Visiting kids should not leave the Bahamas without meeting the local kids
Abaco Beach Resort Bahamas Buddy Program

Visiting kids should not leave the Bahamas without meeting the local kids

Wherever you go this summer, encourage your kids to chat up local kids, join a pick-up soccer game in a city park or play in a playground or on the beach. They’ll go home with an entirely different perspective. I met these Bahamian kids at the Abaco Beach Resort where they’ve signed on to be Bahamas Buddies

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Families flock to the Caribbean for great deals in summer
Snorkeling is a fun activity with kids

Families flock to the Caribbean for great deals in summer

In summer, you’ll find cheaper air fares to the Caribbean than in winter, too, which will enable you to experience more far-flung locales. Look for deals in the Bahamas, for example, that include free airfare from Nassau to the outer islands. But be forewarned that especially if you plan to travel in August or September, a tropical storm might rain on your parade.

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In the Abacos: mixing culture with tourism in a People-to-People program
Local and visiting kid in Beach Buddies program on Abacos

In the Abacos: mixing culture with tourism in a People-to-People program

That’s also the idea behind the Bahamas People to People Program. Visitors are paired with locals of similar interests who might take them to church, running in Nassau, on a boat ride or a kayak in Grand Bahama Island or to dinner at their home. There is no charge.

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Abacos Islands in the Bahamas: Laid back and simple family vacation territory
Lighthouse symbolizes Abaco

Abacos Islands in the Bahamas: Laid back and simple family vacation territory

Welcome to the Abacos Islands in the Bahamas —a chain of some 120 tiny islands, home to just 14,000 people and a mecca for boaters, fisherman, snorkelers and divers. Today we’re at Munjack Cay about 40 miles by boat from the town of Marsh Harbor with Lincoln and Marcus Jones who have brought us and some other guests here to cook the fish we’ve just caught.

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Learning all about Junkanoo, the festivals kids love most in the Bahamas
Learn a little Bahamian culture with Junkanoo parade at grand Bahama resort where we stayed

Learning all about Junkanoo, the festivals kids love most in the Bahamas

What began with programs for school kids in the Bahamas in 2000, now attracts cruise ship passengers and other visitors for workshops in Junkanoo costume making. And what amazing costumes they are, put together with thousands and thousands of strips of brightly colored crepe paper adorned with feathers and gold and silver buttons.

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Day Two in the Bahamas — what’s Nassau without Pink Flamingoes?
Herding flamingoes at Ardastra Garden, Zoo and Conservation Centre in Nassau

Day Two in the Bahamas — what’s Nassau without Pink Flamingoes?

There’s certainly plenty of that here in Nassau, the Bahamas capitol just 179 miles east of the Florida Coast. It is just 21 miles long and seven miles wide and a bridge links Paradise Island to New Providence Island—Nassau’s other name.

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Five whirlwind days touring the Bahamas – a family vacation paradise
Meeting the dolphins on Grand Bahama

Five whirlwind days touring the Bahamas – a family vacation paradise

Ava Thompson is the chief family officer for the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism—that means she helps families decide which island best suits them and what to do when they arrive. She explains that Grand Bahama Island, home to about 55,000 people, is a nice mixture of city (Freeport) and laid-back island feel.

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Aboard the new Norwegian Breakaway — plenty to keep kids entertained
Norwegian Breakaway inside the kids club

Aboard the new Norwegian Breakaway — plenty to keep kids entertained

If you’re on board the new Norwegian Breakaway, you—and baby—and grandma might all be joining in special “Guppies’ activities—maybe finger painting with special paints or using chalk or crayons made out of vegetables. "We want those younger families whose kids aren’t in school,” said CEO Kevin Sheehan –especially during times of year when there aren’t school breaks.

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Two days on the new Norwegian Breakway – a ship made for New York
Norwegian Breakaway:walking the plank

Two days on the new Norwegian Breakway – a ship made for New York

That this ship is home-ported in New York is such a big deal that Mayor Bloomberg was on hand for the christening. “New York is the number one cruise capitol in the Northeast,” he said welcoming 587,000 passengers in 2012—growing 32 per cent just in one year. “Breakaway will add to those numbers and it will be our pleasure to show them the greatest city in the world,” he said

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