I had read some pretty terrible reviews on CC about Freeport, so I was bracing myself for the worst. To our surprise, we actually preferred Freeport to Nassau. When you get off the ship, there's no vendors yelling in your face, and the area to wait for you excursion is right off the port. There were lots of colorful shops and restaurants around the sea port, but we never did do any shopping. We were only in Freeport from 7-2, so our options were kind of limited as to what we could do. Again, I really did my research, and decided to book an excursion not through Carnival. I read a lot of reviews about Paradise Cove/Deadman's Reef snorkeling (www.deadmansreef.com), and booked it because it was only $35/person for snorkeling gear, and transportation to and from the ship. We met our driver at 8:00. We left by 8:30 and took about a 20 minute bus ride to Paradise Cove. Along the way, our driver gave us a little tour and background info on the city of Freeport. When we got there, we got our snorkel gear and a little safety briefing. Then they turn you loose to snorkel on your own. They do offer a boat ride out to the reef for $5 I believe. Neither of us are really strong swimmers, but swimming out to the reef wasn't too bad. The reef was gorgeous, and I'm kicking myself for not buying a waterproof camera. On our way back to shore, we even saw a turtle! It was really cool. After snorkeling we rented beach chairs for $3/person and laid out. We ate lunch at the Red Bar which was super inexpensive (we both got burgers and drinks for $16 total). At 12, the driver took us back to the ship since he knew we had to be back on the boat by 1:30.
I had been to Nassau once before on a Carnival cruise, but that was about 6 years ago, and all I remembered was that it rained while we were there. I did a lot of research on excursions not through Carnival because I think they're far too overpriced. We decided on the Hilton Day Pass which i purchased through http://bahamascruiseexcursions.com/nassauhiltonresortpass.htm. This was my first cruise without my parents, and I was hesitant to choose anything that required a cab or taxi. I picked this excursion because of the price, and it was within walking distance of the port (about 15-20 minutes). It was $60.00 each, but you each get a $40.00 credit for food at their patio bar and grille. They have burgers, wraps, sandwiches, and salads. The Hilton was beautiful, I wouldn't mind staying there for a week on a land vacation! They have a really nice pool area with lounge chairs, beds, and hammocks. After you pass the pool and bar area you can head down to the beach which is where we spent the day. The beach itself is rather small, but it is gorgeous! We found two lounge chairs and practically didn't leave them all day. It's a really quiet, low key beach, if that's what you're looking for. Might not be great for kids, but they did have boogie boards and kayaks that guests could use. Overall, this was a GREAT buy and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a lazy day on the beach. We ate lunch at the bar, and got two drinks each and even with 15% gratuity included, only spent $75 of our $80 credit.