Nassau, Bahamas opened the first phase of its cruise port revamp. Here's what's new and different

In:
06 Jul 2023

Your next visit to Nassau, Bahamas is going to look different than you might remember.

Nassau-New-Port-1

Nassau spent $300 million upgrading their cruise port, which is referred to as Prince George Wharf, with the first phase of this redevelopment opening to the public on May 27, 2023. 

The port is now able to accommodate up to six cruise ships per day, including three Oasis or Icon Class ships. This means that Nassau is now able to host 30,000 cruise passengers per day, increasing their capacity by 10,000. By the end of 2024, it is estimated that Nassau will see four million cruise visitors. 

Construction will continue throughout 2023 and 2024 as builders work towards finishing the second phase. 

Port-Of-Nassau-New

While the walk along the pier felt similar to previous visits to Nassau, the most noticeable difference is as you prepare to exit. No longer are you immediately met with individuals pressing you for tours or taxi rides. Instead, you can enjoy a peaceful walk through a plaza with shops.

It is only when you exit and cross the road that you are met with hagglers. 

Here is what you can expect when you visit the redeveloped Nassau Cruise Port. 

RelatedBest things to do in Nassau on a cruise

Taxi stand inside of the port

Nassau-Port-Taxi

Almost immediately after exiting the berth area of the port, you are met with a dedicated taxi stand. This makes catching a cab to Atlantis, Cable Beach, and Baha Mar much simpler. Prior to reaching that point, there will be an individual ushering guests to the water taxi to Paradise Island if you would prefer to take that route.  

There is also a separate line for those who wish to book a tour. 

Related: Bahamas cruise guide

Emphasis on local shopping, artists, and culture

Sign-Nassau-Cruise-Por

As you exit the berth area, you are will see the Nassau Cruise Port Junkanoo Museum, which is an immersive experience that aims to share the story of the national cultural festival. 

Junkanoo is a Bahamian festival and street parade that takes place in late December of each year. It features music, costumes, and dancing. 

Nassau-Port-Marketplace

Moreover, the port is filled with local vendors selling goods, such as straw baskets, jewelry, and more, meaning that you do not have to exit for your shopping needs if you do not want to. Further down, you will find actual storefronts. 

The Port Marketplace is where you will find these individual vendors. There are also places to grab a drink, with prices ranging from $8.00 for three shots to $15.00 for cocktails. Close to the exit, there is a gelato shop, which is a great option for those looking to cool down with a sweet treat either before or after spending the day ashore. 

Hair-Braiding-Nassau

If you are a fan of hair braiding, this is also where you will find an entire set up dedicated to just that. However, walking past, nobody was overly pushy. When I walked outside of the port near the Straw Market, I was approached multiple times and repeatedly spoken to, even when I disregarded their attempts to strike up a conversation. 

As you walk through the Port Marketplace, you will stumble upon an exhibit highlighting Theodore Turnquest II, a freelance photographer at Nassau Cruise Port. 

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"As a young adult living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)," the informational sign reads, "Theo's photography hobby has become a great source of comfort and an outlet to express himself creatively in recent years."

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"Theo's photos are used on our social media channels, in presentations, and in other promotional materials, helping us to tell the story of Nassau Cruise Port. We truly value his work." 

Exiting and re-entering the terminal

Nassau-Cruise-Terminal-Exit

When you exit the cruise terminal, you will find yourself near Pirate Republic Brewing Company and The Bahamas Shirt Company. This is the same place you will enter when you are ready to return to the ship.

From here, you can expect roughly a fifteen minute walk to the Queen's Staircase and ten minute walk to Junkanoo Beach. 

In total, it takes roughly ten minutes to get from the ship to the exit if you do not stop for pictures or shopping. Depending on where you are docked, it could take even less time. 

Freedom-of-the-Seas-Nassau

While on Freedom of the Seas, the ship was docked near Zones 6, 7, and 8; however, the only available gangway was located in the aft, which meant that I had to walk all the way to and from Zone 8. 

Royal Caribbean's partnership with The Bahamas

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In 2025, Royal Caribbean is set to open The Royal Beach Club, an exciting new option for cruise passengers visiting Nassau. 

The exclusive beach club will be located on Paradise Island, encompass 17-acres of property, and be available only to Royal Caribbean cruise passengers for an additional cost. 

The pass will include beach club access, lunch, and beach chair rental. Certain extras, such as alcohol, soda, cabanas, day beds, and water sport activities, will cost more. 

In addition to multiple different beaches, guests will be able to take a dip in a spacious swimming pool and utilize the water sports center. 

What makes The Royal Beach Club at Paradise Island stand out is that it will have a public-private partnership. This mans that Bahamians will be able to own up to 49% equity, and local businesses can take part in managing the majority of the experience.

Additionally, the construction phase and operation of the Royal Beach Club will create hundreds of jobs, with the economic impact estimated to be around $1 billion over the course of ten years.

RelatedRoyal Caribbean hires Bahamian business leader for head of new Bahamas beach club

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When completed, this will give passengers sailing on Royal Caribbean ships to Nassau an option to enjoy a more relaxed day. With Nassau Cruise Port accommodating thousands of passengers from different cruise lines, the island can feel rather busy at times. 

In fact, the port broke its own record earlier this year. On February 27, 2023, the port welcoming an over 28,500 passengers on six different ships. 

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - Nassau Beach Club preview

In:
15 Mar 2023

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Royal Caribbean will open a beach club in Nassau, Bahamas and here's what Matt thinks of what we know so far.

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I cruise almost every weekend: here's my walking tour of Nassau

In:
10 Feb 2023

Nassau is one of the world’s busiest cruise ports. It’s a common port on short Caribbean cruise itineraries, offering gorgeous beaches, tasty cuisine, and centuries of history to discover.

However, it can be challenging to figure out the best things to do in Nassau. Some passengers may spend $100 or more on shore excursions whereas others may opt to spend the day on their cruise ship instead of disembarking.

To help you plan your day in Nassau, we wanted to share one of the most interesting ways to spend the day in the city: a self-guided walking tour, inspired by our good friend Brandon Smith of The Weekend Cruiser.

Brandon, founder of The Weekend Cruiser YouTube Channel, boards a cruise ship nearly every weekend. Because 3-night weekend cruises typically visit the same two ports, Nassau and Perfect Day at CocoCay, Brandon is an expert in everything to see, do, and experience in these two Bahamian cruise ports.

In one of Brandon’s YouTube videos, he provides a detailed plan for a self-guided walking tour in Nassau, with a focus on culture and history. This tour can be done solely by foot and on a budget, as most of the attractions are either free to enter or have an admission fee of only a few dollars.

Let’s take a look at Brandon’s self-guided walking tour itinerary to inspire your next port day in Nassau.

The Queen’s Staircase

The Queen’s Staircase is a major landmark of Nassau. It was built in the late 1700s and comprises 66 steps built directly into limestone. The work was completed by an estimated 600 slaves to create an escape route from Fort Fincastle, which is located directly above the stairs.

