nassau can be an interesting town during daylight hours. there is something of a big city criminal element that comes out at night but since most cruise ships only spend a day there you probably won't be around to encounter it.
skip the free lunch on board while you're in nassau. walk out to bay street (the main drag) and take the bus east towards potter cay dock
. bus number 1 definitely stops there, but ask any driver if he makes that stop and he'll take you or put you on the right bus. you don't pay, by the way, until you get off the bus - think it's now $1.50. be sure to say 'good morning' or whatever to everyone on the bus - locals think it's impolite not too. ask the driver to let you off at potter cay dock
. this is the main commercial
dock that services the 'out islands' and is where fresh fish
and vegetables are brought in by the mail boats and all kinds of stuff is shipped out by mail boat to the islands. you can get a free lesson in how to clean fish
the bahamian way just by hanging around the dock. observe the cargo being loaded on to the mail boats and you'll get to see what is a disappearing way of life in the islands. the dock is directly under the potter cay bridge, which was once the only bridge to paradise island. there is now a second one closer to 'downtown', which you would have passed on your way there.
but the big attraction is the dozen or more little kiosks where the locals come for lunch. sit yourself down at any one that appeals to you and order a cracked conch lunch and kalik beer
. or maybe conch fritters or a conch salad. or a fried fish lunch. will set you back about $10 but no 'free' meal on your cruise ship will come with as much ambience. the locals love to have you and will greet you with a smile. when you've had enough keep walking east along bay street about 1/4 mile and you'll arrive at nassau yacht haven. still probably the most important marina in nassau. since you look like a yachtie the guard probably won't hassle you if you just walk out on to the docks and check out the boats. there are also a few marine
stores nearby to browse through.
now walk back to potter cay dock. you can continue walking all the way back to the cruise ship docks - it's less than a mile - and see some of the waterfront that most tourists never see - or you can wait for the bus again. this time ask the driver if he's going back near the cruise ship docks (prince george dock). he usually is, but not directly. for another $1.50 you'll get a tour of the inner workings of the island from the comfort of the bus and eventually wind
up in the 'tourist' area where you can get off and walk back to the ship.
or if you have time, walk along the tourist section of bay street, stopping in all the liquor stores to sample their rum
drinks. my wife got a good buzz on just from sampling the mango rum
in each shop. (we had to take the bus back to nassau yacht haven where we were docked).
it is with great sadness that i must report on markj's advice to see the aquarium at atlantis. you can't anymore. not for free, anyway. up until last year you could just walk into the main lobby and stroll around and see about half the aquarium, which is pretty big, by the way. unfortunately, there is now a substantial charge for viewing. you'll have to make that decision on your own.
just one more question you'll have to ask yourself. if, while you're walking around nassau yacht haven and some captain
asks if you want to help him take his classic bermuda
40 to the turks and caicos
, will you be ready?