On the fourth day of our cruise on the Carnival Sunshine in April 2018, we docked in Freeport on Grand Bahama Island. My friends and I didn’t really do anything in port at Nassau or at Half Moon Cay, but at Freeport we decided to purchase an excursion. We chose the All-Inclusive Beach Getaway, setting us back $79.99 apiece. As with the other extra purchases on this cruise, we felt like it was a great value and totally worth it. It included transportation to and from a private beach, chairs and umbrellas, a buffet lunch, and UNLIMITED ALCOHOL. (Please note: bring some extra cash for tips.)
So, first of all, at Freeport, the ship pulls right into the port so you don’t need to take a tender or anything. Just walk right off the boat, pose for some pics, and head out. Right inside the marketplace, there was someone collecting everyone for their respective excursions and providing them with the appropriate wristbands. We were ushered onto a double-decker bus with everyone else headed out on beach excursions.
The bus ride was about 30 minutes. We had a tour of the island, which did note some of the damage from the recent hurricanes. I came to Freeport on a previous cruise in 2014, so it was sad to see some of this destruction. When we arrived at the beach, we received a quick overview and safety lesson, as well as specific instructions about when we would be returning to the ship.
The excursion and private beach are managed by Bahamas Adventures. They coordinate quite a number of cruise excursions in Freeport – not just for Carnival, but for other cruise lines as well. Their excursions include everything from jet-skis to sailing to private beaches. The people on our bus from the ship weren’t just there for all-inclusive – there were several different price levels available. Some people just purchased access to the beach ($39.99). Some purchased the beach with open bar, but had to pay for the food ($59.99). And, as I mentioned, we purchased the all-inclusive. Please note that this beach does allow children.
There was a small shopping area, some trailers with snacks and drinks, and then a larger building housing a full bar, food, and picnic tables. When we arrived on the beach, we claimed some beach chairs and tracked down a gentleman to set up umbrellas for us. (This is an instance when YOU WILL NEED TO TIP. Seriously, bring some cash.)
Then we met Marcy! She was our goddess of the day. Any time our cups were halfway empty, there she was with another drink. Sometimes she brought new drinks that she thought we’d like. Before I knew her name, I was referring to her in my head as “Magic Drink Lady.” She laughed and said, “Well I’ve been calling you Book Lady.” (I was reading a book all day!) She was so nice. She reminded us when it was time to eat, and she answered any questions we had.
Besides drinking on the beach, other activities were available. Obviously, you could swim in the beautiful water or walk on the beach. If you venture too far from the main beach, it gets pretty rocky. There were some floaties in the water that you can play on or sit on. If you are a nerd like me, you can comfortably sit on the beach and read. Do whatever you want. Live your life.
There are also opportunities to rent other items! My friends Jason and Kelly paid like $19 to rent a paddleboard for an hour and a half. Neither had used one before, but both wanted to learn, so they split the cost and split the time. It looked very fun!
The lunch was a buffet, which was slightly concerning for food safety in the heat, but we survived so I’m sure you’ll be fine. A couple items were mayonnaise-based (tuna, pasta salad) so we avoided those. Otherwise, there was a delicious array of rice and peas, jerk chicken, fish, salad, vegetables, and – my favorite – conch fritters. We’d eaten conch fritters the night before on our cruise ship, but they had nothing on these. Yum!
Around 1:00, we were collected back onto the bus and drove back to Freeport. On the way back, we saw a bunch of Jeeps from the Jeep Excursion. (Maybe that’s what we’ll do next time, because it looked super cool!) Then we re-boarded the ship.
Random tangent as we close out this post: Did you know the ships just kind of reverse out of the port? We did like a three point turn to get out of the port and head back into the open water. I don’t know what I was expecting, but for some reason this very basic motion for such a large ship was baffling to me. (It also could have been the rum punch.) It was fun to watch!