Visiting the Queen’s Staircase is completely free, although a guide is often available at the base of the staircase for those interested in learning more of the area’s history.

A small waterfall is located next to the stairs as well, and the walkway leading to the stairs is shadowed by steep limestone cliffs on both sides.

Directions from your cruise ship to the Queen’s Staircase:

When you walk into port, immediately make a left onto Bay Street, the main street in downtown Nassau. Continue on the street until it meets Elizabeth Avenue, where you’ll take a right. Walk past the Princess Margaret Hospital until you reach the staircase.

Fort Fincastle

Built in 1793, Fort Fincastle is a historical fortress atop Bennet Hill in downtown Nassau, which overlooks the city and ocean. The fort, built in the shape of a paddle-wheel steamer, protected the city’s harbor when it was in use.

Walking the fort’s exterior is free of charge, but you can enter the fort for around $3 to explore more of this historical landmark. US dollars and Bahamian dollars are both accepted, and an optional guide may be available inside the fort as well.

Next to the fort is a straw market where visitors can purchase souvenirs, snacks, and refreshments.

Directions from the Queen’s Staircase to Fort Fincastle:

Climb the Queen’s Staircase. Once at the top, turn to the right and you’ll see Fort Fincastle.

Government House

Photo credit: Bahamas.com

Mount Fitzwilliam, a hill overlooking Nassau, has been the site of the residence for the Governor General of The Bahamas since 1737. The 10-acre property has housed several buildings since then, with the most recent built in 1932.

Today, visitors can admire the architecture of the bright pink Government House, a colonial-style building with large white pillars. A statue of Christopher Columbus stands in front of the house on the staircase, commemorating his discovery of the New World on San Salvador Island, Bahamas in 1492.

While the building itself is gated, you can take a photo of the Government House from outside. Note that the Government House may currently be under construction as of 2023.

Directions from Fort Fincastle to the Government House:

When you walk out of the castle, make a right and go down the back staircase before making a left onto Sand Road, a right onto East Street, and a left on E Hill Street. Walk on E Hill Street until reaching the Government House on the left.

Graycliff Hotel

Next door to the Government House is the Graycliff, which is Nassau's oldest hotel. Originally built as a mansion in 1740, the upscale hotel now has 20 guest rooms.

While cruise ship guests won’t stay overnight at the Graycliff, there are several ways to enjoy the hotel’s offerings during a port day. Day passes to the hotel are available, which include pool access and a three-course lunch.

A number of classes are offered, too, including cooking, cigar rolling, and chocolate making lessons. A tour is not required to walk around the hotel, whether visiting the Graycliff Cigar Company or chocolate shop.

Additionally, the Graycliff has several dining options, including the 5-star Graycliff Restaurant and a Brazilian churrascaria. Wine luncheons and afternoon tea may be available during your port day as well, which can make for a unique way to spend the day in Nassau.

The Graycliff has the third largest wine cellar in the Western Hemisphere with over 175,000 bottles!

Directions from the Government House to the Graycliff Hotel:

The Government House is only two minutes walking distance away from the Graycliff. From the front of the Government House on Duke Street, continue west before making a left on Baillou Hill Road. Continue on this road briefly before making a right onto W Hill Street, where the hotel is located.

National Art Gallery of The Bahamas

The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas is an art museum, which features both permanent collections and rotating exhibitions on Bahamian history and culture.

Like most buildings on our Nassau walking tour, the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas is located in a historic building, having been originally built as a mansion in the 1860s. The grounds feature a garden with sculptures and greenery, and this is a popular place to walk through when visiting.

Admission to the museum is $5.

Directions from the Graycliff Hotel to the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas:

The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas is located right next door to the Graycliff. Simply continue walking west on W Hill Street for 600 feet and the art gallery will be on your left.

John Watling’s Distillery

John Watling’s Distillery is located on the Buena Vista Estate in Downtown Nassau, which was originally founded in 1789.

Short, guided tours of the distillery are complimentary (tips are expected) and teach visitors about the history of The Bahamas, of John Watling’s, and why rum is made in The Bahamas.

The tour will end in the distillery’s rum store, where you can order John Watling’s rum at the distillery’s bar. Flights of rum are available in addition to cocktails including a piña colada and rum runner.

Directions from the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas to John Watling’s Distillery:

From the museum’s entrance on W Hill Street, turn left onto West Street. Continue for 300 feet before making a right on Delancy Street, which is where you’ll find the distillery.

Junkanoo Beach

If you’re looking for an easy-to-access beach in Nassau, Junkanoo Beach is your best bet. This beach is one of the closest beaches to the cruise port and offers bars and food stalls along with ample beach space to relax and sunbathe.

From Junkanoo Beach, you can either head back to your cruise ship by walking east on Bay Street, or you can continue heading west on Bay Street until reaching the Fish Fry.

The Fish Fry is where you’ll find a wide selection of food stalls and restaurants specializing in Bahamian cuisine and fresh seafood.

Directions from John Watling’s Distillery to Junkanoo Beach:

Upon exiting John Watling’s Distillery, make a left onto Delancy Street before taking a right on Augusta Street. Continue on Augusta Street until Bay Street. Take a left on Bay Street and walk along Nassau’s waterfront until you run into Junkanoo Beach on the right.

How to prepare for a self-guided walking tour of Nassau

Freedom of the Seas aerial at Nassau

Before setting off on your self-guided walking tour of Nassau, it’s important to be prepared, from wearing the right clothing to staying hydrated.

Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes during your tour of Nassau. Nobody wants to end their port day with blisters, so ensuring your walking shoes are sturdy and fit properly will help ensure your walking tour goes smoothly.

Related: What to pack for a Bahamas cruise

In addition, be prepared for the tour by applying sunscreen and wearing lightweight clothing, especially if you’re traveling in the summer. Nassau can get extremely warm in the summer months, and exploring the city for several hours can be uncomfortable if you don’t dress properly.

In the winter, however, it’s important to check weather forecasts before disembarking the ship in Nassau. Some days in the peak of winter can feel relatively chilly, so you may need to pack a light cardigan or jacket.

Bringing a bottle of water is important, too, but you can always purchase water bottles or other refreshments while walking around the city. When purchasing anything, we recommend having cash on hand. US dollars or Bahamian dollars are accepted on the island.

Finally, before starting your self-guided walking tour, be sure to have access to a map. If you don’t have international cell phone service, download an offline map of downtown Nassau from Google Maps. This allows you to access the city’s maps without an internet connection.

Alternatively, friendly Bahamians can guide you in the right direction should you get lost at any point during your walking tour.

Thanks again to Brandon from The Weekend Cruiser for sharing his excellent self-guided walking tour of Nassau with us!

