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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.

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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.

Royal Caribbean will sail Adventure of the Seas from Nassau in June 2021

In:
19 Mar 2021

Royal Caribbean announced it will begin offering cruises on Adventure of the Seas from Nassau, Bahamas in June 2021.

Beginning in June, Adventure of the Seas will be relocated to her new homeport of Nassau, Bahamas to offer 7-night cruises to destinations such as Cozumel, Grand Bahama Island, and Perfect Day at CocoCay.

The new cruises will sail June through August 2021.

The new sailings are open to guests of all nationalities and residencies are able to book these sailings.

All crew members will be vaccinated for Covid-19 onboard, and fully vaccinated guests 18 years of age and older are able to sail. Children under the age of 18 with proof of negative COVID-19 test results are able to sail as well.

Read moreFirst look at Royal Caribbean's newly refurbished Adventure of the Seas

Details on additional health and safety measures will be announced at a later date.

The new cruises on Adventure of the Seas will go on sale beginning March 24, 2021.

Consequently, the Adventure of the Seas 2021 Europe season has been canceled. Guests booked on sailings departing June 5 — October 14, 2021 can elect to: 1) choose a refund of all funds paid or 2) accept a 125% Future Cruise Credit to be redeemed at a later date. All impacted guests and associated travel agencies will soon receive an email.

In order to sail on Adventure of the Seas, here is what passengers will need to provide the following:

  • For guests 18 years of age and older, proof of being fully vaccinated for COVID -19
  • Proof of a negative SARS- CoV-2 RT-PCR test result for entry into the country where you are sailing from (age requirements vary by jurisdiction)
  • Completed Royal Caribbean Health Questionnaire, available in the app 24 hours before sailing
  • Typical travel documents, including passport or any visas as required by the departure countr

"We are excited to get back to delivering memorable vacations in the Caribbean, gradually and safely. The vaccines are clearly a game changer for all of us, and with the number of vaccinations and their impact growing rapidly, we believe starting with cruises for vaccinated adult guests and crew is the right choice. As we move forward, we expect this requirement and other measures will inevitably evolve over time," said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International.

"The opportunity to homeport in The Bahamas is a testament to the tremendous partners the government and the people of the island nation have been to us for more than 50 years. We are grateful for the confidence that they have in us and our commitment to a healthy and happy return to sailing."

The announcement comes days after Royal Caribbean teased a big announcement, but delayed it a few hours later.

This is the second ship to restart sailings outside of the United States, with Grandeur of the Seas sailing from Barbados in December.

Similarly, Celebrity Cruises announced it will restart cruises outside the United States with Celebrity Millennium from St. Maarten.

Moving away from the United States

It is difficult to look past the fact Royal Caribbean deploying a ship to sail from Nassau is a move to get ships sailing again faster.

When the CDC lifted the No Sail Order at the end of October and replaced it with the Framework for Conditional Sail Order, the CDC outlined a series of steps required for cruises to be able to progress towards restarting.

Cruise lines are still waiting for those instructions.

While cruise lines wait for approval to sail again from the United States, today's announcement that Adventure of the Seas will sail from the Bahamas appears to be a strategy to move around those restrictions.

Royal Caribbean had already scheduled Grandeur of the Seas to sail from Barbados in December, but many cruise lines are now looking to return to service sooner with sailings this summer.

In terms of getting a sense of what the CDC or cruise lines are looking for in these statistics, there are still unknowns, but Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain pointed to factors such as how quickly the vaccine continues to roll out, or how the Covid variants will affect numbers going forward.

"I think it's premature for them, or for us, to try and speculate on what threshold the number has to be, because it's so many variables."

"I think we're more encouraged to see the really dramatic drop that we've been experiencing and the really nice roll out, particularly in the United States, in the U.K., in the in the vaccine."

Royal Caribbean purchases land on western side of Paradise Island in Nassau, Bahamas

In:
27 Feb 2020

Bahamian media are reporting Royal Caribbean has purchased land on the western end of Paradise Island in The Bahamas.

