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Getting nervous (Nassau and Labadee)

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I recently booked my family's first cruise that will be stopping in Labadee and Nassau. I'm browsing through the boards and seeing a lot of people bashing these two locations, and saying they are good days to stay aboard the ship. We were looking forward to some time on tropical islands, our kids have never been anywhere like that. Are these 2 ports really that bad? Hoping for someone to ease my mind, and for someone to tell us we didn't make a giant mistake. 

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I have been to Labadee and Nassau many times with family. I think that Labadee is a great family stop, nice beaches to choose from and you will not be hassled by sellers. Nassau is a bit different. If you are uneasy about new locations then stay away from the straw market and vendors. Consider an excursion booked thru RC. Maybe after the excursion get a taste of town by walking in the main shops. Just expect to be asked to have your hair braided even if you are bald. No worries you will have a great time but as always use common sense and stay in your comfort zone esp. the first visit. Research the sites and mappings on the cruise boards and TripAdvisor.

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I would not worry about Labadee. That is a private part of Haiti that Royal Caribbean owns  and the locals are not allowed there. It is very safe and family oriented. Nassau, there are some good Royal excursions. But I personally, would not go strolling through Nassau. It's kind of seedy. 

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12 minutes ago, DRLPP said:

I have been to Labadee and Nassau many times with family. I think that Labadee is a great family stop, nice beaches to choose from and you will not be hassled by sellers. Nassau is a bit different. If you are uneasy about new locations then stay away from the straw market and vendors. Consider an excursion booked thru RC. Maybe after the excursion get a taste of town by walking in the main shops. Just expect to be asked to have your hair braided even if you are bald. No worries you will have a great time but as always use common sense and stay in your comfort zone esp. the first visit. Research the sites and mappings on the cruise boards and TripAdvisor.

Haha, I do have a shaved head. My wife and I did a trip to Grand Bahama Island over 20 years ago, and she had her hair braided at that time. We did do one of the markets at that time and hated the pressured feeling, but never really felt unsafe. I don't think we'd bring the kids to one though. We'll probably stick to snorkeling or something like that. 

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11 hours ago, Joe Stahl said:

I recently booked my family's first cruise that will be stopping in Labadee and Nassau. I'm browsing through the boards and seeing a lot of people bashing these two locations, and saying they are good days to stay aboard the ship. We were looking forward to some time on tropical islands, our kids have never been anywhere like that. Are these 2 ports really that bad? Hoping for someone to ease my mind, and for someone to tell us we didn't make a giant mistake. 

You will find Labadee to be very secure , I would not hesitate to visit it.

We were in Nassau last December, we went down and walked around the streets near the port , did not had  any issues and people was mostly nice. as it is your first cruise I would recommend  maybe to take a tour from the ship. 

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3 minutes ago, Traveler said:

You will find Labadee to be very secure , I would not hesitate to visit it.

We were in Nassau last December, we went down and walked around the streets near the port , did not had  any issues and people was mostly nice. as it is your first cruise I would recommend  maybe to take a tour from the ship. 

+1 on on these recommendations. I've never had an issue at either place.

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I have been to Nassau 2 times, and the 3rd time I will be there is in July.  I have never felt unsafe.  I would say the locals will approach you as soon as you get off the ship, just say Thanks, no thanks, and they will leave you alone.

I will also say, be smart and view Nassau like any big tourist area, such as, NYC, or Venice.  There are good and bad areas, 1 wrong left turn and you will go from the good area to the bad area very quickly.

My husband and I be it Nassau or an RCCL private island leave our valuables in our safe on the ship.  He cleans out his wallet of all credit cards, except 1 and maybe 50 bucks in cash.  In his wallet he carries, our driver licenses, our sea pass cards, and that 1 credit card.  I don't carry a beach bag or a purse in Nassau.  The only jewelry I wear are my engagement/wedding ring, and my eternity necklace. Good luck getting my diamond rings off my hand -- I swell in the heat.  I do this, not out of fear, but there is no reason to take anything more.  We put sunscreen on before we leave the ship, so if he has all of that, and I am with him at all times, why do I need my purse?  FWIW, I am also someone that my friends laugh at when they see my purse, they call it a wallet on a string.  I don't feel that I need to even bring my cell phone if I am with my husband.  He takes his, so why do I need to take mine?  The only time we separate is if 1 of us is going to the bathroom.  