More Nassau tips & tricks for your next cruise:

Excursion Focus: Pearl Island Beach Escape in Nassau

In:
11 May 2022

Nassau, Bahamas is one of the most common port stops on a Royal Caribbean cruise, and offers a variety of activities for all interests and budgets. Whether relaxing on the beach, walking around the city center, or trying out a day pass at a local resort, I try to find a new activity to do every time I visit Nassau.

On my recent weekend cruise on Freedom of the Seas, I booked an excursion to Pearl Island during our stop in Nassau. While I did not know much about Pearl Island prior to booking the excursion, I was excited to see what the island had to offer.

Booking options

There are three types of tours to book at Pearl Island: Pearl Island Beach Escape, Pearl Island Beach Escape & Snorkel, and Pearl Island VIP Cabana for 2. Each tour is five hours long including transportation.

I decided to book the Pearl Island Beach Escape excursion. I booked the tour directly through Royal Caribbean for $92.99, although the price briefly lowered to $83.99 a few weeks prior to the cruise.

The Pearl Island Beach Escape tour includes transportation, water sport gear, beach chairs and umbrellas, lunch, and access to climb the island’s lighthouse. The snorkeling tour, which is priced around $20 more than the Beach Escape, includes a 30-minute guided underwater tour of a protected reef on one side of the island.

VIP cabanas are also available to book through the “Pearl Island VIP Cabana for 2” shore excursion. Each private waterfront cabana comes with butler service, complimentary towels, a power outlet, ceiling fan, 30-minute guided snorkeling trip, and fully-stocked cooler.

The cabanas also come with an all-inclusive drink package, which includes sodas, beer, wine, and cocktails. While cabana guests will indulge in the same lunch as other guests on Pearl Island, they are served lunch directly in the cabana.

The cost of a VIP cabana at Pearl Island is $480 total for two guests.

It appears you are able to book a Pearl Island tour directly on the island’s website, although booking through the cruise line seems to be a much better option. The price is comparable to what Royal Caribbean offers, but when booking independently the website states that the boat will depart from the Paradise Island Ferry Terminal as opposed to right near the cruise ships. When factoring in the cost of a taxi to and from Paradise Island, it will probably end up being more expensive to book directly through Pearl Island.

How to get to Pearl Island

Booking an excursion to Pearl Island through Royal Caribbean includes roundtrip transportation from the cruise port to the island. Fortunately our tour boarded the boat that would take us to Pearl Island very close to where we disembarked the ship, so there was no need to walk very far.

Pearl Island is located just 30 minutes by boat from the cruise terminal, passing through Nassau Harbor and the luxury homes, resorts, and golf courses along the way. As most of the ride is within the harbor itself, the water should be fairly smooth.

The excursion description does say that the ride to Pearl Island will include a half-hour "commentated harbor cruise" where guests can learn more about the island and its history, but this did not occur on my excursion. This did not matter to me, but it should be noted that Royal Caribbean’s description did not entirely match what we experienced on the tour.

Island layout

Photo credit: Pearl Island

Pearl Island is small and narrow and the majority of the island has a rocky coastline. Crystal clear water surrounds the island in various shades of turquoise.

Technically there is only one beach on the island, but bushes and plants somewhat separate the beach into two areas: one main beach and one smaller beach located near the VIP cabanas. The beaches have mostly calm seas, making for a nice swim for visitors of all ages.

On the western side of the island is Pearl Island’s iconic lighthouse, which is open to visitors and offers panoramic views of the ocean and surrounding islands. This is also where lunch is held and where the snorkeling tour begins.

The eastern part of Pearl Island is where you’ll find the beaches and cabana areas as well as the island’s bar.

Throughout the entire island are a ton of beach chairs, many of which have umbrellas or shade structures. Chairs are on a first-come, first-serve basis, so if you want to be in a specific location or have the most shade possible, be sure to reserve a spot on the island right away.

Luckily, there should be no shortage of chairs to find as the island limits capacity. In fact, the island seemed pretty empty when I was there, even after a group from another cruise ship arrived midway through the day.

Food

A Bahamian style lunch is included in the excursion cost, which was available starting at 11AM. Lunch included coleslaw, beans and rice, BBQ chicken, and fish fingers. Iced tea and water were also available. The food was served in a full-service buffet-style, where the staff member placed the dish on your plate.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with the lunch at Pearl Island, but I found it to be quite tasty. The fish fingers were exceptionally crispy and flavorful and the rice, while a bit dry, had a good amount of spice and beans mixed throughout.

Outside of the complimentary lunch, there were snacks for sale at the bar including chips and cookies.

Drinks

When researching details about Pearl Island prior to booking the excursion, I had read a few reviews stating that drinks were expensive. While I did not plan to drink much while on the island anyway, I was a bit disappointed to hear this. After reading reviews, I was expecting drinks to be around $15+.

However, I really should have done more research because this was not the case at all once I arrived! I was pleasantly surprised to see a drink menu with reasonable prices, with beers around $6, mocktails $8, and cocktails between $9-12. Soda, water, and juice is also available.

I ordered a Miami Vice (half piña colada and half strawberry daiquiri) and it really hit the spot on a warm, sunny day in the Bahamas!

Highlights & Comments

A nice highlight of my day on Pearl Island was taking advantage of the water sport activities available. Outside of the snorkeling tour, all water activities are available free of charge.

I initially planned to use a standup paddle, but due to the winds making the beach a bit choppier than usual, only kayaks were available. Kayaking was a whole lot of fun. Even though I could only go out so far due to ropes blocking off the beach, it was definitely a highlight of my time on the island.

Outside of kayaking and standup paddling, there were floating beach mats available in the water and a few games to play on the beach.

My only complaint was that my time on the island seemed to pass by way too quickly! When factoring in a slightly delayed departure from the pier and travel time to the island, we were only there for around 3.5 hours. An extra hour or two would have been nice, and if I had more time I would have explored the lighthouse.

Additionally, due to the short time spent on the island, I was glad I did not book the snorkeling excursion. Those that did the snorkeling tour did not have nearly as much time to relax and enjoy the island’s beauty.

As a whole, Pearl Island exceeded my expectations and I had a wonderful, beautiful day relaxing amongst the island’s crystal clear beaches, kayaking, and enjoying food and drinks. I always enjoy discovering new things to see, do, eat, and experience during my day in Nassau, and my time on Pearl Island was the best day I've had in Nassau yet.

Best things to do in Nassau on a cruise

In:
04 Mar 2022

Nassau is one of the busiest cruise ports in the world, receiving around 3 million cruise passengers per year. And while Nassau is best known for crystal clear beaches and world-famous resorts, the port offers plenty of activities for all interests.

Unlike some ports, Nassau is a port day you want to prepare for before arriving. Many guests that try to “wing it” on their day in Nassau end up disappointed and unsure of the best way to spend their day.

Likewise, many cruise passengers skip Nassau altogether and stay on the ship, believing that there is nothing worth seeing or doing on the island. This assumption could not be more incorrect!

