So much money is being poured into the island's tourism market. Most recently, around $150 million for a new Resorts World Bimini 300-plus-room hotel slated to open in spring 2015. The island does feel like one big hotel at times. It's tough to find a Bahamian not in uniform. The parts of the island not owned by foreign companies, like Alice Town, Bimini's capital, are a sharp contrast from resort property. They are authentic, and -- at times -- a bit rundown. There are boarded-up houses, graveyards of abandoned boats, and scenes that are anything but luxurious.
"I love it. I get to meet so many interesting people," local waiter Lamar Wallace had to say about the island's influx of tourists.
It should be noted that Wallace was saying this in the face of an outstretched hand clutching a $5 tip.
The economy of the Bahamas has revolved around tourism for some time now and will no doubt continue to depend on it. Where exactly does the bulk of that money go, though? To foreign companies. The hotels, restaurants, cruise ships, and resorts. By the time the wealth trickles down to the true locals, it probably feels like an ice cube tossed from the top deck of a cruise ship.
That, however, is not the concern of the 600 SuperFast passengers perusing the still-picturesque island. Their concern? Fun. And dammit, they are having plenty of it.
Around 5 p.m., the island starts to clear. Literally. It's eerie. Hundreds flock back to the boat, show their room keys, pass metal detectors, and hit the restaurants -- which, despite those whisperings of snarky Yelp reviews -- are pretty darned good.
People are hungry, sunburnt, drunk, and decidedly less rowdy than on the way to Bimini. It could be because it's a slightly older crowd sailing on this particular Tuesday. Snowbird season is in its fetal stages, and spring break is still a ways away.
After a couple more hours, we dock back in Fort Lauderdale around 9:10 p.m. One more winding line through customs and we're back on American soil.
So what about the cruise? This blog got a bit long-winded and veered off-topic, but let's blame it on the lingering effects of a clock-less island paradise.
It's fun. It's really fun. It's a hell of a way to kill a day. There aren't many other opportunities to embark for another country at 9 in the a.m., spend five hours gallivanting around, and be back before bedtime. You'll spend some money, but you'll spend a similar amount drinking all day on Las Olas.
The cruise itself is everything a cruise should be.
The larger question at hand is where exactly that cruise will be cruising to in ten years. What kind of Bimini will the SuperFast be dropping its passengers off at in 2024?
There are many different answers to that question depending on whom you ask. One thing is certain, though. Whatever Bimini will look like in a decade, Ernest Hemingway probably wouldn't write a book about it.
Day Cruises start at $157.30 per person from Port Everglades. If you buy one full-priced ticket, you can receive up to three free tickets. You can book them here or call 888-930-8688.