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Nassau Basics

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Fast Facts: Nassau

Nassau is the capital, largest city and the commercial center of the Bahamas, a country of over 700 islands in the Atlantic Ocean just east of Florida. Nassau is located on New Providence Island, and, along with the casino and resort-focused Paradise Island, hosts a population of is just over 210,000 people.

The mainstay of the economy of Nassau is tourism (60% of GDP), and to a lesser extent, financial services (15%). Nassau is the largest cruise port in the Bahamas, attracting almost 3 million cruise passengers each year. Measured by GDP per capita, the Bahamas is the third richest country in the Americas, after the US and Canada.

Nassau has a tropical marine climate, with year-round daytime temperatures ranging from the low to high 80s F. The dry season begins in November and lasts through May while the rainy season commences in June and extends through October, with the heaviest rains taking place from June through August.

When you're visiting Nassau, it's important to get into the spirit of the place. Bahamian food can be very interesting, there are some beautiful reefs to explore, and to an extent, like Las Vegas, what happens in Nassau stays in Nassau. After all, you'll be heading out to an Out Island in short order, so enjoy the place for what it is.


Nassau Bahamas map


First Impressions


Your ship will dock at the Prince George Wharf, which is adjacent to downtown Nassau. The Wharf can accommodate up to 7 ships at the same time--Nassau is a very popular and busy cruise port. As you make your way from your ship to town, you'll pass through the Festival Place Welcome Center, a building that houses a number of services for travelers. It's a short and easy walk from your ship into the bustling downtown area. If you're taking an excursion that begins by bus or van, your vehicle will pick you up at the water fountain to the left as you exit the Welcome Center.

Nassau is a port about which visitors have a definite opinion--they either like it or hate it. Prices are generally higher than in the US, and most people who dislike the place say that there's an interesting casino, and its various attractions--the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island--and nothing else that tickles their fancy. We're of the opinion that there's always something interesting to see and do no matter where you go, and that's especially true of Nassau. Beaches, shopping, food, snorkeling and exploring the cultural draws of the island make Nassau a fun place to visit, no matter how jaded you may be.

When it's busy with cruise ships in Nassau, it's really busy; seven ships can dock at the same time, meaning that there's 15,000 to 20,000 cruise passengers roaming the streets all at once, heading for the outlying islands and crowding the restaurants and shops (along Bay Street) of the city. The merchants in the Straw Market sit back and smile, the taxi drivers appreciate their good luck, and the roulette wheels at the Atlantis Casino spin with extra fervor.

When you're visiting Nassau, it's important to get into the spirit of the place. Bahamian food can be very interesting, there are some beautiful reefs to explore, and to an extent, like Las Vegas, what happens in Nassau stays in Nassau. After all, you'll be heading out to an Out Island in short order, so enjoy the place for what it is.


What to Do in Nassau


Lunch

Nassau On Your Own

If you're looking for what you can do On Your Own in Nassau--like Food, Shopping, Bars, Activities and Attractions, and even gettng married, click here for our Nassau On Your Own page.

The Top 10 Things to Do in Nassau

So it's your first time in Nassau? Or your fifth? Want to make the most of your visit? Well, click here for our list of the Top 10 Things to Do in Nassau.

Cruise Line Shore Excursions on Nassau

Nassau is the most popular cruise port in the Bahamas. The focus here is on beach-related activities, scuba diving, local sightseeing, food and excursions that take place at Paradise Island's Atlantis Resort. Enjoy your time in Nassau!

Click on any of the tiles below to see the Shore Excursions offered by the top 6 cruise lines.


Nassau Attractions Beach & Sailing Tours Diving Tours
Dolphin Tours Food Tours Sightseeing Tours

Time Zone


Nassau is on Eastern Time, five hours earlier than Greenwich Mean Time during Standard Time, and four hours earlier than GMT during Daylight Savings Time. Daylight savings time begins on the second Sunday of March, and ends on the first Sunday of November.

Bahamas flag Nassau Local Time
 


Language


English is universally spoken in Nassau.


