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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 03-29-2005, 01:33 AM
Junior Member
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1
Hello everyone. This is our first cruise and we're very excited, a bit nervous, and have many questions. Any assistance you guys can provide would be greatly appreciated.

1) We've seen many "roll calls" and references to other upcoming cruises but none for ours...the Celebration that's departing from Jacksonville on 4/14/05 till 4/18/05 to Freeport and Nassau, Bahamas. If anybody is going on this cruise, please respond, we'd love to correspond and chat

2) We will be docked in Freeport on Friday from 12PM to 7PM for 7 hours. Then we dock at Nassau from Saturday 7AM till Sunday midnite. So basically two days in Nassau.

What shore excursions do you recommend? We're a couple in our 30s who don't drink alcohol. We both can kinda swim (move to point A to B in one breath) and have never snorkeled before. Is it better and more affordable to book the shore excursions thru Carnival or do it on land when we dock? Are there better excursions available at the dock than thru Carnival? If so, where do we go to book these excursions?

Here's the list of activities and prices we see available to us thru Carnival’s website:

- Freeport Island Tour, 3 hrs, $33/person. This involves a bus ride and walking to residential, industrial, and downtown areas. There's also a brief stop for shopping and at the beach.

- Freeport Snorkel Tour, 2.5 hrs, $35/person. This involves sailing on a catamaran to a reef for some snorkeling.

- Glass Bottom Boat, 2.5 hrs, $35/person. Visiting the shallow reefs off Grand Bahama Island on the glass bottom boat to view the sea life and coral formations.

- Tranquility Shores Beach Break, 4.5hrs, $49/person. Visit Taino Beach on Grand Bahama Island with burger type lunch provided.

- Blue Lagoon, 5.5 hrs, $29/person. Also available with snorkel for $39/person. This is, we are told, Nassau’s most popular tour destination. A 45 min cruise to the lagoon, availability of aqua cats (what is this?), tubes, and paddle boats, dining at the Sea Garden Grill restaurant for “reasonable prices”.

-Ardastra Gardens, Zoo, & City Tour Combo, 2.5hrs, $35/person.

- Glass Bottom Boat, 2 hrs, $35/person.

- Athol Island Snorkel, 2.5 hrs, $39/person.

- Pearl Island Snorkel, 4.5 hrs, $43/person. Includes time at the beach.

- Discover Atlantis and Historical cruise, 2.5 hrs, $45/person. Escorted thru the Atlantis Digs. Pool and hotel facilities unavailable.

- Pearl Island Stingray Encounter, 4.5 hrs, $45/person. Learn to touch/feed the sting rays in shallow water.

- Thriller Powerboat to Blackbeard’s Cay, 4 hrs, $59/person. Also available with Stingray encounter for $79/person. Powerboat ride to Paradise Island then time on the beach relaxing, playing games, etc.

- Pearl Island Treasure Hunt & Snorkel Safari, 4 hrs, $99/person. Snorkeling for oysters, lunch buffet, and swim in salt water pools.

Although we don’t drink, we do enjoy nite life, even risqué/adult type. What options are available and recommended in Nassau? What are typical costs associated with these establishments?

Thanks again in advance for your much needed advise!

Mr. & Mrs. Obvious First Timers ?
Email: newmdcouple2002@yahoo.com
  #2 (permalink)  
Old 03-29-2005, 10:26 AM
Senior Member
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Valley Center, CA 92082
Posts: 2,362
Both Freeport and Nassau can be hectic depending on how many ships are in port. I would suggest that you book your shore excursions on the ship and take all the stress out of your visits. Once you get the drill down, you might feel more comfortable going on your own on future cruises.

Just my opinion.

Have a great cruise!

  #3 (permalink)  
Old 03-29-2005, 11:40 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: cape coral fl usa
Posts: 505
What Tom Said. No seriously I think that in the Bahamas, being first time cruisers you should book your trips on the ship.It would be very easy for a unsuspecting couple to a have a bad experience there.By staying with your group the chances of this happening are very slim.Just my opinion.
  #4 (permalink)  
Old 04-07-2005, 09:30 PM
Frase's Avatar  
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Orlando, FLA
Posts: 961
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!!!
  #5 (permalink)  
Old 04-07-2005, 09:45 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Valley Center, CA 92082
Posts: 2,362
Frase, there is no word limit here. In fact, your post is exactly what this forum is for...honest opinions and experiences. Thanks for sharing.

