Three of us (2 girlfriends and I) are embarking on our first cruise in July. We will be on the Carnival Sensation headed to the Bahamas, our port stops are Nassau and Freeport. With this being our first cruise we are looking for excursions that will not break the bank. We are not interested in swimming with the dolphins or scuba diving. We would love to see the city and maybe do some shopping. One of us is an avid photographer and one of the other ladies loves to shop. I personally want both the sights and the shops. What do you recommend?
Dear Cruising Mama,
First of all, congrats on your first ladies cruise to the Bahamas! The best thing about cruises is it’s all inclusive, so it takes the worry out of planning lodging and food. With that said, when your ship is in port, you don’t want to spend your time, in a new country, holed up on a ship.
Your first stop of Freeport is said to be one of the least active ports. However, there is always something going on if you know where to look! Since you aren’t interested in water sports, I’d take a taxi or shared van, $5 per person, and head straight to the Port Lucaya Marketplace. It’s a bit touristy but there are plenty of shops to appease the shopper in the group. Don’t let the aggressive sellers unnerve you, a stern no thank you will stop them. Also, never settle for the first price, haggling is key! If they say $20, offer $5 and hopefully they’ll end up at $8. If not walk away, they’ll come running!
From there, you can walk to the casino and try your luck at the slots. If gambling isn’t your thing, walk over to the beautiful Lucayan Beach nearby. There are two properties, The Radisson and Sheraton at Our Lucaya where you can buy day passes to enjoy beach chairs, umbrellas and other facilities for about $15. However, if you just want to lay out, relax and take photos it’s free on the public beach, just bring your towels from the boat. Oh and there are no public restrooms on the public beach. If you want to get more acquainted with nature, check out the Lucayan National Park. It’s less crowded and even has bird trails, the pictures should be beautiful from there.
Ask a local for the best place to grab conch fritters or cracked conch. I’ve heard Billy Joes is a great spot. The local opinion will usually be the tastier, cheaper option!
Now for Nassau you have a few more options. There are free walking tours available. You can check out the Queens Staircase and the Forts for free. There is shopping right off the ship, so you don’t have far to go to spend money. Junkanoo Beach is a 15 minute walk from the boat if you’d like to have a beach day.
To get an authentic Bahamian experience, I’d hop on a Jitney bus for about $1.25 and explore the island. Tell the bus driver to give you a tour and point out places to get off. There is also a complimentary program called People to People Experience that matches you with a Bahamian ambassador to show you the local way of life. Check out this review on Cruise Critic. What better way to dive into a new culture than to have your own FREE local tour guide?
If you are interested in seeing the Atlantis, you can take a water taxi (under $5) to the resort. The casino is free to enter, but if you want to experience the rest of the resort you will have to pay for a day pass. Day passes are available to cruise passengers with ID but these can be pricy. The cheaper option is to book a room at the Comfort Suites nearby and they will give you 2 wristbands, pay an extra fee for the 3rd and you’re good to go.
Before you head back to the boat, stop at a local grocery store, find some spices and sauces to take back and add to your collection.
As for safety, if it sounds fishy, it probably is. Be aware of your surroundings and watch each others backs. Make sure that you leave valuables in the safe on the boat and try not to carry large amounts of cash. As women, we have a couple of great hiding places for our money, don’t be afraid to use them!!
Most importantly have fun and keep within your budget!