Travel Advisory


Dept of State

The U. S. Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform U.S. citizens traveling to and living in Nassau about the security situation on New Providence Island.

"The criminal threat level for New Providence Island is rated as critical by the Department of State. New Providence Island has experienced a spike in crime that has adversely affected the traveling public, with a spate of more violent criminal activity between 2009 and 2013. The U.S. Embassy has received multiple reports indicating tourists have been robbed at gunpoint or knifepoint in tourist locations in the downtown areas of Nassau, to include the cruise ship docks and the Cable Beach commerce areas; several of these incidents occurred during daylight hours. Burglaries, larcenies and "snatch-and-grab" crimes happen in Nassau and U.S. citizens have been victims of these crimes as well. The U.S. Embassy has received reports of assaults, including sexual assaults, in diverse areas such as in casinos, outside hotels, or on cruise ships."

"The Bahamas has the highest incidence of rape in the Caribbean according to a 2007 United Nations report on crime, violence, and development trends. The majority of sexual assaults reported occurred after excessive consumption of alcohol. The loss of ability to remember facts and details due to alcohol consumption makes prosecution of sexual assaults more difficult. Much of the violent crime occurs outside tourist spots, such as in the "over-the-hill" section of Nassau (the area inland from Bay Street, to the South of Bay Street, behind the tourist district), but can occur anywhere, including in areas frequented by tourists. Home break-ins, theft, and robbery are not confined to any specific part of the island. In the past year, the number of home invasions and car jackings has increased."

"The upsurge in criminal activity has also led to incidents which, while not directed at tourists, could place innocent bystanders at risk."

"Armed robbery remains a major criminal threat facing U.S. citizens in The Bahamas. The Royal Bahamas Police Force issued a message citing concerns about the increased number of armed robberies in Nassau. A U.S. citizen was fatally shot in Nassau in May 2013 during an armed robbery."


Dealing with Money in Nassau


Currency


Bahamas dollar

The Bahamian Dollar is the Bahamas official currency, and uses the "$" sign to denote the dollar amount. Bills are printed in denominations of $1, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 dollars. Coinage comes in denominations of 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents and 25 cents.

The currency trades at par with the US dollar in the Bahamas, but the island's currency is significantly less valuable outside of the islands.

Banks and ATMs

In the Bahamas, ATMs typically accept cards that link to the Cirrus and PLUS networks. ATM machines in hotels and casinos often dispense both US dollars and Bahamian dollars, while ATMs inside banks usually dispense only Bahamian dollars. Here is a list of ATMs in the Nassau/Paradise Island areas:

  • Royal Bank of Canada has 10 branches in Nassau with ATMs. You'll find ATMs at 101 East Hill Street, the Mall at Marathon, 323 Bay Street and the Cable Beach Shopping Centre.

  • Bank of Nova Scotia/Scotiabank: has ATMs in the Festival Place Welcome Center, at the Wyndham Crystal Palace Resort, at the Atlantis Resort and in Nassau on Marlborough Street and Navy Lion Road, at Cable Beach and their Main Office downtown.

  • First Caribbean has a number of ATMs in Nassau, including at Cable Beach, Bay and Parliament Streets, Mall at Marathon and Harbour Bay.

Nassau ATM Map


Map icon

See our Nassau ATM map for the locations of the above banks and ATMs.


Using US Dollars in Nassau

Since US dollars are widely accepted in Nassau, you don't have to change your US dollars into Bahamian dollars.


Weather in Nassau


Mom and daughter

Nassau enjoys a warm, agreeable climate that varies little year-round. Cooled by the trade winds that blow almost continually throughout the islands, winter temperatures (September through May) range from lows of 60° F at night to afternoon highs in the low- to mid-70s° F. Summer high temperatures (June through August) average between 80 to 90° F. Sea surface temperatures normally vary between 74° F in February to 83° F in August.

It's humid in Nassau, especially in the summer months. Wind speeds are, on average, below 10 knots. In winter months, periods of a day to two of north and northeast winds of about 25 knots may occur.

