Caribbean Cruises 2022 & 2023
Idyllic beaches, year-round sunshine, colonial history and friendly locals - it's easy to see why the Caribbean is one of the world's top cruise destinations!
Enjoy a cocktail on the beach in Barbados or visit the tropical nirvana of Atlantis Paradise Islands in the Bahamas – the Caribbean is a haven for holiday happiness. For high mountain peaks and musical roots, visit Jamaica and get a taste of Eastern Caribbean flavour. You could even head to the Cayman Islands for a chance to swim with the wildlife at Stingray City. Boasting 7,000 islands across this region, each bay and beach has its own distinct personality.
For those travelling in the early months of the year, the Dominican Republic’s Samaná Bay sees thousands of humpback whales pass through on the way to their breeding grounds. Heading to this destination later in the year? No problem. With its beauty beckoning, you can enjoy the sunshine here late into the seasons – a perfect remedy for the winter blues.
The Caribbean is also the location of cruise lines' private islands and resorts. These exclusive destinations are only accessible via cruise ship and feature a host of exciting activities as well as stunning white sandy beaches.
Choosing which Caribbean cruise is right for you
With so much choice, it can be hard to know which cruise to choose, especially if you haven't cruised before. To help, we've written a few articles to help you decide which Caribbean cruise will suit you best...
If you'd like any further help or have any questions about any aspect of cruising, including all-inclusive Caribbean cruises, our Cruise Concierge team will be happy to help. Just give us a call on 0808 239 4957.
SummaryIt was Hemmingway’s favourite haunt and it’s on every traveller’s bucket list, so let the shabby grandeur of Havana work its tender charms and fall in love with the rhythm and pulse of this city so long closed to mass tourism. Drink in the years of colonial history amid a colourful backdrop of emerging modernity, and be transported – both figuratively and literally if you count the fantastic 1950’s automobiles that mosey around waiting to pick up a tourist or two – by another era. Equal parts shabby, chic, timeworn and magnificence; Havana is a city that defies all definition. Full of charm, culture, a troubled past and promising future this is perhaps the Caribbean’s most interesting destination. Five decades of American embargo have made Havana, along with the rest of Cuba, an authenticity hunter’s dream. However, with the recent relaxation in entry laws, the times they are a-chaging, so now is the time to travel. The chequered history, socialist regime, revolution and cultural resurgence make the city centre something of a dichotomy; prosperity shines through in some neighbourhoods, while many areas still remain underdeveloped. But the famed unbreakable spirit still thrives and inequalities are being addressed, making Havana one of the most exciting destinations on the planet. In a nutshell, there are many reasons why you need to go to Havana. The warm, tropical weather. The bright freshness of a perfect mojito. The cultural smorgasbord that is the city centre. The friendly locals. The churches, cigar factories, artists' studios, museums, restaurants and UNESCO heritage sites ... Yet, there is one reason that stands head and shoulders above the rest on why you should visit Havana – it’s just so magical.
Santiago de Cuba
SummaryIf ever a city could talk, then Santiago de Cuba would have a lot to say! With its revolutionary history and distinguishing Afro-Caribbean style, this is a city that puts passion at the top of its list. Much like New Yorkers and Angelinos, Londoners and Mancunians, Habaneros and Santiguans enjoy an amical rivalry; if Havana is the sexy little sister, then Santiago is its more responsible older sibling. View less Like the rest of Cuba, Santiago has a timeworn, once-majestic feel; yet despite this it holds its head high and is considered the culture capital of Cuba. Rumour has it that Son – a precursor dance to Salsa – was born here, while the balcony in Parque Cespedes that Fidel Castro gave his victory speech from in 1959 is still intact. Castro’s ashes have been laid to rest in the city cemetery such was his love for the city. This part of the island is gloriously off the tourist path – such as it is – of Havana and offers a fascinating glimpse of authentic Cuba. Retaining its much loved vibrancy, Santiago de Cuba’s identity has been more shaped by its proximity to the Dominican Republic than to Havana.
