If you’ve taken a cruise or are planning to go somewhere warm, chances are the Bahamas will show up on your itinerary—and for good reason. Found on both Bahamas-specific cruises and Caribbean cruises, Bahamian ports offer plenty of sun and sand, as well as opportunities for shopping, gambling and more.

The islands appeal to both new and experienced cruisers. Their proximity to Florida makes them quick, easy and affordable to reach by ship, whether for a quick overnight trip or to call as part of a longer trip.

Read on for what you need to know when planning a trip to the Bahamas – one of the cruise industry’s most popular destinations.

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Why Cruise to the Bahamas?

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In the Bahamas, the people are as warm as the weather, offering greetings and friendly smiles at every turn. However, the main attractions are the beach and the bright blue waters, which offer plenty of places to snorkel and scuba dive or work on your tan while sipping a cocktail or two.

The best reason to visit is that the islands are close to Florida – the cruise capital of the world. The Bahamas is frequented by most major cruise lines and appears on a large number of itineraries, from two-nighters to longer cruises.

Takeaway: Passengers have a lot of choices. If you’re looking to travel to the Bahamas by cruise ship, you can easily find a cruise line, length, and price point to meet your needs.

The Bahamas is a great place to visit as long as you set your expectations. Nassau, the largest port and the nation’s capital, is often crowded with cruise ships. Locals will approach you with offers for everything from taxi rides to hair braiding. It can be overwhelming, so be prepared to politely decline if you’re not interested.

When does the cruise go to the Bahamas?

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Cruise ships call at the Bahamas year-round. However, mid-winter is usually the best time to go. Prices are cheaper, there are fewer passengers because the kids are in school and the weather isn’t as hot as it is in the summer. Besides, Wave season — when cruise lines offer some of the best deals you’ll see all year — runs from January through March, so you can grab a last-minute deal. You also won’t have to contend with possible itinerary changes due to hurricane season, which runs from June to October.

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The weather in the Bahamas is generally mild, with temperatures in the high 70s to low 90s Fahrenheit. As expected, the hottest months are found in the summer, with lower temperatures during the winter.

Related: Best Time to Go on a Cruise

Best Bahamas Itineraries

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The islands in the Bahamas are featured on many itineraries, from short, Bahamas-specific itineraries to longer Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.

Bahamas-only cruises last anywhere from two to five nights, and they visit a port or two in the Bahamas, as well as a private island (see below).

Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises typically start at five nights and can last up to two weeks in length, but most typically last about a week.

On that trip, you can see a mix of ports. In the Eastern Caribbean, expect to visit a combination of Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, the US Virgin Islands (St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix) and the French West Indies (Martinique, St. Barts, Guadeloupe, and St. Martin). If you take a western route, Belize, Honduras and Jamaica are common stops.

In addition, cruisers can find Bahamas stops departing from non-Florida ports on the East Coast, such as New York and Baltimore, and even Gulf Coast departures from Galveston, Texas. They are often seven or eight days in length and include calls to Florida and the Bahamas. Some also have southern ports such as Charleston, South Carolina.

Best Bahamas Cruise Lines

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Because of the Bahamas’ popularity, proximity to the country’s east coast, and the number of ships it can accommodate at one time, most major cruise lines visit the islands there.

You will primarily sail with the “Big Nine” brands – Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Virgin Voyages.

A unique outlier is Margaritaville at Sea (formerly Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line), which operates two-night sailings between Palm Beach, Florida and Freeport, Bahamas. The cruise line also partners with land-based resorts there, allowing passengers to extend their vacation on land in the Bahamas if they wish to do so before returning to Florida on the ship several days later.

Because of how crowded and crazy the main Bahamian ports can be, luxury lines tend to stay away. There are some exceptions such as Lindblad Expeditions. The line sails to some of the outlying islands of the Bahamas, which are too small for larger, more mainstream ships to reach.

Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Choosing a Cruise Line

Things to do in the Bahamas

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As you’d expect from a warm-weather destination, outdoor pursuits are the most popular. Cruise passengers can walk to a nearby beach to sunbathe, swim, snorkel or scuba dive, or take a banana boat, parasailing or party boat excursion.

For fun, inexpensive souvenirs, local shops and Nassau’s large straw market, found on Bay Street. Just make sure you don’t buy from the first vendor you see, as many stalls offer similar wares. You may get a cheaper price if you wait or if you bargain for a better deal.

If you’re more of a gambler, take a quick taxi ride to Paradise Island, home to the famous Atlantis Resort. Venture indoors to play table games or try your luck at the slot machines at the resort’s casino, or purchase a day pass to use the outdoor pool and waterslides.

