Come October, High Seas Rally will set sail through the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. While there will be tons of onboard activities happening throughout the week, one of the best parts of a cruise is waking up in a new destination. Each, with its own unique culture, food, architecture, and geography.
We’ve put together a guide to each of the bucket list ports-of-call we will be exploring in 2022! In Part I, we break down what to do in Nassau, Bahamas and Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.
By the time you wake up on Sunday, October 30th, we will be making our way into our first port-of-call in picture-perfect Nassau, Bahamas. You’ll have eight hours to explore this historic Caribbean city, which is full of culture, dining, shopping and adventure.
Some may want to see the islands at their leisure, so we’ve mapped out some spots to explore on your own, plus highlighted a few Royal Caribbean excursions and guided tours, for those that want the planning taken care of, so that you can make the most of your day in Nassau!
Nassau’s history is closely tied to the Caribbean pirate era of the 17th and 18th centuries, when the town served as a pirate sanctuary.Today, the downtown district offers 20 square blocks featuring bright architecture and monuments dating to this era, most within walking distance of the cruise pier.
- Parliament Square: Houses the Bahamas’ House of Assembly, the Senate Building and Supreme Court in pink pastel colonial buildings. A statue of Queen Victoria erected in the early 1900s also stands at the site.
- The Queen’s Staircase or “66 Steps:” Framed by lush gardens and connects downtown Nassau with Fort Fincastle. Climb to the top of the staircase to reach Fort Fincastle.
- Fort Fincastle: Constructed in the late 1700s atop Bennett’s Hill. Sweeping views from the fort’s bluffs encompass downtown Nassau, the harbor and the cruise ship dock.
- Blackbeard’s Pirate Revenge: In this Royal Caribbean Excursion, board an authentic pirate ship and travel back in time as your pirate crew acts out exciting tales during an interactive pirate show. Book this excursion via My Royal Cruise.
Beaches, Sun & Fun
Nassau offers a ton of activities focused around the breathtakingly blue waters and lush natural environment. This includes sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing and encounters with sea lions, dolphins, stingrays and swimming pigs. Plus, there’s no shortage of great beaches.
- Junkanoo Beach: Approximately 15 minute walk from the cruise-port. Vendors sell ice cold buckets of local beer, and visitors can swim in warm waters, listen to music, play a little volleyball, try new foods and drinks, and relax in the sunshine.
- Cabbage Beach: Located on Paradise Island, this beach is a 20-minute walk or short taxi ride away from Nassau just over the bridge that spans the islands. There are lively bars, restaurants, and shops lining the beach, with access to swimming, water-skiing, snorkeling, parasailing when you make your way down towards the Atlantis Resort
- Cable Beach: About a 20-minute drive from Prince George’s Wharf and accessible via taxi.The 2.5 mile long beach is often described as Nassau’s best, with white sands and clear blue waters. It is home to several top Nassau resorts and offers all of the watersports activities you could dream of. There are several outdoor restaurants and even a golf course.
- Aquaventure Oasis Waterpark: If your heart is set on aquatic adventure, you’ll find plenty with a full-day pass to Atlantis Paradise Island’s Aquaventure, a 141-acre waterpark overflowing with slides and pools, plus entry to its world-renowned Marine Habitat. Settle in with a complimentary lounge chair and pool towel before deciding in which direction to explore. Book via My Royal Cruise.
- Thriller Bahamas Speedboat: Feel the engines rev and get your adrenaline pumping as your high-speed catamaran whisks you along the beautiful Nassau coastline and around the picturesque nearby islands’ with white-sand beaches and turquoise waters. Book via My Royal Cruise.
- Discover Nassau Harbor Cruise: Glide across the crystal-blue waters on a custom catamaran while soaking up the tropical views, sipping on cold drinks included in your 1-hour open bar package, and swaying to the sounds of island music. Book via My Royal Cruise.
Eat & Drink
The Bahamas’ cuisine combines flavorful spices with fresh tropical fruit and seafood, combined with rum drinks, and you’ll get the true island experience!
- Potter’s Cay conch shacks: Found beneath the high-arching bridge that connects Nassau to Paradise Island. Adjacent to lively fruit markets, the brightly colored conch shacks feature nearly 40 chefs in different shacks cooking fresh conch dishes in myriad ways.
- Graycliff Hotel and Restaurant: Located in a historic mansion whose extensive grounds were once an 18th-century pirate’s headquarters. Visitors can spend an entire day exploring the property, which features one of the world’s largest private collections, chocolate-making and cigar-rolling facilities, art galleries and craft shops, and enjoy an elegant Bahamian meal at their 5-star restaurant.
- John Watling’s Distillery Tavern: Set among two acres of gardens on Buena Vista Estate, in downtown Nassau. Enjoy a free tour of the production rooms before settling down for a drink.
