Historic Nassau, Bahamas

Nassau Travel Blog

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Carnival Pride at Nassau

Carnival Pride was due in Nassau, on New Providence Island, at 11:00 a.m. I spotted a sailboat about 9:30 as we finished breakfast at the Mermaid Grille up on the Lido and then sighted land a short time later. Passengers soon crowded up on the Lido and Sun decks to watch our entrance into Nassau harbour. After we passed Paradise Point Light, the ship came about 180 degrees to back into its berth. Alongside was Holland America Lines Stadendam, already docked. As soon as the ship was cleared by Customs, we disembarked. Arrival at the terminal was very informal. (Identification is checked to reboard, but not to disembark.) There is a information desk at the Festival Place terminal where excellent complimentary visitor maps and other brochures are distributed.

Approaching New Providence Island

When we'd last been in Nassau, in 2007, we only had time to do the Dolphin Encounter at Salt Cay. That took up the entire port time. We definitely wanted to see Nassau this time. Our plan was to follow the Frommer's Nassau Walking Tour as found on their web site and in the guidebooks. To save time, we planned to follow the same strategy we'd had at San Juan. We'd take a taxi up to Fort Fincastle, at the highest point on the island, and walk down into town from there. Cabs were not easy to come by at the cruise terminal, though. Most cab drivers want to take visitors on an island tour. But, we found one who agreed to take us up to Fort Fincastle. (Taxi fare is $6 per person to any point in downtown Nassau. It's $11 to Paradise Island and $15 to Cable Beach.

Nassau pilot boat
)

Fort Fincastle is located atop Bennett's Hill. It was completed in 1793 as the last of Nassau's defensive fortifications.  The fort was built under the direction of Lord Dunmore, who was then the British Governor of the Bahamas. I'll have to note a tie-in here with Virginia history, as Lord Dunmore was also the last royal governor of Virginia (1771-1776). Also on the hill is the concrete Water Tower, built in 1928, and visible out to sea. We looked all around the fort, reading the many historical markers and climbing up to it highest point. Then, it was a short walk down to the top of the Queen's Staircase. The Queen's Staircase, a series of 66 stone steps also built in 1793, leads from old town Nassau up to the hill. Presumably, it was intended for troops to access the fort.

Nassau pilot boat
The lower staircase is rich with vegetation with stone walls leading out on to Elizabeth Avenue. It's a very quiet and peaceful spot, despite being a popular destination for visitors.

Elizabeth Avenue led from the Queen's Staircase to downtown. It's a narrow passage despite its name, with the street hewn out of rock and little to separate pedestrians from the busy traffic. (Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, is larger than it appears. The city has a population of more than 250,000, eighty per cent of the population of the country.)

At the corner of Elizabeth Ave. and Shirley Street, we encountered an interesting pink colonnaded structure. This was the Bahamas Historical Society Musueum, in the former IODE (Imperial Order of the Daughters of Empire) Hall. Although constructed in the 1950s, the building follows the pink neo-Georgian style of the public buildings in Nassau.

Outside Nassau Harbour
Shirley Street would take us over to Parliament Street. Near the intersection with Parliament Street is a another unique pink structure. The hexagon-shaped Nassau Public Library was built as the Gaol in 1799. It became the public library in 1879.  The library building  stands at the head of a park that extends down Parliament Street to the port. The green park is a popular cut-through for workers going about their business between the governmental buildings. In it is the Garden of Remembrance with a monument to Bahamians who died in World Wars I and II. Next to the Garden is the Supreme Court, a neo-Georgian structure dating from 1921.

At Bay Street, on the south side, is Parliament Square, center of government for the Bahamas.

Nassau Harbour
The Senate, House of Assembly, and parliamentary offices, all in pink, form a horseshoe around the square. A Statue of Queen Victoria erected by the IODE in the early 20th century, stands in the center. At this point, Susan wanted to do some shopping in nearby stores on Bay Street. I stayed on the square to take photos and look around. As I inspected a plaque on the House of Assembly, I found the door was open. So, I went in for a look. As I work in Washington, DC, it was almost a surprise that there was no security check, or security officer on duty, at Parliament. On one side of the entry corridor was the Majority Committee Room, where staff were at work, and on the other a closed Minority Committee Room. The interior was all in dark woodwork. Stonework from Westminster, presented in the 1930s, decorated a section of one wall.
Passing the breakwater
  An interpretive marker explained that the Bahamas House of Assembly, founded in 1729, is the third oldest legislative body in the Westminster tradition. 

Facing Parliament Square across Bay Street is Rawson Square. Back outside, I went across the street for a look. The central point is a bust of Sir Milo Butler, a Bahamian political figure who had worked for home rule and independence. He was named the first Bahamian Governor-General following independence in 1973. With the two facing squares, one finds a juxtaposition of the modern independent Bahamas and its British colonial heritage. 

Rejoining Susan, we continued along Bay Street. There were more shops to inspect and interesting buildings to photograph. Motor traffic along Bay Street is heavy, but generally courteous.

