Nassau Chocolate Factory Tour

ships in Nassau

Prior to our cruise on MSC Meraviglia John booked us each an excursion for our first port stop in Nassau, Bahamas. He wanted to go to a wine factory. Since I don’t like anything fermented including wine he booked a chocolate factory tour for me. Which was great because I love chocolate. Both of these places were located on the same street so we walked there together. His tour at the wine place had other participants, but I got an unintended private tour at the chocolate factory. The tours before and after mine had groups of participants, but nobody else had booked the one for 3pm. An unintended private tour is the best kind because intentional private tours are really expensive, but if it’s booked as a group tour and nobody else comes you still get it for the group price. The smallest group I’d had before was 4 people on a kayak tour in Costa Maya Mexico. These tours were booked through Vacations to Go, who sends shore excursion options when you book the cruise through them so there’s those to choose from as well as what the ship offers. Had it been through the ship they’d probably have cancelled it with just one participant or switched me to a different time that had other bookings. They also would have charged more for the tour and provided transportation from the port, which wasn’t really necessary since it was a pretty easy walk.

entrance to the chocolate factory at Graycliff Hotel

An archway through a wall leads to a grotto-like stairway up to a courtyard with a door into a small chocolate shop.

the chocolate shop sells chocolates made in-house

The tour’s entrance is through the little chocolate shop, located within Graycliff Hotel which owns the chocolate factory as well as the wine place across the street. The shop sells chocolates made right there in the attached factory. There’s a door in the shop that opens to a few stairs leading down to a long narrow room where the tour starts.

standing under a model tree, ready for the tour

The first room has samples of raw cocoa beans and some beans that have partially gone through the process that eventually turns them into chocolate. There were also fake trees showing what cacao trees look like, and that the pods grow on the trunk rather than in the leaves or branches. My guide said each tree only produces pods 3 times in its lifetime so after the third time the cocoa farmers cut them down and plant new ones. These are not grown in the Bahamas so they import the beans from elsewhere. Inside the pods the beans are the seeds of a fruit which she said was edible. That room also contained a stack of aprons and hair nets, both of which were required for people who didn’t work there to go farther into the factory.

shelling machine

On the way to the next room she said the factory (and hotel) was in an old castle. The tile floor in that room was over 300 years old, but the pattern was still bright green and yellow and it looked good as new. They certainly made quality things back then. There isn’t much made these days that would last 300 years and still look nice. There was equipment in that room to remove the shells from the beans after they are roasted. Roasted beans fall apart into cocoa nibs when shelled, though raw ones would stay as whole beans if the shells were removed before roasting.

tempering machine

There were a couple machines tempering the chocolate, one with dark and one with white, which were mixed to make milk chocolate. From this room I was given taster spoonfuls of each the white and dark and also some mixed together into milk chocolate. White chocolate isn’t real chocolate, but rather made from just the cocoa butter separated from the chocolate solids along with sugar, milk, vanilla and a fatty substance called lecithin which can be sourced from various plants used for making oils or egg yolks.

guide mixes white and dark chocolate to make milk chocolate

Even dark chocolate has some sugar added to keep it from being bitter. 70% dark is 70% cocoa beans and 30% sugar, at least in that factory. Higher percentages of darkness is more chocolate, less sugar so of course less sweet, though I thought the small sample of liquid pure dark chocolate without any sugar added that I was given a taste of in a different room tasted good, not bitter like unsweetened baking chocolate you buy in a store.

guide and other workers by a table set for one

In the last room where the tour went there was a paper plate with cups of goodies on it next to a little tray holding a mold and plastic gloves. I had the option to choose which sort of chocolate I wanted and was given a cup of liquid dark chocolate. Dark is always my preference for chocolate. The first step was to pour chocolate into the chocolate bar mold until the guide said it was enough. Then she said to tap the mold on the table until the chocolate spread out evenly to all the corners. After that I could add whatever goodies I wanted from the cups, which included coconut, cranberries, and sprinkles. I used all three.

making chocolates

Next there was a stick there to poke into a marshmallow and then dip that into the chocolate and coat in sprinkles. The two pretzels were then dunked into the cup of chocolate and fished out with a stick just like the one in the marshmallow. After that the leftover chocolate got poured into the cups of leftover coconut, cranberries, and sprinkles. All of that then went somewhere else for cooling.

getting some chocolate samples

There were racks of assorted chocolates sitting in a corner of the room. Other workers would periodically come and take some from the trays to replace ones sold at the store in the front of the factory or possibly to package up into boxes. Or maybe some of each. They just piled up the ones they wanted onto their tray and left the room so I never saw what they actually did with them.

tasty chocolates

While waiting for the chocolate things I’d made to cool I got to sample some of those chocolates from the racks in the corner. The guide said what type they each were, but I don’t remember what flavors she said. They were all quite good.

where in the world chocolate grows

The walls of that room had information about chocolate and chocolate making.

milk chocolate sand dollar from the store

Once the chocolates I made during the tour were cooled they got unmolded and boxed up to take back to the ship. It was an interesting tour with lots of tasty chocolate. I mentioned buying something milk chocolate from the store for John since he prefers milk chocolate and everything I made was dark. She gave me a chocolate sand dollar free off the store shelf for him which was really nice of her. I gave her a $20 tip. She said she’d never had a tip that big before. I replied I’d never had a private tour before. She deserved a good tip. She’d done a great job as a guide and always had a smile. It was a really fun and interesting tour and since it hadn’t cost all that much between the chocolates eaten on site and the ones brought back with me afterword I probably got the price of the tour back in chocolate so it was definitely worth doing. For anyone with a port stop in Nassau it’s an easy walk to the chocolate shop. Just set google maps to Graycliff Hotel and then walk down the street the hotel is on until you see the shop’s archway entrance. I’m not sure if you can just walk in and book a tour at the shop or not, but there are a variety of places to book it online.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2023

About LBcruiseshipblogger

MyCruiseStories blog tells stories about adventures in cruising on ships big and small. Things to do onboard and in port. Anything connected to cruising. Also food, travel, recipes, towel animals, and the occasional random blog.
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