Learning Beyond Borders: Our Homeschool Adventure Visiting Nassau, Bahamas and the Junkanoo Museum
If you’re planning on visiting Nassau, Bahamas while cruising with kids, chances are you’re looking for some fun and educational cultural opportunities to take advantage of! Being one of the most common ports to visit while on an eastern Caribbean cruise, Nassau has plenty to offer…you just need to know where to look. Luckily, you’ve found just the place!
Before we visited Nassau, Bahamas for the first time, I did a ton of research. This port was going to be the first time my kids ever stepped foot in a country other than the United States and, because I wanted this homeschool travel experience to be both memorable & educational, I needed to know all.the.things.
You know what I found? You may have noticed the same things I did. Within the various cruising groups on social media, people are actually suggesting to skip visiting Nassau and to, instead, stay on the ship.
Now, I totally get staying on board if you’ve already visited Nassau a few times. But, if you’re visiting Nassau for the first, second…or even third, time? Get off that ship and experience the port!
Table of Contents
Our Experience Visiting Nassau
After spending a few days in Fort Lauderdale visiting Butterfly World and the Museum of Science and Discovery, we boarded Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas ship with an itinerary to visit both Nassau, Bahamas and their private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay.
We had visited both ports in 2022, but I was especially excited to visit the Nassau port again because their new cruise port had opened mid-2023!
After enjoying our breakfast, the boys and I headed for the 1st floor of the ship to explore Nassau!
Experiencing the Junkanoo Museum
Believe it or not, but I had no idea the Junkanoo Museum even existed before we walked off the ship. I guess because it was such a brand new exhibit? I really don’t know.
Anyways, the boys and I walked inside to find a roped off section to our left, a gift shop to our right (open to the public), and a welcome desk right in front of us. Pricing was not listed anywhere, so I asked the staff member at the desk.
At $11 per person ($10 each, plus a $1 VAT tax), I found admission to initially be a little steep, especially when I didn’t really know what was included in the price of admission. I reminded myself that this would likely be a “once in a lifetime” museum visit and the cultural educational value would likely be worth it. Either that or it would be a lesson learned.
I asked the boys if they wanted to go inside the museum. They said “yes,” so I went ahead and bought the tickets. A disposable band wrapped around our wrist gained us entry through the roped off section on the left.
In total, we walked through three exhibit spaces (despite the Bahamas Museum of Junkanoo describing the museum as having 5 museum spaces). The first exhibit featured a Junkanoo float. This float is located within a room with nearly floor-to-ceiling windows allowing it to be viewed by the public outside. Absolutely gorgeous, huge, and colorful, the boys and I took our time to walk around the entire float while pointing out different materials and design features we noticed.
The second exhibit space featured a number of forms wearing examples of Junkanoo costumes, walls filled with elaborate Junkanoo masks, and a display case with examples of musical instruments typically played during the Junkanoo celebration. Just like the previous exhibit, the boys and I examined all of the items on display, taking note of the elaborate designs and fabrication.
The third exhibit space nearly transported the museum guest to a Junkanoo celebration! Tall screens played videos of costumed individuals walking and dancing down the streets. The music was loud and the excitement and celebration was electric!
After exiting the third exhibit, we entered the gift shop. I’m not really sure where the other 2 exhibits are that the website mentions, but, we “only” went through 3 exhibits.
In all, we probably spent about 20 minutes walking around the museum.
Was I happy that I spent $33 for 20 minutes of an experience? Not really. Do I feel like we learned a lot? Certainly. At the end of the day, I’m glad we took the time to walk through the museum, but really do wish there was more to see and do.
Experiencing the Nassau Cruise Port
The newly-updated Nassau Cruise Port is absolutely gorgeous! Not only did we feel 100% safe while walking around the gated-in area, but the colorful buildings and greenery were so pleasing to the eye and totally captured the feel of the islands.
