The next day we arrived in Nassau and I was bursting at the seams to get off the boat for two reasons – first was that I would see my friend from high school that I hadn’t seen since 1990 and the other because she was going to spend the entire day with us by giving a personal tour of the island. Our friend picked us up and took us to Starbucks. My first stop in Nassau was a US chain… imagine that! But it was actually a perfect place to sit, catch up, and relax a bit before our grand tour. As we sat filling in each other in on our lives, it felt like the room was moving up and down. I thought that I was sick or possibly ate something that I shouldn’t have. “Oh no…This cannot be good!” I thought to myself. I finally said something about it to my friends and they told me that it was normal and in fact had a very scientific term… “Sea Legs”! For a fleeing moment I felt relieved that I wasn’t going crazy but then feared how this would affect me, how long it would last… fast forward to me falling face first on the ship for no apparent reason. I’ll blame the sea legs for this one and not me being clumsy. Yes, that’s it, it was the sea legs. 🙂
After our coffee and juice break we hit the road for our tour of the island. I didn’t think that I had any initial expectations about Nassau but the more we drove around, the more I began to realize that I did. Nassau seemed to be a well-to-do island and I didn’t really see any poverty. I could see why so many celebrities owned property here. For starters, it’s close to the United States. But my friend explained that Bahamians weren’t really caught up in being a celebrity like here in the US. Then, after some research I found out that the Bahamas is one of the worldwide centers for offshore banking, it is tax free (from income, capital gains, inheritance, etc.), and it has a favorable immigration policy toward wealthy nationals. Some notable residents include Nicolas Cage, Mariah Carey, Johnny Depp, Lenny Kravitz, and Tiger Woods.
We stopped by the Clifton Pier – Clifton Heritage Park which is a site and stage for several eras of Bahamian history. From the Amerindian Lucayan peoples to the slaves that arrived on these shores, this heritage site gave a glimpse into their daily lives and rituals. As I looked off into the immediate distance, I could see a haunting artistic homage to the slaves that were brought to this island. As it caught and held my attention, it felt almost as if their spirits were there welcoming us.
By this time we were starving and wanted some real island food so we went to a restaurant called “O’Andros”. If a local recommends a place and mostly locals eat there, you should definitely try it. The food was great and came in huge portions. I am pretty sure that none of us finished what was on our plates. Then we tried a Bahamian drink called Sky Juice. It’s a local favorite that combines gin with coconut water and condensed milk then is favored with a tiny amount of cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg. Yum! One of us made this drink when we returned stateside but I will not say who. 🙂
It was close to the time for us to head back to the ship but we made one more stop in town right next to the port to purchase souvenirs. I am so glad that we saved this for last because I would have spent a ton of my money in there! It was a huge market with every touristy novelty item you could think of. And just case you didn’t find what you were looking for in the market, other merchants were sure to get you right before you boarded the ship in yet another area that sold items that I didn’t see in the market. They got me. 🙂
It was only fitting that I ended my first cruise with an entire day touring Nassau. I received a real treat from my high school friend. She is awesome!
- Largest city of the Bahama islands and 70% of the entire population lives here.
- Nassau’s modern growth began in the late 18th century with the influx of thousands of American Loyalists and their slaves to the Bahamas following the American Revolutionary War. Many of them settled in Nassau and eventually came to outnumber the original inhabitants.
- After the British abolished the international slave trade in 1807, they resettled thousands of Africans liberated from slave ships by the Royal Navy on New Providence along with other islands such as Grand Bahama, Exuma, Abaco, and Inagua.
- The largest concentration of Africans historically lived in the “Over-the-Hill” suburbs of Grants Town and Bain Town which are south of the city of Nassau, while most of the inhabitants of European descent lived on the island’s northern coastal ridges.
- Cable Beach is recognized as the hotel district of Nassau. Five enormous hotels, two of which are all-inclusive, are located on this strip.
- The city’s chief festival is Junkanoo. It is an energetic, colorful street parade of brightly costumed people dancing to the rhythmic accompaniment of cowbells, drums, and whistles. The word ‘Junkanoo’ is named after the founder, John Kanoo. The celebration occurs on December 26 and January 1, beginning in the early hours of the morning, around 1:00 a.m., and ending around 10 a.m.
- Motion Sickness – Bring something for motion sickness even if you do not think you need it (wrist bands, oral medication… just pick something).
- Carry-On Bags – Bring items that you might want right away on board with you. Your luggage may not be delivered to your room for a while. A swimsuit, sunscreen, and a change of clothes are good examples.
- Hand Sanitizer – If you are a germaphobe, I would have this with you at all times.
- Port Departures – Return to the ship much earlier than when you are told to return. You don’t want to be left behind crying as you watch Goliath set sail without you.
- Packing Beverages – Read the instructions regarding what types of beverages you can take with you and whether you have to pack it in your suitcase or can take it as a carry-on.
- Prices – Pay attention to what is included in your vacation package. Often times, excursions, certain foods and beverages, and spa treatments are extra.
- Tipping – I opted to pay for tips in advance so that I would not have to worry about it while on vacation.
- Excursions – Follow their instructions!
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