FYI, I am a Jersey girl that lived right outside of NYC, and now resides in Virginia right outside of DC, same as my husband.  NYC and DC are scarier to me than Nassau.  Hubby also has learned due to that exposure, if you want to be sure your wallet will not be stolen, place your cell phone in your back pocket and your wallet in your front pocket.  You might not feel them lift from your back pocket as a man, but you will def. feel them lift from your front pocket.

Point being the way we travel we are less likely to be targeted, which is why maybe I feel secure.  Think about it.  I have done the excursions with RCCL. I have no desire to repeat them.  This time we will go on our own to Graycliffs, and I have absolutely 0% fear. 

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Nassau is fine.  Some of the excursions are duds (don't bother with the Land and Sea tour or anything that will take you to Atlantis.  Nothing against Atlantis, but if you want to check it out, pay $6 for a cab not $60 for a tour group), but there's still plenty worthwhile to do there.  It's safe to walk around, just stay with the crowds.  If you venture too far,  you'll know.

As you exit the port, there's a bunch of knick-knack booths.  Hang a right for all the slushy-rum-thing bars (Fat Tuesday, Senior Frogs, etc.) and straw market.  The straw market is mostly more knick-knacks and knockoff sunglasses & bags, but it's fine if you need a cheap pair of sunglasses (like if somebody sat on and broke the pair you brought with you.  Not that that's ever happened to me . . . )

There's also a flight simulator people here have recommended but I haven't gone myself yet.  And, of course, it's also a good time to check out stuff on the ship that usually has a line when everybody's aboard (i.e. flowrider)

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OK, people have addressed safety issues here, and that is great. I'm from New Jersey, and know how areas of NYC can turn bad in a hurry. But does anyone have any comments on these ports, as far as other people saying they are 'dumps' or 's***holes'? I was surprised to read these comments, because the pictures I've seen look very nice.

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We are taking a private charter that includes snorkeling while in Nassau on our next cruise with Island Time Charters. They have wonderful reviews on TripAdvisor and seem to get you away from the masses a little bit.  In the past, we’ve done a beach day at the British Colonial Hilton. It was perfect when my girls were younger and just wanted to play in the water. They give you a food and beverage credit for lunch and it was pretty economical. I personally really enjoy Nassau and have been to Atlantis on a land based vacation. The crowds and prices there are not ideal, but it is very beautiful.  

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7 hours ago, aprilgwynne said:

In the past, we’ve done a beach day at the British Colonial Hilton. It was perfect when my girls were younger and just wanted to play in the water. They give you a food and beverage credit for lunch and it was pretty economical. I personally really enjoy Nassau and have been to Atlantis on a land based vacation. The crowds and prices there are not ideal, but it is very beautiful.  

Thanks for the info regarding British Colonial Hilton...looking to have a "down" day there with our 16yo boys.  

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8 hours ago, Joe Stahl said:

OK, people have addressed safety issues here, and that is great. I'm from New Jersey, and know how areas of NYC can turn bad in a hurry. But does anyone have any comments on these ports, as far as other people saying they are 'dumps' or 's***holes'? I was surprised to read these comments, because the pictures I've seen look very nice.

I have not been to Nassau but I have been to Labadee (It was actually my very first stop ever in the Caribbean) and I would NOT call it a dump or s***hole. I found it beautiful and relaxing.

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Labadee is great - I can't believe people call it a dump?  That's nuts.  

Nassau is not one of our favorite places, but it's mainly because I have a lot of hair and can't stand being constantly bugged about braiding it.  Once I've exited the port area, and if my hair isn't braided already...that's a pretty good sign I don't want it braided.  But they still ask anyway...sigh.  Last time we were there we walked to the British Colonial Hilton.  Never felt unsafe.  One the way back, we walked a different street, stopped and had a couple of beers, again never felt unsafe.  But we too are from the NYC area and know how to walk like a local and not a tourist.

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On 3/8/2019 at 10:37 AM, aprilgwynne said:

We are taking a private charter that includes snorkeling while in Nassau on our next cruise with Island Time Charters. They have wonderful reviews on TripAdvisor and seem to get you away from the masses a little bit.  In the past, we’ve done a beach day at the British Colonial Hilton. It was perfect when my girls were younger and just wanted to play in the water. They give you a food and beverage credit for lunch and it was pretty economical. I personally really enjoy Nassau and have been to Atlantis on a land based vacation. The crowds and prices there are not ideal, but it is very beautiful.  

You are going to love Island Time Charters. They live up to their great TripAdvisor reviews. We had Captian Eugene for a half day snorkel and swim with sea turtles. It was worth every penny...especially when you go past the peeps who booked the excursions that pack you shoulder to shoulder on the boat. We did two snorkel dives. The first was at a sunken boat. Not many fish, but it gives everyone a chance to get use to the equipment before they take you out further. The second stop is where all the fish are.

