Click here to editwww.ellenfrazerjameson.com email@example.com
Scarlet Lady sails into Nassau, the Bahamas
Sailing direct from Miami, Scarlet Lady docked in Nassau on the second day of a roundtrip which originally was due to include Key West The southernmost point of the United States, Key West is currently reviewing its policies allowing large volumes of cruise lines to dock. Through the covid pandemic, residents and even business owners found there is much to be said for a quality of life without thousands of ships’ passengers descending on already crowded streets several times a week.
Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, still offers an enthusiastic
welcome to cruisers though social distancing on ships means that
the numbers of passengers are dramatically reduced.
Nassau has been a cruise ship favourite for decades.
Situated on the island of New Providence, with a population under
300,000, neighbouring Paradise Island is accessible via Nassau Harbor
The city has a hilly landscape and is known for beaches as
well as its off-shore coral reefs, popular for diving and snorkelling.
The Atlantis Bahamas, a huge castle like pink building rising
from the sands and visible across the island, is a sprawling hotel
complex featuring restaurants, cafes and bars, live entertainment
and a casino. Paradise Island is a resort and golf hotel on the white
Once ensconced behind the high walls of these five-star hotels,
most tourists do not venture too far afield, except maybe to visit
one of the few landmark features, the Queen’s staircase. A 102 ft,
65 step stair case carved in the limestone rocks by slaves in 1793.
While Nassau is open for business, post pandemic, many of the
hotels are still closed with hopes of reopening in Spring 2022.
Columbus was the first European to visit the Bahamas in 1492 as
he made landfall in ‘the New World”. In 1718 the Bahamas
became a British crown colony.
Following the American Revolutionary War, the Crown resettled
thousands of American Loyalists in the Bahamas and they brought
enslaved people with them and established plantations on land
grants. African enslaved people constituted the majority of the
population and even today over 90% of the population are made up
The Bahamas gained independence from Britain in 1973 and is still
a member of the Commonwealth with Elizabeth 11 as Queen.
With an economy based on tourism and off shore finance, the
Bahamas is considered one of the richest countries in the Americas.
Virgin Voyages shore excursions in Nassau include snorkelling
with visits to coral reefs and wrecks
but there are strict criteria covering those who are allowed to scuba
dive – a training and refresher course is offered to ensure safety
requirements are met.
There are also jeep dives through the surrounding countryside
and a sea turtles and reef snorkel yacht adventure.
Nassau has trouble living up to what was once considered a
byword for exotic tropical living. Retail around the main street,
Pompey Square and Bay Street offers contrasting shopping
experiences. House of Diamonds, Fine Jewellery and Park Lane Luxe
and designer sun glass shops, bookended with tourist
shops Giftoholic and Mad Hatters’ Souvenirs, selling t-shirts, caps,
mugs and fridge magnets.
Outside what was the traditional Straw Market, which is housed in
a beautiful multi coloured colonial building, (still closed due to
covid) local ladies offer hair braiding and henna tattoos.
Restaurants such as Little Switzerland, Shenanigans, Giotto’s
Café and Captain Vinny’s bar and pool room offer cold drinks and
shelter from the oppressive heat.
One street away from the lack lustre high street, are reminders
of a stately Colonial past with the pink hued Government House and
the once world famous, British Colonial Hilton.
Step through the magnificent central hallway with a
sweeping grand staircase and outside there is a swimming pool,
small sandy beach. Rising graciously from the turquoise blue
waters, on one horizon, a lighthouse, on the other, Scarlet Lady.
For many cruisers it is comforting to be within sight of the
mother ship. Lazing on the sugar soft white sands under a dazzling
sun in a cloudless blue sky, and the romance of a classy and
classic luxury hotel, Nassau showed clearly the qualities that
made it a place of luxury, aspiration and wealth.
Heading back to the ship, the last stop on a planned
exploration of the city of Nassau, the Christ Church Cathedral is a
landmark in a country where 96% of the population are catholic.
The scene in the street outside the Cathedral was unforgettable.
Limousines, SUVS, luxury vehicles and police cars filled the narrow
thoroughfare. High ranking military and police officers in best
dress uniforms lined the pavement and entranceway to the church.
Camera crews and photographers recorded the scene.
A State funeral was in progress and after negotiations between
security men and ushers, admittance was granted – on condition -
mask wearing was compulsory and name and address details were
to be given in case of a need for contact tracing.
The deceased, Keith Eastward Archer was a former Bahamian
Senator and Trade Unionist, in his 80s. Family, friends and
colleagues filled every seat in the vast Cathedral. Ladies glorious in
their flamboyant black outfits, feathered hats and eye catching
fascinators: every gentlemen and young boy wearing a black
tuxedos with white shirt and red ties. The eulogy delivered by a
priest who played on the same soft ball team as a school boy
and served in their different church and government capacities
through six decades. To attend a State funeral and observe the
deep ties of shared values, community and religion that bind a whole
city through the generations, showed a side of Nassau that explained
so much about the foundations and enduring legacy of the country.
And even now an innate Britishness. It was a privilege to be there
having arrived on Virgin Voyages, a British cruise line.
It’s so true, you never know what adventures travel will deliver
– it’s the reason we venture out from our own land, to explore,
discover, embrace other cultures. Rest in peace Senator Archer.
Ships all over the world are registered in Nassau and carry the
name of Nassau on their bow, registered as the home port.
Back onboard Scarlet Lady, grateful to be sailing every day
into unchartered waters. As we travel, adventures always await.
Ellen Frazer-Jameson is a journalist, author, actress. theater producer and drama coach. She co hosted the largest live late night radio show in Europe for the BBC and has appeared on national TV shows and taken leading roles on stage. She lives in Miami and London and loves to dance Argentine tango.