- Island Delight: Set on the bridge that connects Paradise Island to Potters Cay, this wooden bar is best known for its supersized cocktails. The bar serves classic Caribbean food alongside its huge tipples – the cracked conch with wedges comes highly recommended.
When shopping in the Bahamas, you will find souvenirs such as original paintings, carvings and craftwork; handmade garments in bright tropical colors; and beautiful wood carvings. Plus great boutiques to upgrade to your beachwear.
- Festival Place: This outdoor bazaar featuring 45 vendors that sell crafts, food and drinks is a short taxi ride away. You can find souvenirs, and taste an array of local food.
- Straw Market: Located in the center of the retail action on Bay Street, and just a short walk from the cruise port. It offers Bahamian gifts, crafts and souvenirs.
- Bay Street: Bay Street features a number of higher-end, designer stores selling luxury goods including apparel, jewelry, cosmetics and fragrances.
A Little Bit of Everything
Discover, Walk & Taste Nassau & Salt Cay History: Uncover Nassau’s intriguing history on a walk through its colorful old town, and then take a scenic boat to Salt Cay, a stunning paradise of white sands and turquoise waters where you indulge in a delicious Bahamian lunch. Book via My Royal Cruise.
Located between the Cordillera Mountains and the Atlantic coast, Puerto Plata has something for everyone, with its natural beauty, architecture, shopping and food and drink.
History & Culture
With Victorian facades, colonial homes at every turn, as well as a museum dedicated to the most important amber deposits in the world, there is no shortage of history and culture to experience.
- Casa de Cultura: This three-story Victorian house is home to the local arts — don’t miss out on all of the events and exhibits that take place here. It has a contemporary art gallery, a library and a store which sells local art and books.
- Amber Museum: The museum, located in a Victorian mansion in downtown Puerta Plata, has several display rooms, with an impressive collection of pieces of many sizes, containing plants, insects and other fossilized small animals. One of the highlights is a fossilized lizard dating back millions of years.
- Parque Central: Surrounded by some of Puerto Plata’s most significant buildings, including the beautiful St. Philip the Apostle Cathedral.
Beaches, Sun, Fun & Nature
Puerto Plata boasts 78 miles of golden sand beaches and turquoise waters, beautiful waterfalls deep in the jungles and other adventure-filled sites, including the Caribbean’s only cable car where you can get the best views while surrounded by lush vegetation.
- Sosus Beach: One of the most popular beaches in Puerto Plata, Sosua is a stretch of beach with gorgeous transparent waters ideal for swimming and snorkeling. There are also several busy restaurants and bars nearby to enjoy after your time on the beach.
- Charcos de Damajagua: Composed of 27 waterfalls with canyon, Charcos de Damajagua offers hiking through thick forest, crossing footbridges and passing numerous flora before eventually reaching a rocky hilltop where you’ll begin making your way down by jumping or sliding down a series of waterfalls–helmets and safety gear on–as you slide down water-cushioned chutes or jump into deep turquoise pools.
- Monte Isabel de Torres: Located about 2,600 feet above sea level and crowned by a statue of Christ. Head to the stunning botanical gardens or enjoy the hiking trails or take the Caribbean’s only cable car to the very top of the mountain for panoramic views.
- Meet a Monkey: Monkeyland is a five-acre reserve in the countryside outside of Puerto Plata, inhabited by two troops of squirrel monkeys. The monkeys are completely used to human interaction and will scamper down from the trees to perch on your shoulder or head, posing for photos.
Food & Drink
- Taino Bay: We arrive at the new cruise pier, Taino Bay, which is a destination of its own with a variety of shops, restaurants, bars, beaches, and pools.
- Rum Factory Tour: The Macorix House of Rum is a prominent fixture in the Dominican Republic, and it’s a quick walk from Taino Bay. Tours are available at the Macorix House of Rum factory where you can learn about the history of the brand, as well as the process of making and distributing rum.
- Taste Tostones: These twice-fried green plantains are the ultimate snack in the Dominican Republic. You’ll see them sold on street stalls and in beach bars all around Puerto Plata.
In addition to souvenirs and handicrafts, rum, cigars, or amber are plentiful in the DR.
- Calle de las Sombrillas (Umbrella Street): Located in the downtown area. Dozens of umbrellas in every shade of the rainbow are strung overhead in a bright and joyful display. Stop for coffee, shop for hand-rolled cigars, and capture that perfect photo.
- Playa Dorada Mall: If you’re looking to bring home souvenirs and handicrafts, this brightly colored outdoor mall is your spot. You can also score local rum, coffee and cigars at decent prices.
A Little R&R
- All Inclusive Day Pass by Emotions: If you’re looking for some R&R, enjoy all-inclusive access to the Hodelpa By Emotions that includes entry to bars, beach, an open bar at the pool and beach, an international buffet, and pools. Book via My Royal Cruise.
Next up in Part II, we’ll show you what’s possible in two more HSR ports-of-call, CocoCay and Labadee, from Royal Caribbean’s lineup of private destinations.