There’s Nothing Stuffy About A Bahamian High Tea

with Bruce Parkinson

The view from Government House, built in 1806.

Hostess Beverly Whitfield with Travel Agent Next Door Founder Flemming Friisdahl.

The world-renowned Royal Bahamian Police Force Marching Band.

The next-generation of Bahamian musicians.

Steven Johnson of the Bahamas Tourist Office Canada, with his cousin Kevin, prominent Nassau photographer and videographer.

I have to admit, spending the brief port time we had in Nassau at a tea party at Government House wasn’t the most appealing prospect at the end of a busy Travel Agent Next Door conference aboard Norwegian Escape.

Our hostess was to be Beverly Whitfield, retired Chief Protocol Officer for the Bahamas government. Protocol wasn’t necessarily my best course in charm school, so I was doubly dubious. Time to practice my curtsy.

But when I came ashore and saw Steven Johnson, hard-working stalwart of the Bahamas Tourist Office Canada, busily organizing 100 TTAND agents onto buses for a city tour and conch salad demonstration prior to heading to the mansion, I relaxed a little.

‘Hey, you’re in Nassau,’ I told myself: if any destination can make high tea a funky affair, the Junkanoo city was a good bet.

And so it went, beginning with a tour featuring high-speed commentary from driver Richard (pronounced Rich-HARD and don’t ask). Then we visited D Waters Café at Da Fish Fry, where we learned how to prepare a delicious conch salad – and were told of its aphrodisiacal properties (Rich-HARD was all ears).

We then headed to the beautiful Georgian colonial Government House, where a statue of Christopher Columbus now overlooks 4,000-pax cruise ships at Nassau’s port. We were greeted by a section of the renowned Royal Bahamian Police Force Band, which defied any negative marching band notions by adding Calypso and Reggae rhythms and featuring talented singers and soloists.

The seafood sandwiches and sweet cakes were delicious and an entertainment-packed hour featured joyful singing from the kids of Eva Hilton Primary School, a young ‘Rake and Scrape Band’ led by a ridiculously confident and talented pint-sized singer, and a fashion show featuring the upscale straw hat and bag works of local designer Dot Miller.

The former Chief Protocol Officer defied my sour expectations too. Beverly Whitfield saw me taking a picture of her from a distance and beckoned me over, asking me to take a closer picture with a better chance of success. She was gracious, lovely and down-to-earth.

As we prepared to make our way back to Norwegian Escape for our last evening aboard, the entire Royal Bahamian Police Force Marching Band gathered to serenade our departure.  Sincere thanks to Steven, Beverly and the many others who worked to deliver an amazing event that Travel Agent Next Door members are still talking about.

The Travel Agent Next Door Conference went ashore from Norwegian Escape for the honour of high tea at Government House in Nassau.

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