Since we are always happy to grow our collection of travel Christmas ornaments, refrigerator magnets, & artwork, the boys and I walked through quite a few stores looking for souvenirs that were “just right.” Having experienced shopping on the streets of Nassau, outside of the gated-in area, I can tell you that souvenir pricing varies drastically between the two locations.
For example, a typical Nassau, Bahamas t-shirt purchased outside of the gated area will likely cost tourists anywhere from $10-$20 USD each. Based on the stores I visited, similar shirts were being offered, within the gates, for upwards of $30 USD each. Refrigerator magnets, however, seemed to have similar prices no matter where purchased. Go figure!
Bottom line: you’ll likely spend more for souvenirs and such within the gated area, but you also won’t experience aggressive shop owners/employees that may be offering items for less outside of the gates.
In addition to shopping items, the gated cruise port area offered a number of dining options, an amphitheater, public restrooms, and a lovely dockside area with cement benches.
Beyond the Port Gates
On this particular visit, I was traveling alone with my two boys. I gave them the option of visiting places outside of the gates, but they chose to do a low-key walk around the gated area instead.
If we had opted to venture off on our own adventures, I was considering visiting the following experiences:
- Pirates of Nassau
- this museum is supposed to show the history of pirates in The Bahamas through a number of exhibits and looks like it has a very “Pirates of the Caribbean” feel to it.
- Nassau Public Library & Museum
- previously used as a prison, the Nassau Public library has a dungeon and gorgeous views of the island and ocean can be seen veranda.
- National Art Gallery
- with free admission for kids under the age of 12, the National Art Gallery houses one of the largest collections of Bahamian art in the world!
- featuring water parks, beaches, and more, Atlantis does offer 1-day passes, but I’d much rather plan a dedicated multi-day visit to Atlantis.
Even though we didn’t get to visit those places on this particular visit, we’ll be sure to visit them in the future!
Learning about The Bahamas and their Junkanoo Celebration
There are so many immersive learning opportunities to take advantage of when visiting Nassau and learning about the Junkanoo Celebration. Hands on learning is our absolute favorite way to learn but, I will always seize a chance to encourage my kids to put a pencil (or pen) to paper to help them remember the information they’re learning.
And, if there have been studies proving stronger brain activity after writing on paper versus on a tablet or smartphone, by golly…who am I to deprive my kids of such an experience?
I created a 26-page educational packet to help kids (and their parents…believe me, I learned!) learn about The Bahamas and their Junkanoo Celebration. It includes opportunities for creative thinking, creative writing, cultural exploration…even a word search. It’s totally “print & go,” costs less than a cup of coffee (or fountain soda…unless you’re getting it from Costco or something…c’mon!), and could encourage further learning about The Bahamas, other Caribbean islands, and cultural celebrations! It’s right here, so go ahead and check it out.
Cruising with Kids
Whether you’re visiting Nassau or another port while cruising with kids, there’s no denying it that cruising offers a number of unique and exceptional educational experiences! There’s nothing like being able to unpack once and having the opportunity to visit multiple new-to-you places on the same vacation, right?
Stay tuned for even more educational travel content…we’ve got places to go, people to meet, and things to do!
Until next time, stay safe and enjoy quality time with your family,
Elizabeth Dukart is a proud Georgia-based born and raised Jersey Girl, wife, and mom of 2 human boys & 1 canine boy.
Created in 2021, Elizabeth owns and publishes That Homeschool Family: a free resource for homeschooling parents and beyond! A seasoned blogger, Elizabeth previously published a popular location-specific family resource blog, but decided to “Pivot!” her blogging focus after she started homeschooling her two boys in 2020. In addition to this blog, you can follow Elizabeth’s homeschooling and family adventures on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. She can also be found in her Facebook Group: That Homeschool Family Hangout.
When she’s not busy taking over the world or homeschooling, Elizabeth can be found listening to music (especially The Beatles & Harry Styles!), being silly with her boys, watching movies with family, shopping, or traveling!
Have a question or want to work with Elizabeth? Send her an email!