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Nassau Cruise Port
- 1 Nassau Cruise Port
- 2 Introduction
- 3 Where do cruise ships dock?
- 4 What to do with a day in Port
- 5 The Queens Staircase & Fort Fincastle
- 6 Beaches Close to Nassau Cruise Port
- 7 Local Flavours
- 8 Getting Around
- 9 Good to Know
- 10 Quick Facts
This guide to Nassau Cruise Port will hopefully provide you with lots of information on this very popular cruise destination.
Stretched between the North Atlantic and the east coast of Florida the Bahamas are a string of over 700 islands and 2400 cays. Nassau, the capital, is gritty compared to the rest of the relaxed Bahamas. It teems with sun-seeking tourists, loud vendors and stores overflowing with Bahamian crafts, food supplies and other delights.
Although Nassau is now fairly modern there is still glimpses of its past glamour in the historic old town with its candy pink colonial charm. The hotel district of Paradise Island is a short boat ride away as are some of the nearby cays where you can relax on golden beaches lapped by crystal clear waters.
Where do cruise ships dock?
Cruise ships dock at the Prince George Wharf which is right in the centre of the city. It boasts 7 berths which are often full so it makes for a bustling port terminal.
After disembarking from your cruise ship you will make your way through Festival Place. Festival Place is vibrant and colourful, and a little noisy at times. Its design reflects the style of a Bahamian village and provides the opportunity for visitors to purchase quality, authentic Bahamian made souvenirs and craft items. Services available at Festival Place include:
- Tour desk providing general information on The Islands
- Information on attractions
- Land and waterbased tours
- Post Office
- Communications centre (payphones, phone cards, Internet kiosks/WiFi)
- Transportation information for scooter rental, taxi and ferry boat operations
- Hair braiding.
Please note that when going ashore in Nassau you will need photo ID to return to your ship so always take this with you.
What to do with a day in Port
The Queens Staircase & Fort Fincastle
Built by slaves into solid limestone, the 66 steps known as the Queen’s Staircase gave troops protected access to Fort Fincastle. More than a century later, the staircase was named to honour Queen Victoria and her role in abolishing slavery in the Bahamas. Today, visitors can appreciate this amazing feat of construction as they climb the steep staircase, to Fort Fincastle, the highest point on the island. Fort Fincastle sits atop Bennetts Hill and was built in 1793 to protect Nassau from pirates. Take in the amazing panoramic views and explore the castle and its showrooms detailing the life of the soldiers who lived there. The staircase and the castle are only around a 15-minute walk from the cruise terminal.
After the decline of the sponging industry in the mid-1940s, Bahamian women began braiding and weaving the leaves of palm trees and sisal plants into baskets and fishing traps as a way to boost their income. Today this tradition continues at the Straw Market in Nassau. Shoppers can buy woven items such as hats, mats, and baskets, as well as fine wooden carvings, colourful fabrics, and many other souvenirs. Prices are reasonable especially if you are good at negotiating. The market is very close to the cruise terminal and you could easily include it in a visit to the Queen’s Staircase above.
Aquaventure Waterpark at the Atlantis Resort
Aquaventure is our one-of-a-kind, 141-acre water park. This non-stop aquatic playground 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. Aquaventure is a lush, tropical environment that is immersive, interconnected and perfect for all vacationers, both young and old. The water park offers an extreme level of excitement and delivers an “aqua” adventure unlike any other.
Relax at the Hilton Hotel
Only a short walk from the cruise terminal, purchase a day pass for the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, and enjoy all of the facilities they have to offer that include a small but gorgeous section of beach. Be patient when checking in as the staff seem to have perfected the art of making a simple process last forever. Once you have your wristband make your way out to the pleasant gardens and pool area. There is a poolside bar where you can also enjoy your lunch which is included in the price of the pass. We book using Resort for a Day
Ardastra Gardens, Zoo, and Conservation Center
Set in 4 acres of tropical gardens the Ardastra Gardens Zoo is best known as the home of the marching flamingos. The flamingos entertain visitors by marching in formation to commands. This zoo specializes in the conservation of Caribbean species, including the endangered Bahama Parrot and several species of iguanas. The Gardens and zoo are about a mile and a half from the cruise terminal so it is certainly walkable (30mins) but please bear in mind that fierce tropical sun and wear a hat and bring some water.
