There’s something magical about standing on the deck of a majestic cruise ship as it glides into a slip at a Caribbean port of call. Azure-blue waters, warm tropical breezes, the promise of good food and cold beer—it’s as close to a perfect morning as one can get.
On our Bahamian excursion aboard the Carnival Elation, we visited two ports of call, Freeport and Nassau.
First: Freeport. Freeport was established in 1955 when the government granted Wallace Groves, a Virginia financier, 50,000 acres on Grand Bahama Island to create an economically viable area. The development was set up as a free trade zone where businesses paid no taxes. Today, it’s also home to The Bahamian Brewery.
Established in 2007, owner James “Jimmy” Sands’ Bahamian Brewery is 100 percent Bahamian-owned. With help from German equipment manufacturer Brewtech, Sands and an all-Bahamian crew built the brewery from the ground up. The highlight of the $10 tour of the production and bottling facility is visiting Jimmy’s private tasting room to sample the company’s six brews.
Along with Sands Lager, a Bahamas favorite, Bahamian Brewery brews Sands Light, tasty pink-grapefruit-flavored Sands Pink Radler; premium High Rock Lager; Strong Back Stout, a high-alcohol Caribbean stout; and Bush Crack, a higher-alcohol, lighter-bodied lager.
The next day we hit Nassau. After a trip to Atlantis and a mini shopping spree, we’d worked up an appetite. Following my longtime practice of going local as much as possible when traveling, I asked for recommendations for lunch joints. True to friendly form, a shopkeeper not only told us of The Fish Fry, he took us to the bus stop and made sure we got on the correct bus.
The Fish Fry isn’t a single restaurant; it’s a beachside collection of eateries and seafood shacks that specialize in the freshest fish I’ve ever eaten. I ordered a plate of spicy fried grouper and my wife got fried conch so fresh, it had been in the water that morning. “Big Daddy,” the official spokesperson and conch cleaner, was happy to show us how the meat was prepped. To wash it down, I ordered a Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. This hoppier, higher-alcohol brew (not available in the United States) was ideal to cut the fiery Scotch Bonnet-based pepper sauce on my fish.
After lunch, we returned to Nassau’s main shopping district to visit Pirate Republic, the Bahamas’ only craft brewery. Run by brother and sister Stephen Holowesko and Susan Holowesko Larson, the brewery is in a restored 125-year-old warehouse a stone’s throw from the cruise terminal. Inside, beer lovers find great beer, including several seasonals (the coconut porter was heavenly). For a fun, pirate tale-filled adventure, take the tour and learn about all manner of swashbucklers who caroused and drank along Nassau’s stunning shores.
As our vacation in paradise came to a close and I reflected upon our adventures, I reached a conclusion: No matter where in the world you go, everything’s more fun with a cold beer.
Read about the first leg of Marc’s tropical getaway here. And, no, the rest of the staff isn’t jealous. Really.*
*Not really. We totally are.