Nassau Forts and Junkanoo Discovery Tour

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I mentioned the Nassau Forts and Junkanoo Discovery excursion my wife and I did a couple of weeks ago when I talked about Disney Cruising for Couples. Thought you might be interested in a more in depth report.

The night before, our room steward left us our Port Adventure Tickets. The ticket tells you when and where to meet up for the start of the excursion. Ours said DK4 AFT 687, telling us to go to Deck 4, aft ship, in the 687 Sports lounge. Time to meet was 9:45am. At 687, there were two other groups meeting. We checked in and was told our group would follow the Disney Cruise Line cast member with the Beast sign (think tour group flags you see in Disney parks but with a cardboard image of the Beast).

The crew member lead us off the ship to a waiting local Nassau tour guide who took us to his van which comfortably fit us and the nine other people on the excursion. It was a hot and humid island day and we were all thankful for the van’s air conditioning. The guide drove us through the narrow and maze like streets of Nassau to our first destination: Fort Fincastle. There he handed us off to Fort Fincastle’s historian.

View from the top of Fort Fincastle on the Nassau Forts and Junkanoo Discovery Disney Dream excursion while visiting Nassau in the Bahamas.

View from the top of Fort Fincastle in Nassau, the Bahamas..
Nikon D700/Tokina 11-16mm, 1/100s, f/16, ISO 200, EV +0.3, 16mm focal length.

Fort Fincastle overlooks Nassau from Bennet’s Hill and was built by Lord Dunmore around 1793 who named it after his second title, Viscount Fincastle. The Batteries covered Hog Island (now called Paradise Island) and all the town and road eastward though they were never used. The cannons you see in the photo are replicas of the original brass ones which were removed once the threat of attack to the island dissipated.

From Fort Fincastle, we were lead over to the top of Nassau’s most visited attraction, the Queen’s Staircase. The 65 stairs were carved out of solid limestone by slaves in the late 18th century, between 1793 and 1794. The stairs are also Fort Fincastle’s escape route.

People walking down the 65 steps of the Queen's Staircase in Nassau, Bahamas.

People walking down the 65 steps of the Queen’s Staircase in Nassau, Bahamas.
Nikon D700/Tokina 11-16mm, 1/60s, f/16, ISO 900, EV +0.3, 16mm focal length, tone-mapped.

The 102 foot staircase was named in honor of the 65 years of Queen Victoria’s reign. Construction of this monument is still regarded as remarkable. We were all happy the tour had us walk down the staircase! At the bottom we meet up with our tour guide who whisked us off to our next destination, the Junkanoo Discovery.

We were dropped off at the Ivern House which is an interactive museum about the Junkanoo Festival held each year at midnight on Christmas. The couple who run the museum have been participating in the festival since the early 1960″²s. The festival features dancing in the streets with large colorful head and body costumes made from paper products. Some can be as tall as ten feet and weigh over seventy pounds.

Ringing the cow bells at the Junkanoo museum inside the Ivern House on the Nassau Forts and Junkanoo Discovery Disney Dream excursion while visiting Nassau in the Bahamas.

Ringing the cow bells at the Junkanoo museum inside the Ivern House on Nassau, Bahamas.
Nikon D700/Tokina 11-16mm, 1/60s, f/5, ISO 5000, EV -0.3, 15mm focal length, cropped.

The highlight of the Junkanoo exhibit was learning how to play the cow bells and drums which is the other part of the festival. The kids in the group were encouraged and took to heart to make as much noise as possible. However, by the time we left, our group sounded really good!

While the Junkanoo fun was well worth the price of the excursion, the last stop would be at Fort Charlotte. Another 18th century stone fort built with slave labor which was never used for the purpose for which it was made.

Fort Charlotte on Nassau, Bahamas.

Fort Charlotte on Nassau, Bahamas.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/14, ISO 200, EV 0, 48mm focal length.

Fort Charlotte is the largest of the three forts found in Nassau. Built in 1789 again by Lord Dunmore and named in honor of the wife of King George III. It includes a water-less moat, draw-bridge, ramparts and dungeons and commands a fine view of Nassau Harbor.

View from Fort Charlotte of the Disney Dream and Disney Magic in the Port of Nassau, Bahamas.

View from Fort Charlotte of the Disney Dream and Disney Magic in the Port of Nassau.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/200s, f/7.1, ISO 200, EV 0, 170mm focal length.

Our tour guide loaded us back in the van to be dropped off at the port. If I had one complaint about the tour, it was the length of time we were given at Fort Fincastle and the Queen’s Staircase which were far more interesting photographically than Fort Charlotte. In all, the tour took 3 hours.

Not needing to be back on board the Disney Dream yet. My wife and I walked down to the famous Straw Market of Nassau and shopped the many kiosks for straw products, wood carvings and other trinkets.

The famous Straw Market in Nassau, the Bahamas.

The famous Straw Market in Nassau.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/400s, f/10, ISO 200, EV -0.3, 34mm focal length.

We then walked back to the ship after passing through customs and back to our cool room to enjoy the rest of the day on the Disney Dream.

Scott's "Photographic Innoventions" blog focuses on intermediate to advanced photography concepts and techniques relevant for Point and Shoot and Digital SLR cameras.

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