Whether you’re looking for a beach day, hoping to try local foods, or learn about Bahamian history and culture, there are plenty of exciting activities to choose from in Nassau.

Nassau’s best activities can be broken down into a few categories:

Beaches

Islands for a beach day

Day passes at resorts

Adventures on and in the water

Food & drink

History & museums

Walk around downtown Nassau

Beaches

New Providence Island, where Nassau is located, has plenty of beaches to choose from. Most beaches are free and open to the public, and some are located just a short walk from the cruise terminal. Here are some of the most popular and recommended beaches in Nassau:

  • Cabbage Beach is a free, public beach on the north side of Paradise Island. It is considered one of the best beaches in the Bahamas due to its soft sand and clean, clear blue waters. Chairs and umbrellas are available to rent from locals.
  • Cable Beach is another famous beach in Nassau, and is located in front of many major hotels and resorts.
  • Junkanoo Beach is the closest beach to the cruise terminal, and thus a popular spot for cruise passengers. Junkanoo Beach is not only convenient due to its proximity to the cruise ships, but it has restroom, shower, and changing facilities available. There are also several bars and restaurants located nearby.

  • Saunders Beach is located 2.5 miles away from the cruise terminal and is a quieter, calm beach ideal for families. Saunders Beach has restroom facilities and a playground available, although guests will have to bring their own towels or chairs to the beach, as rentals are not available. 
  • Love Beach is around 9 miles away from the cruise port, but offers a tranquil beach day away from the crowds. Chair rentals are available and the Nirvana Beach Bar is located on the beach, offering food and drinks.
  • Jaws Beach, which was the filming location for Jaws III, is further away from the other beaches mentioned above, but offers a beach day away from the hustle and bustle of the resorts and downtown area. Bringing snorkel gear to Jaws Beach is a must, as there are sculptures and Hollywood memorabilia located underwater. The beach is located next to Clifton Heritage Park, a protected area with trails, beaches, rocky shorelines, and picnic areas.

The beaches of Nassau offer varied amenities, so be sure to check what is offered or located nearby at each beach.

One common issue faced by those visiting public beaches is the lack of restroom facilities. Many beaches are lined with hotels and resorts, but their facilities are only available to guests. One way around this is to find a nearby restaurant or bar when you need a restroom.

Islands for a beach day

Pearl Island

Pearl Island is located eight miles east of Nassau. Guests will travel to Pearl Island via boat from the cruise port and spend the day relaxing on the island’s beaches, enjoying a traditional Bahamian lunch, walking around the island’s paths, and participating in water activities.

Transportation, lunch, kayaks, paddleboards, beach chairs, water mats and trampolines, showers, and bathroom facilities are included in the day pass for guests. Guests can also access the island’s lighthouse at no extra cost. The excursion usually costs around $100.

A snorkeling tour is also available for $15 extra and lockers can be rented for the day for $10. You can book a day pass to Pearl Island on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Planner or Pearl Island’s website.

Guests looking for a more exclusive experience at Pearl Island can reserve a VIP Cabana. Cabanas include sun chairs, an all-inclusive drink package, butler service, and lunch. The cabana also has a fully stocked cooler, complimentary towels, a power outlet, and ceiling fan.

In addition, guests have access to water maps, kayaks, paddle boards, snorkeling, and a floating trampoline. Prices for the cabana usually run around $240/per adult, and online reservations are for a maximum of two guests, although larger parties may be accommodated.

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon Island is another small island north of downtown Nassau. The boat ride from the cruise port to Blue Lagoon is included in the fare, which is usually around $85-100.

The island has several beaches, small lagoons, hammocks, beach chairs, umbrellas, and games. Water sports (kayaks, snorkeling gear, paddleboards, etc.) come at an additional cost.

Guests interested in seeing marine life can book excursions such as the “Dolphin Encounter and Beach Day” or “Sea Lion Encounter and Beach Day”. During these excursions, guests can get up close and personal with animals to observe them in their natural habitat.

Other tours available at Blue Lagoon Island include a segway and eco nature walking tour. Those looking for a VIP experience can choose to book the VIP Blue Lagoon Island Beach Day.

As a VIP guest on Blue Lagoon Island, guests will receive lunch as well as unlimited Bahama Mama cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages. VIP guests will have a lounge chair in the adults-only VIP beach. Snorkeling equipment is included for VIP guests.

Lunch is included in the excursion to Blue Lagoon as well, where you can enjoy hamburgers, chicken, veggie burgers, Caribbean rice, and a salad bar.

Balmoral Island

Balmoral Island is located a thirty minute boat ride from the cruise port and offers a picture-perfect beach day to guests with clear water, beach chairs and umbrellas, and two fresh-water pools.

Paddleboards, kayaks, and snorkel gear are available to rent, and the island also offers nature tours with dolphins and stingrays. Tropical beach bars, food, and a Starbucks are available on the island for an extra cost.

Day passes at resorts

Several hotels and resorts in Nassau offer day passes, which allow cruise ship guests to access the resorts’ amenities for the day. Some day passes are all-inclusive, whereas others give guests a monetary voucher for food and drinks. Most day passes range from $70-125.

There are several hotels and resorts offering day passes in Nassau:

  • Margaritaville Beach Resort & Waterpark, a new resort with a private beach, two swimming pools, a waterpark, lazy river, hot tub, and pool bar. The resort is located a 15 minute walk from the cruise area. Spa services are available at an extra cost. This resort is not all-inclusive for day pass guests.
  • Warwick Paradise Island Bahamas, a resort located on the harbor side of Paradise Island. There is a small beach here, but the main attraction are the large pool areas. Other activities, including tennis, bicycles, and beach volleyball, are included in the day pass. The Warwick is all-inclusive, so all food and drinks are included.
  • Breezes Resort & Spa, a resort located on Cable Beach in Nassau, includes beach access, a swim-up bar, three freshwater pools, and a jacuzzi. Breezes is an all-inclusive day pass.
  • RIU Palace, an adults-only, all-inclusive resort on Cabbage Beach on Paradise Island. RIU Palace has a swim-up bar, reserved beach area, and two swimming pools. A hot & cold buffet and pool-side barbecue station are available for guests.

There are a few advantages to a day pass as opposed to going to a beach on your own. First, not all public beaches in Nassau have restrooms or cover if it starts raining. Second, if you take advantage of the all-inclusive food and drinks, plus the pool and beach access, day passes can be a good deal.

Atlantis Paradise Island

Many cruise passengers are eager to visit Atlantis Paradise Island, a resort with 3,805 rooms, a waterpark, shopping areas, casino, and a 154-acre waterscape. The waterscape includes lagoons, pools, and habitats for marine animals.

Amenities and activities at the resort are split into two categories: areas open to the general public and areas available only for guests or day pass visitors.

Free areas to visit at the Atlantis include the casino, indoor shopping areas, and several dining venues. You can also visit Marina Village, an outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment space located around the Atlantis Marina, at no extra cost.

