Going on a Bahamas Cruise soon? Want to know how to have the time of your life AND save money?? You’re reading the right blog! I went on my very first cruise with Carnival Cruise Lines (which is the best cruise line for thrifty travelers), and I have compiled a list of my top favorite tips and tricks for you. My cruise destinations were Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, and Nassau, Bahamas. Be advised, I do not yet have children, so my tips are geared more toward singles and couples traveling without kiddos.
#1. Choose the “your time” dining option
I feel like this should be a given, but apparently some people like to put themselves on a schedule when they vacation. I am not one of those people. When you book with Carnival, you get the option to dine early (I think it is 5:30pm), or dine on your time (whenever you want!). Here’s the thing: if you spend all day on an island soaking up the sun, jetskiing, snorkeling, drinking, touring, etc., you’re going to be POOPED when you get back on the ship. Your time dining was a fantastic choice for me because I didn’t have to rush to dinner right after re-boarding. I had time to shower, nap, shop, have a glass of wine, take a few selfies.
#2. Yes, you can sneak “fun juice” in your luggage
My friends and I were reluctant to try this one. We’re not really rule breakers, but we also didn’t love the idea of spending hundreds of dollars on adult beverages. So, we took a risk on some of those “hidden” flasks that are made to look like every day items. I don’t want to ruin it for everyone by sharing specifically what my container was, but trust me, just google or amazon search “hidden alcohol.” You’ve got plenty of options. Happy Saving!
#3. Be the first one off the ship!
I have 3 reasons for this important tip: One, you won’t have to wait in line to disembark. I’m an impatient person, so if there is any way to avoid waiting in a line, I’m sold! Two, there is a limited number of taxis waiting at port to take passengers to their different destinations. Again, my impatience wins, and being first off the boat means I also don’t have to wait for a taxi. Three, you will have more time to explore. This is especially important in Nassau, as the big attraction is Atlantis. By being first off the boat, my friends and I had time to play some slots, visit the aquarium, get lost in the vast landscape of Atlantis, run around the famous Atlantis water park, AND soak up the sun on their private beaches.
#4. Do NOT be late!
The ship leaves on time, every time. With hundreds of passengers up on the deck, we watched a family running to the dock as the ship left them behind in Freeport. It was all the gossip at dinner that evening.
#5 Skip the excursions
If you’re just trying to relax on your vacation and not stress about time or money, this tip is for you. My friends and I passed on booking any excursions for multiple reasons. First, they were all so expensive! Second, we really wanted to take our time just exploring the islands. Third, they sell excursions on the ship and on site, so if we ever changed our minds, we had plenty of options.
#5. The party’s at Junkanoo Beach
Like I mentioned above, we did not book any excursions on our cruise, so when we disembarked in Freeport, we left it up to the taxi driver to determine our destination. HA! Do not do this. We ended up at an empty shack on a strip of 20 square feet of beach. There was no music, no other guests, one employee, and just barely enough sand between the shack and the water to lay down a towel. As we sat there contemplating what our next move would be, we heard the faint sound of music. Less than a quarter mile away, we could see what looked like a tiki bar, palm trees, beach chairs, people, and FUN. I’d even go so far to say it looked like the sun was shining brighter on that part of the beach. So we make the 5 minute walk over, and discover Junkanoo Beach. What a difference! There was music, dancing, excited bartenders, and even an emcee. This is also where I was crowned “Limbo Queen of Freeport.” No picture, please. I may have gotten sand in all sorts of places for that title, but I also got free drinks, so worth it. Right? When in Freeport, tell your driver to take you to Junkanoo Beach, and thank me later.
#6. Rent a “room for a day” in Nassau
This is my biggest money saving tip. You can rent a room for the day at the Comfort Suites Paradise Island hotel, directly across from Atlantis Resort. You get 2 huge perks here. A room where you can freshen up if you want to beach first, and casino after; and, FREE access to Atlantis Aquaventure Water Park! Say what! Aquaventure tickets cost $150 per person online. My two girlfriends and I rented one room at Comfort Suites, and received 3 included tickets to the water park. Huge win!
#7. Jump in!
By “jump in” I mean let loose! Make new friends, try new foods, participate in the onboard activities, and do things you wouldn’t normally. For example, I jumped in on a family game show onboard the ship, tried my luck in a game of beach limbo, and unashamedly crawled down a hallway because the swaying cruise ship kept knocking me off my feet (okay, maybe that was because of the “fun juice”). In any case, be a little daring, and make sure you document it with plenty of pictures. Happy cruising!