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7 Great Reasons To Get Off At Nassau Bahamas' Cruise Port For Food and Fun

Updated: 5 days ago

Nassau, Bahamas is one of the most frequently visited weekend destinations for cruisers from Florida. A three night cruise sets sail Friday evenings and lets you linger only miles offshore from the Florida coastline for a weekend of "something different". But the shame is, most of these cruisers have no idea what to do when they get to Nassau. Many people step off the boat, see the grungy, crowded terminal area, and get right back on the boat, missing all the treasures that can be found on foot just minutes away.

Seriously, just about everyone I talk to thinks it's not worth getting off the ship in Nassau. Those who do will buy into the excursions like visiting Atlantis, swimming with dolphins, or other marine activities, and that's cool - but not a good way to experience Nassau's cruise port at its heart. Below you'll find a walking route that will take you past the grit of the port and into foodie paradise. Trust me, with this walking route you'll be sure to share my opinion that it is definitely worth getting off the ship for!

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Atlantis view from the ship in Nassau, Bahamas
Atlantis view from the ship in Nassau, Bahamas

You might notice on this journey that the majority of these places are part of the Graycliff Hotel Experiences. When I first started researching Nassau, I kept reading about cool tours and excursions from the ship like wine tasting, rum tasting, cooking classes, and more - and noticed that they all had the Graycliff name attached to them.

As it turns out, you don't need an excursion to have these experiences. Most of these things are free to visit, and all extremely close to one another on foot.

Enjoy bouncing around the little street of options!

Colorful umbrellas hang from the sky
If you see these umbrellas, you're in the right place!

Get Off The Ship For: Colonial Era Vibes and Coffee

Blog owner lifts a coffee cup and smiles
Stop 1: Graycliff Hotel Lobby for coffee

Walking time from the ship: 10 minutes

Time spent: 25 minutes

What to do there: Soak in the vibes of this Colonial hotel steeped in history by stopping in for a cup of coffee in their lobby area. Someone will greet you at the front door, simply ask to sit down for a drink.

Tour options: Feeling fancy? Opt in for an afternoon tea instead of coffee.

  • Enjoy jovial service from a tuxedoed butler while sipping cappuccino or espresso.

  • Soak in the cool air wafting in the windows and vibes spinning off the vintage vinyl records.

  • Set your eyes around the colonial era parlor including a piano and wraparound dining deck and transport yourself to times past, when they were under British rule

  • Nice clean bathrooms here too!

Pro Tip: Prepare to pay for very expensive coffee and a large tip. They work hard for it!

Get Off the Ship For: Handmade Chocolate

Walking time from stop 1: 3 minutes

Time spent: 10 minutes

What to do there: you can pay for a chocolate factory tour, or just try a free sample in the shop. Create your own chocolate box with mix and match pricing. Try the spicy chocolates - mmm!

Get Off The Ship For: Handmade Cigars in Action

A woman wrapping a cigar by hand
Stop 3: Graycliff Cigars

Walking time from stop 2: 2 minutes

Time spent: 5 minutes

What to do there: A little awkward to watch the ladies while they work, you'll want to quickly shuffle into the 'viewing room', snap some pics, and leave to the parlor area where you can choose to purchase and/or smoke a cigar or have a cocktail. It's a smoky place, so we decided to move on without staying longer. Cool to see the handiwork in motion though!

A woman wrapping cigars by hand
Stop 3: Graycliff Cigars

Get Off The Ship For: Sampling Bahamian Wine

Walking time from stop 3: 2 minutes

Time spent: 30 minutes

Eating chocolates and smiling in front of wine barrels
Stop 4: Bahama Barrels Tasting Room

What to do there: For a small fee you can have a tasting flight, or sample a couple for free. Surprisingly, the wines were fun and flavorful ranging from fruit flavored Bahamian wines to dry Italian grape wines. Bottles are cheap souvenirs to bring back on the ship!

Tour options: Become a wine maker for a day with this cool tour.

Pro Tip: Save the chocolates you bought across the street - great for pairing with your red tastings!

Friendly service at the winery
Stop 4: Bahama Barrels Tasting Room

Get Off The Ship For: A Free Rum Tour

Walking time from stop 4: 5 minutes

Time spent: 30 minutes

The barrel and production room at John Watling's Distillery
Stop 5: John Watling's Distillery

What to do there: Greeted with a free rum cocktail sample, expect a quick introduction to the distillery history before a visit to the onsite distillation facility. The tour is free and only takes about 10 minutes, but you will be tempted to join the long line of other tourists buying up the goods - this is the only place you can purchase their rum!

