Cruising to the Bahamas

Two popular cruise ship ports enable vacationers to enter the Bahamas wherever they prefer

Photo credit: © Graça Victoria |

Cruises to the Bahamas

Several of the islands of the Bahamas are popular cruise destinations for travelers, especially on shorter cruises. Cruises are popular because there are plenty of amenities and activities for travelers to enjoy during the journey, but they also stop in at some of the most popular locales in the Bahamas.

Vacationers planning a cruise should try to plan ahead. Cruises are often booked several months in advance. Travelers can book the cruise themselves by calling the cruise line or by going online to travel websites.


Another important decision is what type of trip you're planning to make. Travelers looking for a family-oriented cruise might want to choose a liner from the Disney fleet, while couples looking for romance can choose a real life "Love Boat" by choosing a Princess cruise, the line used by the TV show.

Choose from many cruise lines and individual price, schedule, and island options when scheduling your visit to the Bahamas. From extravagant, floating hotel to an adventure-filled voyage or a romantic weekend getaway, travelers can find just what they're looking for.

Choose from the following cruise lines:

Cruise Line Telephone Number
Carnival 888-CARNIVAL (888-227-6485)
Celebrity 800-221-4789
Clipper 800-325-0010
Costa 800-33-COSTA (800-332-6782)
Cruise International 242-322-5545 (Fax)
Crystal 800-820-6663
Dolphin 800-222-1003
Disney 800-951-3532
888-DCL-2500 (888-325-2500)
Holland America 800-626-9900
Majesty 800-532-7788
Norwegian 800-327-7030
Primier Cruises 407-783-5061
Primier Cruise Lines 800-327-7113
Princess 800-PRINCESS (800-774-6237)
Radisson Seven Seas 877-505-5370
Regal Cruises 800-270-7245
Royal Caribbean 800-659-7225
Royal Olympic Cruises 800-872-6400
Seabourne Cruise Line 800-929-9595
Silversea 800-722-9955

Cruise Classes

Many travelers think of Carnival and Royal Caribbean when they think of cruises, and for good reason - these two contemporary, or "value", cruise lines make up 90% of the cruise business. Traditionally there are four cruise classes. Choose a contemporary/value cruise, a luxury cruise, premium cruise, or specialty cruise. Contemporary/value cruise lines offer travelers a more budget-conscious route to cruising, and do not offer what is considered to be the highest class of service, still, this is the style in which most cruise passengers travel.

Premium and luxury cruises are each a class above the previous level. Premium cruises have a larger ratio of staff to travelers, and try to make sure your every need is taken care of. Luxury lines, however, tend to offer top of the line service and amenities, and are widely considered to be well worth the higher cost.

Some travelers prefer specialty cruises. These are often themed, or travel to unusual destinations well off the beaten path for most cruises. Themed cruises are commonly done by group, such as singles, homosexuals, and senior citizens.

Another way to cruise to the Bahamas is via the Discovery Cruise Ferry. Visitors can take a day trip from Fort Lauderdale to Grand Bahama Island with Discovery Cruise Line. The ship departs at 7:45 a.m. and returns to Florida at 10:00 p.m., docking in the Bahamas from 1:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Alternately, choose a Cruise 'N Stay package for one or more nights at a range of resorts to fit all budgets.


Ships vary in many ways, but many travelers are unaware of the importance of size differences. While size can play an important role in how many passengers can be onboard, it can also effect the amount of movement passengers feel in choppy seas. Further, size can even effect where people can travel, for example, the largest size ship is the Panama-class ship. It can barely fit between the edges of the Panama Canal, can contain 3,000 passengers, and can only visit the major or largest ports.

Ships are classified based on the following criteria:

Criteria Crieria Explained Meaning
Gross registered tonnage measurement of the ship's volume/vessel's size 1 gross registered ton = 100 cubic feet
Passenger-to-crew ratio number of passengers served by each crew member Smaller ratio = better service
Passenger capacity based on double occupancy (two passengers in each cabin) More rooms = more passengers
Space ratio comparison of ship space/tonnage to passenger capacity Higher ratio = extra spacious


There are two types of cabins available to travelers on most cruises.

Type Description
Run of the ship Less expensive, but not assigned until the week of departure, these cabins allow you to choose an inside or outside cabin, but not a specific one.
Perfect The exact cabin you request and pay for, but a slightly more expensive option because of this guarantee.

