When asked about the popular ports of call for Holiday Cruise Lines, spokesperson Jennifer Pool had one quick answer – Lucaya Beach in the Bahamas. This island destination has many features that give it mass appeal and make it family-friendly. Chief among them are many natural wonders, including sparkling turquoise water with temperatures averaging 70 to 75 degrees, along with gorgeous white and gold sand beaches that stretch for several miles.
As USA Today reports, there is no shortage of activities— and many of them center around the natural resources that are inherent to the island. Deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, water skiing, parasailing, swimming with dolphins, and a glass bottom boat tour are all popular with vacationers.
Lucaya is also home to the Underwater Explorers Society (UNEXSO), ranked by Fodor's Travel as one of the world's most respected diving facilities. This facility caters to both casual tourists and people looking for serious training in scuba diving. UNEXSO offers one tank reef dives, dolphin dives, shark dives, and a ‘discover scuba’ course.
Additionally, Lucaya has a lively and vibrant shopping scene with The Port Lucaya Marketplace. This open-air shopping and entertainment hub is set on a five-acre peninsula that overlooks the waterfront. It offers a unique blend of upscale international designers and local, traditional handcrafted goods. It has one of the largest straw markets in the Bahamas and features locally made clothing and artwork and Bahamian rums being sold alongside designer brands such as Gucci and Nautica as well as crystal, fine jewelry, and gemstones. The market is also duty-free and visitors can find spectacular bargains.
At the center of the Port Lucaya Marketplace is the Count Basie Square, named for the famous jazz musician and bandleader. Every Thursday through Monday night, the square has live entertainment and Bahamian bands. It's also a fun place to celebrate the holidays, with a tree lighting ceremony in early December and fireworks displays for New Year's Eve, The Fourth of July, and Bahamian Independence Day (July 10.) Jennifer Pool of Holiday Cruise Line assures travelers that they are guaranteed to have a great time.
As she enticingly describes, “The entertainment scene has a lively mix of Bahamian music, bars, and dance clubs. Grand Lucayan Beach and Golf Resort is four star resort with seven acres of pristine white sand beaches. The scenic drive from the dock and fun-filled day trip to the Grand Lucayan is a favorite experience for day guests on the Holiday Cruise Line. It has a 24-hour casino that is open to the public. There is no shortage of amenities with seven pools, Jacuzzis, a water slide, waterfalls, and adult swim up bars. There is also plenty to do for the kids with a sand playground, a 35-foot wading pool, and plenty of games and competitions.”
Pool goes on to say that the Grand Lucayan experience is a big hit with guests on the Holiday Cruise Line. She thinks it really is the ideal day trip.
“The drive from the ship is gorgeous and picturesque, and it gets everyone excited for the day ahead. It's very easy to set your own pace and find something to do that fits your mood,” Pool adds. “Some guests are looking for a lot of stimulation, and they gravitate towards the diving activities and casinos. Some guests are perfectly happy to lounge all day on the beach or de-stress with some rejuvenating spa treatments. We also get some avid golfers who can't wait to get out on the world class 18-hole courses. There really is no shortage of things to do. No one ever gets bored.”
The Grand Lucayan has two of the finest 18-hole championship golf courses in the Caribbean. The Reef Course, designed by leading golf architect Robert Trent Jones Jr., is set against the backdrop of the Grand Bahama Island and is ranked one the best in the world by The Golfer magazine. The 18-hole, par-72 championship course is designed to suit golfers at every level. It stretches nearly 7.000 yards and features eleven lakes and 57 bunkers. Even if you have never played, you can sign up for lessons at the Butch Harmon School of Golf. The Lucayan Course is also very popular. This 18-hole course, designed by Dick Wilson, is lush with tropical greenery.
Vacationers in Lucaya Beach also enjoy indulging their taste buds at the lavish buffets and chic restaurants. Day guests of Holiday Cruise Line have a buffet included in their package at the Grand Lucayan Beach and Golf Resort, but there are also plenty of restaurants and cafes to choose from. The port Lucaya Marketplace has several waterfront restaurants, and outdoor watering holes line Count Basie Square. The Banana Bay Restaurant is a Fodor's Choice eatery, with daily fresh fish specials and warm homemade banana bread. Flying Fish Modern Seafood is another Fodor's Choice for a special evening out, with a chic and upscale atmosphere.
Lucaya Beach packs a lot of activity into an area that is easily traveled, and can be enjoyed as a day trip or for an extended stay resort vacation. Whether you’re a day traveler on Holiday Cruise Line or you want to spend your entire vacation there, the island is built to be a tourist destination, with plenty to keep guests of all ages entertained.
Lonni Delane contributed to this article.