Let me preface this by saying that my girlfriend is 29, I’m 34. I’ve traveled frequently and stayed in 2 star hotels and 5 star hotels; I typically stay in Marriotts, Hiltons and Westins. We enjoy the nicer things in life, but also love to be laid back and aren’t overly high maintenance.
Look, if you want 5 star luxury, don’t go to the Bahamas, or at least not Freeport. If you want to chill out and enjoy beaches and drinks, with some nightlife as well, go to the Bahamas. We were there over New Year’s Eve for 3 nights; first time I’d been to Freeport (I’ve been to Nassau/Paradise Island, and she’s been to Jamaica).
GETTING THERE: we took the Cloud X Fastboat Ferry from where I live, W.P. Beach, FL over to Lucaya/Freeport. First time I had done that; costs $150 and takes a bit too long, especially when you throw in the customs wait. (4-5 hours total time)
We got completely screwed on the cab ride to the Viva from the Port; the porter at the Port or the driver lied. It SHOULD cost you no more than $29 total for 2 people, and could cost less.
the Viva is a 20 minute cab ride from the Port, and about 15 from the airport. The Viva is on the west side of the island, somewhat isolated. It’s west of the Westin, Sheraton, etc. by a ways. As you may find, it’s almost impossible to locate a good map of Grand Bahama Island/Lucaya/Freeport.
easy, no problems. We stayed a few hours after we checked out and still ate and drank for free. Make sure you turn in your towel cards when you leave or you’ll lose $.
we had a room down by the beach, facing the beach. There are a number of different buildings; each building has various segments which are interconnected. The rooms were acceptable, with tile floors. The walls are very thin – you can hear things you may or may not wish to! Overall, the quality of the buildings is similar to your typical Holiday Inn. (Excluding big city, downtown Holiday Inns such as in Boston, NY, etc.) One day our toilet, for no apparent reason (or so my girlfriend swears!) overflowed. We moved next door. I was so relaxed by that time I didn’t really even care.
MAIN DINING HALL:
the Viva’s main dining hall is similar to a cafeteria or family diner. It’s buffet style, was clean, and has reasonable hours. Food was acceptable, as was the variety. The windows and doors are typically open, so don’t go there if a bird flying in to steal a french fry will freak you out. We thought it was kind of funny (this was infrequent and they weren’t on tables, etc.).
there are 2 restaurants there, an Italian and an Asian. We only ate at the Italian place; the food took too long and was served very simply but was actually quite good. You have to get reservations early on the morning of the same night you wish to dine at either.
the beach is great, and there are plenty of chairs. The weather when we were there was 75 during the day and 60 or so at night . . . in other words, perfect. Not a drop of rain. There is a beach bar with food.
The 32 oz insulated drink containers we brought worked fabulously, as did the mini-cooler we had to place them in as we sat on the beach hour after hour after hour. There is another indoor bar area near the pool. Both bars have pre-made frozen drinks and your usual mixed drink opportunities. Beer is available, but a poor selection.
one day we engaged in some archery, which was kind of cool. They have a little playhouse (mostly kid stuff) and a small work-out facility, with generally old equipment. They had ocean kayaks (used one of those), windsurfers and a Hobie Cat or two. Bocci ball and volleyball were available, as were some old beach cruiser type bikes. We took a ride east and went to a different beach one day.
there is a club at the Viva, which was playing some funky music the night we were there for a few minutes. We had just returned from Port Lucaya (by the Westin) on NYE, so we were already flying high. There are some decent bars and casinos by Port Lucaya, although service is really slow if it’s crowded. It was NYE, and we had a blast. Taxi from Viva was about $17, if I remember correctly.
their dollars and US dollars are equivalent and are used interchangeably. I didn’t even use a credit card while there.
don’t work without special adaptation.
generally friendly. As expected, some more friendly than others. An interesting mixture of islanders and Europeans, especially Italians.
a mixture of Americans, Canadians and Europeans, with a few Asians. Everyone seemed friendly. Some families, some couples, a few single folks.
certainly worth the $. You usually get what you pay for, and we didn’t want to pay too ridiculous an amount for this trip, which was planned a little bit late for a NYE trip. This was our first all inclusive, and it’s amazing how good it feels, psychologically, even if you don’t end up saving that much. The experience was good enough that I recommend it for most people. If you have questions, feel free to email me at Jamnole@aol.com