Every time I’ve cruised to Nassau, the ship has left port before sundown. When booking my cruise, I noticed Mariner of the Seas would be staying in port until midnight, so I hoped there would be some opportunities not usually present. I picked out the Sunset Harbour Cruise as the best one for me. I thought I would enjoy cruising around Nassau Harbour and seeing Paradise Island from the water.
The excursion group met on the pier just off the ship. We were introduced to Laurie who led us through the terminal to Captain Tom’s glass bottom boat. The best views on this trip were from the top, so Laurie had us all take seats up there while she and Captain Tom prepared the boat to depart. Once we were underway, Laurie began her narration by telling us we were departing from Prince George Wharf named in commemoration of the prince’s visit to the Bahamas.
As we watched the Disney Dream leaving the pier, Captain Tom navigated us towards the Nassau Lighthouse, the oldest continuously operating lighthouse in the Caribbean. We took a turn starboard (to the right) on a course to skirt the southern coast of Paradise Island. The first houses we saw were only accessible by boat. There are no roads leading this far west on Paradise Island. We continued on an eastbound course past the Mariner of the Seas, which let us get some great pictures of our cruise ship from the water side.
Laurie continued her narration telling us of the famous actors, celebrities, and wealthy families who had made Nassau home. Several of the houses were for sale, with prices starting at $1.2 million. One of the properties that was not a home was a yoga retreat. Laurie told us the retreat enforced strict rules of “no drinking, no smoking, and no hanky-panky,” which is why the retreat looked nearly empty.
Wondering if you should book excursions independently or through the cruise line? We weigh the options.
I don’t have much personal interest in visiting the Atlantis Resort or casino on Paradise Island, but I cannot deny its architectural interest. Getting this view of Atlantis was something I was looking forward to, and Captain Tom got us close enough for me to discover some details I had not seen before. Just before we got to Atlantis, Laurie pointed out the site of the former Club Med which is now used by Atlantis for their marine wildlife programs.
After we passed under the Sidney Poitier Bridge, we saw a home formerly owned by Elvis Presley, and another owned by an Arabian sheik who lived there with five wives and one kid. One of my favorites was the home built for the founder of Myers Rum. We also passed a no-longer-pink mansion known to be the home Mary Kay of pink cosmetics fame and her pink Cadillacs. Nestled between the homes was a cloister for meditation given as a gift from the French government. On the other shore, several postal ships were docked. Laurie told us these ships were used to move mail and cargo among the many inhabited islands in the Bahamian archipelago.
Once we got to the eastern end of Paradise Island, Captain Tom turned the boat around so we were facing west into the sunset. Laurie turned on some island music and invited us down to the bar for a complimentary fruit punch or rum punch with additional servings available for purchase. The other passengers and I took turns walking out to the front of the boat’s upper deck to capture the vivid colors of the tropical sunset.
As the last bits of sunlight reflected off of the horizon, Captain Tom brought the ship back to Prince George Wharf and our tour came to an end. As I approached the gangway, I asked Laurie where she was from (I had detected an unfamiliar accent). “Right here on the island,” so now I know what a native Bahamian sounds like. While we were free to explore Nassau, the businesses in the port area had all closed, so the whole group returned to the ship. For me, it was dinner time.
From meeting the excursion group on the pier to returning to the ship, the excursion lasted about two hours. I paid $32 for the excursion which included a cup of rum punch. While I’m not sure this cruise has high repeatability, I did enjoy the leisure of being out on a boat and taking in the sights of the waterfront. Those with limited mobility should know that there are about 15 steps to get up to the upper deck of the boat plus the inclined gangway and a few steps down to get onto the boat. Kids may find this excursion not interactive enough to keep their attention. For everyone, the Sunset Harbour Cruise provides a relaxing and friendly trip to a rare view of Paradise Island and Nassau Harbour.