Historic Nassau, Bahamas
Nassau Travel Blog› entry 5 of 10 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.
At Bay Street, on the south side, is Parliament Square, center of government for the Bahamas.
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.
Next, it was over to George Street to see Government House.
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.
My next assignment was to find souvenirs for Christmas stocking stuffers and post cards.
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.