Also known as Salt Cay, Blue Lagoon Island is a private island about five kilometres from Nassau and is reachable by a short boat ride. Offering a range of watersports as well as close-up encounters with dolphins and sea lions. This is one of the most popular side trips from Nassau. Day-trippers can also tour the island on Segways, relax in hammocks along the palm-lined beach, and snorkel and swim in the lagoon. Children will love the water park packed with inflatable toys.
Beaches Close to Nassau Cruise Port
The most accessible of Nassau’s beaches is around a 20-minute walk from the cruise terminal (although the smaller Western Esplanade beach is even closer) and is very popular with cruise visitors and locals alike. There are beach shack bars, volleyball nets and juice/soft drink vendors aplenty. The beach is very spacious with plenty of shade under the palms trees. The swimming is good with a very gradual drop off making entering the water very easy. The cruise ship pier is visible from the beach.
Home to the Atlantis Mega-resort Paradise Island is somewhat artificial being built primarily for pleasure and profit. The island boasts resorts, hotels, restaurants and shops. It also has some very nice beaches such as Cabbage Beach, Cove Beach and Smugglers Beach. All within a short taxi ride from the cruise terminal.
This is the most popular and largest beaches on New Providence Island and offers 3 miles of white sand and turquoise seas. Its lined with resorts, hotels, casinos and practically every beach facility you could think of.
Slightly further west from Cable Beach is the quieter Delaporte Beach. Named after a former plantation that stood here it offers a more relaxed atmosphere than its bawdy neighbour. However, brink your own towel, food and drink as there a no amenities here.
The explosion of citrus and hot pepper flavours along with freshly diced veggies and tasty white conch meat are what makes every spoonful of this local delicacy delightful to both the eye and palate. Possibly the most quintessential dish of these islands, conch salad serves as both reliable comfort food and a form of edible artwork.
a light Caribbean dish, served cold, that traditionally consists of pickled pig meat in a clear broth flavoured with various seasonings.
This traditional Bahamian recipe combines guava fruit, a sweet dough and a special rum or brandy butter sauce to drizzle on top.
If there’s one drink you have to try while you’re in The Bahamas, it’s Sky Juice, also known as Gully Wash. Sky Juice is a very simple drink but packs a big punch with only three ingredients. Gin, Coconut Water & Condensed Milk, The milk adds a sweetness that balances the liquor and emphasizes the coconut’s natural flavour, giving you a truly heavenly drink that lives up to name.
There are many jitney buses travelling around Nassau and into the suburban areas of Nassau. The #10 bus is the most popular and will take you from downtown Nassau to Cable Beach. The jitney will take you along the Western Esplanade, passing Fort Charlotte, Ardastra Gardens entry road, Arawak Cay’s Fish Fry as well as the Cable Beach Resorts area passing hotels such as Wyndham, Sheraton and Sandals. You can ask the driver to stop anywhere along the way. Pay as you leave the jitney, exact change only, $1.25 for adults and 1.00 for small children. To return to downtown, just flag down the jitney from in front of your hotel or restaurant. They run every few minutes from 6am – 6:30pm.
Paradise Island to Nassau and Back
There are several ways to get from Paradise Island to Nassau and back. Keep in mind that the area just over the bridge is a good 1/2 hour walk from downtown Nassau.
- Ferry Boat – Native Ferries run from Paradise Island to Nassau daily from 9 am – 6 pm. The cost is $4 per person one way or $8 per person round trip (they advertise they run every half hour on the hour, but in reality, they run when they are filled up — so you may wait 15-30 minutes)
- Taxi cabs – are readily available throughout the downtown area, wharf, cruise port and hotel entrances. Fares should be established before getting into the taxi
Walk over the bridge
This bridge rises above the Harbour and is about 600 feet long and 73 feet high at the crest. It’s quite a hike in the heat for those that are not in shape. The base of the easternmost bridge is the busy and bustling Potters Cay. This Cay is where the fishing and workboats come in carrying goods from the Out Islands and the day’s fresh catch. You’ll also find the mailboats lined up here. Locals have small fish and fruit shacks with the freshest catch of the day and local favourite conch dinners. You can watch a fierce game of dominos and sip a cold Kalik (local beer), or savour a spicy conch salad freshly made while you wait.
Good to Know
- Don’t hop in a taxi without negotiating the fare first…or you will get stung
- Make sure you cover up when not on the beach or by the pool
- If you hire a car remember they drive on the left
- Currency: Bahamian Dollar. US Dollar widely accepted
- Language: English
- Money: ATM’s are common
- Visas: Not required for citizens of the US, EU or Australia