UPDATE: The Bimini SuperFast is no longer running out of Port Everglades. The ship now only departs from PortMiami.
It's 5:33 p.m. Bimini is at our backs now as dozens shuffle aboard the boat that brought us the roughly 50 miles that separates Florida's coast from the tiny island. We're about to make our way back to Port Everglades.
Before we're allowed back on the ship, we have to put on shirts and have our feet washed off with a hose wielded by an island employee who seems to be enjoying his job a little too much. The immediate protocol before boarding -- both in Fort Lauderdale and Bimini -- is to get your hands sprayed with a squirt bottle full of hand sanitizer by an impossibly cheerful Filipino employee.
Present your room key. Glide up the escalator. And you're back inside the floating entertainment center known as the Bimini SuperFast. Wave goodbye to the seven-mile-long, 700-foot island poking out of the Atlantic.
See also: The Bimini SuperFast Day Cruise (Photos)
Let's take a step back for a moment, though, to the beginning. It all started this morning. Today was the inaugural voyage of Resorts World Bimini's Bimini SuperFast out of Port Everglades, an eight-hour day cruise to the island of Bimini in the Bahamas. The vessel (today sailing with around 600 out of a roughly 1,500 capacity) has been cruising to Bimini from the Port of Miami since 2013, but as of today, October 14, it added Fort Lauderdale departure dates for anyone looking to kill a Tuesday, Wednesday (don't we all want to kill Wednesday?), and Thursday. The day cruise costs $157.30 per person. Though if you buy one full-priced ticket, you can get up to three free, which is why the advertised price per person on their website is $49.50. Their competitors, the Baleària Group, will send you on a day cruise to Grand Bahama island from Port Everglades for $119.
Before we shoved off, there was a morning ceremony held at Port Everglades terminal 21. In attendance -- bright and early (as she reminded us several times) -- was the Broward County mayor and face you've probably seen on a local Suburban -- Barbara Sharief. After a few other speeches, exchanged plaques, and smiles, we were ushered onboard the apple-red Bimini SuperFast.
Two squirts later, we were in the belly of the boat. The ship weighs in at 3,200 tons. It has six bars and restaurants and a casino inside. From nose to tail, it's 669 feet.
Describing a cruise ship to those poor land-locked souls who've never been on one is a difficult task. It needs to be experienced. It's like a hotel but swaying. Not just that, but there's this awareness of the ocean beneath you. It's clear on everyone's faces. Some wobble. Some stare out at the horizon, which, no matter how often you've seen it, never looks as pretty as it does from the top deck with a rum in hand. And some, well, some just get really drunk.
The cruise experience kind of makes you get pirates. Out on the open sea, rules seem insignificant. Why not chug a bottle of rum? You're in the ocean, bitch. Your cell phone won't work. Your Gmail account can go fuck itself. Even that dolphin the person next to you swears they saw? Fuck that dolphin, man. To quote Andrew Samberg, "I'm on a boat." Which oddly, wasn't played at all on the voyage (even more oddly, we heard Pharrell's "Happy" only once. Once!).
The Bimini SuperFast does feel, well, superfast. At least for its size. It chugs along at around 30 miles per hour, kicking up a soccer-field-sized white foam in its wake. When peering over the railing of the ship, it dawns on you just how terrible -- how lonely -- a death it would be to fall overboard. Luckily, no one did. Though New Times did toss an ice cube off the starboard side, you know, for science.
After some drinks -- gambling, if you prefer -- land peers over the horizon. From Fort Lauderdale to Bimini, the trip is about three hours long. We boarded around 9 a.m., rolled into port at Bimini at 11:58 a.m., and touched sandal to concrete at 12:11 p.m. After unboarding, we were put on a human centipede of a golf cart and driven to a designated Resorts World Bimini beach. Our deadline to be back at the boat was 5:45 p.m.