Walking off the Monarch of the Seas Royal Caribbean ship I was ready for shopping and a day of exploring. The lavishness of the cruise was getting to me and making me feel important compared to everyone else with my new bronze complexion from lounging around on royal Caribbean’s private island of Coco Cay. When we reached Nassau, I walked past the port and was about to cross the border it was a stark realization, the Bahamas wasn’t what I originally thought it was.
From what my friends had described of the Bahamas I was thinking of a wealthy area with Gucci and Coach stores on every corner but, they were only describing a portion of the Bahamas — Atlantis. The stores were there but, it was nothing like what I was expecting in Nassau. These people were in poverty, living off their meager incomes from cruise ship customers.
While I was approaching the crossing into Nassau from the ports my family was bombarded with street venders. Anything they could offer from a taxi ride to a tour guide, all in an effort to support their families. It really troubled me, and I began thinking how I could possibly help all of them? It made me feel spoiled and regretful for even being able to afford the cruise. Being in such a poverty stricken area and seeing these people trying to make a living off selling souvenirs made me look at my life in a different way.
The people of Nassau made the best they could with what they had, and the majority of Americans can still find something to complain about, even on a good day. As Americans we also take many things for granted, for example, stop lights — in the Bahamas they had police officers directing traffic with no assigned speed limit. When taking a taxi over to Atlantis, we were even asked to pay our own toll because the driver didn’t want it to cut into his earnings.
Ever since coming back from my trip in August of 2009 I have felt blessed and worked harder at doing community service. We take for granted that we have required education and we can do enjoyable things with our extra funds. My last two nights on the cruise I ate dinner with Alex and Michelle, a couple at our table; I was surprised that they had no reaction to the many poverty stricken people around Nassau. When I asked, Michelle simple stated, “Well we’ve been on this cruise many times, so we are use to it now.” I’ve come to realize most Americans see it this way, their senses have been dulled to the needs of people in other countries around us, and they just see it as normal.
I’m very appreciative that I went on this Cruise to Coco Cay and Nassau and am now more encouraged than ever to help with community service in places that aren’t as fortunate as us. Since being back in Bradenton, Florida I have raised $750 for UNICEF and have started to get involved with “Operation Smile”, and organization that raises money to fix cleft lips and palettes around the world. The more I volunteer the more I feel a part of the community.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.