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One Day cruise to the Bahamas from Fort Lauderdale!

My Freeport Bahamas beach pic from first Bahamas cruise
My Freeport Bahamas beach pic from first Bahamas cruise

Imagine the feel of the ocean breeze as you set sail toward the turquoise waters of the Bahamas. While a one-day cruise from Fort Lauderdale might sound like a dream, let's explore the real options that will have you basking in Bahamian bliss in no time!


South Florida is full of possibilities for cruises and ferry rides, but if you don’t have a lot of time off work or being budget conscious a week's long vacation might be hard. So, let's cover a few options that will take you to Freeport Grand Bahama Island or other places in the Bahamas quickly and affordably. The Bahamas are a great place to visit the sub-tropical islands, close to the United States but yet feels far away.


The Reality of a One Day Cruise to Bahamas from Fort Lauderdale.

Despite popular belief, there is no official one-day cruise from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas. However, don’t be disheartened! You have a couple exciting alternatives to choose from:

  1. One-Day Ferry Ride

  2. Three-Day Bahamas Cruise (I have spotted a 2-day cruise on NCL to Bahamas, leaving from Miami)


One-Day Ferry Ride

For those with limited time, the one-day ferry ride offers a quick and thrilling escape to the Bahamas. Here’s what you need to know:


Pros

  • Quick Travel: The ferry can get you to the Bahamas in just a few hours.

  • Budget-Friendly: Typically, more affordable than a full cruise.

  • Flexibility: Ideal for day trips or spontaneous getaways.


Cons

  • Limited Amenities: Ferries offer fewer amenities compared to cruises.

  • Short Stay: You’ll have just a few hours to explore before heading back.



Best Ferry from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas

From the Balearia Caribbean pulling into Freeport
From the Balearia Caribbean pulling into Freeport

The Balearia Caribbean ferry service operates from Ft. Lauderdale to Freeport Grand Bahamas. It’s a dependable and popular choice among travelers. This is a great way to get there quickly to visit one of the Bahamas beautiful beaches.

I did notice from their website you can book your ferry to include a few days on the island, and they can combine the ferry ride with a hotel stay on either Freeport or Bimini. If you can afford a great hotel room along with the ferry ride, this would be a true Bahamas vacation.


Tickets and more information

Ticket prices on the day I went to were $68.50 going and $86.50 for the ride back. The ferry only does this route twice a week, so check their website for exact times and bookings days. The most I have seen the prices listed for are $235 round trip. Sailing dates do affect the cost of tickets. Customs Board Protection only allows citizens with Passports or Passport Cards to board the vessel. Enhanced driver's licenses, and birth certificates are not allowed. Always double check the website on other travel documents needed for non-US citizens.


They also do Ferries to Bimini Island (Fisherman’s Village of North Bimini) $235 round trip tickets and it's only a 2-hour ferry ride each way. Be sure to check the website for more detailed information. Bimini Vacation packages with hotel included can also be booked from their website, or you can use a travel agent to get extra perks.


My experience on the Balearia Caribbean Ferry


A different beach that I visited when I rode the ferry to Freeport
A different beach that I visited when I rode the ferry to Freeport

We arrived early, as the ferry leaves at 9am and will not wait, parking was very easy in the parking garage located next to the Port Everglades cruise port. Your Passport, or When boarding you see a sea of seats to choose from. Once the ferry leaves the port, a shop at a small duty-free store onboard, and a small restaurant opens, so you can buy drinks and snacks. The small restaurant has Danishes and breakfast sandwiches. There is also a bar on board, so you can get your favorite alcoholic drink. You can purchase wi-fi while on board, and there is even a shore excursion deck, where they can help you with renting a scooter, transportation or even a snorkel trip while you are on the island. You are able to walk around on the ship, there is even a section that has entertainment with a TV to watch films that are family friendly, Step outside to get a great view of the ocean as you sail away from the mainland for a trip to Freeport Bahamas.


The trip just takes around 3 hours, and when you step off the ferry, you will be docked at the very same cruise terminal area that cruise ships use when they arrive at Freeport on Grand Bahama Island. From there you have the choice of what to do. Hire a driver to take you to a beach, or several beaches, go shopping, or explore anywhere you would like on the island. On today's trip, we rode to the beach, and then went to another beach for a few minutes. I recommend hiring a driver, use Viator to take a specific tour that you would like to do on this island.


Just remember you only have less than 6 hours on the island before you have to be back on board for your trip back to Ft Lauderdale. We had to be back onboard and ready to leave by 6:30PM for our ride back to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale Florida, with an arrival time of 9:30PM.



Three-Day Bahamas Cruise

For a more leisurely and luxurious experience, consider a two- or three-day cruise. Feel the excitement build as you spend more time exploring and relaxing. This will give you the feel of a real Bahamas vacation.


Pros

  • Amenities Galore: Enjoy pools, entertainment, dining, and onboard activities. A cruise ship offers many activities.

  • Overnight Stay: Spend a night in the Bahamas, giving you more time to explore, possibly 2 islands.

