A few weeks ago I rolled up to the Port of Miami and hopped aboard the new Resorts World Bimini cruise.* The experience so far exceeded my expectations that I’m planning another quick getaway to Florida’s nearest Bahamian neighbor. Here are six reasons why you should, too.
1. It Really IS a Cruise Ship!
I’ll admit that when I heard the ship referred to as a “superfast ferry” I cringed, bracing myself for bare-bones boating over bumpy seas. But I was wrong. The SuperFast is a bonafide cruise ship (13 years old; built in Germany) with many of the mod cons you’d expect on a liner twice its size. There are four restaurants, five bars, a casino, a sports book (gaming lounge), and, best of all, 180 comfy cabins where you can kick back and relax in private. No, there’s no rock-climbing wall, ice rink or spa, but you’re on board for such a short time that you won’t miss them.
2. It’s a Great Value
How much did you spend on your last night out? I’m betting it was way more than the $20 roundtrip it costs for the Friday- and Saturday-night party cruise (to nowhere) on this ship.
And it probably set you back more than the $69 per person roundtrip starting fare for the Bimini day cruise, too. And that price not only covers your fare but also includes a continental breakfast and barbecue buffet. Want a proper meal? The all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast in the Sailfish Restaurant is only $5, and a three-course la carte dinner in the surprisingly elegant Ponce De Leon is just $20.
Even springing for a cabin – handy for napping or showering on the way to or from Miami and particularly useful for families with kids – will only set you back $40 for an inside. It’s almost more expensive to stay at home!
3. It’s Quick and Convenient
Bimini is just 50 miles east of Miami, and traveling at speeds of up to 30 knots, it takes just under three hours to get there. Just park at the port, board, and in less time than it takes to drive to Orlando, you can be on the beach in the Bahamas!
One caveat: Until construction on the Bimini pier is complete you have to tender from the open water onto shore, which adds about 30 minutes to the journey and therefore cuts into daytrippers’ precious hours on island. For the fullest island experience, day sailors may want to wait until the new year to visit.
4. There’s Lots To Do on Island
The tourist hubs of Nassau and Paradise Island get all the attention but smaller Bahamian outposts are just as much (if not more) fun, and sleepy six-square-mile North Bimini is tiny but terrific. We rented a golf cart and trundled along the main drag to white-sand Radio Beach (bliss!), browsed souvenir stalls, and sampled the fare at beachfront seafood stalls. Speaking of which …
5. The Food is Fab!
Bimini is a foodie’s dream, and you’ll never go hungry here. My first priority was tasting the conch salad (a ceviche-style preparation made with the raw mollusk) for which the Bahamas is famous. And three stands later I was sated, full of tangy goodness from Joe’s Conch Shack, Stuart Conch Salad Stand and The Bonefish Club. Lunch was a lobster and conch pie from Edith’s Pizza, and we couldn’t leave without tasting the island’s famously soft and sweet Bimini bread, from Taste of Heaven bakery. Best of all, all these foodie finds are all on Bimini’s main street, so there’s no challenge finding somewhere to chow down.
Resorts World also owns the largest hotel on the island, Resorts World Bimini. The former Bimini Bay Resort now has a spanking new casino and marina; its spacious cottage-like condo rooms are being refurbished; there’s a new beach club and restaurant; and they’re building luxury waterfront homes for sale. (JetSetShoppers like me will love the marina boutique that has stylish lounge and beachwear and accessories.) Cruise-and-stay packages start at $159. And even if you’re only on island for the day, you can hang out at the resort’s pools and beach club (although it’d be a shame not to see the island). You won’t even need to catch a cab there because the tender drops you off right at the hotel’s doorstep – which is conveniently four steps away from the Bimini Immigration and Customs building!
The Resorts World Bimini SuperFast leaves the Port of Miami at 9 a.m., returning from Bimini at 4:30 p.m. each day. On Friday and Saturday nights, the party cruise departs Miami at 10 p.m., returning at 4 a.m. rwbimini.com; 888-930-8688
* I visited Bimini as a guest of the cruise line and resort. But I loved it so much I’m paying for my next trip!