Those looking to experience the rest of the resort can purchase day passes. There are a few types of day passes available, some of which give access just to the beach whereas others have access to the beach and waterpark.

Those looking for an exhilarating day may want to reserve a day pass to the Aquaventure Oasis Waterpark at The Atlantis. This is a 141-acre waterpark with pools, waterslides, river rapids, and splash pads for kids. Waterpark guests also receive access to the Marine Habitat, a series of aquariums with over 50,000 aquatic animals.

Baha Mar

The Baha Mar is another luxury resort located on Paradise Island. Located on the resort is the 15-acre Baha Bay waterpark which offers a limited number of day passes.

Baha Bay includes 24 waterslides, a lazy river, FlowRider, infinity pool, wave pool, kids-only pool and slide area, and an outdoor casino. Day pass holders also have beach access.

General admission to Baha Bay is currently $160, while junior admission (guests under 48”) is $65.

Adventures on and in the water

Boat tours

Passengers looking to set sail and explore Nassau from the sea have plenty of options. Royal Caribbean offers tours such as the Discover Nassau Harbor Cruise, which brings guests on a scenic catamaran ride around Paradise Island as they learn about the history and culture of Nassau. A hybrid sea and land tour is also available, where guests start the tour on a catamaran and end with a land tour of downtown Nassau.

A kid-friendly boat tour is Blackbeard’s Pirate Revenge, which takes guests around Nassau in an 18th century pirate ship replica. The boat’s crew are dressed as pirates who tell pirate tales, share history, and provide an immersive experience for guests onboard.

Snorkeling and scuba diving

There are plenty of scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities in Nassau. Visitors to Nassau can choose to bring their own snorkel gear or book a snorkeling excursion through Royal Caribbean or an outside provider.

Royal Caribbean offers the Nassau Sail & Reef Snorkeling tour, which brings guests on a sailboat to coral reefs near Spruce Cay and Athol Island. The benefit of booking with a tour as opposed to snorkeling on your own is that you do not have to pack snorkeling gear with you for the cruise. However, if your itinerary visits several islands where you want to snorkel, it might be worth it to bring your own gear as opposed to booking excursions or gear rentals.

Scuba diving opportunities are also plentiful in Nassau. Stuart Cove is the main diving provider on New Providence Island. They offer Discover Scuba dives for first-time divers as well as dives for certified divers to the coral reels, shipwrecks, and walls around the island. Stuart Cove is also the diving provider for Royal Caribbean shore excursions.

Food & drink

Bahamian food tour

Photo by Tru Bahamian Food Tours

A huge aspect of discovering new cultures is trying new foods, and Nassau offers plenty of opportunities to do so.

Royal Caribbean offers the Island Food & Culinary Insight tour, which takes guests on an air-conditioned ride around Nassau to taste local food and drinks. The tour makes stops at Tasty Teas, the World Famous Fish Fry, Potters Cay Dock, and John Watling’s Distillery. Guests on this tour will have the opportunity to taste dishes like conch fritters, Bahamian teas, and fresh seafood.

There are tours offered by outside providers as well. One of the most popular providers is Tru Bahamian Food Tours, who offers a selection of tours geared toward discovering Bahamian cuisine.

The most popular tour is the Bites of Nassau Food Tasting & Cultural Walking Tour, during which guests stop at six tasting locations around downtown Nassau to taste local foods including steamed chicken, Caribbean rice, and rum cakes.

You can, of course, do a food tour on your own by walking or taking a taxi to the popular bars and restaurants in Nassau. 

A must-see spot to include on a food tour is the Fish Fry, a strip of restaurants and vendors specializing in seafood including conch, grilled shrimp, fried snapper, and lobster tails. The main fish fry in Nassau is conveniently located near the cruise port at Arawak Cay.

Visit the Rum Cake Factory

The Bahamas Rum Cake Factory was established in 2000 and has since been named the Official Rum Cake of the Bahamas. This is a popular spot to taste traditional Bahamian rum cake and buy a delicious souvenir for friends and family.

The factory is a short walk from the cruise port. Guests will be greeted with the strong smell of fresh cake (and rum). There is a small window inside so guests can see how rum cakes are made.

Free samples are available as well, so you can taste several flavors before choosing your favorite. Flavors include pineapple, chocolate, caramel, Irish cream, Kentucky honey bourbon, and the original rum cake with pecans.

This is a quick stop with most guests in and out in fifteen minutes.

Take a tour of John Watling's Distillery

John Watling’s Distillery is a distillery located on a historic estate founded in 1789. A free, short distillery tour with tastings is available.

Hand-crafted cocktails available include the Canchera Rum, which is made with amber rum, Bahamian honey, lemon juice, and club soda, and Skylarkin’, made with pale and coconut rum, coconut pulp, coconut water, and nutmeg.

History & museums

Downtown Nassau is home to several museums which can be a nice activity to do on days with poor weather or after you return to the cruise port from a shore excursion. These museums are all walkable from the cruise port, and most are relatively small, so visiting each museum will not take too much time.

Pirates of Nassau Museum

Nassau was at the heart of piracy from 1690 to 1720, when Nassau was taken over by English privateers who became lawless pirates. The Pirates of Nassau Museum allows guests of all ages to relive history, learn about piracy, and even step foot on a replica of a historic pirate ship.

Admission is $13.50 for adults and $6.75 for children 4-17.

Pompey Museum of Slavery & Emancipation

A small yet informative museum, the Pompey Museum of Slavery & Emancipation takes visitors through the story of Pompey, a slave who started a rebellion in 1830 in Steventon, Exuma.

The museum has a series of educational panels providing stories and descriptions of slavery in the Bahamas throughout history, and its impact on the culture and traditions seen in the Bahamas today. There is a small entrance fee to visit the museum.

National Art Gallery of the Bahamas

Guests interested in Bahamian art and culture may want to visit the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas. Culture, folklore, and history are demonstrated at the museum through local art. The museum has new exhibits fairly often as well.

The entrance fee is $10 for guests and free for children under 12.

Educulture Junkanoo Museum

Junkanoo is the most popular festival in the Bahamas. A colorful street parade with music, dance, and costumes, Junkanoo takes place on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day each year.

Guests wanting to learn more about Junkanoo can do so any day of the year at the Educulture Junkanoo Museum. The museum has costumes, traditional fabrics, music, and informational panels on display for guests to learn more about the festival’s history and influence in the Bahamas. There is a small fee to enter the museum.

The Heritage Museum of the Bahamas

The Heritage Museum of the Bahamas takes visitors on a journey from pre-historic times in the Bahamas to today. The museum has relics and artifacts on display, such as an extensive sample of items in a Bahamian grocery shop in 1900 to an exhibit of tools used during slavery.

A small fee is required to enter the museum and optional guided tours are available.

