Monday, May 9, 2011

Nassau's Ardastra Gardens & City Tour

Ardastra Gardens & Zoo.When we first booked our cruise I thought that I would stay on board the ship for our Nassau day. There had just been series of tourist robberies near the port, and I didn’t feel like being held at gunpoint. However Erik’s family once had property on the island, and he felt that he owed it to his ancestry to visit the town. Time went by and I spoke with my mother-in-law who has been around the world on cruise ships. She managed to convince me that Nassau wasn’t that bad, that I should get off the ship to see the sights, or I would likely regret not doing it. Don’t you just hate it when your in-laws make sense?

So, I found a shore excursion tin the afternoon that I would feel safe on, and still allowed Erik to see a bit of the city. I booked us on the Ardastra Gardens & City Tour offered through the ship. The tour took us to the 5-and-half-acre Ardastra gardens which are home to an array of wildlife including, the world-famous marching Pink Flamingos. The flamingos used to be featured on the now extinct Disney ride “If You Had Wings” when I was a young girl, and I looked forward to seeing them in person. We had the chance to feed native birds and were treated to a delightful show with the marching Pink Flamingos. The whole Flamingo show wasn’t quite as exciting as I thought it would be, perhaps age has jaded me, but it seemed like just a bit of herding them around in a circle. None the less, I very much enjoyed being around the beautiful birds that provided me with lots of photo opportunities.  Many more of my Ardastra zoo pictures can be found in my Flicker Photostream.

Mating season display

After show relaxing

After we left the gardens, we were taken on a 45-minute narrated ride around the city of Nassau. Drivers are crazy and pedestrians don't seem to care if there are cars on the road.  The traffic was very heavy and our tour guide told us that they have a problem with to many cars on the island.  The tour guide pointed out many historic points of interest including Parliament Square, the Governor's Mansion and Gregory's Arch before we stopped high above the city at the 18th century Fort Fincastle for a view of the Caribbean Sea.  The fort had been built to protect the island from an invasion that never happened, it fell into ruins and there's not really all that much left that makes it recognizable as a fort with the exception of some cannons that they've placed around.
Nassau Festival Place
Festival Place is the Cruise ship terminal & flea market,
tourists have no choice but to walk through.
I really found Nassau to be a dirty, horrible little city that's brightly painted. The colors may look cheerful but signs of a failing economy and deep poverty are all over the main city.  The smell at the zoo was overwhelming to me, and it was so sad to see the animal kept in such small cages.  The experience made me really appreciate the American zoological societies much more than I ever have.  I was told by many people on the trip that next time we should go to Atlantis if we want to get off of the ship.  I may give it a try, or I may just stay on the ship.

Disclaimer: 2011 Land/Sea Vacation was paid for and scheduled by DVCMom. I am not a Disney employee nor do I speak for the company. All activities, reviews and opinions expressed on this website are entirely my own.


  1. We've been to several cruises that stopped at Nassau and never once had a good experience. I would love to see Atlantis, though. We'd probably opt for staying on the ship and enjoying the quiet pools and bars for the day.

  2. Sorry you didn't enjoy your experience more :(

  3. I've heard from numerous sources that Nassau is the armpit of the Caribbean - no interest in seeing it. The waterpark at Atlantis looks like a pretty good time.