For a fabulous meal, ask a local to point you in the direction of their favorite restaurant, and head off the beaten path to try some shankh bhajiya (fried conch meat) and peas with rice. For dessert, don’t miss the semi-sweet bread-style Johnnycakes.

Related: Shore Excursions: What New Cruisers Need to Know

Best Bahamas Cruise Port

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The Bahamas has two major cruise ports: Nassau on New Providence Island and Freeport on Grand Bahama Island. Nassau offers plenty to see and do within a short walking distance of the harbor. However, Freeport requires passengers to take a taxi for shore excursions or to most attractions.

Other Bahamas stops include Bimini, which is less frequent, and cruise line private islands that can only be accessed by cruise ship.


Historic Nassau, capital of the Bahamas, is the cruise industry’s busiest cruise port. It is bustling and busy, and it can seem overwhelming to tourists on their first visit, especially when there are many ships docked at the same time.

But the brightly colored buildings, wide beaches and ample shopping and dining opportunities quickly make up for the chaos.

Nassau is also a port full of culture. Formerly a haven for pirates, the city is now a history buff’s dream, offering easy access to monuments and buildings that were once a haunt of scallywags.


Freeport has a more relaxed atmosphere than Nassau. The slow pace of Grand Bahama Island, where Freeport is located, lends itself to lazy beach days and casual city strolls for travelers looking for the perfect souvenir.

Water sports abound, and the clear, bright-blue waters are exactly what you’d expect from an island paradise.

Unfortunately, Freeport has had to deal with several tropical storms and major hurricanes over the years. Although it’s a beautiful port to visit, you can expect to see reminders, even years later, as construction projects are abandoned and the island struggles to rebuild.

Related: 10 Biggest Mistakes Cruise Ship Passengers Make on Port Days


The Bimini island chain, which is part of the Bahamas, is also home to a cruise port. Fewer ships call there than at Nassau or Freeport. Aside from beaches and resort-style experiences, there isn’t much to do.

The port came into the limelight when Virgin Voyages developed its Bimini Beach Club on part of the property managed by Resorts World. When Virgin ships are in port, only those with access to the Beach Club are Virgin passengers. Cruisers calling at Bimini with other lines can purchase a day pass as long as the Virgin ship is docked that day.

Private islands

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Most of the private islands in the cruise industry are located in the Bahamas. This carefully curated land can only be visited if you are sailing on a vessel with access.

When you’re ashore, you can expect clean facilities, pristine beaches, shopping opportunities, free buffet lunches (usually barbecue) and a variety of carefully regulated water-sports-focused shore excursions. Some of the larger, more developed private islands also offer water parks, horseback riding, zip lines, and pools.

Private cabanas, villas and bungalows are also available, but they come at a premium and usually book up quickly. Some are also reserved for cruisers booked into suite accommodations on their ships.

When to Book a Bahamas Cruise

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Since the Bahamas is a year-round destination and many ships visit, supplies are plentiful. That means prices are more affordable, especially for short Bahamas-only trips.

for For additional savings, consider booking your voyage in the first quarter of each year during wave season, when cruise lines offer fare discounts and other value-added benefits such as free Wi-Fi and onboard credits for extras such as beverage packages, discounted airfare or spa treatments. is, beachcombing or eating at restaurants that charge a meal fee. Also keep an eye out for Black Friday deals at the end of each year.

If you live in Florida, you may be able to take advantage of resident rates if you live in a military discount or “kids free” promotion.

Related: When is the Best Time to Book a Cruise?

What to Bring on a Bahamas Cruise

wonder What to pack? For any cruise, you can’t go wrong with resort-casual clothing and something formal for a night out if you want to participate. You will also need underwear, toiletries, pajamas and footwear, as well as any travel documents required for boarding and clearing immigration and customs.

Especially for the Bahamas, you’ll want to prepare for the warm, sunny weather by bringing a bathing suit and cover-up; flip-flops or sandals; And sunglasses, hats and sunscreen to protect yourself when outdoors. For those not heading to the beach, sundresses or shorts with T-shirts or tank tops are appropriate attire.

If you plan to shop ashore, most places accept credit cards, but you may want to bring cash. Dollars are accepted in the Bahamas, so there is no need to exchange currency.

Bottom line

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If you take a cruise, it’s almost certain that you’ll visit the Bahamas at some point on your journey. Although it can be crowded, the experience is exhilarating.

If you’re looking for a warm-weather fun destination that offers plenty of beach time, active diversions, history and culture, shopping, gambling, and great food, you won’t be disappointed with a trip to this popular cruise region.

Have more questions about Bahamas cruises? TPG has the answers.

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