You may also like
Beach chairs and umbrellas along Cabbage Beach in Nassau on a sunny day
Cabbage Beach in Nassau (Photo: Gaston Piccinetti/

Everything You Need to Know About Bahamas Cruises

Beach chairs and umbrellas along Cabbage Beach in Nassau on a sunny day
Cabbage Beach in Nassau (Photo: Gaston Piccinetti/
Assistant SEO Editor
Marilyn Borth

Last updated
Nov 9, 2023

Read time
6 min read

Bahamas cruises are some of the most popular cruise itineraries available, especially to those in the U.S, and for good reason. Picture it: astounding natural beauty, friendly locals, diverse culture, and both thrilling and rejuvenating activities aplenty -- and not too far away from the tip of Florida. It's not a mystery why cruising to the Bahamas is so beloved.

The Bahamas is an archipelago comprising some 700 islands (of which maybe 30 are inhabited) and more than 2,000 cays. They stretch from Grand Bahama Island, which is about 75 miles east of Palm Beach, Florida, to Great Inagua, located about 60 miles to the northeast of Cuba. The Bahamas is mostly in the Atlantic but dips partly into the Caribbean as well.

Generally, cruisers touch terra firma in the Bahamas to visit candy-pink Nassau, Cable Beach and Paradise Island, or ships head to the lush Grand Bahama Island, for spending time in Freeport and Lucaya.

Check out our list of six must-know Bahamas cruise tips so you can make the most of your cruise vacation to the world-renowned Bahamas.

1. Take Your Bahamas Cruise During the Best Time of the Year -- for Weather and for You

View of CocoCay at sunset from Royal Caribbean ship
Perfect Day at CocoCay (Photo: Brittany Chrusciel/Cruise Critic)

The tropical maritime temps here rarely budge more than a few notches from 80 degrees, and the sun shines more than 300 days a year. The rainy season is May through October, but rain is generally fleeting. The hurricane season picks up in August and can last through November.

Therefore, there really is no "slow season" in the Bahamas; nearly anytime during the year will work just fine for your cruise. Simply make sure that the time you choose works for you.

Find a month-by-month breakdown of when our editor's believe is the best time to cruise to the Bahamas.

2. Choose Your Preferred Bahamas Cruise Line

Aerial shot of Celebrity Apex in the Bahamas
Celebrity Apex in the Bahamas (Photo: VitaminSea53/Cruise Critic member)

Most mainstream lines -- Carnival, Disney, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean -- offer Bahamas cruises; premium line Celebrity Cruises does as well. Margaritaville at Sea has Bahamas itineraries as well. Most cruises begin on the Eastern Seaboard or Gulf Coast -- offering affordable voyages, typically ranging from three to seven nights.

Many lines will tack on a stop in the Bahamas, even if just at a cruise line's private island, on a regular Caribbean cruise.

3. Then Choose Your Favorite Bahamas Cruise Itinerary Based on Time Spent

A couple relaxes with drinks on the Magic Carpet on Celebrity Edge. (Photo: Naima Green/AIPP)
Carlos Martinez and Joel Vazquez relax with drinks on the Magic Carpet on Celebrity Edge. (Photo: Naima Green/AIPP)

Bahamas cruise itineraries come in two typical offerings: short sailings (two- to five-nights) and week-long cruises.

Short Sailings to the Bahamas: The three- to five-night varieties typically depart from Miami, Port Canaveral and Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades. Carnival offers some alternative homeports, as well. Margaritaville at Sea departs from the Port of Palm Beach, and offers two-night/three day sailings along with longer ones.

The short cruises usually visit some combination of Nassau, Freeport, Key West and/or the cruise line's private island.

Week-Long Cruises to the Bahamas: Seven- and eight-night cruises leave from New York, Bayonne (Cape Liberty), Baltimore, Galveston and New Orleans and call on the Bahamas and Florida. The Florida stops are usually Port Canaveral or Key West.


4. Know What Your Bahamas Cruise Port(s) Is and Preplan Your Shore Excursions

Kayakers in Lucayan National Park The Bahamas
Kayakers in Lucayan National Park kayaking, The Bahamas (The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments and Aviation)

Planning shore excursions in the Bahamas and booking them in advance bodes well for cruisers as these quickly fill up. Double check where you'll be stopping exactly and what shore excursions are available prior to booking. Below is a breakdown of popular Bahama spots and what they're known for to help you get an overall idea of what to expect.

Freeport/Lucaya: Port Lucaya Marketplace offers tourists shopping at more than 70 boutiques as well as a handful of restaurants. There's the Isle of Capri Casino for gambling and the Lucayan and Reef courses for golfing.

The beaches here are marvelous and offer all the key services from Jet Ski rentals to oceanfront bars. Active types can snorkel and scuba dive at Paradise Cove at Deadman's Reef, horseback ride on the beach, or hike, kayak and cycle in Lucayan National Park.

Nassau/Paradise Island: The Straw Market is a Nassau tradition, and you'll find all sorts of touristic souvenirs on sale. A day pass to the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island gets you access to most of the must-see sights at the resort, such as the Dig, the marine habitats and their beach.

You could also head to Blue Lagoon Island to make friends with dolphins. For culture, visit the 18th-century Fort Charlotte and roam the dungeons and underground passageways and see the waterless moat. Just don't forget to check out the amazing views of the harbor from the ramparts. Or hit the beach for sunbathing and water sports.

Private Islands in the Bahamas: Private islands in the Bahamas include Castaway Cay (Disney), CocoCay (Royal Caribbean), Great Stirrup Cay (Norwegian), Half Moon Cay (Carnival and Holland America) and Princess Cays (Princess Cruises).

Each is unique, but in general, private islands offer beaches for swimming and sunbathing, often with private cabana rentals; water sports and water play areas; free buffets set up by the ship's dining staff; bars where beer and tropical drinks are for sale; shops; and shore excursions like horseback rides or parasailing.

Abaco: Take a stroll through the tiny Hope Town to see the candy-cane striped lighthouse. Built in 1864, it's one of the last three hand-wound kerosene-burning lighthouses in the world. Feed the stingrays off Green Turtle Cay.

Bimini: For those who dare, dive from 70 feet into the Gulf Stream at the Bimini Wall.

Eleuthera: Take a 10-minute water taxi to see Harbour Island (a.k.a. Briland) and Dunmore Town's 200-year-old architecture -- a cluster of New England-style clapboard houses framed by picket fences and fragrant, colorful blooms. Guzzle down a Goombay Smash (pineapple, coconut, light and dark rum, pineapple juice, lime and a touch of grenadine and bitters) while watching the sun set along the harbor.

5. Pack for Your Intended Activities in the Bahamas

If you're heading to the beach, pack casual clothing and bathing suits. If you're in need of a culture fix, pack comfortable shoes for walking around forts and lighthouses. Golf junkies, bring your clubs for hitting the links.

Regardless of your intended activities, certainly pack plenty of reef-friendly sunscreen to combat the strong sun. Don't forget your passport, either.

6. Keep Your Head on a Swivel When Stepping Off Your Bahamas Cruise

Crime has been on the rise in the Bahamas, especially on New Providence Island. The U.S. Embassy has had reports of robberies and muggings, as well as sexual assaults. Be aware of your surroundings, leave valuables onboard and don't travel alone, especially at night or away from populated areas. Do your best to remain safe in port.

Publish date October 10, 2019
How was this article?

Get special cruise deals, expert advice, insider tips and more.By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

© 1995—2024, The Independent Traveler, Inc.