Nassau

Top 5 things to do in Nassau, Bahamas on a budget

In:
Category: 
14Aug2017

Chances are if you are sailing on a three or four-night cruise with Royal Caribbean you are stopping in Nassau, Bahamas. This has been a very popular port of call for the cruise line for many years. The actual distance from Miami to Nassau is only 184 miles, so this is usually the first or last stop of the cruise.

There are many excursions offered my Royal Caribbean in the cruise planner for Nassau, but there are not many options for those who might be on a budget. Let’s take a look at my top 5 things to do in Nassau without breaking the bank.

5. John Watling’s Rum Distillery

No matter what bar you visit in Nassau, you will notice they serve John Watling’s Rum. That’s because the distillery is right here in Nassau, in a home that’s over 200 years old. When I visit the distillery I always walk, but it does take 20-25 minutes and a rather large hill up getting there. So if that’s concerning to you just jump in a $10 cab ride.

When you arrive you are greeted with a sample of their famous piña colada. They then give you a quick 10-15 minute tour of the grounds and you end up in their gift shop where you can take the rum home with you. The tour and visit the property is completely free. They do have a nice bar where you can sample their three types of rum or order a full piña colada you sampled coming in.

4. Graycliff Hotel

Visiting this hotel is a pretty unique experience when you compare it to big resorts. The property itself is not very large and open to explore. They do offer day passes around $99pp, but let’s not forget we are looking for ways to save money and still enjoy all that Nassau has to offer. They have a few dining rooms in the hotel and really amazing to see the table setups. You can order pizza here, which is what they are famous for which is around $20.

Once you leave the hotel, right beside it is the Grayliff Chocolate factory. They make everything on the property and hand out free samples once you walk in the gift shop.

3. Queens Staircase

The Queen’s Staircase is almost hard to describe other than using words like, breathtaking. The walk here is only 10-15 minutes and very safe along the way, just look for the Nassau Hospital and the staircase is directly behind it.

Slaves carved the staircase in 1793 and there are a total of 66 steps down into a protected area for the Queen during that time. The area is totally shaded and feels really cool walking through it. Again this option is free to the public, but watch out for the locals trying to act like tour guides and expecting a tip. There is also a little fort outside the staircase you can explore too.

2. Baha Mar Resort

There is a lot of history around building the Baha Mar Resort on Cable beach. However, it’s finally open as of Spring 2017. The resort is on the other side of the island from where you dock, so you must take transportation over. In Nassau they have a city bus that the locals take for $1.25pp and you jump on it near McDonald’s. I know you must be thinking, how did the Atlantis not make this top 5 list, but this property is brand new and being over on Cable beach is a win for me.

My first time to the resort on the side of the island, I could not believe how beautiful and clean it was. Unfortunately, you can’t take use of the pool or beach on the property while visiting but you can gamble, shop, bar and explore the grounds.

1. Junkanno Beach

Coming in at number one is Junkanno Beach; you can’t be in the Bahamas and not enjoy their beautiful beaches. This beach is a short walk from the port and is open to the public. I discovered this beach many years ago and have been visiting ever since. I like being able to walk and leave whenever I want and the best part they have very cheap drinks at the tiki hut on the beach, like $2 beers.

They also have clean public restrooms on the beach that are fairly new. If you are looking for that free Wi-Fi they have that too! A few years ago I wrote my first blog post just on this beach so you can find more about the beach here.

Let me know what you enjoy doing in Nassau below, I’m headed there in a few weeks and would look to try something new on the island!

Excursion Focus: British Colonial Hilton in Nassau, Bahamas

In:
03Apr2017

Odds are if you take a Royal Caribbean cruise to somewhere in the Caribbean, there is a good chance you will stop in Nassau, Bahamas.  Nassau is one of the busiest cruise ports in the region, and offers quite a variety of shore excursions to consider.

On a recent stop in Nassau while on Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas, we decided to check out a well-respected resort just steps away from the port that offers a day pass for guests to enjoy their facilities without breaking our budget.  

Description

Located a short walk from the cruise terminal in Nassau, the British Colonial Hilton resort faces the entrance to Nassau harbor, and offers guests full access to the resort's pristine beach and pool. Guests that want to enjoy pool and beach time will find a convenient option on lovely grounds. The resort underwent an extensive refurbishment in 2009.

We reserved our spot at the British Colonial Hilton through a third-party website, ResortForADay.com.  The site will reserve each person a place at the resort, which only sells a limited amount of day passes. The day pass includes

  • $40 food and beverage credit per paid adult
  • $20 food and beverage credit per paid child
  • Beach access
  • Beachfront swimming pool
  • Towels, pool chairs and lounges
  • Beach chairs and lounges, umbrellas
  • Non-motorized water sports: kayaks, snorkeling gear

Transportation to and from the resort is not provided, but considering the location of the British Colonial Hilton to the cruise port, it is largely unnecessary if a leisurely 10 minute walk is not out of the question. If you need to take a cab, the price is $9.00 based on two and $3.00 for each additional person. The cab ride is also 10 minutes away from the hotel.

