Hello Obvious First-Time Cruisers:
I was in your shoes back in November. I went on my very first and so far only cruise. It too was a 4-day Bahamian cruise. Except it was on Royal Caribbean's Sovereign/Seas.
My cruise first stopped at CocoCay. Which is a tiny party island owned by R.C. Then it went to Nassau. Afterwards, back to the home port (Port Canaveral).
I can't help you with Freeport. But regarding Nassau, this is what I remember:
My shore excursion was "Tour of Nassau and Ardastra Gardens". It was Ok, not super-great, but OK. If you are interested in old historic things, gardening and zoo animals, this is the shore-ex. for you. Older people (30+) may like it better than younger ones. Children will find it very boring until they get to Ardastra Gardens, and see all the animals there.
I heard good things about other Nassau shore excursions:
- The Yellowbird Tour: You will get on the Yellowbird Boat and sail around Nassau. It is about 60' long from the description. It also stated that there will be music and dancing. As well as complementary Rum Punch. It also stated the boat will stop by a beach where everyone will hang out for an hour or so. Since, like you, I do not drink, I decided against going on it. I especially can't stand hanging around drunk people, which may have been the case if they took full atvantage of the free rum punch.
I also heard good things about the following shore ex.s:
- The Pirates and Dungeons Tour
- The Dolphin Encounter/Observer
On the Dolphin Encounter you get to
pet/feed the dolphins while in waste deep
water. I heard it was incredible, but also
incredibly expensive ($100+ Each). The Dolphin Observer shore-ex. is around $30, but you only get stand at a distance and watch the people on the Dolphin Encounter shore-ex. feed and pet the dolphins.
- Discovery Atlantis and Habour Cruise
You get to visit the mega-resort and casino "Atlantis" which should be visible across the chanel from onboard your cruise ship. Although, I heard it's much less expensive to take a water taxi across the chanel to Atlantis. A water taxi is a small boat that holds about 20 people. I saw people boarding them and waiting to go to Atlantis, while I was being led out of the port to my shore-ex. I heard that Altantis has the world's largest marine aquarium with plastic tubes people can walk through to observe the underwater marine life.
Here is some other advice for you while in Nassau:
- You will need your Sea Pass card (given to you by Carnival) as well as a photo ID to re-enter the port. Have them handy.
- Beware of pushy street hustlers trying to sell you different things you probably wouldn't care for. I ended up with a bunch of very cheap T-shirts and other worthless junk. If you are a woman, you will probably be approached by Bahamian women offering to braid your hair. I heard bad things from female passengers when it came time to unbraid their hair. I even heard horror stories from women who caught lice or other parasites from having their hair braided by less than clean bahamian women. If you go to "The Straw Market" in Nassau, you will especially need to beware of all this mentioned. That is where I got loaded-up with most of the junk I got. There were some nice wood carvings for sale by talented artists there, but I was too distracted by these street hustlers and never got close to the artists' tables. Once you leave the Festival Bay Bldg. (the entrance/exit to the port) you will inevitably will be approached by these street hustlers. Just keep saying "No thank you" to these people and keep walking.
- If you are into sea food. I heard good things about a local Nassau place called "The Fish Fry". If you are interested you may wish to ask someone in the Festival Place Bldg. how to get there (the safest way). I decided not to eat any food in Nassau; after all, all the food on your cruise ship is free.
Well that's it for now. I had better stop since I don't know if these Replies have a word limit. If so, I may have well exceeded it. I may either post another reply later or write to you with the email address you provided. Have a good time on your cruise and DON'T FORGET THE SUNSCREEN!!!