The largest city on New Providence Island, Nassau has become the undisputed resort Mecca of the Bahamas. The capital city conjures images of white sand beaches, turquoise water, outdoor straw markets and quaint historic sights. Nassau, which blends old world charm with modern sophistication, features amazing resorts, a thriving nightlife and a tropical year-round climate that attracts countless vacationers each year.

Nassau is easy to get around, no matter where you go. You can rent a car if you like, but why bother? Most of Nassau’s best attractions are in walking distance–or a quick taxi ride–from the NCL Pearl.

Start your day in Nassau’s Straw Market. It’s in the middle of town, and it’s very popular with visitors. Bahamian women started selling local crafts here when the native sponge business slumped. Today, this is a boisterous and varied market that always offers something new.

If you’re looking for bargains on designer clothing and other luxury items, you’ll be delighted with the duty-free prices in Nassau’s prime shopping district. Dance your way from store to store, with music from the steel drums at the nearby Straw Market. Don’t miss the bargain prices on classics such as Waterford and Wedgwood, as well as Gucci and Fendi items.

One mile west of downtown Nassau, you’ll find one of the area’s most enduring tourist attractions, Ardastra Gardens. The Gardens are small–just a little over 5 acres–but they’re home for over 300 animals representing a wide variety of the Bahamas’ natural inhabitants.

While you’re at Ardastra Gardens, visit nearby Fort Charlotte, the largest and most interesting of Nassau’s three colonial forts. It features a waterless moat, a drawbridge, underground passages and even a dungeon. Be sure to look for graffiti etched in the walls by soldiers who were stationed here.

While you’re touring the town, be sure to climb the Queen’s Staircase. With one step for each year of Queen Victoria’s life, the top of this limestone staircase offers one of the best views of the area. Considered one of the world’s top ten outdoor staircases, it’s also a short walk from the top to Fort Fincastle, built in 1793. This is another spectacular lookout to capture Nassau’s magnificent landscapes in photos

Snorkeling is one of the many ways to enjoy the crystal clear waters that are just outside your door in Nassau. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you can rent snorkeling and diving equipment, take lessons, go on a guided underwater tour, or set out on your own.

If you’re not a swimmer, you can still see the underwater landscapes that make Nassau so famous. Glass-bottom boats and a floating underwater observatory are just a few ways for you to see the many exotic fish and fabulous coral reefs in Nassau’s tranquil turquoise waters.

For the ultimate adventure, hop a boat and sail to a deserted island for lunch, snorkeling, and exploring. Several companies offer exciting planned adventures for adults as well as families, with different destinations and themes. Whether you’re interested in a leisurely cruise or a high-speed ride on a world-class powerboat, you’ll find a wide range of water adventures waiting for you in Nassau.

Cross the bridge or take a water taxi to Paradise Island for an unforgettable adventure. This island was originally the private home of Huntington Hartford, and he helped to transform it into a kind of “fantasy island.” Also, don’t miss the legendary Atlantis Resort, which boasts 11 exhibit lagoons featuring more than 50,000 sea animals. This is the largest marine habitat in the world, outside of Nature itself. From piranhas to sea turtles and predators, you can spend a full day enjoying the marine displays.

However, one of the great attractions of the Atlantis is The Dig, a maze of tunnels, rooms, and displays exploring the 11,000-year-old history of the fabled lost island of Atlantis. As you wander through The Dig, you’ll see fabulous art and evidence of legends. The high point is the final room in the attraction, where a spectacular Navigation Guide shows a representation of the city of Atlantis, while a terraced bronze map overhead shows the stars that Atlanteans might visit.

The Bahama Islands are magnificent, and Nassau is their crown jewel. Whether you go there for the many attractions or simply to relax on a beach overlooking perfect turquoise waters, Nassau is an ideal place to make your Monsters of Rock Cruise vacation an experience to remember.

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