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Cruise Diva Goes Ashore: Sights to see, things to do, where to shop & hit the beach

Nassau ~ The Bahamas

The capital of the Bahamas has the best of everything this island nation has to offer. While completely independent, reminders of British colonialism are evident everywhere.

Diversions 

Stepping onto the pier near Rawson Square, passengers are often deluged with offers of taxi tours and other goods and services. Don’t be put off by their aggressiveness; a firm “no” is usually sufficient if you aren’t interested. A Ministry of Tourism booth with walking tour maps and information is located in the terminal building near the dock and all of downtown, including the Straw Market and shops, are within walking distance. Plan to see Old Nassau on foot or hire a horse and carriage for a short, romantic tour. Motor scooters are available for rent but taxis are inexpensive and a safer mode of transportation. A ferry departs right from the pier to Paradise Island.

Fort Fincastle can be reached by climbing the Queen’s Staircase. An elevator to the top of the fort affords a splendid view. For those venturing to Paradise Island, a unique site is the Cloister in front of the Ocean Club Resort—it is a real 14th century French cloister reconstructed on the grounds and surrounded by formal gardens. For underwater views of sea life without the bother of getting wet, a tour of the "Lost City of Atlantis" at the sprawling Atlantis resort on Paradise Island is a mustthe guided tour includes "The Dig" a man-made undersea marine habitat. Excursions to isolated beaches with pristine areas to swim and snorkel can be booked through cruise lines or once ashore.

Serious gamblers will appreciate the casinos in the famous resorts that line Cable Beach and Paradise Island. To hang out with the locals, head for Potter’s Cay at the foot of the Paradise Island Bridge for an authentic lunch of conch salad, soup, and fritters.

Shopping 

All of downtown’s Bay Street and its side streets offer shopping opportunities galore on luxury goods, including jewelry, electronics, cameras, linens, crystal, and china. While merchandise is duty-free, check prices at home before making serious purchases. Located in the area between Bay Street and the waterfront, dozens of shops sell goods from around the world. Nassau’s Straw Market is famous for its craftspeople and is the place to do some serious bargaining.

Visit Graycliff Cigar Factory for premium cigars. Get a first-hand look inside.

Beaches

Nassau’s most alluring beaches are to be found in front of the mega-resorts along Cable Beach and Paradise Island. Unfortunately, they tend to be rather crowded. Fortunately, they are long and wide and you should be able to find a spot for sunning and swimming. Vendors ply both areas offering parasailing and other water sports. The beach closest to the cruise ship pier is the Western Esplanade near the British Colonial Hotel. It’s not the best beach but has changing rooms and facilities.

Snorkelers should head to Paradise Island or sign up for an excursion if your ship offers one.


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