Freeport (Grand Bahama)
Cruise Port Guide: Review (2021)

Photo by IQCruising of welcome sign in Freeport cruise port

Overview for cruise passengers to Freeport: where ships dock, things to do, highlights, shore excursions, and how to explore on your own. Basics, maps, tourist info, and safety.

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Freeport is known for not having any attractions close to cruise terminil where cruise ships dock. Many cruise passengers enjoy the amenities of the excellent cruise terminal but the top things to do and the best attractions in the port of Freeport are between 20 and 40 minutes away.

Contents

  1. Where is Freeport
  2. Where do cruise ships dock
  3. Cruise terminal
  4. Shuttle bus
  5. To do and see on a cruise
  6. Top highlights
  7. Beaches and day-passes
  8. Shops and shopping
  9. Shore excursions (Shorex)
  10. Explore on your own
  11. How to get around
  12. Must-know: tourist info, language and currency
  13. Safety, emergencies, and basics

Overview

Freeport is a regularly visited cruise port of call in the Caribbean during the Fall-Winter season, with as many as 400,000 passengers and over 150 cruise ships visits in 2019.

The cruise port terminal has a delightful ambiance, the area is very clean and immaculately kept. On the whole, Freeport is safe but it is advisable to use caution in crowded areas considering that there have been reports of tourists having purses snatched.

The local population is good-natured, polite, helpful, and speak English extremely well. After all, English is the country's official language. For those cruising with families, there is a lot to do. Cruise passengers with disabilities or with walking difficulties will find it relatively simple to wander around in Freeport on their own.

Where is Freeport and the cruise port

Freeport, a major port city with a population of around 26,900, is located in The Bahamas northwest region. The port is on the southwest coast of Grand Bahama Island, 80 miles (129 km) east of the Florida coast, directly across Boyton Beach.

How far is Freeport from highlights

Although the cruise terminal in Freeport has a number of attractions, namely restaurants-grills and shops, the city itself, most highlights and things to do are between 3 and 11 miles from where cruise ships dock.

Where do cruise ships dock

Ships dock on a medium-sized mixed (ferry and cruise port) with quays for up to 3 cruise ships to moor. The Freeport cruise terminal is on Lucaya Harbor and many times confused with the Port Lucaya Marketplace and with the Port Lucaya Marina (both in downtown Freeport).

Freeport cruise terminal services and amenities

There is nothing to do or see right outside the exit gates of the cruise port and the city of Freeport city is not within walking distance. The cruise terminal is set on a large open area with different buildings where cruise travelers will find the following services and amenities:

  • Tourist info kiosk
  • Restrooms
  • Taxi rank
  • Car rental
  • Beach tours
  • Duty-free shopping
  • Souvenirs shops
  • Drug Stores
  • Arts and crafts stores
  • Señor Frogs
  • Fat Tuesday
  • Caribbean Barrel restaurant and bar
  • Tropical juices and drinks bars
  • Seafood shaks

Shuttle bus

Although you may read outdated reviews stating that cruise lines provide a shuttle bus to downtown Freeport city, for more than a decade that shuttle buses are not in operation.

Things to do and see in Freeport cruise port

Freeport may not be the best cruise port for passengers that enjoy exploring on foot sites close by where ships dock. But it is a marvelous cruise port if you appreciate botanical gardens, nature parks, and scenic sights.

Freeport is also a very nice cruise port for those that enjoy diving, snorkel, fishing or look forward to just relax on a beach, where there are always many things to do. Cruisers who appreciate sightseeing tours, outdoors and thrilling activities will find quite a few in Freeport. Here are the most interesting things to do in Freeport:

  1. Swim with pigs.
    One of the most unusual and unique experiences only available on cruises to Freeport. How: on a shore excursion.
  2. Dolphin adventures.
    Shows, encounters, and swimming with Dolphins in Sanctuary Bay, a natural 9-acre lagoon and home to fourteen Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins. How: on a shore excursion.
  3. Visit National Parks and Botanical Garden.
    The 3 national parks (Lucayan National Park, Peterson Cay National Park, and Rand Nature Center) are a must-visit in Grande Bahama as is the Garden of the Groves.. How: on a shore excursion.
  4. Shopping and lunch at the Port Lucaya Marketplace.
    Ideal for those that enjoy an open-air mall with lots of stores and restaurants. Lucaya Beach is a 5-minute walk away. How: on a shore excursion or on your own.
  5. Enjoy a day at a pristine beach.
    There are 8 beaches to choose from (read more below) and a couple of places with beach-day-passes available. How: on a shore excursion or on your own.
  6. Sightseing tours.
    For those that like sightseeing, there are tours available on a glass-bottom boat, a semi-submarine, on Segway, and sailing on a catamaran. How: on a shore excursion
  7. Enjoy adrenaline pumbing activities.
    For the more adventurous you will find thrilling activities like horseback riding, biking, jeep safaris, and ATV tours.How: on a shore excursion.
  8. Water sports and activities:
    Cruise passengers looking forward to watersports can enjoy Kayaking, Jet Ski, Parasailing, and Windsurfing. How: on a shore excursion only. | on a shore excursion or on your own.
  9. Diving, snorkle and fishing.
    The crystal clear waters of the Grand Bahama Island are a delight for both certified divers and those that enjoy snorkel. Fishing is another top attraction in Freeport. How: on a shore excursion or on your own.