  • More Relaxation: Relax and soak in the experience without the rush.

  • Testing the water: Are you new to cruising and not sure if you will like it, book a couple of days on a cruise, just to see if this is your style of a vacation getaway.

  • Budget Friendly: A short 2- or 3-day cruise is great for the budget conscious traveler.


Cons

  • Cost: Generally, more expensive than a ferry ride. Specific cabin types can add to cruise cost. Peak time of year cruises can cost more.

  • Time Commitment: Requires a longer time investment compared to a one-day trip.

  • Cruise packages: Each cruise ship is a little different, with what is included in their cruise package, or what can be added, or what additional fee will be for the addition of Wi-Fi, shore excursions, specialty dining (world-class dining), or alcohol packages.


My experience on a 3-day Bahamas Cruise 

Me, many years ago at beach in Freeport
Me, many years ago at beach in Freeport

My first cruise experience in the Bahamas was an NCL cruise with stops in Nassau, and their own private island. This was one of the best cruises I have ever taken. It was over 15 years ago and a very nice cruise. This was not my first cruise experience. As I had done one from Miami to Cozumel a few years before, so I knew what I was expecting with a major cruise line.


Having the extra amenities, sail away party, and just the overall feel of a cruise line feels like a different world compared to taking a ferry to the Bahamas. In my eyes and the 10 traveling companions I was with, we thought it to be extremely budget friendly at under $200 (per person based on double occupancy before taxes and port fees).  Cruise pricing has changed over the years, but you can still find cruises under $300 before taxes and fees, just pick interior rooms, and off-season sailings.


From the casino to 10 bars where you can order some fun tropical drinks. There are also more restaurants than I could even eat at on a 3-day cruise. You will be busy on the cruise ship with all the activities, including Bingo! In Nassau I went on a beginner's scuba diving shore excursion, and on their own private island, I hiked to the lighthouse and spent the rest of the day on the beach. It was due to taking this cruise that I became a lifelong addict to cruises. lol 


Shortest Cruises to the Bahamas from Fort Lauderdale

Several cruise lines offer short trips to the Bahamas. Here are a few favorites:

  • Royal Caribbean offers a two-night cruise that departs from Fort Lauderdale, taking you to the heart of Nassau.

  • Celebrity Cruise Line (Ship named the Reflection) offers 3-day cruises that include Bimini, Nassau or a visit to their private island owned by Royal Caribbean, Coco Cay. I have seen these cruises for $200 (plus taxes and fees)

  • Other cruise lines like Princess or Disney offer cruises from Fort Lauderdale, but they usually offer other cruise ports than just Bahamas. There are even more luxurious cruise lines that use Fort Lauderdale as a home port. Carnival and NCL typically use other ports like Port Canaveral or Miami for their cruises.


Ferries and Cruises from the Port of Miami

If you’re willing to set sail from Miami, your options expand even further:

Ferries

  • Balearia Caribbean also operates from Miami to Bimini, providing another quick ferry option to the Bahamas.


Short Cruises

  • Norwegian Cruise Line offers a four-day cruise that departs from Miami, with stops at Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay. Also, the NCL Gem (one of my favorite ships) has a 2-night cruise that goes to their private island in the Bahamas and back to Miami

  • MSC Cruises offers a similar itinerary, ensuring you can enjoy the Bahamas even on a tight schedule. Usually, MSC Cruises are the cheapest in price, as they are considered a European cruise line. Perfect for a budget cruiser, but if you are expecting Royal Caribbean standards you will be disappointed.

  • Carnival Cruise Line is one of the most popular cruise lines to do small cruises from Miami and are budget friendly. With stops in Nassau, Freeport, or some cruises featuring their own private island in the Bahamas. 


Booking a cruise

From cruise ship
From cruise ship

You can use the cruise line’s website to book your cruise, but in my opinion, it is not recommended. A better way to book a cruise is to book a cruise with a travel agent even though you can do it yourself on their website. Travel agents are trained by these cruise lines and have valuable information you might not be aware of. Or also, give you perks by booking with them. From free onboard credit to specialty dining perks, to even better prices with specific rates due to group bookings.


A way to do research on cruises is Cruise Critic. Do the research to help narrow down what cruise you would like to take, then reach out to a travel agent, if you like. Cruise Critic is a great way to research a variety of cruises at once, and also their forums are full of so much information, you could read for days. Cruise Critic is my go-to for going roll calls too, that way you can meet people and start discussing the cruise with people going on the same cruise. Facebook groups are also similar to Cruise Critic roll calls.


Conclusion

While a one-day cruise from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas may not exist, you have plenty of terrific alternatives to choose from. Whether you opt for a quick ferry ride or indulge in a short cruise, your Bahamian adventure awaits! Ready to set sail? Book now for a special event in your life like a birthday or anniversary and create memories that will last a lifetime. The crystal clear waters are waiting. 🌊✨


Call to Action

Feel inspired to plan your next getaway? Are the island vibes calling your name? Visit Tourangie.com and explore the best options for your Bahamas adventure. Happy travels!





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