Earlier this year I had the opportunity of going on my first cruise to Nassau, Bahamas. We went on the Carnival Fantasy. The ship is one of the smallest in their fleet, but it was actually a pretty nice, relaxed cruise. I write about our food experience aboard the ship in the following post:
Day 1, Day 2, Day 3. Now this post is our candid opinion about our time in Nassau.
My husband and I were not very impressed with Nassau. This was our first cruise together and our first time in Nassau. We were expecting an adventure Anthony Bourdain would have been proud of… instead we found a very touristy town.
Previous to the trip we tried to be adventurous explorers and did many hours of research trying to find authentic food restaurants, to find historical sites, and meaningful adventures. We came up with what we thought was a promising plan, rented a scooter and headed away from all the tourist hangouts (Senor Frogs?) and went inland to explore.
When we went inland we were met with poverty and not much more than that. No magical restaurant, that while it looks like a whole in the wall it still serves food that knocks you off your feet. No amazing historical sites (though we did see the Queen’s staircase which was beautiful, if a little crowded), the Cloisters that are so lauded are actually just a wedding reception area and were not open to the public that day.
The town itself was nothing more than a tourist trap. Everywhere you went merchants were announcing their wares and they were just trying to pull you into their store. While some people might enjoy spending an hour or two going from stall to stall and haggling prices, it is simply not for us.
The restaurant we ended up going to was Bahamian Cooking Restaurant and Bar. While the food was pretty tasty it wasn’t much different than what was readily available at any of the big chain restaurants. The cost for the food was a bit exorbitant as well.
That being said Nassau is not without charm. There are some beautiful hidden spots, so make sure to keep an eye open at all times and you might find something surprisingly beautiful. Like this courtyard:
The people are also very nice. Once you get away from the merchants trying to sell you their wares, you will find that the Bahamian people are very kind and friendly, always ready to help. Even when we visited areas that were a bit suspect, we always found people that were more than willing to point us in the right direction. Give us pointers on how to ride the scooter (we were pretty bad at first, I am not going to lie), or simply ask us about our vacation and how we were enjoying our stay so far.
At the end of the day I realized that Nassau needs to be taken for what it is. Not a complex town where deep thoughts and personal growth can be found. But as a fun, relaxed island that lives and breathes tourism. So in my very limited experience the way to enjoy it is to just head to the beach, buy a couple of beers or coconuts and relax. Enjoy the clear waters, and just breathe.