No Airplane Required
Escaping to another country just for the day
Show off any picture of Bimini and your friends will think you jetted to some far- off Caribbean destination. They’ll see water as blue as the summer sky; white, powdery sand that coats your bare feet like sugar; and a backdrop of tropical palms and flowers overlooking it all.
There’s no way such a tropical place could exist so close to the United States, let alone Southwest Florida, right? That couldn’t be further from the truth!
They’ll never believe you when you say the photos are from an island you can get to with one tank of gas from anywhere in
Southwest Florida ( and a cruise ship, of course). It’s all true— it’s all on Bimini, a small group of islands nestled roughly 50 miles away from Miami that’s part of the Bahamas. And the best part is, you can take a deluxe cruise ship from the Port of Miami to this island getaway in the morning— and be back before mom rings the dinner bell at night.
That convenience is what lured Gaby Carabajal, her boyfriend, and another couple on board. “You come back and you get to come home the same day,” says Carabajal. “It’s the weekend and it’s easy.”
Carabajal and her boyfriend, along with another friend, decided to surprise one of their close friends with the day cruise for his birthday. The gorgeous scenery, entertainment on board, and delicious tropical drinks made for a perfect day, she says. “I love the view. I’m obsessed with this,” Carabajal explains as she points to the disappearing Miami coastline. “It’s gorgeous. Even though it’s a little cloudy right now, it’s still breathtaking.”
But the best part for this foursome is that the all- day cruise doesn’t quash any late- night plans. “You’re back by 7 p. m., so you can still do something afterward if you’d like,” says Carabajal.
Guests need to arrive at the Port of Miami promptly by 7: 30 a. m. for clearance to board the Bimini SuperFast. Also, Bimini may be close, but it’s still located in the Bahamas, so everyone needs to carry a passport to sail.
The festivities start as soon as you step on board. There’s a DJ blasting Top 40 hits on the top deck along with dancing, karaoke and trivia. You can even do some gambling on board in the ship’s casino. Resorts World Bimini, the group that owns and operates the
Bimini SuperFast as well as a resort on the island, offers six
BY 9 A. M., YOU’RE CRUISING AWAY FROM THE FLORIDA COAST. YOU TYPICALLY REACH BIMINI IN LESS THAN THREE HOURS.
THE GORGEOUS SCENERY, ENTERTAINMENT ON BOARD, AND DELICIOUS TROPICAL DRINKS MADE FOR A PERFECT DAY.
restaurants and bars on board. There’s a continental breakfast buffet in the morning as well as an option for a traditional, sitdown meal. And in the evening, guests can grab a multicourse meal or be more casual and get burgers and hot dogs on the top floor, overlooking the seas.
By 9 a. m., you’re cruising away from the Florida coast. You typically reach Bimini in less than three hours. Once you’re close to shore, guests take large catamarans to the island and spend about three hours on Bimini.
When your feet hit the sand, Bimini is your oyster! Trams are waiting to take you either to the resort the cruise company also owns or through a small town on North Bimini where you can check out local vendors, drink fruity drinks at the island’s favorite watering holes and take a dip in the pristine, turquoise water at the beach.
For passengers like Kara McKinney, it was all about the beach. “The water is very blue and very clear,” she says. “The sand is nice. It’s beautiful. Just like a postcard.”
McKinney now calls Aventura, Florida, home, but she recently moved there from Fort Myers. She says even if she still resided in Southwest Florida, she’d take the trip in a heartbeat.
“This leaves pretty early in the morning, so you don’t have to worry about traffic,” says McKinney. “Or you could come down Friday evening, spend the night in Miami and come straight over here. It’s very accessible for someone in Southwest Florida.”
McKinney says another selling point is price. According to the company’s website, day cruises start at just $ 99 per person, oftentimes with “Buy One, Get One Half Off” specials. Some guests even booked their voyages through Groupon for just $ 50. “I would definitely recommend it for someone,” says McKinney. “Look for the Groupon. Prices compared to Miami are a lot cheaper.”
Guests should allow plenty of time to get on and off the ship, both in Bimini and when the ship docks again in Miami. Resorts World Bimini is now offering cruises Friday through Sunday. For a full schedule and to learn more about onboard accommodations and the resort, head to rwbimini.com.
n Nick Ciletti is a frequent contributor to TOTI Media. During the week, he’s an anchor and reporter for NBC2 News in Fort Myers.
Aboard the Bimini SuperFast ( top l eft), complete with casino ( top right) and other entertainment, passengers can reach Bimini’s blue water by lunchtime.
Visitors to Bimini can take in a postcard view while sipping a fruity drink ( below left) or exploring a heap of conch shells ( below right).