  #6 (permalink)  
Old 04-10-2005, 11:30 PM
Frase's Avatar  
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Orlando, FLA
Posts: 961
Here is more advice and what I can remember about Nassau:

- What I regret not buying in Nassau was the wood carvings I saw at the Straw Market and a hat made from woven palm fronds. Like I said, I saw wood carvings at the Straw Market but could not get close to them. I saw a man selling those palm frond hats and baskets at Ft. Charlotte on my shore excursion, but did not have the time to buy anything from him. I am not sure if they sold those woven palm frond items at the Straw Market.

- I also purchased some conch shells at the Straw Market. I also saw another man in a boat selling conch shells, sea sponges and other shells at the sea wall near the Straw Market. The man at the Straw Market who sold them to me talked me into getting 3 for $20. When I brought them back home, I gave them to my two nephews (ages 5 and 8). They both were fascinated with shells.

- Eventhough I don't drink alcohol (which saved me ALLOT on my Cruise Account) I did purchase some Rum Cakes in Nassau. Since you can not get drunk from eating rum cake, I decided to buy a couple. When I brought them home and ate them, I found them to be absolutely delicious. They sell them in two sizes and two different brands. They have the small size rum cakes (about 4"diameter) which sell for around $4 to $5. The large ones are about a 8-9" bundt cake which sell for $10-$12. The two different brand names of rum cakes I saw in Nassau were Bacardi and Don Lorenzo. Bacardi is a Puerto Rican rum. Don Lorenzo is a rum made in the Bahamas.

- US Dollar bills are excepted everywhere in Nassau. To simplify things, the Bahamanian government keeps their dollar exactly equall to the US dollar. When I made I purchase in Nassau, the cashier placed my dollar bills in the till on top of the Bahamian currency and made no distinction between the two currencies.

- If Carnival is anything like Royal Caribbean, it probably costs a small fortune to use the phone onboard, in your cabin, to call home. Instead, I discovered that they sell phone cards inside the Festival Place building. Close to where the security guard examines the cruise ship card and photo IDs of passengers re-entering the port, there is a window. This window looks like a big window you would see in a drive thru at your local bank. Behind it is a person that will sell you phone cards for $5, $10 and $20, which you could use on the pay phones a few feet away. With the phone card, using those pay phones, it costed me 51 Cents per minute to call home. That is ALLOT CHEAPER than the almost $8/MINUTE!!! R.C. charged on-board the ship.

- Since I was only in Nassau for one day, I am not sure how safe the streets are. The only hassles I had, as I told you, were from pushy street vendors(hustlers). But they left you alone if you said no. I did see cruise passengers that were elderly people and parents with small children, walking around on the streets un-concerned. The Police Headquarters in Nassau was right next to the port (Prince George's Wharf), so hopefully that made the area more safe. However, you should always be reasonably carefull and follow common sense like you would in any unfamiliar place.

- In Nassau, they sell Cuban Cigars. They sell them in allot of the stores, and the street hustlers will inevitably offer to sell you some. Since I do not smoke, I decided not to get any. Also it is against the law to bring them into the US. Cuban cigars are allowed in every country in the world except the good ole' USA. You may get in serious trouble if US Customs catches you with the stogies from Havana .

-When the ship was at see, I went up to the observation lounge all the way at the top. I am not sure if Carvinal's Celebration has something similiar. When I got there, there was an overwhelming stench of cigar smoke in the air. I don't have to guess what county those smokes came from. I guess some passengers would smoke their Cuban cigars before the ship returned to the US.

-By the way, you said that the Celebration will dock in Nassau from 7AM Saturday until Midnite Sunday, giving you two days there. Actually you probably won't have two days in Nassau. You will likely have a little less than 17 hours in Nassau (7AM Saturday until about 11:30PM Saturday). The ship will likely leave Nassau at 12AM Sunday, which is one minute later than 11:59PM Saturday. The Carnival Celebration may also require everyone to be aboard the ship a half hour before it leaves, as was the case during my cruise.

So, that's all I can remember about Nassau. I hope it all can be of some help to you both. I hope you both had a chance to read all this before your cruise. When you come back, I'm sure Tom would appreciate it if you could write a review of your cruise and submit it to his website. So, take care and have a nice cruise.
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