Top highlights in Freeport cruise port

The following are all the attractions and sites in Grand Bahama for cruise passengers.

  • Lucayan National Park.
    Established in 1982, this 42-acres national park is home to a profuseness of native flora and fauna; and an underwater cave system with over 6 miles of tunnels. Distance from port: around 10 miles (16 km), 40-minute drive. Visiting time: half day. Getting there: on shore excursion. Website: Bahamas National Trust
  • Rand Nature Center.
    Near the heart of downtown Freeport, this 100-acres Nature Center is a well-known birding spot, with numerous foot trails through the native pine forest leading to an arboretum and a freshwater pond. Distance from port: around 8 miles (12 km), 16-minute drive. Visiting time: 2 to 3 hours. Getting there: on shore excursion. Website: Bahamas National Trust
  • Peterson Cay National Park.
    National park occupying a small 1.5 acres island surrounded by coral reefs and sea life. Great site for diving, snorkeling, and relaxing on a secluded beach. Distance from port: around 20 miles (32 km), 40-minute drive. Visiting time: hald-day. Getting there: on shore excursion. Website: Bahamas National Trust
  • Garden of the Groves.
    Botanical garden featuring the flora and fauna of The Bahamas. On a 12-acre site with lush tropical flowers and trees, colorful birds, 4 waterfalls and cascades, and the replica of an 18th-century chapel on a hilltop. Distance from port: around 15 miles (24 km), 30-minute drive. Visiting time: half day. Getting there: on shore excursion. Website: thegardenofthegroves.com
  • Port Lucaya Marketplace.
    Outdoor 12-acre complex with over 60 retail shops, a dozen restaurants, straw vendors, and local artisans. Distance from port: around 10 mile (16 km), 20 minutes drive. Visiting time: 2 to 3 hours. Getting there: on your own by taxi ($15) or shore excursion. Website: portlucaya.com
  • Bahamian Brewery.
    For those that enjoy beer and want to know more about it, the brewery of the local Sands beer houses a tour facility, a retail store, a gift store, and a beer garden. Distance from port: around 3 miles (4.6 km), 10-minutes drive. Visiting time: 2 to 3 hours. Open 9 am to 6 pm, Monday to Saturday. Getting there: on your own by taxi or shore excursion. Admission: US$8 per person Website: bahamianbrewery.com
  • Perfume Factory.
    At the rear of the International Bazaar, a free visit takes you behind the scenes of fragrance production. You will also have the opportunity to mix your own fragrance, bottle it, and name it. Distance from port: around 3 miles (4.6 km), 10-minutes drive. Visiting time: 1 to 2 hours. Open 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday and Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm. Getting there: on your own by taxi or shore excursion. Website: perfumefactory.com

Best beaches in Freeport and Grand Bahama Island

The Grand Bahama Island is know for its pristine beaches with crystal clear waters, mostly located on the south coast. Naturally, cruise lines offer excursions to some of these beaches.

Cruise passengers looking to spend time on a free beach on their own will have to get there by taxi, car, or scooter rental as you will not find beaches within walking distance of the cruise port. Here is a list of the best beaches in Freeport ordered by closeness to the cruise port terminal:

  1. Lucaya Beach.
    The most famous, popular, and one of the best beaches in Freeport city, it is a 5-minute walk south of the Port Lucaya Marketplace. Distance from port: 10 miles (16 km), 20-minute drive. Features: all major watersports and restaurants.
  2. William’s Town Beach.
    Seclude off-track beach. Distance from port: 10 miles (16 km), 20-minute drive. Features: Manta Ray Beach Club. Banana boats, jet skis, and snorkeling.
  3. Taino Beach.
    The other famous beach and considered by many cruise passengers ad the best beach in Freeport. It has lots of attractions. Distance from port: 12 miles (19 km), 25-minute drive. Features: Pirate's Cove Zipline and Water Park, restaurants such as The Stoned Crab and Tony Macaroni’s Conch Experience.
  4. Smith’s Point Beach
    Next to Taino beach. Distance from port: 12 miles (19 km), 25-minute drive. Features: text.
  5. Paradise Cove beach (Deadman's Reef).
    Secluded beach west of the port. Distance from port: 14 miles (21 km), 25-minute drive. Features: snorkeling, kayaking, beach bars. Website: deadmansreef.com
  6. Mather Town Beach.
    Known for its restaurants and beach bars. Distance from port: 14 miles (21 km), 25-minute drive. Features: Cleveland’s Beach Club restaurant and Margaritavilla Sand Bar.
  7. Fortune Beach.
    Quiet and secluded beach. Distance from port: 15.2 miles (24.5 km), 30-minute drive. Features: Banana Bay restaurant.
  8. Gold Rock Beach.
    This large beach with many shallow areas belongs to the Lucayan National Park. Be aware that it is at least a 10-minute walk from the parking lot to the beach. Distance from port: 27 miles (43 km), 40-minute drive. Features: picnic tables and benches.

