Due to its proximity to Florida, Nassau has served as a cruise ship port for decades. As early as the 1960s, commercial cruises were taking passengers to Nassau on cruises out of Miami. (If there are any real nerds out there, you might be interested in this academic research article about the Bahamas’ history of tourism and its ties to the nation’s colonial past.)
With so much of a head start, you might think that Nassau would be well ahead of the curve when it comes to developing attractions for cruise ship tourists. In this regard, though, Nassau has struggled: It often finds itself on “worst of” lists, and cruisers on popular message boards bash the location with gusto. I often overhear passengers talking about how they’re not even planning to get off the ship in Nassau.
Personally, I think Nassau gets a bad rap. I’ve stopped at the port four or five times in the last few years, and every year we find something different to do. Our day always includes the fantastic Pirate Republic Brewing, which is a short walk from the cruise terminal. When we stopped in Nassau on Majesty, we decided to take the advice of Trip Advisor’s reviewers and visit the Athena Café, ranked #3 in Nassau by users. We had an unusual, only-on-vacation snack of conch fritters and spanakopita (both delicious!), washed down with a Bahamian Kalik beer.
You can read up on Nassau and its options for cruise ship visitors at a number of websites. The Travel Channel gives tips for a day ashore in Nassau, among other popular cruise ports; I highly endorse their suggestion that you head to the area of town known as the Fish Fry, where you’ll find delicious seafood for lunch. This thorough guide to Nassau from the travel blog EatSleepCruise goes over a number of options including beaches and sites from Nassau’s colonial history. (I’m looking forward to taking their suggestion to visit the Ardastra Gardens/Zoo on a future trip!)