I just got back from a cruise that stopped in nassau last week. When we were there it was cold and cloudy - so we did not go to the beach. this is an excerpt from my cruise review concerning nassau:
Nassau – You will be in port from 2:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. Let me suggest that you go to a beach here and not plan on shopping the whole time you are in port. This port is your most expensive stop. Do not plan on buying any jewelry or booze here as it has even higher prices than does San Juan! See, there are many cheap cruises from Florida to Nassau, so they are used to American tourists who are willing to pay higher prices.
FYI – Paradise Island is a small Island just off of the city called Nassau. The ship will dock in Nassau. I suggest getting on a deck in the front of the ship before the ship docks and you can see the ship come into port (Paradise Island will be on your left) and when the ship gets into the compact port, the ship actually will turn around and back in! This is really neat to watch. When the ship docks, you can grab your last slice of pizza to fill your belly and head off the ship.
When you get off the ship, you just walk to the end of the pier and voila – you are in downtown Nassau. Or the excursions are available right at the pier. Look at the map that the ship provides you and you will see Bay Street. Pretty much all of the shopping on and just off of Bay Street. This street has a bunch of jewelry stores that have fairly high prices and you will find that the rest of the shops along Bay street are pretty much tourist traps. If you want to buy 3 T-shirts for $9.00 there are several stores that will provide cheaply made shirts to meet your demand. Also, the typical tourist stuff is available (key chains, shot glasses, coffee mugs, etc).
As you walk around Bay Street, make sure that you take a left on Parliament Street and see the House of Assembly, the CourtHouse and the Public Library (which used to be a jail). These buildings are historic and located in a well-landscaped area which makes for a nice backdrop for pictures.
Just off of Bay Street is the Straw Market. This is pretty much an open-air market that sells some real junk. You can buy purses and hats that are made out of straw and will take up space in your closet when you get back home. I also noticed a lot of African type art. You can bargain with the venders if you like these wares. If you are interested in conch shells they are available at the straw market at one location for $15 each. If you keep walking through the straw market, you will see more conch shells priced 2 for $5. The entire straw market is only about 100 yards long and can be seen quite quickly (certainly you should not spend too long at this location).
You can go to Paradise Island 4 different ways (all of which are available right there at the pier): 1) Take an excursion; 2) Take a land taxi for $7 / person each way; 3) Take a ferry for $6 / person each way; or 4) Take a water taxi for $3 / person each way. If you take a land taxi, you will get dropped off right where you want to. If you take the ferry or water taxi, you will be dropped off at a dock that is about a 10-minute walk from the Atlantis hotel. FYI – they have ferries that charge $6 and drop you at the exact same location as the water taxis. Some people I saw thought that the $6 ferry was a price for round trip, but they later found out that it was a one-way price. If you go by water, make sure of what the price will be BEFORE you board the vessel (which sometimes may be overloaded in order to maximize profit).
I am aware of one of the excursions that is called the Dolphin Encounter where costs each person $100 and you get to enter a water pen (fenced area) and there is a dolphin there that you can pet. Don’t expect to be able to swim with the dolphin by holding onto its fin or anything like that.
I had read of several postings on the bulletin boards prior to my cruise, which discussed the worth of the $25 to visit the Atlantis hotel. Let me explain – anyone can enter the Atlantis. In fact, they want everyone and their mother to visit the hotel because there are plenty of expensive shops inside the hotel and a fancy casino inside the hotel. The Atlantis is in fact, about 4 old hotels that Lloyds of London bought & gutted and made some additions to and painted the same color. It is a really neat collection of buildings and it is the first thing that you will see when the ship comes into port. If you just walk in the doors, you will pass the shops and reach the casino. After making a donation to the casino, you can continue your walk and you will arrive at the aquarium. Here you will find about 50 feet of floor to ceiling glass walls where you can see a bunch of cool-looking fish (they even have a big manta ray). You can take pictures of these fish (turn flash off or angle the camera so the flash doesn’t reflect back into your picture and blind you). At this point you can decide whether you want to pay the $25 /person to go into a little tunnel and see more of the aquarium and here some info about it. Big money maker for the hotel. My advice . . . boycott their moneymaker and spend the money in the casino where you have a chance of winning (I played the quarter slots with $10 and walked out 10 minutes later with $45). I have heard that the Atlantis opens the $25 section up for free in the early evening (around 7 or 8 p.m.) when most cruise ships have left. I don’t know if this is true or not, but if you are there in the evening on a different cruise, you may want to look into that.
Anyway, if you want to hit a beach or snorkel, go ahead & do it. It was cloudy and cold when I was there and we decided the beach was not the best idea for the day. Since we live in Florida, we will be back and do some of the other stuff available in the future.