Nassau home page
Nassau appears on many cruise itineraries. Located some 180 miles from southern Florida, it is close to the cruise ship bases on the east coast of Florida. As such, it is a convenient destination for ships doing short getaway cruises from those ports. Its location also makes it a convenient port of call for ships sailing from the Florida ports to the Caribbean. Finally, it is within a couple of days sailing from ports in the northeastern U.S. and thus attracts ships from those ports offering cold weather escape cruises.
In addition to convenience, Nassau and environs offer sub-tropical to tropical weather, sandy beaches, resort facilities and shopping opportunities.
The city is the capital of the Bahamas, an independent country that remains part of the British Commonwealth. It is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy. There is a prime minister who is the head of government but there is also a monarch, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, who is represented by a governor-general.
There are some 3,000 islands in the Bahamas chain. However, many of them are uninhabited. Nassau occupies the eastern part of New Providence Island.
Nassau is the only major urban center in the Bahamas, However, with the exception of the Atlantis Resort on nearby Paradise Island, there are no high rise buildings.
Still, Nassau has not escaped the problems of urban life. Traffic downtown can be quite hectic. In addition, Nassau has struggled with crime including attacks on tourists.
Tourism accounts for 60 percent of the Bahamian GDP and more than half of the people are employed in tourist related businesses. After tourism, the next most important industry is financial services. The Bahamas are one of the most prosperous countries in the Caribbean region.
Although the Bahamas are often associated with the Caribbean, the country is not actually in the Caribbean. Rather, like the nearby Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas are in the Atlantic.
Above: Rawson Square near Nassau's cruise terminal.
Above: Nassau's Bay Street, the main shopping district.
Below: Ships of the Royal Bahamian Defense Force can often be seen docked in among the cruise ships in Nassau.
Most scholars believe that when Christopher Columbus encountered the New World in 1492, the first place he came to was the Bahamas. At the time, the islands were inhabited by the Lucayans, a branch of the Taino people, who had been there from the 11th century A.D. While Spain did not attempt to colonize the Bahamas, it did force many of the Lucayans to work as slaves on Hispaniola. Most of the rest, died of diseases brought over by the Europeans. This left the Bahamas essentially uninhabited.
In 1648, a group of Puritans from Bermuda settled on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera. They subsequently settled New Providence island as well. A settlement called Charles Town was established on New Providence. Despite repeated attacks by Spain, the settlement survived and in 1695, it settlement was re-named in honor of King William III, who was of the House of Orange and Nassau.
The islands were not directly ruled by the British crown during this period. In 1670, King Charles II had given control over the islands to the proprietary governors of the Carolina colony in exchange for rent. This coincided with an influx of pirates who found the Bahamas a convenient base for raiding the shipping lanes. By 1713, the pirates were in effective control of the islands and declared Nassau a “pirate republic.”
In 1718, Britain moved to regain control. The Bahamas became a crown colony and Captain Woodes Rogers, who was himself a reputed pirate, was appointed governor. Rogers, with the help of British warships, suppressed the pirates.
During the American Revolution, Nassau was occupied for two weeks by American naval forces. Spain, an American ally, also briefly held the islands following the British defeat at Yorktown. However, the Bahamas were returned to Britain in 1783 under the treaty ending the Revolutionary War.
Following the war, some 7,300 Loyalists and their slaves came to the islands from America. They established plantations and became an important force in local politics.
Examples of colonial era commercial buildings and residences can still be seen in Nassau.
In 1807, Britain outlawed the slave trade and many Africans rescued from slave ships were settled in the Bahamas. In 1834, slavery was abolished altogether in the British Empire.
During the American Civil War, however, Nassau became a transhipment and trading center for Confederate ships running the Union blockade of southern ports.
During the Prohibition Era in the United States, Nassau took on a similar role with regard to smuggling liquor into the United States.
Nassau became home to the former King Edward VIII during World War II. The man who had abdicated the throne for love in 1936, had become friendly with German leaders before the war. When a German plot to return him to the throne was uncovered, the Churchill government decided to get him far away from Europe and so he was appointed Governor-general of the Bahamas.
The Bahamas became independent in 1973.
Cruise destination - - Nassau (Bahamas/Caribbean) - Overview (home page)