Arriving at the resort, you will enter the cavernous lobby to check-in.  The day pass is good from 9am until sunset. The bar takes the last food orders at 4.30pm with the bar closing at 5pm. Guest are welcome to stay in outdoor pool / beach area until sunset, however the lifeguard leaves at 5:00.

Following check-in, guests receive a special wristband and can then head to the pool and/or beach.

The pool area is located just outside the lobby, past the lush garden. It is a good sized pool, with a shallow and deep end, suitable for anyone that is comfortable to swim.

There are also lots of lounge chairs surrounding the pool, but shaded spots are quite limited.  In fact, at the pool the only shad provided comes from trees, so if shade is important to you, be sure to arrive early in the morning to grab a spot.  If all else fails, there is shade under the bar.

The beach area is quite large, and offers a great view of Nassau harbor.  In fact, it is a fantastic spot to watch cruise ships arriving or leaving, provided you happen to be there when such an event occurs.

Your day pass admission also includes a food and beverage credit, which is enough money to cover a lunch entree and cocktail.  The patio bar food and drink pricing is on the expensive side. Most entrees are around $20 and a cocktail will set you back about $15.  Keep in mind that your food and beverage credit does not cover gratuity or taxes.

Comments

When we considered the British Colonial Hilton, we wanted to spend our day in Nassau with the option of spending our time in the ocean of pool without spending a ton.  We travel with two young children (ages six and two), so trying to predict if the pool or beach will be to their liking is always tough, and the British Colonial Hilton seemed to fit our group needs.

For the price, I felt like we got exactly what we wanted from our day at the Hilton.  While other resort day pass excursions may have offered more to do than the British Colonial Hilton, we felt like the resort offered a great experience at a reasonable price. The resort grounds are immaculately well-kept, and our kids had a blast swimming for nearly the entire day in the pool.

The most obvious alternative we considered was a day pass to the nearby Atlantis resort, but the price difference was massive.  Certainly Atlantis offers quite a bit more to do in an even more luxurious backdrop, however, the price for us was too much to consider.

The two negatives that I noticed from my time at the British Colonial Hilton were the lack of shade at the pool, and the very high price for food and drink.  We were lucky to have arrived before most of the other day pass guests, because we snagged shade under one of the few trees by the pool.  The food and drink prices are something to be aware of, and I would advise only indulging enough to use up your credits.  The cocktail prices make Royal Caribbean's drink prices look like a bargain, so your best bet is to skip the binge drinking for somewhere else.

Overall, we really enjoyed our time at the British Colonial Hilton because it was exactly what we were looking for: a relaxing spot for pool and beach time that would suit our family's needs. 

Cost: $65 per adult, $30 per child (ages 6-12. Children 5 and under are free).

Royal Caribbean offering inexpensive Caribbean shore excursions starting at $19

In:
16Nov2016

Royal Caribbean's Shore Excursions offerings are now featuring some inexpensive shore excursions for guests on shorter sailings to Nassau, Bahamas and Key West, Florida.  Many of our readers are always interested in good and low-cost shore excursion options, so perhaps some of these will be helpful.

 

Through March 7, 2017, guests sailing on Empress of the Seas, Majesty of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas can take advantage of these fun and inexpensive tours.

Nassau Tours

Key West Tours

Excursion Focus: Junkanoo Beach

In:
Category: 
29Jan2015

I'd like to officially welcome our newest blog contributor, Michael Poole.  Michael has been a number of podcast episodes so far and joins our team to offer some great insight and advice based on his many Royal Caribbean cruise experiences!

Junkaoo Beach is a beautiful public beach located in Nassau, Bahamas.  I’ve visited this beach seven times within the last two years, and will go again next time I’m in Nassau. 

Getting There

Once you exit the ship you will see Senior Frogs located to the right.  You can’t miss it; if you don’t see it just follow all the people with wild balloons on their heads.  Once you get to Senior Frogs, you will stay on the sidewalk and it turns to the left. 

This is when you will see the first of 3 signs for Junkanoo Beach (right in front of the Sheraton hotel, which is a free hotspot zone I might add).

The sidewalk will go through the town of Nassau, and takes around 5 minutes once you get to this point. 

So the only direction I can give you is just stay on the side walk until it runs into Junkaoo Beach, remember there will be two more signs saying Junkaoo ahead to ensure you are on the right path. 

About the beach

Now that you have arrived, you must be asking yourself what should I do first? Well explore, I will say it’s not very large and can get a bit crowded, but then again its FREE! 

They have a tiki bar special that includes 3 beers + 4 shots + wifi password (which was Byron98 when I was there) for $10.  For that price, it is a steal, if you ask me.  I’ve never eaten here but the food looked great. They cook it on a grill right in front of you, made to order.  

If you are more into relaxing that’s fine there is plenty of beach area, just remember to bring a beach towel. 

If snorkeling is more your style they rent the equipment right on the beach.  In fact, they also offer the stand up paddle-boards for rent, which looks quite fun and a great photo opportunity with the light house in the background. 

Whether you are a family or simply on a budget, I think Junkaoo Beach is a great way to spend the day in Nassau.  And remember it’s only a short walk back to the pier when ever you want to head back.  