Walk around downtown Nassau

A free activity to do in port is walk around downtown Nassau. Royal Caribbean and outside providers offer historical walking tours of Nassau, although the sites are all easily accessible on your own. Plenty of Nassau’s most historic sites are located just a 5 or 10 minute walk from the cruise port.

Popular sites to visit include:

  • The Queen’s Staircase, a 66-step landmark carved out of limestone in 1793, providing a direct route from downtown Nassau to Fort Fincastle. The staircase was named after Queen Victoria. Located in a lush, limestone alley with a waterfall, the Queen’s Staircase is easily accessible from the cruise port.
  • Fort Fincastle, a historic fort built in 1793 to protect Nassau from pirates. A relatively small fort at 126 feet, Fort Fincastle is free to access, although entering the inside of the fort comes at a small fee. (The inside of the fort has been closed due to Covid-19, although that can change at any time).
  • Rawson Square, a public square lined with government buildings and home to activities and festivals throughout the year
  • The Straw Market, a large flea market selling souvenirs including handmade Bahamian straw products such as purses and hats, as well as cheaper, factory-made items like t-shirts and bracelets. Be sure to haggle on the price before buying anything at the Straw Market.

 

Warwick Paradise Island day pass review

In:
18 Jan 2022

Nassau is one of the most popular cruise destinations. Whether it’s your first time visiting or you’ve been to Nassau plenty of times, planning your time in port will make your day go by much more smoothly.

On my recent cruise to Nassau, I decided to try out the day pass at the adults-only Warwick Paradise Island. This day pass is available to guests aged 16 and older.

I purchased a day pass to the Warwick Paradise island through ResortForADay.com, which sells day passes to hotels and resorts throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, and United States. A deposit is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance to be paid upon arrival.

Day passes are available at the Warwick for $110 per person. As the hotel is all-inclusive, I felt this was a fair price to pay for pool and beach access as well as unlimited food and drinks.

You will need to take a taxi from the port area to the resort. The ride is only around ten minutes and the taxi fare will depend on the amount of people in your party. I paid $12 on the way there while sharing a taxi with a separate party and $15 in my own taxi on the way back.

Upon arrival at the hotel, I paid the remaining balance and presented my ID and vaccination card. The check-in process was quick and I was soon outside exploring the hotel.

The day pass is available from 10:30AM - 6:00PM and includes access to all outdoor and lobby amenities at the Warwick, including:

  • Beach lagoon access
  • Pool access
  • Outdoor activities including volleyball, basketball, tennis, and cornhole
  • Bicycles to use around Paradise Island
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages from the Hog Bar
  • Lunch at the Verandah buffet or Chickcharnie’s Pizzeria
  • Towel service and lounge chairs at the pool or beach
  • Use of fitness facilities
  • Wi-fi service throughout the day

Beach & Pool

The Warwick is not beachfront, but is instead located in Nassau Harbor. This means that, while there is a small beach, there is no access to the open ocean and views are obstructed.

The beach itself has clear water, though, and is very calm, which makes for a relaxing swim. There is also a bridge in the water acting as a barrier for the beach and a walking path for guests.

The beach has lounge chairs and umbrellas available for use as well as hammocks and a volleyball net.

The pool area is where the Warwick really shines, though. The pool sprawls over a large area and has nice views of the harbor and beach. There is a lot of lounge chair space throughout the property, both right by the pool and further away. There is also a small hot tub available.

Additional areas and activities

If you get bored of laying on the beach or by the pool, there are other things to do at the Warwick.

In the lobby area, you will find a pool table, foosball table, ping pong table, and a few arcade games. There is also a small library stand where you can check out a book for the day.

Outside there is a tennis court available for those looking to get some exercise. You are also free to use the bicycles at the property to cycle anywhere on Paradise Island. Do be aware, though, that Bahamians drive on the left side of the road!

Near the pool, you will find a spacious deck with views of the harbor and a gazebo which offers plenty of shade.

Food & Beverage

The Warwick is all-inclusive so there is no need to worry about a price limit on food and drinks while at the resort.

There are two dining options available at the Warwick for day pass guests: Verandah buffet and Chickcharnie’s Pizzeria. Depending on the hotel’s occupancy, however, the buffet may or may not be open. When I visited the Warwick, lunch was only available at Chickcharnie’s Pizzeria.

Chickcharnie’s is located right near the pool and is a casual dining experience. The menu offers a variety of options including pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, quesadillas, and salads. 

First I ordered the conch fritters and a quinoa salad. The food was ready in around ten minutes and I thought both dishes were prepared well. I liked getting the chance to try the more traditional Caribbean dish of conch fritters, but I also enjoyed having healthy options on the menu too.

The portions were quite small, but since the resort is all-inclusive, you can order as much as you want. I also prefer having small portions so that there is less food waste. Another thing I appreciated was that there were labeled gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options on the menu. 

Later in the day I ordered a personal-sized cheese pizza. While it wasn’t the most gourmet pizza in the world, it was what I expected for food by the pool.

My dining experience at the Warwick was good overall, although I wish I had the opportunity to try the Verandah buffet. The buffet area looked nicer than the super-casual Chickcharnie’s by the pool. However, I was visiting the Warwick on a chilly day in mid-January. During a more busy time of the year, both restaurants would likely be open for lunch.

Drinks are available at the Hog Bar near the pool. My bartenders were extremely friendly and the piña colada I had was both colorful and refreshing! There was also a DJ near the bar. The resort has a cocktail menu available but you are free to order off the menu as well.

Final Thoughts

I think a day pass can be a good option for those passengers who do not have a Deluxe Beverage Package onboard and are looking to enjoy an all-inclusive for the day. Several day pass options at other resorts are not all-inclusive and instead give you a monetary credit for food and drinks. At these resorts, food and drink prices are often high, so the credit does not go very far. At the Warwick you can enjoy as many cocktails and food as you want without spending extra money out of pocket!

Before selecting the Warwick, though, make sure you understand the location’s offerings and decide if it will work for you. The Warwick is not the best option if you are looking for a beach day, as the beach is in the harbor and is also pretty small. However, the pool at the Warwick has more than enough space to enjoy the day. I'd say the beach situation is the most important thing to consider before selecting the Warwick over another hotel, though.

While the day pass at the Warwick Paradise Island is not the cheapest day pass option in Nassau, I liked the all-inclusive aspect of it. Would I do it again? I think so, but just like any day pass, I would check the weather before booking it. As everything included in the day pass is outdoors, it is probably not the best option for a cold, rainy, or windy day.

Overall, if you’re looking for a relaxing pool day in Nassau over a beach day and are wanting an all-inclusive option, the Warwick can be a great choice.

Other day pass reviews in Nassau:

British Colonial Hilton day pass review

Margaritaville Beach Resort day pass review

Review: Day Pass at Margaritaville Beach Resort in Nassau

In:
22 Dec 2021

A mere half mile from where the cruise ships dock in Nassau, Bahamas, Margaritaville opened its newest resort in July 2021. 