Rain showers can occur any time of the year, but the rainiest months are May to October. In Nassau, rainfall averages two inches a month from November to April and six inches a month from May to October. Rainfall comes mainly in the form of heavy showers or thundershowers, which clear quickly.

Sea surface temperatures normally vary between 74° F in February to 83° F in August.

Hurricane season lasts from June through November, although most hurricanes track north of the island. The peak months for hurricanes are August and September. The Bahamas have about a one-in-five annual risk of being affected by a hurricane.

Average Temperatures

Average Precipitation



Keeping In Touch


Internet Access in Nassau

You can find several internet cafes in Nassau, as well as a number of locations that provide both free and low-cost Wi-Fi. Here are a few suggestions:

Wi-Fi Hotspots:

  • McDonalds offers free Wi-Fi in their downtown Nassau store.

  • Duncan Donuts offers free Wi-Fi at their downtown store, located across from the British Colonial Hilton, and their store on Paradise Island.

  • Conch Fritters offers free Wi-Fi at their popular restaurant, located at Marlborough Street and Blue Hill Road in Nassau.

  • Twin Brothers Grill offers free Wi-Fi at their Bahamian restaurant, located in Arawak Cay.

  • Cable Beach Casino offers free Wi-Fi in the lobby of their facility.

  • Starbucks charges around $3 per hour for their Wi-Fi at their 7 stores on Nassau and Paradise Island.

Internet Cafes:

  • Festival Place Welcome Center, at the Prince George Wharf. They've got 4 internet terminals, as well as Wi-Fi. The cost is $5 per hour for the computers, and $5 per day for the Wi-Fi.

  • Tikal Internet Cafe, on Bay Street in the heart of downtown Nassau. It's one of the largest internet cafes in Nassau; they've also got Wi-Fi. They charge $0.20 per minute. Open daily from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. Phone: (242) 322-1050.

  • Net Deli Internet Cafe, located at East and Bay Streets next to QBC. It's one of the largest internet cafes in Nassau, and a mere 3 minute walk from the Cruise Terminal. Open daily 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. Phone (242) 676-6986.

Nassau Internet Access Map


Map icon

See our Nassau Internet Access Map for the locations of the above internet access points.


Internet Cafe

Cellular Phone & Data Services

Customers of the four major U.S. wireless carriers can expect the following levels of service in Nassau:

Verizon

Cell service: Verizon's CDMA service in Nassau is provided by local partner BTC.
Data services: Through partner BTC, Verizon offers 3G coverage on the island.
See details on Verizon's cell and data services pricing and coverage maps.

ATT Wireless

Cell service: AT&T's GSM service in Nassau is provided by BTC.
Data services: AT&T offers 3G service on the island through its partner BTC.
See details on AT&T's cell and data services coverage maps.

Sprint

Cell service: Sprint's CDMA service in Nassau is provided by partner BTC; Digicel also offers service when using a quad-band GSM phone.
Data services: Through BTC, Sprint offers 2G coverage on the island. Sprint also offers 3G coverage when using a UMTS-capable device with an active SIM card and global plan.
See details on Sprint's cell and data services coverage maps.

T Mobile

Cell service: T-Mobile's GSM service is available in Nassau through its partner BTC.
Data services: T-Mobile offers 2G service on the island through its partner BTC.
See details on T-Mobile's cell and data services pricing.


Samsung Galaxy S III

Nassau Telephone Information

Travelers with American or Canadian cell phones or other digital devices should be aware that their carriers will add a variety of international roaming charges when their phones are used in the Bahamas. Check with your carrier for the precise details.

If you plan on using your cell phone a lot while on your cruise, you may want to consider getting a SIM card for your trip from OneSimCard.com. These SIMs work in over 200 countries, and provide very affordable prepaid talk, text and data plans. Not only will you save a lot of money, but you'll also avoid a big cell bill surprise when you get home.

Using your US or Canadian cell phone while you're in Nassau is easy--it's just like using your phone back home.

