Pirates, water adventures and historical hot spots
Proclaimed a pirate republic by the early 1700s, Nassau once sheltered more than 1,000 pirates, outnumbering the hundred inhabitants of the town.
While its pirate history runs deep, today Nassau, located on the island of New Providence, is the capital and commercial centre of the Bahamas and the archipelago’s largest city. AS you arrive on an MSC Caribbean and Antilles cruise, take in Nassau’s charming colonial-style buildings and pastel-coloured wooden shops that alternate with Georgian-style structures. Founded by the British in 1670, Nassau stretches from the harbour to Bay Street, the main drag through town that is replete with shops, souvenirs, restaurants and entertainment. At Straw Market, where typical Bahamian souvenirs are sold, be prepared to bargain – it’s a tradition that is almost a duty.
A popular tourist area is Cable Beach, a 4-mile stretch of beach and resorts on the north central coast of New Providence, 3 miles from Nassau. Paradise Beach, on Paradise Island, is one of the best beaches in the area.
For a nearly private beach experience, take an MSC excursion to Blue Lagoon Island, a private island with one of the most secluded beaches in the Bahamas, or opt for a VIP beach cabana experience at the offshore picture-perfect oasis of Balmoral Island.
Book an MSC excursion to Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, where you can enjoy a diverse choice of attractions. These range from Aquaventure, an exhilarating 141-acre waterpark where you can ride swells of rapids and fly down 7-story slides, to the Dig, a faux archaeological site that recreates the ruins of ancient Atlantis, or Predator Lagoon, home to sharks, rays, barracudas and sawfish.
For something special, take a bush medicine gardens and tea tour, an exclusive Martha Stewart & MSC Cruises excursion, to learn about local traditions and botany. Then sip afternoon tea and dine on scones and dainty finger sandwiches at the lavish Graycliff Hotel, a landmark property that since 1740 has housed pirates, privateers and prisoners alike.
Don’t miss the magnificent views of Nassau, Paradise Island and a good portion of the Bahamas from the top of Queen’s Staircase at Fort Fincastle. Watch as water cascades alongside the his-torical staircase, comprising 65 steps hand-carved out of solid limestone rock by 600 slaves between 1793 and 1794.