The Atlantis, Bahamas

Nassau Cruise Port

Nassau is the largest and capital city of the Bahamas in the Caribbean. Located on the island of New Providence, it is also one of the leading cruise ports in the world.

This is for good reason, too. Thanks to its strategic location (it’s located less than 200 miles from Miami) and access to multiple islands and cays that make up the rest of the Bahamas, there is plenty to do in and around Nassau.

Getting off the cruise ship

A number of cruise ships – belonging to well-known cruise lines such as Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruises and MSC Cruises – dock at the main cruise terminal at Prince George’s Wharf, which is conveniently located right Downtown Nassau area.

Because of the booming cruise industry, the Bahamas government has made plans to transform the area around the terminal. What will be known as Nassau Cruise Port by 2022 will soon feature improved retail and dining options, an event and entertainment area, and a whole new modern cruise terminal.

Once you disembark, you have the option of exploring the downtown area or heading to one of the many nearby islands.

Castle surrounded with trees under white sky

Visiting Paradise Island

Paradise Island is one of the most popular destinations of cruise travelers who visit Nassau. It is a satellite island of New Providence and is conveniently reachable from the cruise terminal. The best option to get there is by water taxi (ferry). Water taxis offer great views and a guide that can point out some interesting sights. They operate every half hour from 9am to 6pm, and cost around USD5 per person one way.

The biggest attraction on Paradise Island is probably Atlantis Resort. One of the biggest and most popular hotels in all of the Bahamas, it combines hotel, water park, golf club, casino and resort all into one! It is most famous for Aquaventure, its water theme park featuring numerous water slides, tunnels, lagoons, and exhibitions of marine life like stingrays and sharks. One-day passes to enjoy Aquaventure are available for around USD150 per adult, while other marine activities like kayaking, snorkeling, and marine life experiences are charged separately.

Just a short walk from Atlantis Resort lies Cabbage Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches on Paradise Island. It’s a public beach, so visiting is completely free. There are also many vendors around the area offering food, beverages, chair and umbrella rentals, as well as activities like parasailing and water skiing.

Other Bahamian Beaches

Besides Paradise Island, there are numerous other private islands that you can visit for a beach day. These are accessible by ferry from the Paradise Island harbor, and some cruise lines offer excursion packages that take you directly to the islands.

Blue Lagoon Island (or Salt Cay) is one of the best of these. The island’s main attraction is Dolphin Encounters, an all-natural ocean facility for dolphins, sea lions, and other marine mammals. You have the opportunity to have an up-close encounter with these animals, getting to feel, pet and hug them, or even choose to go swimming or snorkeling with them. Dolphin packages are the priciest, at around USD190 per person, while encounters with sea lions, stingrays and sharks are cheaper. Packages also come with all-day beach access that let you relax and enjoy the island’s beach.

If you’re looking for a more relaxed, less bustling getaway, you can also check out beaches like Pearl Island and Balmoral Island, which offer beach escape and snorkeling packages that allow you to relish in the beauty of the Bahamas. These can range from USD50 (without lunch) to around USD100 (with lunch and a snorkeling guide) per person. At Pearl Island, you can also get a snorkeling package with a private ocean view cabana for two for only USD160 per person.

If you’re one for a unique adventure, try visiting Rose Island. Besides having among the best beaches in the Bahamas, you can take advantage of the unique opportunity to go swimming with pigs! Sandy Toes Adventures on the island offers a package tour costing around USD1200 for a group of up to 8 people, which includes an encounter with the pigs and use of the private beach.

Must-Tries on a Budget

If you prefer to travel on a budget, there are also many activities you can do around Downtown Nassau and the island of New Providence. The island also has a public beach called Junkanoo Beach, which is only around a 15-minute walk from the cruise terminal. Access is free, and vendors abound for food, drinks, and umbrella and chair rentals, making it perfect for a quick beach getaway.

Nassau also has much more to offer beyond beaches and tropical paradise. Remnants from its history as a port colony of Britain can be seen in Fort Charlotte and the Pirates of Nassau Museum.

Fort Charlotte was constructed in the 18th century and is among the English forts that remain standing in Nassau. For a small entrance fee of only USD5 per adult, you get to climb the fort’s walls, get some good bird’s eye views, and check out the moat, dungeons and cannons that remain. Tour guides are also available to give you a detailed history of the Bahamas in the 18th century, and they work on a tipped basis.

Of course, you can’t talk about Caribbean history without going through the history of pirates. Nassau was a pirate haven for a number of years in the 1700s, and the Pirates of Nassau Museum takes you back to that time. Featured exhibits chronicle the Golden Age of Piracy and famous pirates like Blackbeard. Located just one block away from the cruise terminal and affordably priced (USD13.50 admission for adults, and half-price for children), it’s a perfect family-friendly stop in the Bahamas.

If you’re looking for some good shopping bargains, try your luck at Nassau Straw Market. Vendors all around sell souvenir-worthy items like handcrafted wood sculptures and carvings, straw hats and beach bags. Around the Straw Market, you can also find food stalls selling the local Bahamian delicacy, conch fritters, and give these a try.

Other important information

Although the official currency is the Bahamian dollar, it is equivalent to around the same amount as the US Dollar, and US Dollars are also widely accepted.

English is the national language of the Bahamas, although Bahamian English is more similar to British English in vocabulary, writing and pronunciation, compared to American English.

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