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Queen’s Staircase Shore Excursion Tips

Bahamas photo
Queen’s Staircase

The Queen’s Staircase in Nassau, Bahamas, is both an interesting and somewhat eerie shore excursion. It’s also free to visit.

It is interesting because of the unique nature of the attraction—65 steps that were carved out of a hillside of solid limestone by slaves in the 18th century.

The staircase was named in honor of Queen Victoria, who reigned over Great Britain for 65 years.

It is now a free and quick tourist attraction for anyone with time on their hands. It also lies conveniently next to Fort Fincastle, so visitors can combine both attractions in one trip.

The staircase has been called one of the most popular tourist attractions in Nassau, but that may be an overstatement. On our walking tour of Nassau, the Straw Market was much more popular.

When we visited the Queen’s Staircase after visiting Fort Fincastle, we found we were the only tourists at the attraction. It may be one of the more popular attractions in Nassau. But like Fort Fincastle, it’s modest compared to Atlantis and other attractions.

Excursion Cost and Location

A typical Nassau tour via a cruise ship shore excursion will include both The Queen’s Staircase and Fort Fincastle. A “Best of Nassau” tour via excursion bus may take about four hours and cost around $70 per person with discounts for children. Prices depend on the sailing date, cruise line and tour operator.

Anyone who is walking through Nassau on their own can reach the location of both attractions on foot from the cruise docks. It’s a little more than a half mile away, although the walk is moderately uphill. For anyone who goes to the Nassau Straw Market first, as we did, the walk is nearly one mile.

What We Saw

Fort Fincastle
Queen’s Staircase is next to Fort Fincastle, above. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

On the day we visited the Queen’s Staircase, we were the only tourists to walk down the stairs. Fort Fincastle, which was only about 100 yards away, had several dozen visitors.

When we arrived at the top of the staircase, several of us literally said, “Wow”. It is not the depth of the staircase that is so remarkable. It is the narrow and steep walls that make it such an abrupt and interesting sight. It is also the huge amount of work that slaves did in digging the staircase out of massive stones.

Making the walls appear even taller were the trees that lined the top of them, some of which had roots dangling down the sides. Ferns adorned the area, which gave it a feeling of a rain forest.

At the bottom was a series of ragged shacks and aging chunks of wood. Their purpose wasn’t clear, but they detracted from the attractiveness of the staircase.

A few impoverished locals were sitting on the wood and staring at us during the entire visit. They didn’t speak or do anything intimidating.

Looking back up the staircase from the bottom, it became clear that it was an easily defensible position when it was first built.

How to Get There

The Queen’s Staircase is an easy visit for anyone who plans to see the nearby Fort Fincastle, which was built in 1793 and served as a lookout and signal tower.

Anyone visiting the fort should simply look back down the road that they took on their way up the hill. The sign for Queen’s Staircase is within viewing distance on the left.

Cruise visitors can reach Queen’s Staircase and Fort Fincastle by foot if they have the energy.

Just go east on Bay Street until East Street. Walk several blocks on East Street going away from the water to Sands Road and take a left.

When you see Princess Margaret Hospital, take a right and look for the Queen’s Staircase. If you don’t see the staircase, climb the hill until you reach Fort Fincastle.

Anyone driving will go past Sands Road and take a left on Prison Lane instead. Drive up the hill to the water tower and Fort Fincastle.

The entrance to the staircase will be on the right before you reach the fort. Going from Fort Fincastle down to the bottom of the staircase and back again may take about 15 minutes.

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.
August 30, 2021

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