Some additional guidelines for selecting a room:

  • Keep money and valuables safely hidden in your room and always lock your cabin door. Avoid carrying unnecessary cash around the ship.

  • Confirm the view you'll have in an outside cabin - make sure you're getting what you expect. You may want to request a view of the ocean.

  • If you are traveling with young children, avoid staying in an outside cabin, especially one with balcony access.

  • If you are subject to motion sickness, consider a cabin on the lower decks. The further into the middle of the ship you are, the less ship movements you'll feel.

  • Avoid booking cabins in particularly noisy areas, such as close proximity to anchors, bars, casinos, elevators, engine rooms, gyms, nightclubs, public rooms, stairways, pools and hot tubs, theaters, or thrusters.

When To Go

The most popular time to visit the Bahamas is during the winter months, most especially during Christmas, New Year's, Thanksgiving, and Easter. Because of this, December through April have the highest prices, both for cruises and throughout the islands. Summer months fall into hurricane season, a fact which can deter some travelers, however, vacationers should be aware that hurricanes are easily tracked, and rarely cross paths with cruise travelers. Cruise ships will rarely feel more than choppy seas throughout this season.

Where To Go

Bahamas cruises can last one day, a week, or longer, but nearly all stop at either Freeport or Nassau. Some stop at both of these ports and even at some private islands. As a first-time cruiser, you may want to begin with a shorter trip. If you're a seasoned cruiser, you may advance to a seven-to-ten-day cruise, which offers the opportunity for twice as many island stops.

Travelers who want to participate in the cruise's pre-planned shore excursions can find activities such as scuba diving, horseback riding, golfing, and scenic tours. However, if you'd like to spend some time on your own exploring the Bahamas, you'll need to plan accordingly. Excursions typically cost an additional $25(USD) to $100(USD), and you can choose them when you book your ticket, or after you're onboard. Don't forget, though, these excursions have limited space.

If your cruise to the Bahamas doesn't offer shore excursions that interest you, there are plenty of other options that aren't on cruise-organized tours. Commune with nature at sites such as Lucayan National Park or Rand Memorial Nature Centre. Gamble at the Royal Oasis Resort & Casino. Shop at the world-famous International Bazaar. Or spend a little time tanning on one of the famous beaches from Xanadu to Gold Rock Beach.

Nassau is the top docking spot for cruise ships in the Bahamas and is near famous beaches, luxury resorts, and popular spots such as Cable Beach and Paradise Island. Nassau also has an added bonus that Grand Bahama does not: The historic district of Nassau offers colonial history alongside duty-free shops and golfing. Cruise ships stop at the Prince George Wharf near Rawson Square, right in the center of the city near the Straw Market.

Nassau is a great place to skip the shore excursions and simply explore the city on your own or with a guided tour. Travelers may want to take in the Junkanoo Expo, a revival of the traditional Boxing Day (December 26) festival in the islands. Casinos, beaches and shopping are other popular options.

Travelers to Freeport on Grand Bahama Island will find that it's not as glamorous as Nassau, but is much more urban. The unusual part about landing at Freeport is that the cruise ship deposits you away from activities and attractions. A $10(USD) taxi trip for two takes you to Freeport. A branch of the Grand Bahama Tourist Board is near the docks to answer your questions.


Cruise costs vary based on a number of different details, from luxury level and length of time to time of year and number of travelers (surprisingly, single occupancy rates are higher than double occupancy rates). Most items are included in the cost of a cruise, but often drinks and excursions are not included. Be sure to inquire about any specific and unusual amenities you might desire, such as a bath tub, and any extra costs these may incur.

What To Bring

Remember that cruises are not known for their spacious cabins, so you'll want to avoid bringing unnecessary items. Be sure to bring island-appropriate daywear, from bathing suits with lightweight and light colored coverups to flip flops, sunglasses, and even hats.

On ship in the evenings you may find the dinner meals classified as casual, informal, or formal. Casual dinners require items like slacks and collared shirts for men and sundresses for women. Wearing a suit and tie or cocktail dress will find passengers appropriately dressed for infomal meals, and black tie style dominates formal dinners.

With all of this in mind, your cruise to the Bahamas is sure to be a once in a lifetime experience.


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