Entering Nassau Harbour
Cars stop for pedestrians to cross the street and traffic policemen keep the volume moving along. (The Nassau police are famous for their white pith helmets.) We stopped for lunch at Bahamian Kitchen, one of the best places for local foods. The central bank is across the street, and across from it is Balcony House, the oldest house in Nassau. Balcony House, built in 1788 and restored, is usually open. But, we could not get close as something was happening  at the bank. There was a flatbed truck with a container parked in the street and surrounded by armed police. (Perhaps they were moving a large shipment of treasury or bullion in or out of the bank.) Anyway, I was able to take a photo of the house.

Next, it was over to George Street to see Government House.

Paradise Island Light (1816)
Government House, rebuilt in 1932 after the original 1810 residence was damaged in a hurricane, is the official residence of the Governor-General. The statue of Christopher Columbus on its steps dates from 1830. In front is tree-lined George Street, another quiet and green spot. Anchoring the corner with Frederick Street is Christ Church Cathedral. The Anglican cathedral is a Gothic structure built in 1841 of local stone. It's the fourth church to be built on the site since 1607.

Susan browsed in the Straw Market while I lingered for photos. It had been a full afternoon of walking around the old town, so we went back on board the ship for a break. After drinking some water and washing up, I was refreshed and ready to go back out for a while.

Carnival Pride enters Nassau Harbour
Susan decided to remain on board. My first priority was to get a photo of the entire ship from the bow, now that Statendam had sailed. Accomplishing this would require walking out to the end of Prince George Wharf. This was in the cargo area, where a cargo ship had been unloading new automobiles earlier in the day. I walked about a quarter mile along the wharf, past the new cars all wrapped in plastic, past port security guards (I thought I might be challenged, but was not), and past a front-end loader working the dock. I took the photo of the full ship and present it here. (I'm very persistent when it comes to photos and don't know that anyone else went to this length to photograph the ship.)

My next assignment was to find souvenirs for Christmas stocking stuffers and post cards.
Nassau beachfront
  I went back to Bay Street to find the T-Shirt Factory, the big souvenir emporium, closed at 5:00 p.m. on Thursdays. So, it was off down Bay Street and around to the Straw Market. That worked out, as I was able to get a few more photos. Among these was the 18th century Vendue House, location of the Pompey Museum of Slavery and Emancipation.  (The museum, located in a former slave market, was closed.)  I did find some souvenir shops still open on Woodes Rogers Walk. I was back on the ship at 6:20 p.m.

As we were finishing dessert in the dining room, we noticed that the ship was moving. Carnival Pride had sailed at 9:20 p.m., ahead of schedule. I suppose everyone was accounted for and the captain saw no need to tarry. I wasn't able to get planned photos of Nassau at night from the ship, but now we could look forward to exploring Grand Bahama Island the next day.

