How wonderful that you and your wife will be taking your first cruise----the first of many I am sure!
You are on a three-night cruise on the Sovereign out of Port Canaveral---that in itself can be a great "blasting off" place if you have the time to see it (Port Canaveral!).
I will leave it to my fellow posters to tell you what is what with Nassau. On such a short cruise, Brian and I always prefer to stay on board the ship when in port here. We have never ventured to Atlantis or any other part of this Bahamian island. Near the port are only shops like you have seen every place you have been to.....I do not wish to speak on a negative note. Saying just that is enough.
However, cruising on the Sovereign, especially now that she has been newly refurbished, is in itself a destination. Do please enjoy this lovely ship.
I wish to tell you my take on Cocoa Cay, which is the island more commonly known as Little Stirrup Cay, which is where you will be going on your second day of your cruise. This little island is small and unique and a bit desert-barren, and, in my opinion, extremely beautiful. This entire island is under the auspices of Royal Caribbean.
Tenders will take you from the ship to the island on the morning of your arrival. In September, it will be much less hot than it was when we were there in July. Royal Caribbean has tons of things to do for its passengers on this island, all within a few feet of where the tenders first let you off.
I am going to go out on a limb here and describe a self-devised trip that Brian and I took while we were there that I am sure is unlike the experience that most others on our ship had. (I have been enjoying this island for years that I have been cruising with RCCL; I do this whenever I am on a cruise that calls there---I have been to Cocoa Cay six times now!)
When we got off of the tenders, we made our way, with the assistance of looking at a local map posted in the area where we got off, and we found the "main, central road". Oh yes, I am talking about a hike/walk. I am now 50 years old, and I did this without too much trouble in the high noon of July.
Find this main road, and take it all the way to the end of the island. You know at first that your are on the correct road because on the right you pass an alleged grave of Blackbeard the Pirate. Then on the left you pass a little "rest room". Along the way, you will pass the unglamourous institutional houses of Royal Caribbean staff. After that you will have about 20 minutes of a walk that will present you with either a barren nothingness surrounded by vegetation unlike anywhere at home on a cheerful path lined with plants you have never seen along with "wild" chickens and beautiful flowers. You will eventually get to the end of the islnad. There you will be rewarded with the best vistas of the sea with none of your fellow passengers there. Once there, continue to the left and hike on back along the sea/beach/shore until you get back to the main beaches populated with your fellow cruisers. The island is so small it is idiot-proof!
Take your water bottle and your camera. This will be (guaranteed!) the best thing you have done in the last couple of years---and I don't even know you! Either go alone or go with 10 of your friends---you will be SO glad that you did something so extremely excellent!!!
I have now re-read what I have typed, and I'm asking for your forgiveness for bad sentence structure.
Cocoa Key is so much more than a bunch of beach chairs along the shoreline. Please do consider this "port of call" to be a highlight of your life! Make sure you make it so!!!
I found the Sovereign of the Seas to be in quite good condition after her refit recently. She was the subject of the Discovery Channels documentary about rebuilding a cruise ship. She is quite wonderful in that she has a "wrap" promenade deck. Make sure you find time to take laps aroud this promenade deck! (Full wraps are going the way of the history books!)
We both wish we could be going with you!
Lana (and Brian)