The resort offers day passes that cruise passengers can purchase to experience some of the resorts amenities. 

What does a Margaritaville Beach Resort day pass include, and how is the experience? Marcy visited the resort on a December 2021 cruise to check it out.

What’s included?

The day pass includes:

  • The “Fins Up” Water Park admission
  • $25 food and beverage credit
  • Private beach access (chairs first come, first serve)
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi.

Cost and Cancellation policy

The current price for the day pass is $115 per adult, $45 for children 3-12 and under 3 years old is free.

You can cancel your pass up until 11:59 p.m. the day before your arrival on their website, however, you can cancel by email up until 10 a.m. the day of your arrival. 

That’s great flexibility if the weather happens to be bad.

My experience

I booked the day pass online via the third-party website resortpass.com. 

While Margaritaville doesn’t give an exact number, it is stated on their website that they will limit the number of passes sold per day.  I received my confirmation email that stated I had to check in at the front desk with a valid photo ID.

We went to the resort on Sunday, December 19th while our Royal Caribbean cruise ship was docked in port for the day.

We decided to do the half mile walk from the ship to the resort, which took fifteen minutes (six of which was just getting out of the port). The walk between the ship and Margaritaville is relatively flat.

We arrived at the resort and headed inside to check in.  We were stopped and told the policy had changed and were directed around the corner to the water parks ticket booth.  We provided our names and were given a wristband and our $25 per person food and/or drink coupons.

The Fins Up Water Park

The water park opened at 10 am, and we were there right at opening.

The first thing I noticed was how clean it was. The park features one pool, a lazy river, a kids slide, three larger slides for all ages, one hot tub and a flow rider type ride that is a scaled down version of the ones on Royal Caribbean’s ships. 

There is also a ledge 10 feet up that you can jump off of into the 11 ft. deep pool.  That was something I had never seen before at a water park.

The pools are not heated, so being December, it was a bit chilly. However, it was a sunny day so the water felt nice. 

There’s a rock climbing wall however, it was not staffed nor did we see anyone climbing it.

Lounge chairs and beach towels are complimentary. There were also lockers located near the restroom & changing rooms. I wanted to get one so my husband and I could store our valuables and enjoy the lazy river together but we were told they were just installed and were not in use as of yet.

The complimentary WIFI was easy to access.  After signing in, a pop up message said the WIFI would only be active for a one hour window.  Ours ended up working the entire four hours we were there so I’m not really sure what the actual rule is.

The overall atmosphere was enjoyable.  There were jumbo screens on the hotel itself that played every genre of music you can think of. 

We heard everything from Bruno Mars to U2, country music, 1960’s blues, 1980’s classic rock, Christmas music from the Monkees to Mariah Carey and of course plenty of Jimmy Buffet.  The volume of the music was perfect.  It was raised but not loud to the point where you couldn’t hold a conversation.

Food and drinks

This is the area that needs the most help, especially if you want to enjoy some cocktails, or any beverage at all. 

There are two areas to get drinks while visiting. The one by the food window was closed, so there was only the main bar that had one bartender the whole time we were there.

It’s obvious they have a bit of a staffing issue.  In fact, on their website, they mention that they offer poolside food and beverage service which we did not experience.  

Make sure to bring your wallet because the food is expensive, and this is coming from someone that frequents Walt Disney World ,so I’m used to overpriced food.

We ordered a chicken wrap and a burger (both included fries) and two beverages with alcohol that totaled $85.  Remember we did have two $25 food credits so that brought it down to $35 but that just seemed very overpriced to me. 

Gratuity and VAT taxes were automatically added.  They only accepted credit cards, no cash. 

I really did enjoy my chicken wrap.  It was made to order so even though it took about 15 minutes to get the food, it was fresh and delicious.  My husband wasn’t impressed with his burger though.  It was overcooked and bland.  The drinks were very good. 

Final thoughts

Overall, I really enjoyed the day. It wasn’t crowded, I assume because not many people are aware of the day pass offer.

I love a lazy river so I could have just floated around in there all day.  My husband’s favorite activity was the ten foot jump, he said it was the best thing there.   

Would I do it again?  Maybe. It was a great day but the way I look at it, I could get a full day at CocoCay’s water park, which offers more activities for a cheaper price that also includes food.

However, if you’re looking for something new to do in Nassau, or you’re a fan of Jimmy Buffet and the Margaritaville brand, then the day pass is definitely for you. 

How Royal Caribbean invested in new port projects and tech during the cruise industry shutdown

In:
02 Aug 2021

Royal Caribbean may have been shut down for 15 months, but that does not mean work stopped behind the scenes on new innovations and ideas that were announced in the months leading up to the stoppage.

While there may not have been many public updates on what was happening, Royal Caribbean prioritized certain initiatives and expansions so that when cruise ships could return, the company would be ready with exciting new announcements.

Overseeing these initiatives is Royal Caribbean Group Chief Product Innovation Officer, Jay Schneider, whose job it is to blend product development and experience, and he manages Royal Caribbean's technology and private destination innovations.

So what has Royal Caribbean been up to all these months, and what changes, additions, and new offerings can we expect with cruise ships starting to restart operations? I asked Mr. Schneider what is behind Royal Caribbean's proverbial curtain.

Continual investment

First and foremost, Mr. Schneider pointed to the fact his team invested in creating a new tech foundation to support initiatives that would prove to be critical to success during the shutdown, "Had we not made that investment, getting back into service now would be very difficult and very expensive."

This includes things like reducing friction at check-in, emuster, or being able to review your folio were good ideas pre-shutdown, and are now critical for social distancing and reducing touch points.

More importantly, Royal Caribbean not stopping work on its digital projects is a lesson learned from the days of the last smartphone app, Royal iQ.

"I think one of the mistakes we made, if you remember our Royal iQ app," Schneider admitted.

"We stopped investing in it and it just became stagnant. And so you'll see us continue to make improvements and additions and edits to the Royal Caribbean app and build the product out."

Chat feature

Schneider says the chat feature was ready to be rolled out right before the pandemic hit, but it is ready for all the ships in the fleet now.

Mr. Schneider confirmed the chat feature is ready for use fleet wide, "As we bring every ship back, every ship, will have chat."

Royal Beach Club

In March 2020, Royal Caribbean announced a Royal Beach Club in Nassau, which is an enhancement of an area that Royal Caribbean's cruise ships sail to, with the option for guests to go there, or do something else in that destination.

Mr. Schneider confirmed the first Royal Beach Club will be in Nassau, known as the Royal Beach Club in Paradise Island. After that, the Perfect Day projects will continue, "We're going to continue to go and build out Royal Beach clubs. The first one will be here in Nassau. It will be the Royal Beach Club in Paradise Island. And then we're going to continue to expand our Perfect Day portfolio."

