Yes, the Old Bahama Channel runs between Cuba and the Great Bahama Bank. Once you get into the Staights of Florida, you pick up a 4 to 5 knot boost in speed from the north flowing Gulf Stream for a fast run to Ft. Pierce, or you can pop into the Intracoastal Waterway if the weather looks bad. This time of year you don't want to go too far north while heading in a north direction without being able to run for cover if bad weather hits.
The only reason to go north on the eastern edge of the Bahamas and then through Providence channel is if you want to do some Bahamas crusing. If your goal is to get to Florida reasonably quick, the Old Bahamas Channel is the way to go.
Check out the pics on my photo site (see my profile) for some of the "excitement" in the Channel.