The Tribune confirmed with Royal Caribbean’s Bahamian attorney that earlier this week the cruise line, "acquired multiple real estate parcels on Paradise Island’s western end."

Campbell Cleare, partner at McKinney, Bancroft and Hughes, confirmed Royal Caribbean has steadily been working towards purchasing land on Paradise Island’s western end.

“I do represent Royal Caribbean,” he said. “Royal Caribbean has bought a number of parcels of land on the western side of Paradise Island. I can tell you, because we’ve concluded the matter and it’s of public record, that we did buy a number of parcels on western Paradise Island.”

There is no indication yet by Royal Caribbean what the intended use for this land. According to Tribune Business, the land could be used for, "a beach-centred entertainment destination for the passengers it brings to Nassau."

According to Tribune Business, they estimate Royal Caribbean may have spent as much as $54 million on some of the land deals in total.

Royal Caribbean has publically confirmed it is working towards aquiring the Grand Lucayan resort in Freeport, Bahamas.  That deal is part of a greater Freeport Harbour redevelopment plan through the cruise line's Holistica joint venture.

In addition to both acquisitions, Royal Caribbean recently spent an additional $250 million transforming its private island into Perfect Day at CocoCay.

VIP Blue Lagoon Island Beach Day shore excursion in Nassau, Bahamas review

In:
05 Feb 2020

One of the most popular shore excursions in Nassau, Bahamas is the Blue Lagoon Beach Day tour. I decided to check it out for myself and see what it offers.

Blue Lagoon is a private island that is about a 30 minute boat ride away from where the cruise ships tender in Nassau.  It is located just off the coast of Paradise Island, which is home to Atlantis Resort and many extremely extravagant mansions.

Blue Lagoon offers a variety of options for booking a visit to their island. There is a basic beach day pass, dolphin swim combo, stingray encounter, Segway and more. I counted nine different tours that take you to Blue Lagoon.

Ultimately, I settled on the VIP Blue Lagoon Island Beach Day since I did not want to do any of the animal encounters or other tours.

The VIP tour came out to $120.99 per person. I believe the non-VIP tour would have cost around $88.

Check-in for the tour was on the pier in Nassau where the ship docks.  Since I had the VIP tour, I was taken out of the regular line and escorted ahead of everyone else to a ferry that was waiting to take us to the island.

On the ferry, VIP members were given a bottle of water and a granola bar snack.

As we arrived to the island, the crew instructed VIP guests to debark first, ahead of everyone else.

Blue Lagoon is made up of a variety of beaches that you can visit at your leisure.  The dolphin, stingray, shark and sea lion encounters are all on the east side of the island.  Even if you do not have an encounter scheduled, you can walk around the area and see the animals.

 

Our VIP guide escorted us to a private beach area that was a short walk away on the northwest side of the island.  

There, we found a pristine beach with plenty of lounge chairs and umbrellas to enjoy. 

 

The VIP tour provides unlimited bottled water, mimosas and fruit punch to enjoy.

The beach was beautiful and very private, although the rockiness of it made swimming and wading beyond your waist impossible.

VIP guests are free to wander the island and enjoy any of the other beaches.  Snorkeling equipment rental is included with the VIP pass.

A BBQ island buffet is included with the VIP pass, and served just outside the beach in a shaded area with picnic table seating.

The buffet lunch consisted of salad, fried fish, steak, BBQ chicken, plantains and corn on the cob.

The other beaches offer different ocean depths and views. Some are better for swimming, others better for wading and others suitable for snorkeling.

You have the option to add onto your beach pass to add an animal encounter, aqua park or other tour. 

Comments

As advertised, Blue Lagoon is indeed a beautiful and serene island to spend the day and delivers a relaxing beach day option.

There was plenty of seating, and the service provided to VIP guests was excellent. 

I was disappointed to find the VIP beach to be too rocky to swim. In fact, it was too rocky to even walk very deep in and I noticed only a few brave guests venturing across the rocks to get waist deep.

Of course, I could leave the VIP beach and enjoy a rock-free beach elsewhere, but it seems to be a waste of paying for the VIP perks.  