Hope you enjoy your adventure

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Please allow me to ease your mind.  Labadee is beautiful, Nassau is beautiful.  There are wonderful activities to do in these locations.  

I think a lot of the complaints may come from people who have been to these locations multiple times because especially Nassau is on a LOT of itineraries.  If you're a multiple time cruiser and Nassau appears for the 47th time on your itineraries, you may have a bit of destination lethargy.  And when this lethargy occurs, people get more critical of the location. 

If its your 40th cruise, and you've been to Nassau your past 39 cruises, yah you'll probably make a ship day of your port day in Nassau.  

But this is your FIRST!  Dont second guess yourself.  You're going to have an AMAZING time.  Its beautiful there.  Relish in your excitement.  Do all of your planning.  And dont second guess yourself again.  You've nothing to worry about.  

No cruise ship pulls up into a port that's broken down with thieves and worse rubbing their hands together like evil villains just waiting to be delivered victims on a platter.   

You're smart, you've done your research.  No need to second guess things just because of a few negative comments.  For a first timer or even 5th timer, Nassau is a wonderful beautiful place to explore.  

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7 hours ago, ThyriC said:

Please allow me to ease your mind.  Labadee is beautiful, Nassau is beautiful.  There are wonderful activities to do in these locations.  

I think a lot of the complaints may come from people who have been to these locations multiple times because especially Nassau is on a LOT of itineraries.  If you're a multiple time cruiser and Nassau appears for the 47th time on your itineraries, you may have a bit of destination lethargy.  And when this lethargy occurs, people get more critical of the location. 

If its your 40th cruise, and you've been to Nassau your past 39 cruises, yah you'll probably make a ship day of your port day in Nassau.  

But this is your FIRST!  Dont second guess yourself.  You're going to have an AMAZING time.  Its beautiful there.  Relish in your excitement.  Do all of your planning.  And dont second guess yourself again.  You've nothing to worry about.  

No cruise ship pulls up into a port that's broken down with thieves and worse rubbing their hands together like evil villains just waiting to be delivered victims on a platter.   

You're smart, you've done your research.  No need to second guess things just because of a few negative comments.  For a first timer or even 5th timer, Nassau is a wonderful beautiful place to explore.  

Very well said, and I agree.  We're going in July for our 2nd time there.  We enjoyed our first trip.  Plus, you're on VACATION...on a tropical island.  It IS beautiful and there are many things to do.  I'm excited to go there again and take my 16yo DS for the first time.

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We went to Nassau in Oct. 2017 and LOVED it!! We bought tickets to Atlantis on their website. Got off the ship & took a taxi to Atlantis! It was more beautiful & amazing than in the pictures! The slides & lazy river were SO fun and the beach was gorgeous! Our boys (5, 9 & 11 at the time) loved finding giant concha shells EVERYWHERE!! We walked through the aquarium & It was a perfect day! At the end of the day we were the last ones to board the ship around 8pm. Have fun, be smart & enjoy Nassau!

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On 3/12/2019 at 12:07 AM, TracieT. said:

We went to Nassau in Oct. 2017 and LOVED it!! We bought tickets to Atlantis on their website. Got off the ship & took a taxi to Atlantis! It was more beautiful & amazing than in the pictures! The slides & lazy river were SO fun and the beach was gorgeous! Our boys (5, 9 & 11 at the time) loved finding giant concha shells EVERYWHERE!! We walked through the aquarium & It was a perfect day! At the end of the day we were the last ones to board the ship around 8pm. Have fun, be smart & enjoy Nassau!

do you think Atlantis is something 16yo boys might like? 

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On 3/8/2019 at 9:39 AM, Orange Crush said:

Nassau is fine.  Some of the excursions are duds (don't bother with the Land and Sea tour or anything that will take you to Atlantis.  Nothing against Atlantis, but if you want to check it out, pay $6 for a cab not $60 for a tour group), but there's still plenty worthwhile to do there.  It's safe to walk around, just stay with the crowds.  If you venture too far,  you'll know.

As you exit the port, there's a bunch of knick-knack booths.  Hang a right for all the slushy-rum-thing bars (Fat Tuesday, Senior Frogs, etc.) and straw market.  The straw market is mostly more knick-knacks and knockoff sunglasses & bags, but it's fine if you need a cheap pair of sunglasses (like if somebody sat on and broke the pair you brought with you.  Not that that's ever happened to me . . . )

There's also a flight simulator people here have recommended but I haven't gone myself yet.  And, of course, it's also a good time to check out stuff on the ship that usually has a line when everybody's aboard (i.e. flowrider)

I agree with this.