While your friends wait in line, you can purchase a rum sample flight at the bar in the gift shop, or if you fancy a cocktail you can wash that down alongside a food truck offering up grub in the front lawn of the estate.

Get Off The Ship For: A National Art Museum

Blue wall with funky polka dot art
Stop 6: National Art Gallery of the Bahamas

Walking time from stop 5: 2 minutes

Time spent: 40 minutes

What to do there: Admission is $5-10. Enjoy the wraparound deck views and the rotating exhibits on display. This air conditioned spot has a nice gift shop and beautiful local artistry. Worth a pause from the drinking!

Get Off The Ship For: Fresh Seafood at Potter's Cay Docks

Boats and water along a dockside marina
Last stop: Potter's Cay

How to Get There: I do not recommend walking. A bunch of taxis drive past the Bay Street area down the hill towards the port. Keep walking til you find a taxi! Ask to go to Potter's KEY (cay is pronounced key!)

A 10 minute taxi will run you $20 USD CASH (there is no meter, they will just give you a price) and there are no return taxis once you get there.

Pro Tip: Ask the same driver to pick you up (set a time) - he will be there and expect to pay the same amount in return to the ship.

Time spent: 1-2 hours, expect slow service. You are on island time. Don't miss your ship!

What do do there:

  • Eat conch. Conch fritters, conch salad (a must), and if you see "lobster snack" on the menu? You want that. Any of the vendors are good and all sell the same stuff. Only a few vendors were open when I went, so just pick one.

  • Enjoy crystal clear water views from your table of the sea life including sting rays and other fish.

Crystal blue water exposes a stingray's spots
Potter's cay is like dining on a glass bottom boat!

  • Bring home a conch shell, from a local vendor (I paid $7 for mine and got to strike up a good conversation with a local while he cleaned it). Just keep in mind it will stink up your stateroom!

  • Try the local beer - Kalik!

Pro Tip: There are good clean bathrooms here, but they are at the far end of the docks. They are free but some coins for the cleaning lady never hurts.

Not One For DIY? Take These Tours Instead!

Dying to swim with pigs? With this tour, you can swim with pigs and enjoy a private tiki boat complete with drinks and lunch!

This tour offers up rum cakes, fish frys and ATV rides. Can't beat that for a port day.

Pirates and a private jeep tour for three hours? Yes, please.

Most of the things on this list are on this great tour, which also includes a beach stop and reggae throughout to get the party vibes pumping.

This conch focused beverages and bites tour is a great sampling of everything Nassau has to offer.

Get some rum and food in your belly on this popular tour.

With nearly 2500 reviewers, this likely to sell out tour hits all the top food tasting spots. Check it out!

February 2024 Update: Bahamas Travel Advisory Thoughts and Safety Concerns

Don't be dissuaded by the run down looking 'main drag' or Bahamas travel advisory warnings. Rest assured that if the safety of the passengers were ever in question, the ship would not dock there.

I was once in port in Egypt at the beginning of the Arab spring and we were able to safely get off and tour Cairo, but we were meant to do two days in the port. After just the one day the cruise captain told us we all had to stay on board for our safety and that we were not allowed into port for the second day. They will not put you in danger.

That said, please respect the notions that in poorer areas of the island you may encounter begging or even petty theft like pickpocketing. In my experience, this was not present at all and we felt safe the whole time. Go back to the ship before dark and don't stray beyond the tourist centers.

This walking itinerary is a wonderful way to see the island in a safe and comfortable way. If you ever feel uncomfortable, take a taxi or talk to the folks in these establishments to arrange something for you.

The Verdict: Is it worth getting off the ship in Nassau Bahamas' Cruise Port?

I think so!

Just a few minutes walk from the port you'll find plenty of great and fun options off the beaten path. This is an enjoyable itinerary for old and young and doesn't involve too much walking. Just use your google maps to get you around on foot.

I got onboard the ship with a bottle of wine, rum and a stinky fresh conch shell, so I think you'll be fine whatever you buy on shore. Bring plenty of US cash, but I believe most options take credit cards.

Need Help Booking a Cruise?

Or, on Cruise Critic you can browse through plenty of options for cruising on the top cruise ships from Port Canaveral, Miami, Tampa and other Caribbean ports to Downtown Nassau. Some of the most common and best ships to travel with include MSC Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean. Read all about your cruise ship options on Cruise Critic here. Happy cruising!