Beach day-passes

Unlike other cruise ports, such as Nassau or Cozumel, where cruise passengers have a great choice of beach day-passes, in Freeport, there are only 3 places offering beach day-passes.

  • Lighthouse Pointe at Grand Lucayan beach day-pass
  • Paradise Cove Beach Club day-pass
  • Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach day-pass

These day-passe are offered by the following online services: resortforaday.com, bahamasdaypass.com, resortpass.com and shoreexcursioneer.com. IQCruising is not affiliated with any of these.

Shops and shopping in Freeport

Cruise passengers looking for souvenirs and duty-free shops will find 2 main shopping areas in Freeport.

  • Freeport cruise terminal
    Next to the gangway of your cruise ship, you will find souvenir shops, arts and crafts stores, duty-free liquor, Delsol, Cariloha, and a shop featuring Anto gold and silver designs.
  • Port Lucaya Marketplace
    The best and most recent mall for shopping in Freeport city with famous brands and stores like John Bull, Colombian Emeralds, Harley-Davidson, Nautica, Pandora, Silver Traditions, and House of Rum.
  • International Bazar and Straw Market
    Don't be fooled by outdated port reviews. Once the place for shopping in Freeport city, the International Bazar has been run down and abandoned since at least 2015.

Shore excursions and tours

Obviously, all cruise lines offer many and diverse shore excursions in Freeport, which include the most exciting activities and highlights of Grand Bahama Island. Carnival lists 21 shore excursions. Norwegian Cruise Line has available 15 shore excursions, and Royal Caribbean has 16 excursions available.

There are also excursions offered by the following reputable private online services and local tour operators:

IQCruising does not endorse nor get paid to mention any of these services. IQCruising is just providing the information and you should be aware that you are solely responsible for booking excursions online with these third-party services.

Local tour operators

The following are well-rated local operators in the Grand Bahama Island offering tours for cruise passengers, which can be booked online:

How to explore Freeport on your own

As mentioned before, the main things to do in Freeport are not close to the cruise port terminal. But that doesn't mean that you should stay onboard your cruise ship.

What's within walking distance

Cruise passengers that like to explore ports on foot will be disappointed to know that besides the shops, restaurants-grills, and bars in the Freeport cruise terminal, there is absolutely nothing else to see or do within walking distance of the Lucayan Harbor.

How to get around in Freeport

If planning to get around on your own in Freeport, be it to enjoy a free beach or to explore other attractions like the Port Lucaya Marketplace, cruise passengers must-know that there are only 3 available options: travel by taxi, rent a car, or a rent a scooter.

Taxis in the cruise terminal

There is always a good number of taxis available at the cruise terminal and, generally speaking, are reasonably priced. Although most taxis are metered with government official rates, it is always advisable to agree on a price before entering a cab. A taxi ride to Port Lucaya Marketplace should cost around US$30.

Car and scooter rental in the cruise terminal

Renting a car or a scooter might be the best way for those wanting to be independent and travel to more off-track attractions. You can rent a car online with Avis, or walk to the kiosk of Island Jeep and Car Rental in the cruise terminal on arrival day. Celebrity Eco tours also has a shop in the cruise terminal where you can rent a car or a scooter.

Public bus in the cruise terminal

You may have read that there are public buses in the cruise terminal costing US$5 for visitors. Obviously, the locals that work at the terminal use these public buses but cruise travelers should be aware that this public service is not geared for tourists and schedules are not designed for visitors.

Must-know: tourist info, language and currency

Tourist Info

There is a Tourist Information kiosk in the Freeport cruise terminal.

Language

English is the official and widely spoken language in The Bahamas. Many people speak what as been designated as Bahamian English, a specific dialect blending British accent with African influences

Currency

The legal tender in The Bahamas is the Bahamian dollar (B$). However, US$ dollars are widely accepted, and generally speaking, you will receive change in US currency. Even so, it is always advisable to double-check when receiving change for any purchase.

Safety, US travel advisory and basics

For comprehensive and updated information about traveling to Grand Bahama see the U.S. Department of State website page evolving advisory.

Covid-19 advise for cruises to Freeport (Grand Bahama)

For updated coronavirus (Covid-19) information and travel advice to Freeport and Grand Bahama visit the website of the U.S. Embassy in The Bahamas. For more Traveler's Health advice to The Bahamas see the CDC Website information page for travelers to The Bahamas.

Freeport basic info at a glance

Entry Requirements: Passport is NOT required for U.S. citizens with a valid photo ID such as a driver's license. Non-U. S. visitors (Canadian included) are required a valid passport with an expiry date that is NOT less than 3 months.
Electricity:Standard American 120 V current.
Driving:Driving is on the left.
Car Rental:Island Jeep and Car Rental has an office in the Freeport cruise terminal
Phones:Country Code: 1 | Area Code: 242. Many US phones may work but is advisable to check with your provider to avoid roaming charges.  
Emergencies:Ministry of Tourism: 302-2000
Drinking:Legal drinking age is 18 years.
Smoking:Smoking is prohibited in restaurants and public buildings. Bars may allow smoking outdoors.
 

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