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Three Stars
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Three stars outside the port window in the black night followed the nearly full moon that cast a silver shimmer on the rolling sea. There it was, in full view, following my side of the ship. How could I be so fortunate? Once I sailed the deep blue water of the Bahamas Banks in our family's 70 foot yacht, Lady Ace, a pretty luxurious ketch rigged one off Alden design craft with teak decks, and five sails for all five family members. That story, however, is a diversion.

This sailing is aboard the Ft. Lauderdale to Nassau and return cruise on a beautiful ship of European manufacture, electric plugs and restroom design included. No stateside electric appliance could be charged; yet, the shower water had a safety button to be sure you chose hot water safely. The cabin was just a smidge larger than the captain's cabin aboard Lady Ace. I kept looking overhead for the hatch to open that wasn't there. I had to settle for the large, square port that gave me back the passion for the sea I had missed all the years since the sailing adventure. Wonderful, though, were the down comforter stuffed duvet sheets for snuggling into the cozy queen bunks.

For the short cruise, an amazing array of events were available for fun and pleasure. The pools were not much more than hot tub size except for the magnificent slide for children; the entertainment came straight from Las Vegas lobby shows; and the Casino would fit in my living room. Yet, the ambiance from the friendly crew and the equally amiable passengers made up for what the ship might lack in glamor compared to a newer or larger vessel. The two-story night club on the ship's stern could not have been improved, offering a panorama view of the sea from all directions. Everything from juggling fire to an afternoon movie and passenger talent shows took place on schedule in this fabulous setting.

Enough dining rooms to comfortably seat all passengers with choices provided an amazing assortment of meals from breakfast buffets to pecan crusted salmon formal dinners. Service was excellent. From ice cream on the top pool deck to Italian at most any hour on the fourth deck, every palate had something to please.

The ship's photographers took candid shots and formal shots. They were amazing. How they could point and click and turn out such professional photography had to be a credit to their expertise combined with the overall joy and relaxation of the passengers who were at their very best. The ethnic diversity of the passengers and the multiple languages spoken by staff and passengers added a cosmopolitan flavor to the adventure and fed my obsession for people watching to develop new characters for my stories.

Shore excursions in Nassau covered the gamut from Dolphin encounters to a day at Cable Beach and snorkling. For those seeking tamer enterprises, a glass bottomed boat and limosine tour were available. Since I once anchored in Nassau harbor and gasped in terror as the 65 foot mast barely cleared the bridge where onlookers were also expecting disastor, the tours did not interest me. I caught a local bus for travel around the small island, walked over the bridge to the new Atlantis resort and caught a ferry back to the straw market. The acquarium in the Atlantis lobby was beautiful and amazing. The resort amenities such as the not so lazy river were available for a day fee.

Yes, my brief cruise to Nassau was special and gave me all the time with friends, dining pleasures and entertainment that one weekend required. I called it a three star experience instead of a five, only because it was a big ship experience wantabe that did a wonderful smaller scale model. No, it wasn't five star hoteling or dining, but it was an exceptional value as a three star experience worth repeating many times over.