MelissaBeth says:
Great review thanks. Looking forward to visiting the Bahamas in 3 weeks. :)
Posted on: Nov 17, 2011
stonefinder1 says:
Nassau is an awsum Place
Posted on: May 06, 2010
anupa_rk says:
Wow you just made me realise that I saw absolutely nothing on my trip to the Bahamas.. Another trip seems to be in order!! ;)
Posted on: May 02, 2010
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Carnival Pride at Nassau
Carnival Pride at Nassau
Approaching New Providence Island
Approaching New Providence Island
Nassau pilot boat
Nassau pilot boat
Nassau pilot boat
Nassau pilot boat
Outside Nassau Harbour
Outside Nassau Harbour
Nassau Harbour
Nassau Harbour
Passing the breakwater
Passing the breakwater
Entering Nassau Harbour
Entering Nassau Harbour
Paradise Island Light (1816)
Paradise Island Light (1816)
Carnival Pride enters Nassau Harbo…
Carnival Pride enters Nassau Harb…
Nassau beachfront
Nassau beachfront
British Colonial Hilton
British Colonial Hilton
Paradise Island and Atlantis
Paradise Island and Atlantis
Prince George Wharf
Prince George Wharf
Yacht in Nassau channel
Yacht in Nassau channel
Holland-America Lines Statendam
Holland-America Lines' Statendam
Tying up
Tying up
Tying up
Tying up
Festival Place
Festival Place
Welcome to Nassau!
Welcome to Nassau!
Junkanoo display
Junkanoo display
Carnival Pride and Statendam at Pr…
Carnival Pride and Statendam at P…
Scotia Bank
Scotia Bank
Churchill Building
Churchill Building
Nassau Water Tower on Bennetts Hi…
Nassau Water Tower on Bennett's H…
Fort Fincastle in the shape of a s…
Fort Fincastle in the shape of a …
Fort Fincastle historical marker
Fort Fincastle historical marker
Cannon at Fort Fincastle
Cannon at Fort Fincastle
Forts of Nassau
Forts of Nassau
Nassau Defences
Nassau Defences
Atlantis resort from Fort Fincastle
Atlantis resort from Fort Fincastle
Historic forts of Nassau
Historic forts of Nassau
Water tower and vendor stalls
Water tower and vendor stalls
Harbour from Fort Fincastle
Harbour from Fort Fincastle
Fort Charlotte form Fort FIncastle
Fort Charlotte form Fort FIncastle
View over Nassau
View over Nassau
Paradise Island bridge
Paradise Island bridge
Water Tower
Water Tower
Susan and I at Fort Fincastle
Susan and I at Fort Fincastle
Water Tower (1928)
Water Tower (1928)
Tavern on Bennetts Hill
Tavern on Bennett's Hill
Kalik Beer sign
Kalik Beer sign
Street decoration
Street decoration
Junkanoo headgear
Junkanoo headgear
Queens Staircase sign
Queen's Staircase sign
Climbing the Queens Staircase
Climbing the Queen's Staircase
Down the Queens Staircase
Down the Queen's Staircase
Flora at the Queens Staircase
Flora at the Queen's Staircase
Queens Staircase
Queen's Staircase
Flora at the Queens Staircase
Flora at the Queen's Staircase
Palm trees
Palm trees
Canopy overhead
Canopy overhead
Rock walls
Rock walls
Elizabeth Avenue
Elizabeth Avenue
Narrow and rock-walled Elizabeth A…
Narrow and rock-walled Elizabeth …
Even tow trucks in Nassau are pink!
Even tow trucks in Nassau are pink!
Bahamas Museum
Bahamas Museum
IODE Hall plaque
IODE Hall plaque
High school students after school
High school students after school
Nassau Public Library (former gaol)
Nassau Public Library (former gaol)
Nassau Public Library (former gaol)
Nassau Public Library (former gaol)
Stone block house
Stone block house
World War I memorial
World War I memorial
Bahamas Supreme Court
Bahamas Supreme Court
Parliament Square
Parliament Square
Parliament Square
Parliament Square
Bahamas Senate
Bahamas Senate
Statue of Queen Victoria
Statue of Queen Victoria
Bahamas Coat of Arms
Bahamas Coat of Arms
Bahamas Parliament--House of Assem…
Bahamas Parliament--House of Asse…
Bahamas Parliament bicentennial pl…
Bahamas Parliament bicentennial p…
Inside Parliament
Inside Parliament
Bahamas Parliament historical mark…
Bahamas Parliament historical mar…
Bahamian blossoms
Bahamian blossoms
Rawson Square
Rawson Square
Sir Milo Butler
Sir Milo Butler
Bay Street
Bay Street
Nassau policemen
Nassau policemen
Vendue House (Pompey Museum)
Vendue House (Pompey Museum)
St. Andrews Kirk
St. Andrew's Kirk
St. Andrews Kirk (1864)
St. Andrew's Kirk (1864)
Trinity Methodist Church (1865)
Trinity Methodist Church (1865)
Trinity Methodist Church (1865)
Trinity Methodist Church (1865)
Balcony House (Oldest house in Nas…
Balcony House (Oldest house in Na…
Teens in school uniform
Teens in school uniform
George Street
George Street
Government House
Government House
George Street
George Street
Inn on George Street
Inn on George Street
Christ Church Cathedral (1837)
Christ Church Cathedral (1837)
Cathedral Cloister
Cathedral Cloister
Nassau transit buses are privately…
Nassau transit buses are privatel…
Conch for sale
Conch for sale
Junkanoo Shack sign
Junkanoo Shack sign
Nassau Straw Market
Nassau Straw Market
Goods at Nassau Straw Market
Goods at Nassau Straw Market
Nassau Straw Market
Nassau Straw Market
Tortuga Rum Cake Bakery
Tortuga Rum Cake Bakery
Pirate at Tortuga Rum Cake Bakery
Pirate at Tortuga Rum Cake Bakery
Tortuga Rum Cake from Nassau
Tortuga Rum Cake from Nassau
Atlantis resort on Paradise Island
Atlantis resort on Paradise Island
Nassau Sights & Attractions review
The peaceful Queen's Staircase
The Queen's Staircase is a passageway leading from the edge of old Nassau up to Bennett's Hill. The 66 stone steps were constructed in 1793, probably … read entire review
Nassau Sights & Attractions review
Fort Fincastle Overlooking Nassau
Fort Fincastle was constructed in 1793 under the direction of Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of the Bahamas. It was named after the Governor's secon… read entire review
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Bahamas Information and more at Festival Place
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Great Bahamian cuisine at Bahamian Kitchen
A short distance off busy Bay Street in Nassau, Bahamian Kitchen is a great place to sample real Bahamian food. Susan and I stopped here for lunch dur… read entire review
Nassau Sights & Attractions review
Landmark Nassau Harbour Lighthouse
The famous lighthouse at the entrance to Nassau Harbour is one of the most recognizable and photographed landmarks in Nassau. The lighthouse is also k… read entire review
Nassau
photo by: jhenthorne