Country Code: 1 (the same as the US and Canada)

Area Code for Nassau (and all of the Bahamas): 242

The Bahamas belongs to the North American Numbering System (NANS); calling another phone is just like a call you’d make from one area code to another in the US or Canada.

Local Phone Numbers have seven digits: XXX-XXXX

To call Nassau from the US or Canada: dial 1-242-XXX-XXXX

Using your US or Canadian cell phone in Nassau

To make a call from:

Nassau to the US or Canada: Dial 1 (area code) XXX-XXXX

Nassau to a US or Canadian cell phone in Nassau: Dial 1 (area code) XXX-XXXX

Nassau to a local Nassau number: Dial (242) XXX-XXXX

Cell phone user

OneSimCard - prepaid international roaming, works in over 200 countries, free calls in over 150 countries

Local Holidays & Festivals


Local festivals, holidays and events taking place in Nassau in 2017:

  • Christmas, Monday, December 25. A public and religious holiday celebrating the birth of Christ.

  • Boxing Day, Tuesday, December 26. A public holiday.

  • Junkanoo
  • Junkanoo, Tuesday, December 26. The Bahamas' Christmas celebration, with party-goers dressed in masquerade costumes parading in the streets in celebration of their West African and slave heritage.

Local festivals, holidays and events taking place in Nassau in 2018:

  • New Year's Day, Monday, January 1. National holiday celebrated with dances and festivals.

  • Majority Rule Day, Wednesday, January 10. A national holiday celebrating the date when the Bahamas achieved self governance through democracy in 1967.

  • Good Friday, Friday, March 30. A public holiday.

  • Easter Monday, Monday, April 2. A public holiday.

  • Whit Monday, May 21. This holiday is celebrated the day after Pentecost, a movable feast in the Christian calendar.

  • Labour Day, Friday, June 1. A public holiday that celebrates the contributions of workers, and in the Bahamas is named after Randol Fawkes.

  • Stamps
  • Independence Day, Tuesday, July 10. A national public holiday that commemorates the independence of the Bahamas from the British that took place on July 10, 1973.

  • Emancipation Day/August Monday, Monday, August 6. A national public holiday that commemorates the official abolition of slavery in 1838. Look for a Junkanoo, a traditional African street parade of music, dance, and art held in Nassau.

  • Discovery Day/ National Heroes Day/ Columbus Day, Monday, October 8. A national holiday that commemorates the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus.

  • Christmas, Tuesday, December 25. A public and religious holiday celebrating the birth of Christ.

  • Boxing Day, Wednesday, December 26. A public holiday.

  • Junkanoo
  • Junkanoo, Wednesday, December 26. The Bahamas' Christmas celebration, with party-goers dressed in masquerade costumes parading in the streets in celebration of their West African and slave heritage.

Cruise Port Schedules


Prince George Wharf
©2008 TampAGS under cc-by-sa 3.0 license

Nassau is the most popular port in the Caribbean; cruise ships making the 2-, and 3-, 4- and 7-day cruises to the Bahamas from Florida ports as well as from Charleston, Baltimore and New York regularly make port in the city.

As a general rule, cruise ship passengers should expect to be in port for between 8 and 10 hours.

In 2017, Nassau is slated to host 3,384,900 passengers sailing on 1,141 ships. For further information, see our Nassau Cruise Ship Schedule - 2017.

In 2018, Nassau is slated to host 3,361,800 passengers sailing on 1,110 ships. For further information, see our Nassau Cruise Ship Schedule - 2018.


Cruise Lines Making Port in Nassau



The following cruise lines will make port in Nassau in 2017:

Carnival icon Carnival Royal Caribbean icon Royal Caribbean
Celebrity icon
Celebrity Cruises
NCL icon
Norwegian
Disney
Disney Cruises
Princess
Princess Cruises
Regent Cruises
Regent Cruises
Costa
Costa Cruises
MSC Cruises
Oceania
Oceania Cruises
AIDA Cruises
TUI Cruises
Hapag Lloyd
Phoenix Reisen
C & M Voyages
Cruise Ship


       
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