Bahamas cruises are popular, particularly for shorter voyages. Conveniently located less than 100 miles from Miami, the world's busiest cruise port, both Nassau and Freeport are bustling ports with many attractions to delight cruise passengers.
When to Take a Bahamas Cruise
Because of the convenience as well as the temperate climate, Bahamas cruises operate year-round with multiple ships making extended stays in the ports. Because of the proximity to the United States, Bahamas cruises may depart on any day of the week. One precaution to take with Bahamas cruises is to be aware of hurricane season (June 1 through November 30), when tremendous storms can disrupt even carefully planned vacations. Due to their eastern location, the Bahamas are more frequently impacted by hurricanes than any other Caribbean nation, though cruise lines take every precaution to minimize alterations.
Bahamas cruises vary in length from three days to over a week, depending on different ports of call. Cruises that only stop in the Bahamas are often shorter itineraries, usually just three or four days - perfect for a weekend getaway - while longer Eastern Caribbean Cruises may also include a stop in the Bahamas. Voyages from more distant embarkation ports, such as New York, are also longer itineraries though the time is spent at sea rather than docked in port.
All the major cruise lines call on the Bahamas, including Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian, and Windjammer Cruises. Even the largest ships can be accommodated at Bahamas' piers, and many cruise ships opt to spend extended periods (twenty-four hours or more) docked in the Bahamas to allow passengers to experience the nation's numerous attractions.
Embarkation Ports for Bahamas Cruises
The most convenient embarkation ports for Bahamas destinations are clearly on the eastern Florida coast. Nevertheless, because of the popularity of Bahamas cruises, several different ports offer sailings to Bahamas destinations.
- Miami, FL: Closest to the Bahamas, multiple ships set sail from this frenetic port intending to call on Nassau, Freeport, or both major Bahamas ports.
- Fort Lauderdale, FL: Just twenty-five miles north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale also offers multiple Bahamas sailings.
- Port Canaveral, FL: Further north along Florida's Atlantic coast, this port is more convenient for northern passengers who wish to cruise to the Bahamas.
- Jacksonville, FL: In the extreme northeastern corner of the state, this small port offers a limited variety of Bahamas cruises with slightly longer itineraries.
- Norfolk, VA: Conveniently located for northeastern and Midwestern states, this port offers a limited variety of different cruises, including Bahamas getaways.
- New York, NY: Ships sailing from New York may offer a limited variety of Bahamas itineraries that include several days at sea.
For passengers who are interested in combining a Bahamas cruise with other destinations, Eastern Caribbean Cruises are another option, with a greater number of departure ports catering to different cruise lines, vacation lengths, and ports of call.
Ports of Call for Bahamas Cruises
There are two major ports of call for Bahamas cruises, Nassau (the nation's capital) and Freeport (a lively destination on Grand Bahama island). Many cruise lines also offer private destinations in the Bahamas, such as exclusive beaches or entire private islands.
- Nassau: The capital of the Bahamas, Nassau offers a wide variety of golf excursions, dolphin encounters, snorkeling adventures, historical tours, and shopping destinations. A popular choice is to visit the famed Atlantis resort on nearby Paradise Island (connected to New Providence Island by several bridges), where visitors can try their luck in the largest Caribbean casino and explore artistic and innovative aquariums.
- Freeport: Similar excursions await visitors to Freeport, including nearly 100 shops at the delightful International Bazaar shopping district as well as stunning vistas in the Garden of the Groves, a garden featuring waterfalls, tropical flora and fauna, and impressive trails.
- Private Islands: Many mainstream cruise lines include private islands as part of their Bahamian itineraries, where passengers can enjoy local delicacies, limited shopping, and adventurous excursions such as jet ski rentals, aqua parks, pristine beaches, and snorkeling without the crowds from other cruise ships. Cruise lines that offer private islands include Royal Caribbean (CocoCay), Disney Cruise Line (Castaway Cay), Holland America Cruise Line (Half Moon Cay), Norwegian Cruise Line (Great Stirrup Cay), and Princess Cruises (Princess Cays).
Perfect for a quick tropical getaway, the Bahamas offers everything that Caribbean cruises are revered for: white sand beaches, exciting excursions, exorbitant shopping, and unforgettable memories. Whether you are interested in a quick sojourn or an extended vacation, the Bahamas will bring you all the best any cruise destination can offer.