"We have gotten to the point where we've announced that we've executed our lease with the government. So the total space is 20 acres, 13 of which we own privately, and then it's seven acres of government land that we've leased."

"We are going to continue to move forward to that program."

The daily occupancy for the Royal Beach Club in Paradise Island will be 3,500 guests.

Also in the Bahamas is another project in Freeport on Grand Bahama Island. 

According to Schneider, that project is still moving forward, "It continues to move forward. We're still working through the legal agreements, so that's just been an elongated process that we hope will conclude sometime soon."

So which projects are a go with the way things stand now? Mr. Schneider would only say some things have changed over the last 15 months that may or may not alter Royal Caribbean's plans.

"Number one, the destinations are evolving, meaning they're coming out of a pandemic themselves. So their situations are different."

"Second, our guests are evolving and we're constantly updating our slate of where we want to go. And so those factors and formulas together help us think about where we want to go."

Read moreRoyal Caribbean's plans to build a cruise resort in Bahamas are still alive

Amplifications will return

One of the many projects that had to be sidelined were ship upgrades under the Royal Amplified program, and it looks like those updates are delayed, but not denied.

"We're going to pick up Amplification again. We're going to keep making sure that the Amplification we have is working."

Moreover, new ship construction is not stopping either, "Our new build portfolio isn't isn't stopping. We're going to continue to build amazing ships."

"You're going to see new concepts come out on future ships and you're going to see us experiment with new fun ways to, again, get people to have an amazing vacation."

Read moreWhat was added to each Royal Caribbean ship during its Royal Amplified refurbishment

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - Tips for flying to Nassau

In:
29 Apr 2021

Listen to the Show

With cruises from Nassau starting soon, many people (including myself) are trying to figure out the logistics of flying to the Bahamas. This week, someone who has flown to Nassau a few times shares his experiences and tips for a smooth arrival.

Share with me your thoughts, questions and comments via...

On this episode:
Running time:

What you need to know about visiting Nassau on a cruise ship

In:
30 Mar 2021

Nassau is the capital of The Bahamas and home to Adventure of the Seas in summer 2021.

With a lot of people about to visit Nassau to enjoy one of these new sailings, getting to know what Nassau is known for and offers is even more important.

Whether you are doing a pre- or post-cruise stay in The Bahamas, or coming for a few hours, there is a lot to consider when visiting.

While Nassau has the usual cruise port fare most people skip over, there are some really intriguing places to visit and lovely accommodations that might interest you.

If you have a cruise booked from Nassau, here is what you need to know about visiting the island and what to expect.

Getting to Nassau

It is a safe bet you will need to fly to get to your cruise ship sailing from Nassau.

You have the choice of booking airfare on your own, or taking advantage of extra seats on flights that Royal Caribbean offers through its Air2Sea program.

When Royal Caribbean announced cruises from Nassau, they knew demand for flights would be strong and possibly even outpace supply.  So they worked with select airlines to not only secure seats but actually subsidize prices.

To book a flight to Nassau through Air2Sea, you can can contact the Royal Caribbean call center at 844-278-9745 or book through your travel agent.

Interestingly, Royal Caribbean pushed back the departure time for sailings from Nassau until 9pm, so that there is more time for people to fly in for their cruise.

Read moreWhy you shouldn't fly to your cruise the same day it begins

You should be aware of the health travel visa requirement for international travelers coming to The Bahamas and take care of those requirements as well.

Arriving in Nassau

Lynden Pindling International Airport is the major airport of Nassau and largest in the country.

It is about 10-12 miles from the airport to the cruise terminal, but with traffic the trip may take around a half hour.

Taxis are plentiful at the airport.

Where to stay in Nassau

There are many great hotels and resorts you can book all around New Providence island and Paradise Island.

Royal Caribbean says guests are able to do a pre- or post-cruise stay,  but are responsible for ensuring full compliance with required health measures to enter or exit The Bahamas, as well as the necessary boarding requirements when embarking the cruise.

There is a good mix of value, luxury, and prices to match most needs. Depending on your needs, there are a lot of good choices.  Like any destination, book early to secure a room and check back often for price drops or new deals.

Based on other traveler recommendations, here are some good places to consider researching:

What to do in Nassau

Nassau is known for its beaches, tourist attractions, and rich history, and you will find plenty of things to do besides hanging at your resort pool.

Like so much of The Bahamas, Nassau blends European influences with Bahamian lifestyle.

Going in the summer means you will find very warm temperatures and high humidity, along with a passing thunderstorm more than likely. The weather may change throughout the day, but do not let rain in the forecast stop you from getting out and trying something new.

White sand beaches

What is the best beach in Nassau? That is debatable, but Cable Beach is almost always among the top contenders.

A 10-minute taxi ride from the airport, you will find powder-fine white sand, see-through blue-green water, and plenty of space to put down a beach blanket.

Cable Beach is hardly a secret, but it remains one of the most scenic spots you can go to to enjoy beach time.

Honorable mention to Cabbage Beach if you prefer something a bit further away from the crowds (and everyone at the Baha Mar).

John Watling’s Distillery

How about a little history combined with a refreshing cocktail?

John Watling’s is where you want to go to get a Bahama Mama or exquisite rum to sample.

You can even take a complimentary tour of the historic Buena Vista Estate, which includes antiques and exhibits dating back more than 300 years. You will also be able to see where the rum is stored among the white oak barrels.

Fish fry

If you want to sample local cuisine, a traditional fish fry is just what you need.

Locals call it The Fish Fry (or, da Fish Fry) where you will find outdoor seating and your choice of fritters, snapper, shrimp and cole slaw. 

At Arawak Cay you will find plenty of local dining choices, including the King Restaurant and Bar.  There's also Goldie's and Twin Brothers, which are good choices as well.

Queen's Staircase

Nassau has plenty of history you can visit, and the best attraction to take in is the Queen's staircase

A walkway of 65 steps, it was carved out of solid limestone rock by 600 slaves between 1793 and 1794.  The purpose was to create an escape route from nearby Fort Fincastle (which you can also tour).

It is an equally impressive engineering feat, as well as a testament to the slaves who built it.

Ardastra Gardens

Nature is hard to miss in Nassau, but the best place to understand its connection to The Bahamas is Ardastra Gardens & Wildlife Conservation Centre.

The main appeal of these gardens are the freely walking birds, including flamingos, peacocks and parrots (cages hold trumpeter hornbills and other more exotic creatures). 

Atlantis Water park

I would be remiss if I did not mention there is a very popular water park you can go to at the Atlantis Resort.

Aquaventure is a 141-acre water park that features over twenty million gallons of water, magnificent Atlantean-themed towers housing high-speed water slides, a mile-long river ride with rolling rapids and wave surges, 20 swimming areas, a spectacular kids water-play fort and 11 refreshing swimming pools.

If you happen to be staying at Atlantis, you can access the park. Day passes used to be offered, but it appears are not sold during the global health crisis.

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