Paradise Island, Bahamas, Atlantis
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Paradise Island's Atlantis iStock.com / quackersnaps
Bahamas, Bahamian conch salad
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Bahamian conch salad iStock.com / shalamov
Bahamas, white sand beach
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White Sand Beach iStock.com / endhals
Bahamas, colorful cottages
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Colorful Beach Cottages on Nassau iStock.com / benjamieson
Nassau, Bahamas, french grunt fish
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French Grunt Fish iStock.com / vilainecrevette

Bahamas

Nassau, Bahamas, Parliament Square Nassau's Parliament Square iStock.com / benjamieson

The Bahamas archipelago comprises 700 islands, islets, and cays in the Atlantic Ocean, just south of Florida. An independent nation since 1973, the Bahamas remain part of the British Commonwealth. But while British heritage is an important part of the draw of Bermuda, here it is second to the proximity. Located just under 200 nautical miles southeast of Miami, weekend cruises from South Florida can land in Nassau by the next morning, offering you quick gratification.

What We Love

Private Islands: Many of the lines have their own resort areas, which means you can spend the day on the shore without the hassle of an excursion.

The Pink Flamingos at Ardastra Gardens: Watching a flock of marching pink flamingos obeying the drillmaster’s orders is kitschy fun. You can also see lots of other tropical birds roaming the gardens, as well as mammals and reptiles at the zoo and conservation center.

Best Known For

Atlantis: You can buy a day pass and hang out at this sprawling resort on Paradise Island. The famous water park has, among other things, a really high vertical waterslide. There are also beaches, restaurants, an aquarium, and a huge casino.

Outer Islands: Sign up for a catamaran or yacht cruise to a nearby island for snorkeling, or to swim with the dolphins, far away from the crowds of Nassau.

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Best Ports

Castaway Cay: Disney’s private island is the only one where ships can dock rather than tender, so within minutes of walking down the gangway you’re on the shore. One beach is geared to families, and another is for adults only and has open-air massage cabanas within earshot of the sea. Kids also have their own play areas, including a great water playground with slides. The whole family can check out the snorkeling trails or rent bicycles and pedal around the island.

Half Moon Cay: The focal point of Holland America’s private paradise is a two-mile arc of silky white sand. If you don't want to just sit in the sun, there are a lot of other options for how to spend the day here, from an aqua park with waterslides to beach cabanas with butler service and horseback riding in the surf. Both Holland American and Carnival ships call here.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Crowds Are Fierce: With multiple ships calling in Nassau on the same day, you may find 15,000 to 20,000 other cruise passengers strolling around town with you.

Watch Your Valuables: Nassau has a fairly high crime rate, so it’s important to be careful.

Heidi Sarna

Heidi Sarna is a Singapore-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Condé Nast Traveler and USA Today.

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