Just visited Nassau for the first time a few weeks ago.  I honestly wasn't very impressed with the port area....Didn't seem to be much there.

We did Atlantis.  I had serious reservations about doing it and should've trusted my instincts and what others here had said as it was a waste of money and time.  It's just way too crowded and way too expensive.  We went there for the day and were able to do a few waterslides before things got too crowded.  But then we spent a couple hours trying to get tubes for the lazy river type things and we never able to get them.  Their system there is just terrible and you basically have to win the tube lottery to get one.  It was a fantastic place and would probably be a fine place to stay if you could visit it later at night when cruises leave the dock.....But no way I'll head to Atlantis again. 

And frankly, I'll probably try to avoid Nassau again as it just didn't feel like a very interesting port.  If I did go there, I'd probably just walk around and maybe head to the free Junkaroo beach. 

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On 3/13/2019 at 1:30 PM, tts42572 said:

I agree with this.

Just visited Nassau for the first time a few weeks ago.  I honestly wasn't very impressed with the port area....Didn't seem to be much there.

We did Atlantis.  I had serious reservations about doing it and should've trusted my instincts and what others here had said as it was a waste of money and time.  It's just way too crowded and way too expensive.  We went there for the day and were able to do a few waterslides before things got too crowded.  But then we spent a couple hours trying to get tubes for the lazy river type things and we never able to get them.  Their system there is just terrible and you basically have to win the tube lottery to get one.  It was a fantastic place and would probably be a fine place to stay if you could visit it later at night when cruises leave the dock.....But no way I'll head to Atlantis again. 

And frankly, I'll probably try to avoid Nassau again as it just didn't feel like a very interesting port.  If I did go there, I'd probably just walk around and maybe head to the free Junkaroo beach. 

Our experience , with Atlantis, was the exact opposite! However, we were there at the end of October which is their offseason. We NEVER waited in line for the slides or tubes. In fact, most of the time we were the only people on the slides!! The slides are Super fun & not your average water park slides. I have a friend that visited Nassau with her teenagers & they loved it, too. Atlantis also gives you something like 5 miles of beach to enjoy & no one is there bothering you to buy things. 

It really may depend on what time of year you're there and what activities your family wants to do that day.  When is your cruise?

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On 3/15/2019 at 11:23 AM, TracieT. said:

Our experience , with Atlantis, was the exact opposite! However, we were there at the end of October which is their offseason. We NEVER waited in line for the slides or tubes. In fact, most of the time we were the only people on the slides!! The slides are Super fun & not your average water park slides. I have a friend that visited Nassau with her teenagers & they loved it, too. Atlantis also gives you something like 5 miles of beach to enjoy & no one is there bothering you to buy things. 

It really may depend on what time of year you're there and what activities your family wants to do that day.  When is your cruise?

Our cruise is April 21-26. I'm not sure we'd want to do anything like a water park. Even if it is a top of the line water park, my kids have never been to the Caribbean, so we'd prefer to have an experience that is uniquely Caribbean, like snorkeling or something like that. Plus, there are a couple of really cool water slides on the ship (Navigator).

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On 3/11/2019 at 4:21 AM, ThyriC said:

Please allow me to ease your mind.  Labadee is beautiful, Nassau is beautiful.  There are wonderful activities to do in these locations.  

I think a lot of the complaints may come from people who have been to these locations multiple times because especially Nassau is on a LOT of itineraries.  If you're a multiple time cruiser and Nassau appears for the 47th time on your itineraries, you may have a bit of destination lethargy.  And when this lethargy occurs, people get more critical of the location. 

If its your 40th cruise, and you've been to Nassau your past 39 cruises, yah you'll probably make a ship day of your port day in Nassau.  

But this is your FIRST!  Dont second guess yourself.  You're going to have an AMAZING time.  Its beautiful there.  Relish in your excitement.  Do all of your planning.  And dont second guess yourself again.  You've nothing to worry about.  

No cruise ship pulls up into a port that's broken down with thieves and worse rubbing their hands together like evil villains just waiting to be delivered victims on a platter.   

You're smart, you've done your research.  No need to second guess things just because of a few negative comments.  For a first timer or even 5th timer, Nassau is a wonderful beautiful place to explore.  

Thank you for this!

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