent one of these scooters.
Let me clarify, I am most definitely not against mopeds or scooters of any kind. Besides their hilarious instant gratification, they can be handy and act as a lower costing means of convenient transportation. I am now however more convinced than ever that I’m one of a select few other people who happen to have a lifetime dilemma of: “Whether or not to go outside today?” Yes, I’m probably hilarious to watch. And in regards to limiting my activities, and me staying indoors? Ha! That’s never going to happen as long as I can help it.
So there we were, one short parking lot test later, set wild on the streets of Nassau. We were having an amazing day. Seeing the sights, finding little beaches off the beaten path, and buying little knick-knacks and souvenirs all across the island. It was actually an amazing way to see the island, and at only $100 for a scooter rental, +$10 for insurance coverage, it was far cheaper than some of the excursions we had looked at while onboard our cruise ship. The day couldn’t be going any better.
And that’s about when things took a turn for the worse.
I found myself on a two-man moped, being left in charge of driving my friend around on the island. We were probably the most confident of the group, leading the charge around every corner.
The sun was shining, our tans were starting to glisten, and the flip-flops on our feet were in full flop in the wind. And here we were, ahead of the pack, driving our two man scooter in style taking pictures as we went. And then it happened, “the turn of death”.
“The turn of death”
Alright maybe “the turn of death” is a little bit overkill. It was more like “the turn of slight bruising, cuts, and embarrassment”, but either way it wasn’t good. Here we were, approaching a roundabout, driving on the left hand side of the road (the British, remember?). We started to approach the roundabout the same as we had done a hundred times that day. We were cruising into the curb at a blistering 5KM/H – or slightly faster than a light Caribbean breeze. And then it happened. Call it nerves, call it fate, or call it a delayed onset of additional apathy from lunch. Either way, the wheel froze.
With a long steady scream, we hurled around the corner. We knew something was wrong, because we weren’t turning. We were heading straight into a foot tall curb, at what seemed like a speed fit for the Matrix. It was a slow accident. Not just slow, but ridiculously slow. Like, I probably could have put my feet down and stepped off the scooter before crashing head on into the curb, but I didn’t. We simply didn’t react beyond “AAGGGGHHHHH!” and putting our very revealed flip-flopping feet down onto the hot rugged pavement, in a futile attempt to try and slow us down. I’ll give you a hint, it did not work!
Our toes scrubbed the pavement. We bailed onto the grass, launched on top of each other and landed firmly on top of our scooter. Our friends stood by laughing. Luckily our injuries were mostly superficial. Aside from some minor scratches, cuts, and bruises, we were fine. Unfortunately for our embarrassment, it doesn’t end there. Once we had slowly drifted into a crash against the curb, burning – and gruesomely scrubbing – our toes on the pavement, a police officer drove past to catch us at our worst.
I can only imagine what he was thinking – “Typical tourists”. He was actually a really nice man, very concerned, and very willing to help. He offered to drive us to the hospital, or inform our cruise. Wiping the tears from our eyes, we thanked him profusely and sent him on his way.
Thank god I have insurance
Now you may be thinking this is the end of the story, and you’re almost right. But there was one last thing I need to cover: The practically fake insurance charge from the scooter rental guys.
We had paid $10 for insurance, but we didn’t read the fine print. Always, I repeat, ALWAYS read the fine print. The insurance which we thought was protecting us, was in fact a ruse. It was a minimal health coverage, that wouldn’t have even helped us if we needed to go to the hospital. It did not help with the now bent handle bars, the broken piece of siding that snapped off the bike, or even the injuries we sustained.
Our insurance was useless, and it left us stranded in a heated negotiation for how much the damage to the bike would cost us. As an honest person, I couldn’t rightfully walk away (or run for that matter) from the issue at hand. Although I could hear the cruise horn blowing behind me, signaling the fact that I had minutes before it left. Oh yes, we had already missed the final boarding call, and my negotiations weren’t even finished.
I crashed, and fair is fair. It ended up taking a frantic discussion before luckily I was able to get my costs down to $120 for the siding, and $60 for the cosmetic damage. Rather than being sympathetic the moped renters were as ruthless as they were furious. My continued insistence that I paid for insurance only made them more angry. The worst part is, I hadn’t even had my daily tropical drink! Nope, I was as sober as a kite, and it left me more embarrassed than a man who just walked into a woman’s washroom (not on purpose).
I am still in debate about the crash to this day. Was it the scooter that didn’t let me turn the wheel? Was it the extra weight I put on throughout the cruise? Or was it the fact that the day in the sun had given me a false sense of confidence? The truth is, who knows!
I do know that I don’t regret renting the scooter. It was an amazing, painful, type of day. More than likely I could have prevented myself from hurling head on, at a slow motion pace, directly into a curb. But I didn’t and I was left to limp around for the rest of our cruise with a bruise, an insurance ruse… and I didn’t even drink any booze!
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