By: Katy DeHaven
Continuing our look at popular Caribbean ports of call let's jump over to Nassau in the Bahamas.
The beginning of the Bahamas archipelago itself is located just 50 miles off the coast of Florida. Nassau is one of the most popular and often congested cruise ports in the Caribbean, it is located on the 21-mile-long island of New Providence. The city itself features tree-lined streets, horse drawn surreys, soft sand beaches, Vegas-type casinos, and duty-free shopping. Let’s take a look at some of what makes this a popular cruise port.
The world famous Nassau Straw Market can be found on Bay Street in the downtown area. This open-air market is a great place to pick up handwoven straw crafts, Bahamain souvenirs and trinkets.
Surrounded by tropical gardens, the Graycliff Hotel and restaurant offered the first 5-star dining experience in Nassau serving Bahamian influenced Continental cuisine. The historic mansion was built in 1740 and is a short walk from the cruise terminal. To learn more about this historic site:
Fort Charlotte is a British-Colonial era fort overlooking the harbor. It was named in honor of the wife of King George III. It was built as a battle station to attack invading Spaniards, however it was never used in battle. The fort is located just a short walk west of downtown and the cruise ship terminal. Enjoy this video tour of the fort:
Fort Fincastle was built in 1793 on Society and Bennet’s Hills to protect Nassau from pirates. It overlooks the city and the Queen’s Staircase. The fort is often accessed via the Queen’s Staircase by visitors on foot. Queen’s Staircase is a walkway of 65 steps carved of solid limestone by 600 slaves from 1793 to 1794 to create an escape route from the fort.
Speaking of pirates, The Bahamas was once known as having the greatest concentration of pirates in the Caribbean. Visitors can head to the Pirates of Nassau Museum to learn about their history in the area. The museum features exhibitions, rare displays and a gift shop.
Visitors looking to sample some Bahamian rum take a tour of John Watling’s Distillery. Located near the Government House in Nassau, it was constructed in 1789 and still maintains its timeless elegance today. Check out this short video tour.
Another great spot for rum lovers is The Bahamas Rum Cake Factory in downtown Nassau. Popular flavors include Amaretto Cake, Banana Rum Cake, Cholocate Rum Cake, Cinnamon Rum Cake, Coconut Rum Cake, and more. Check out this video to learn more.
The Government House dates back to 1801 and is the official residence of the Governor General of The Bahamas. This imposing pink and white building on Duke Street is a great example of Bahamian-British and American Colonial architecture. For a tour and to learn more about the history of residence click here.
Visitors to Nassau who just want to enjoy at the beach have several free options close to the cruise ship terminal which include Love Beach, Jaws Beach, Junkanoo Beach, Cabbage Beach, and Cable Beach. Check out this video to learn more about each beach and what amenities they offer.
Atlantis Paradise Island is a popular ocean-themed resort offering a waterpark, fresh and salt water lagoons, pools, marine habitats, water slides and river rides. Day passes to experience what the resort has to offer are available for purchase for non-resort guests. Check out this video tour of the resort.
Blue Lagoon Island also known as Salt Cay is home to dolphins and sea lions at Dolphin Encounters. In addition to swimming with the dolphins and sea lions visitors to the island can enjoy snorkeling right off the beach, renting paddle boards, kayaks, water bikes, underwater scooter and snorkeling gear. The island also offers an inflatable aqua park.
Swimming with the pigs is a popular excursion from Nassau on the island of Exuma about an hour and a half away by powerboat. The pigs will eagerly great visitors to their island, in the hopes that they have brought food with them! Click here to learn about the pigs on Exuma.
Many of the cruise lines have private islands in The Bahamas so in addition to your stop in Nassau your cruise itinerary may include a stop at the cruise lines' private island. Here is a listing of cruise lines and their private islands in The Bahamas, each link includes a short tour of the island.
Disney Cruise Line - Castaway Cay
Holland America/ Carnival Cruise Lines - Half Moon Cay
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line - Perfect Day at Cococay
Norwegian Cruise Line - Great Stirrup Cay
Princess/ Carnival Cruise Lines - Princess Cays
We hope you have enjoyed your virtual visit to Nassau, The Bahamas!