Located between the depths of the North Atlantic and Florida's eastern coast, the Bahamas – not technically part of the Caribbean – comprises more than 700 stunning subtropical islands and 2,400 cays, most uninhabited, and all fringed by spectacular coral and fathomless ocean trenches. From the grit and bustle of funky Nassau to the vast mangroves of Andros, there's an astonishing array of beaches, reefs, forests and historic towns to be discovered. With the lure of a big city and the ease of tropical utopia, Nassau and Paradise Island are considered by many as paradise. Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, is a bustling metropolitan hub full of culture and modern amenities. To the north lies Paradise Island. Its name tells you everything. It’s 685 acres of pure euphoria, developed almost exclusively to delight and accommodate visitors. The island boasts resorts, hotels, restaurants, shops, nightlife, a golf course, an aquarium and a casino.
Why cruise Bahamas
The archipelago’s spectacular natural environment features brilliant blue skies, warm temperatures and exceptionally clear waters. But Nassau, located on 112-mile-long New Providence island, is also a metropolitan centre full of modern amenities and impressive African, Caribbean and colonial cultural and historic sites. Thanks to the dream-worthy climate, the Bahamas is perfect for cruisers all year round and is an ideal winter sun escape. Not surprisingly, Nassau is a staple port of call for a wide variety of operators. Carnival Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean all sail here, as does luxury line Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and operators Celebrity Cruises and Oceania Cruises.
Best places to visit in the Bahamas
A trip to the Bahamas wouldn’t be the same without a trip to the beach. One of the most popular places to soak up the sun is Cable Beach, which still manages to conjure the feel of a classic Caribbean beach. Soft white sand stretches to turquoise water, and sun loungers beckon along the shore, making this one of the top places to visit in Nassau. The clear waters are also safe for swimming.
Formerly called Hog Island, Paradise Island is a tourist hotspot. Prime attractions on the island include Marina Village which is packed with shops, restaurants, and mega-yachts, and the considerably more peaceful Versailles Gardens and French Cloister, extending from The Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort, Bahamas. Connected to the mainland by two bridges, Paradise Island runs parallel to the northern edge of New Providence Island and forms the harbour at Nassau. While you're here, try to snap a photo of Hog Island Lighthouse, marking the entrance to the harbour at the western tip of the island. It was constructed in 1817 and is one of the most well-known lighthouses in the Bahamas.
Also known as Salt Cay, Blue Lagoon Island is one of the most popular places to visit whilst in Nassau. The fun-packed private island lies about five kilometres from the capital and offers a range of watersports, as well as close-up encounters with dolphins and sea lions. At the island's three-acre marine mammal facility, animal lovers can participate in the Dolphin Encounters program to learn all about these friendly mammals and interact with them under the careful watch of professional trainers. 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.
Best things to do in the Bahamas
A bit of everything
Atlantis on Paradise Island a luxury hotel, aquarium, water park, and entertainment complex is one of the top attractions in the Bahamas. The Atlantis Resort designers have gone to great lengths to recreate this fantasy world. Decorations reflect real and mythical creatures: seahorses, helmeted domes, and giant bronze doors. The marine habitat is one of the largest outdoor aquariums in the world. It specialises in native tropical species, and the tanks incorporate the ruins and sculptures of Atlantis. Children and adults alike will love the Aquaventure Waterpark. Highlights include the Leap of Faith, which plunges riders down an 18m drop through a tunnel submerged in a shark-filled lagoon, and the less adventurous can float around the park on a lazy river ride, over waves and rolling rapids.
Best known as the home of the marching flamingos, the Ardastra Gardens & Wildlife Conservation Centre is set on four acres of tropical gardens. The flamingos entertain visitors by marching in formation to commands. A fun spot to bring the whole family, this zoo specialises in the conservation of Caribbean species, including the endangered Bahama parrot and several species of iguanas. Children love the petting zoo and hand-feeding the friendly rainbow lorikeets.
It’s a pirate’s life
Nassau’s history is closely tied to the Caribbean pirate era of the 17th and 18th centuries when the town served as a pirate sanctuary until 1718 when British Governor Woodes Rogers expelled the buccaneers. Today’s downtown district offers 20 square blocks featuring architecture and monuments dating to this compelling era, most within walking distance of the cruise pier. As a result, visitors can take a DIY-approach to exploring Nassau or book an excursion highlighting historic forts, ‘land and sea’ programmes, private island experiences and even Junkanoo-style music and dancing. Historic sites near Prince George Wharf include Parliament Square, which houses the Bahamas’ House of Assembly, the Senate Building and Supreme Court.
Nassau offers a multitude of activities focused around the archipelago’s beautiful blue waters and magnificent natural environment. Just about every conceivable water sport is available to Nassau visitors via cruise ship excursion but one of the highlights is the ability to swim with pigs. Big Major Cay – or Pig Beach – is renowned for its porcine residents, who spend their time wallowing in the shallows and perfect for a unique photo opportunity.
Clifton National Park
Clifton Heritage National Park offers a little something for everyone: history, culture, natural beauty – and tranquility. Take a guided tour along the trails and soak up some history. Learn about the Lucayans, the Loyalists, and the Africans – three important cultures that make the Bahamas such a fascinating destination – and explore the remnants of villages, plantations and slave quarters. Wander the winding trails through different tropical ecosystems, from coastal wetlands and rocky cliffs to dunes and coral reefs. Along the way, keep a lookout for wading birds, seabirds and songbirds. Better still, don your snorkel gear and get out in the water. You can follow an underwater snorkel trail, admire the coral reef sculpture garden, and even see sunken film wrecks – the park was the setting for Jaws and other iconic films.
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7 Night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise
- 7 nights, departs on the 19 Feb 2023
- Royal Caribbean International, Anthem of the Seas
- Cape Liberty, Bayonne, New Jersey, Port Canaveral, Florida, Nassau, + 2 more
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- Miami, Florida, Cozumel, Bimini Island, + 1 more
4 Night Bahamas & Perfect Day Cruise
- 4 nights, departs on the 26 Sept 2022
- Royal Caribbean International, Freedom of the Seas
- Miami, Florida, Coco Cay, Freeport, Grand Bahama, + 2 more