For the disabled cruiser visiting Freeport, the activities are spread out so you’ll need transportation to reach them as there are no accessible activities/attractions within walking/rolling distance of the cruise port. The island is flat with new construction so wheelchair access is considerably better than other hilly, cobblestone-covered islands.
There is step-free access to get off the pier and down to the street to reach the tour drivers for wheelchair accessible excursions. Also, accessible shopping is available both inside and outside the cruise port.
Freeport has fewer attractions and accessible shore excursions than other Caribbean ports. Freeport was not much of a tourist destination until cruise lines built a pier on the island. The cruise pier is located close to this industrial port and there are few food options and no pool or beach options, so you’ll need to exit the cruise port area for all activities. There are wheelchair accessible vans available, they must be booked prior to arriving to ensure availability.
Freeport is situated on the south coast of Grand Bahama, just 70 miles from Palm Beach, Florida, is a regular stop on the short-cruise circuit from South Florida. But the fourth-largest isle in the Bahamas’ 700-strong chain, also owes its popularity to its smooth white-sand beaches and water sports, from snorkeling to deep sea fishing.
Port Lucaya Marketplace offers a good selection of shops and a handful of restaurants. There is also a casino and golfing at the Lucayan and Reef courses.
Other popular excursions include Lucayan National Park and scuba diving or snorkeling at Paradise Cove at Deadman’s Reef.
The beaches at Lucaya are excellent and offer all the usual amenities.
Where You’re Docked
Ships dock at Freeport Harbor, an isolated area that is a 10-minute drive from the city of Freeport and about a 25-minute ride from Port Lucaya. Taking an excursion or renting a car (or scooter) is an excellent option: The island is dotted with quiet beaches that are perfect for escaping the crowds.
There’s very little in Freeport Harbor. Sure, the port facilities look mighty pretty; passengers arriving might spot pastel-colored bungalows selling souvenirs scattered about, plus a gazebo where a Bahamian band plays from time to time. But very few of the bungalows offer useful shops or services, with the exception of a snorkel and beach tour. Chain restaurants Fat Tuesdays and Senor Frogs and Pier One (a waterfront seafood restaurant) are located at the harbor, but that’s about it. Industrial factories and refineries surround the port for miles before reaching anything of interest.
Good to Know
Pickpockets and thieves target tourists, so keep your belongings protected. Also, while travel guides might still mention the International Bazaar (a once a robust collection of shops and restaurants), because of hurricanes, it’s essentially a ghost town and not worth visiting the few remaining vendors.
Taxis line up at the pier. If you are taking a taxi to a beach, arrange a time for your driver to pick you up to return. A taxi for two to Lucaya will cost about $25; if you ride in a collective van with other visitors, the fare would be about $5 per person each way. The taxis are not wheelchair accessible for the Disabled Cruiser, you must be able to transfer out of the wheelchair into the vehicle. If you are unable to transfer you must make arrangements prior to arriving at the port for a wheelchair accessible van.
When you exit the port, you can hop on a local bus as it turns around and heads back to Lucaya. However, there’s no schedule posted; they simply run when they’re full, so you might be waiting a while. This could be an option during the week for those on a tight budget, but they rarely run on weekends.
The currency is the Bahamian dollar, but U.S. dollars are accepted throughout the islands. ATMs are available at banks, but few provide U.S. dollars.
English is the official language; British, not American; but it might be laced with Bahamian dialect.
A straw basket purchased at the straw market and the square 15-cent Bahamian coin you receive as part of your change make nice mementos from your visit.
Not surprisingly, seafood is a staple of residents, and the signature dish of the Bahamas is conch salad, chilled conch marinated in lime or orange juice and mixed with tomato, onion, celery, cucumber and green peppers. Many locals believe conch is an aphrodisiac, and the mollusk is also deep fried (cracked conch), mixed in stews or soups and served as a breaded appetizer (conch fritters). Other dishes include Bahamian “rock lobster,” fresh grouper and bonefish accompanied by side dishes like peas and rice or johnnycake (simple bread). Wash it all down with the appropriately named, “Gully Wash,” the Bahamian cocktail made with gin, coconut water and condensed milk.
Points of Interest
- Port Lucaya – the top attraction is the Port Lucaya Marketplace. It is a ”must-see” for all shopaholics. Another popular place to visit is the Count Basie’s Square. There you can enjoy live music while drinking local cocktail or party with the locals. For the Disabled Cruiser, Port Lucaya Marketplace, which is basically a large area filled with souvenir shops, restaurants, and bars. There are accessible restrooms there, and either flat entry or ramps to get into all the restaurants and shops.
- Rand Nature Center – it is located on the East Settler’s Way in Freeport. The nature center is impressive and here is the headquarter of the Bahamas National Trust. The area spreads over 100 acres and it is a pineland sanctuary. The site is crisscrossed with nature trails and houses native flora and many tropical birds. You can visit the Rand Nature Center/educational center. You can join guided tour on Tuesday or Thursday at half past ten. It takes around an hour to see the major center sights. For the Disabled Cruiser, there are no steps along the paths. The area is wheelchair accessible though the paths are dirt.
- Garden of the Groves – located on Midshipman Road in Freeport. The amazing botanical garden spreads over 12 acres. You can see stunning waterfalls, beautiful fountains and a lot of (over ten thousands) native plants species. There is a petting zoo, cafe and arts village. You can walk alone or join one of the guided garden walks. The area is wheelchair accessible for the Disabled Cruiser, paths are navigable. However, in some areas you will encounter paths that are made of pea gravel and several 2-3 step areas, but they can usually be bypassed.
- Snorkeling and scuba diving – Port Lucaya offers great possibilities for snorkeling and scuba diving. The excursions take not more than three hours and visit famous sites for diving including Theo’s Wreck, the East End Paradise coral gardens, the Caves, Treasure Reef and the Wall. For the Disabled Cruiser, Freeport is one of the best areas for accessible snorkeling. An accessible dock and low-height boats allows disabled cruisers the possibility to snorkel in Freeport, Bahamas.
- Boat trips – join one of the glass-bottom boat tours and spend amazing ninety minutes discovering the beauty of the reefs.
Freeport Accessible Excursions
Freeport’s many beaches offer you the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to actually swim alongside dolphins, and some of the best accessible snorkeling you’ll find anywhere.
Freeport Accessible Guided Tour
There are no organized accessible shore excursions in Freeport, Bahamas.
Your best bet is to hire an accessible van and visit the island. In Freeport, Fran’s Travel and Tour has accessible vans. The vans utilize a ramp that is portable and folding, but it is long and securely attached to the back of the van. They have lots of space and plenty of headroom. The tours are by the hour and yo decide where you want to go and what you want to see.