I think Blue Lagoon is a good choice for someone who wants to do an animal encounter, or some other type of tour, and combine it with a great beach day.

Excursion review: Fly A Jet Experience Jetline Simulation Bahamas

In:
27 Mar 2019

If you are one of those people looking to do something different in Nassau, Bahamas, then perhaps flying a Boeing 737 may fit into that category?

You are not flying a real plane, but rather hopping into a simulator cockpit to take the controls of a 737 airliner to see if you have "the right stuff" to take off, fly, and land the jet in the same way real-world pilots do.  I had to find out for myself if I could match up.

Description

Royal Caribbean recently added the Fly A Jet Experience Jetline Simulation Bahamas shore excursion to select Nassau cruises, where guests can book time in a 737 flight simulator and pick fly a Boeing 737-800NG from one of thousands of airports around the world.

Just like all Royal Caribbean shore excursions, you pick a time at booking and then meet your excursion staff.  Each session is one hour long. 

I met my tour on the pier as soon as I debarked my Royal Caribbean ship and to my surprise, it was just me.  The shore excursion is run by Jetline Simulation Bahamas, and they have one simulator that they can rent out at at time. 

My guide walked me to the office, which was about a 10 minute walk from the ship (it is located just past Senor Frogs and the British Colonial Hilton). Royal Caribbean says the walk is 0.2 miles over flat surfaces.

Upon arrival, I was given a choice of airports to fly to or from. I opted to pick my home airport of Orlando, Florida and fly to nearby Tampa, Florida. I did this because the flight is so short I would be able to take off and land twice.

A brief introduction tells you what to expect, as you will hop into a simulator that features the same cockpit and screens around you to mimic the real thing.  The simulator runs a popular brand of flight simulation software, Prepar3D v4 by Lockheed Martin.

You are seated in the pilot's seat, with the flight instructor as your copilot.  The flight instructors have real-world flight experience, and in my case, one indicated this was a side job for him while he worked his way up to a real pilot's license and an opportunity to fly.

The flight instructor is your guide throughout the process, and will lead you from programming the flight computer, to assisting in push back from the gate, takeoff and landing. The instructor gets a good sense of your experience and can provide as much or as little guidance as you need.

While I did two full flights, there is an option just for takeoff and landing if you want to cut out the mundane aspects of flight planning and go right to the fun.

Comments

If you have ever thought it would be fun to fly a plane, or wondered about the intricacies of flight, or are simply a geek, this is the excursion for you. Moreover, it is something completely different from the usual shore excursion options in Nassau, which involve time on a beach or water.

The staff at Jetline Simulation are incredibly helpful and fun to fly with.  They lead you along the way and help you from start to finish, allowing you to focus on the fun parts of the flight.  Some guests want to do this as a fun little distraction, while others truly want the challenge of flying an airliner like real-world pilots do. 

This excursion reminds me of a fantastic moment in Indiana Jones and Last Crusade, where Indiana Jones' father was surprised to hear his son knows how to fly an airplane.

This might shock some of you, but I am a geek and have played flight simulator video games for years. 

I know, it's shocking.  Having a fair amount of flight sim experience, I thought I would really ace the flights but having every control available, instead of a keyboard and mouse, proved to be quite the challenge.

I relished in having access to the knobs, dials and throttles found in a real airliner. The simulator cockpit is the real deal, with gentle vibrations as you turn the engines on, taxi and take-off or land. There is even recorded announcements from the flight attendants at specific intervals of flight. The only thing missing was the in-flight meal.

If you are a fellow geek, you will love this kind of an excursion.  At its heart, you are playing a video game. A very intricate and challenging video game.

If you are by no means as geeky as I, never played a flight sim game ever, this is still a great group excursion because just like an escape room, learning to kayak, or exploring a mountain, the point of the flight experience is to test your ability to match what pilots do every day.

This is also a very short shore excursion coming in at only one hour.  This is great for working in an additional shore excursion or just something to do in conjunction with walking around Nassau.

Cost: $139 per adult.

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