Cruise itineraries with stops in The Bahamas offer many excursions through the cruise line. Nassau has been a popular port stop for centuries, first with explorers, then pirate. Today, with a few options for cruise travelers, you too can explore this popular destination.
As the ship cruises into port, Atlantis can be seen rising over the horizon from Paradise Island. This famous resort and casino is also home to a massive waterpark and one of the largest aquariums in the world. Cruise lines offer dedicated excursions to this area, which includes transportation and entry fee into the waterpark.
Blue Lagoon Island is a nearby private tropical oasis for families, couples, and groups. Lunch is usually included in this exucursion, along with ferry to the island. Check the details of your excursion before booking.
Exploring on your own is always an option if choosing to forgo the group tours from the port. We grabbed a map from the Visitors’ Center while walking out the secured port area. Here are a few of the sights we came across during a leisurely day in Nassau..
Things to See
Queen’s Staircase and Fort Fincastle are located a few blocks away. We didn’t have a guide at the entrance to the staircase, but a local, Tony, was kind enough to give us a brief overview and history of the area. There are sixty-five steps carved out of solid limestone that lead to Fort Fincastle. While the staircase has no entry fee, it is polite to tip the guide a few dollars. Fort Fincastle does, however, have a minimal entry fee of $3 per person. It was built in 1793 and overlooks the city.
Straw Market is located near the port and easily accessible from the Wood Rodgers Walk. If its a first visit to Nassau, it’s an interesting experience. The Market sells local Bahamian goods and souvenirs.
Junkanoo Beach is a fifteen minute walk from Port George Wharf, where the cruise ships dock. There are beach chairs, beachside bars, and a sandy beach for relaxing. It isn’t much of a swimming beach, however there’s no charge to find a spot in the sunshine and spread out your beach towel.
Eat and Drink
Graycliff Restaurant is near Blue Hill Road and West Hill Street. It’s set in a mansion with a romantic atmosphere. Graycliff offers wine tasting and chocolate sampling onsite at the mansion.
Señor Frogs is a chain restaurant found in many cruise ports, including Nassau. It’s close to the wharf, with seating by the water.
The Fish Fry is a bit of a walk, a few minutes past Junkanoo Beach. It is a collection of food stands and restaurants serving fried fish, conch dishes, and other Bahamian fare. We stepped all the way to the outskirts and enjoyed a Kalik Beer, the local brew of the Bahamas, along with a fish plate while overlooking the water.
Marshall’s World Famous Pina Coladas was a stand we passed walking by Junkanoo Beach. On the walk back we decided to taste this libation for ourselves. Marshall was funny, personable, and concocted what was probably the best Pina Colada I’ve ever tasted. The drink was $8 in a cup ($10 served in a coconut) and was worthy of the title “World Famous”.
While the Straw Market is the open air place to get inexpensive souvenirs from Nassau, this destination is known for its luxury shopping options such as diamonds, emeralds, watches, and handbags. Because these items are duty-free and tax-free, many cruise passengers use this port stop as their day of big ticket shopping.
Check with your cruise ship’s personal shopper who usually offers a special card to take around to certain shops where cruise passengers are able to grab better deals and free gifts along with these purchases.
These are just some of the many places to visit while exploring Nassau in The Bahamas. A tip to remember is to always check what time boarding closes for your ship and return in plenty of time. You sure don’t want to be that passenger standing at the dock as the ship pulls away.