Pirates, water adventures and historical hot spots
Proclaimed a pirate republic by the early 1700s, Nassau once sheltered more than 1,000 pirates, outnumbering the hundred inhabitants of the town.
While its pirate history runs deep, today, Nassau, located on the island of New Providence, is the capital and commercial center of the Bahamas and the archipelago’s largest city. Arriving on an MSC Caribbean and Antilles cruise, Nassau boasts charming colonial-style buildings and pastel-colored wooden shops that alternate with Georgian-style structure. Founded by the British in 1670, Nassau stretches from the harbor to Bay Street, the main drag through town that is replete with shops, souvenirs, restaurants and entertainment. At the Straw Market, where the typical Bahamian souvenirs are sold, be prepared to bargain—a tradition that is almost a duty.
A popular tourist area is Cable Beach, a 4-mile stretch of beach and resorts on the north central coast of New Providence, 3 miles from Nassau. Paradise Beach, on Paradise Island, is one of the best in the entire area.
For a nearly private beach experience, take an MSC excursion to Blue Lagoon Island, a private island with one of the most secluded beaches in the Bahamas, or opt for a VIP beach cabana experience at the offshore picture-perfect oasis of Balmoral Island.
Book an MSC excursion to Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, for activities ranging from Aquaventure, an exhilarating 141-acre waterpark where you can ride swells of rapids and fly down 7-story slides, to the Dig, a faux archaeological site that recreates the ruins of ancient Atlantis, and Predator Lagoon, home to sharks, rays, barracudas and sawfish.
For something special, take a bush medicine gardens and tea tour to learn about local traditions and botany, then sip afternoon tea and dine on scones and dainty finger sandwiches at the lavish Graycliff Hotel, a landmark property that since 1740 has housed pirates, privateers and prisoners alike.
Don’t miss the magnificent views of Nassau, Paradise Island and a good portion of the Bahamas from the top of Queen’s Staircase at Fort Fincastle. Water cascades alongside the historical staircase, comprising 65 steps hand-carved out of solid limestone rock by 600 slaves between 1793 and 1794.