Quantum of the Seas makes inaugural call to Nassau, Bahamas

In:
30Nov2014

Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas made her first visit ever to Nassau, Bahamas on Thanksgiving Day last week.

Photo by The Bahamas Weekly

To commemorate the occasion, a special ceremony was held on the ship.  

Director General of Tourism Joy Jibrilu commented on the long history between The Bahamas and Royal Caribbea, "Royal Caribbean has been docking out shores for 44 years, beginning in 1970 with the Song of Norway just six years following the establishment of Tourism as the primary industry for economic development within The Bahamas."

“As time progressed, The Bahamas became the model and leader in the Western Hemisphere, and Royal Caribbean has stayed with us throughout these years. Our Tourism sector has grown by leaps and bounds and similarly, so have you – your first ship, the Song of Norway at 18,000 tons in 1970 and now the Quantum of the Seas weighing in at 169,000 tons, a mere increase of 151,000 tons."

"The expanse and the vested interest Royal Caribbean has maintained in The Bahamas assures that Royal Caribbean has its place in The Bahamas Tourism archives and we are happy that you are our friend and partner."

The ship’s master Captain Srecko Ban said officials of the ship are very proud to bring the unique to Nassau.

“We thank you for your great hospitality,” he said. “We will be coming to your fine port throughout the winter until May. We look forward to a successful partnership in the future,” he said.

Nassau/Royal Caribbean Fun Run in Paradise cancelled

In:
15Dec2010

Due to weather, the Nassau/Royal Caribbean Fun Run in Paradise that was being put on by Royal Caribbean and ESPN, has been cancelled.  The run was scheduled to take place yesterday morning but Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas could not dock in Nassau due to high seas and windy conditions.

Prior to the race being cancelled, over 100 Royal Caribbean passengers were scheduled to participate, including several competitive running celebrities.  

The Fun Run in Paradise was scheduled to be part of the inaugural Royal 5K St Maarten Lifestyle, Running and Fitness Show which will air January 27 and 28 on the ESPN Caribbean Networks.

There is still a possibility that Allure of the Seas will be able to dock at Nassau later in the cruise itinerary.

Royal Caribbean ships contribute to Bahamian economy

In:
01Oct2010

Last month Nassau, Bahamas completed extensive dredging and refurbishment of Nassau Harbor and businesses in downtown Nassau are reporting healthy business as a result.

Ships like Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, which docks in Nassau every other Sunday, is responsible for increasing revenues in the city.

The Bahamas was amongst many countries which were seeking to have these ships call on their ports,” said Carla Stuart, director of Cruise Development in the Ministry of Tourism & Aviation. “By the end of December, the Oasis would have made 34 visits and brought at least 183,600 passengers for the year 2010. Head tax to be derived is estimated at $2.7 million while spend from the passengers of this vessel is estimated at $12 million. The ship will continue to call every other week.”

Thelma Miller of Vintage Island Handicraft, a Festival Place souvenir store, pointed out that the Oasis’ calls have been good for business on Sundays, which would otherwise be slow. Meanwhile, Senor Frog’s has also been happy with the business that the Oasis brings.
 
It does make a difference when the Oasis comes in,” said Chester Williamson, manager of Senor Frog’s. “I think the second week it came in with 3,000 people on board.”
 
Things will get better for Nassau after December when Oasis of the Seas' sister ship Allure of the Seas joins the Royal Caribbean fleet and will also make regular stops in Nassau.  this will allow for a stop each week by one of the mega-vessels.

Nassau completes harbor improvement project

In:
Category: 
20Sep2010

Nassau port officials announced on September 16 that they had completed a major project to improve the port of Nassau for cruise ships. The $44 million contract, started in April of 2009, dredged 1.9 million cubic yards of material from Nassau Harbor and installed three mooring dolphins, causeways and ladders at Prince George Wharf and extension of the western end of Arawak Cay by 1,000 ft.

So why all the work?  Principally the project was to accommodate Royal Caribbean's new Oasis of the Seas, which made its maiden voyage to Nassau on December 11, 2009.

“The decision to dredge the harbour was based in part on the need to keep abreast of changes in the cruise industry where new Genesis class vessels have been introduced by the major cruise lines. In response, the Government proceeded with the enhancement of the Harbour’s capacity by dredging to accommodate the new mega cruise ships,” said Public Works and Transport Minister Neko C. Grant.

Port of Bermuda to close Friday through Tuesday

In:
16Sep2010

Royal Caribbean has announced that the Port of Bermuda will be closed Friday through Tuesday due to Hurricane Igor.  This means Enchantment of the Seas, which leaves Baltimore on Saturday will instead sail to Nassau, Bahamas where it will arrive on Monday and stay overnight until Tuesday.

Royal Caribbean is anticipating some cruisers not being happy with the change and giving an onboard credit to each stateroom. If a guest decides they do not want to sail at all on that itinerary, a letter of credit to be used on a future Royal Caribbean cruise. No other Royal Caribbean cruise is being affected by the hurricane at this time.

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