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Freeport Cruise Port: Tips, Excursions, Weather

Cruise ship docks at Freeport Bahamas. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license
Cruise ship docks at Freeport Bahamas. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

The Freeport cruise port on Grand Bahama Island is the second most popular tourist destination in the Bahamas after Nassau.

Grand Bahama is one of the northernmost islands of the Bahamas. It is known for two areas in particular – the resort center at Freeport and the suburb of Lucaya. Cruise visitors will have a chance to see both of them.

Freeport is the dominant city on Grand Bahama with its own cruise terminal and the Grand Bahama Island International Airport. Lucaya also has a cruise terminal and is a major hub for cruise ships, shopping, restaurants, hotels and entertainment.

Although Freeport is the second most popular Bahamas port, it is mainly popular for two types of cruises. The first type is short-term cruises such as three to five nights that embark from the eastern coast of Florida and that go only to the Bahamas. These Florida embarkation ports include Miami, Jacksonville and Port Canaveral.

The second type is longer seven-night cruises that go only to the Bahamas and embark from northern U.S. cruise ports such as Baltimore, Bayonne, New Jersey and Virginia Beach. A small number of five-night cruises embark from Charleston, South Carolina.

The short-term cruises have appeal to people who already live in the southeastern United States or longer-term Florida visitors who want to combine a short cruise with Florida beach vacations.

Where is Freeport, Grand Bahama Island?

Freeport is only 111 miles northeast of the Miami FL cruise port. The close distance makes Freeport a common stop for short-term cruises to the Bahamas. It is 185 miles northwest of Nassau on Paradise Island, which is why cruises to the Bahamas often include both ports.

A cruise ship traveling at 22 knots or 25 miles per hour could reach Freeport in less than five hours from Miami.

Quick Travel Tips

  • Port Lucaya Marketplace is a major tourist attraction.
  • Grand Bahama has many beaches to offer, although none near the cruise port.
  • March and April are two of the best months to visit for weather.

Attractions and Shore Excursions

The Freeport cruise port has modest offerings for cruise visitors, so they are more likely to get transportation and go elsewhere to enjoy the island.

The best-known attraction on the island is Port Lucaya Marketplace, a large complex of shops, restaurants and entertainment options. We took a shuttle bus there for the afternoon and found plenty to do for several hours.

Port Lucaya is about 25 minutes from the Freeport cruise docks. It isn’t as large as the Nassau tourism district, but it does compare well to other shopping and dining districts in the Caribbean.

Other than the Lucaya Marketplace, Freeport attractions include Lucayan National Park, which has one of the world’s largest underwater cave systems. Peterson Cay National Park is a protected area with coral reefs and opportunities for picnicking, snorkeling and scuba diving.

Port Lucaya Marketplace is one of the most popular attractions near Freeport. Credit: Pietro Valocchi, Wikimedia Creative Commons license

Bahamas Dolphin Tours has swimming and diving with dolphins. It’s a common excursion from the cruise lines. The facility is a short ferry ride from Lucaya. Prices depend on the program and range from less than $100 per person to more than $300.

Other favorite attractions are Rand Nature Center or the Garden of the Groves.

Rand Nature Center, 25 minutes from Freeport Harbor, is a common cruise line shore excursion. The 100-acre facility is a nature reserve with hiking trails and rotating visual art, cultural and educational exhibits.

Garden of the Groves, seven miles east of Port Lucaya Marketplace, is a botanical garden and family attraction with more than 10,000 species of plants and animals. It has 12 acres of waterfalls, gardens, a meditation labyrinth, petting zoo and playground. This four-hour shore excursion will cost about $55 per person depending on sailing date and other factors.

Golfers can use two courses – the Grand Lucayan Reef Golf Course or Ruby Golf Course. Grand Lucayan near the Port Lucaya Marketplace has large and flat greens. Out of 18 holes, 13 play off water. The 18-hole Ruby Golf Course is closest to the Freeport Cruise Port at five miles or 12 minutes away. Both courses are par 72 and nearly 7,000 yards long.

Beaches Near the Cruise Port

Freeport Cruise Port Map

Grand Bahama has 90 miles of beaches on its southern shores that offer many options for anyone with transportation on their own. Otherwise, cruise lines offer plenty of excursion possibilities.

A typical beach excursion costs about $40 to $50 per person including transportation. Some cost more if they add amenities such as snacks, lunch or beach umbrellas.

Xanadu Beach is the closest major beach to the Freeport Cruise Port at 15 minutes or six miles away. This public beach is three miles from the International Bazaar, offering water sports, straw goods, food and beverages.

Anyone who visits the Port Lucaya Marketplace can take a short walk to Lucaya Beach.

The respectable Gold Rock Beach is a stretch for time at 30 miles or 40 minutes east of the cruise port.

Bahamas Ministry of Tourism recommends the smaller Paradise Cove Beach 13 miles or less than 30 minutes west of the port.

Finally, Taino Beach in Lucaya has a children’s playground, nature preserve and bird sanctuary. One tour operator offered a visit to Taino Beach Resort for about $65. It has a pool, lazy river and beach access among other attractions.

Shopping / Restaurants

Shoppers will find plenty to browse and buy at the 12-acre Port Lucaya Marketplace. It is the place to go for any shoppers visiting Freeport by cruise and is a common cruise shore excursion.

Port Lucaya Marketplace is a nice shopping and restaurant district, although not nearly as big as the one in Nassau and other major ports. Still, visitors will find plenty to see and do both in the marketplace and at nearby attractions within walking distance such as Lucaya Beach and Windsor Park.

Getting Around / Transportation

Taxi rates are metered and set by the government. Meter fares start at $3; each extra mile is 40 cent. Rates include another charge for every passenger over the age of two years old.

Grand Bahama has a bus system that runs from 7 a.m. to sunset. The fare is $1 in the Freeport and Lucaya areas and $2 in the west and east ends. Cruise visitors who disembark at the Freeport cruise port can take a bus or taxi to the Port Lucaya Marketplace.


Bahamas average monthly rainfall
Bahamas average monthly rainfall. © 2021 Scott S. Bateman

Cruise visitors to Freeport will find plenty of warm weather throughout the year. Even during the winter, the average high temperature reaches the mid-70s Fahrenheit.

But nighttime temperatures are cool and bring the temperatures of seawater down to the chilly level. So winter is not the best time to visit for swimmers.

Average daytime temperatures eventually climb into the upper 80s Fahrenheit or low 30s Celsius in the summer. But it’s not the temperatures that may keep people away during some months of the year. It’s the rainfall.

Rainfall averages two to three inches a month during the dry season from December through April. It rains less than 10 days a month during this time.

Rainfall begins to climb in May to four inches and eventually reaches the highest point of more than eight inches in August and September. They are the worst months to visit Freeport.

Cruise travelers planning to visit Grand Bahama will find that the best weather for a combination of warm temperatures and low risk of rain is in March and April.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
January 22, 2024

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