SummaryLabadee Beach is surrounded by clear water and white sandy beaches, a peninsula exclusive to Royal Caribbean guests in Haiti. Lounge on one of the many beaches, enjoy water toys and take a ride on the roller coaster. This English-speaking resort has much to offer to its cruise guests as a luxury stop on Caribbean cruises.
SummaryNeither pretty nor quaint, La Romana has a central park, an interesting market, a couple of good restaurants, banks and small businesses, a public beach, and Jumbo, a major supermarket. If you are staying for a week or more you may want to buy a Dominican cell phone at Jumbo. It’s a mere $20 for a basic one, plus minutes. It can save you untold money if you'll be making local calls from your hotel/resort. It is, at least, a real slice of Dominican life. Casa de Campo is just outside La Romana, and other resorts are found in the vicinity of nearby Bayahibe. Although there are now more resorts in the area, this 7,000-acre luxury enclave put the town on the map. Casa de Campo Marina, with its Mediterranean design and impressive yacht club and villa complex, is as fine a marina facility as can be found anywhere; the shops and restaurants at the marina are a big draw for all tourists to the area.
SummarySamaná (pronounced sah-mah-NAH) is a dramatically beautiful peninsula, like an island unto itself, of coconut trees stretching into the sea. It's something of a microcosm of the Dominican Republic: here you'll see poverty and fancy resorts, brand-new highways as well as bad roads, verdant mountainsides, tropical forests, tiny villages lined with street-side fruit vendors, secluded beaches, and the radiant warmth of the Dominican people. Samaná is the name of both the peninsula and its biggest town, as well as the bay to the south. It's worth noting that to locals, Samaná denotes only the largest town, Santa Bárbara de Samaná, which makes a great departure point for whale-watching or an excursion to Los Haitises Park across the bay. The bay is home to some of the world's best whale-watching from mid-January to late March. It is now the site of Puerto Bahia Marina and Residences and the Bannister Hotel, contemporary, luxurious yet moderately priced. This complex has brought an entirely new level of tourism to this area, and given yachts a full-service facility in what has always been a desirable cruising destination.A visit here is really about two things: exploring the preserved natural wonders and relaxing at a small beachfront hotel. The latter is most readily accomplished in Las Terrenas, the only true tourist center, where you can find picturesque restaurants, accommodations of all types (including the new oceanfront Sublime Samaná and the luxury condo-hotel, Balcones del Atlantico), and great beaches. At Las Terrenas you can enjoy peaceful playas, take advantage of the vibrant nightlife, and make all your plans for expeditions on the peninsula. The other pleasures are solitary—quiet beaches, the massive national park Los Haitises, and water sports and hiking. A relatively new toll road connects Santo Domingo to the peninsula; it's about a 2- to 2½-hour drive. Small El Catey International Airport is near Las Terrenas and is now being served by twice-weekly JetBlue flights (Wednesday and Saturday). On the Dominican Republic's Samaná Peninsula, the green mountains teem with coconut trees and dramatic vistas of the ocean. The area is full of hidden beaches reachable only on foot or by sea, protected coves, and undeveloped bays. A visit to Samaná is really about two things: exploring its preserved natural wonders and relaxing on the beach. There are a number of all-inclusive resorts where you can hang your hat, quaint and low-key beachfront hotels, as well as new world-class properties, where you can find complete relaxation and tranquillity.
San Juan (Puerto Rico)
SummaryIf you associate Puerto Rico's capital with the colonial streets of Old San Juan, then you know only part of the picture. San Juan is a major metropolis, radiating out from the bay on the Atlantic Ocean that was discovered by Juan Ponce de León. More than a third of the island's nearly 4 million citizens proudly call themselves sanjuaneros. The city may be rooted in the past, but it has its eye on the future. Locals go about their business surrounded by colonial architecture and towering modern structures.By 1508 the explorer Juan Ponce de León had established a colony in an area now known as Caparra, southeast of present-day San Juan. He later moved the settlement north to a more hospitable peninsular location. In 1521, after he became the first colonial governor, Ponce de León switched the name of the island—which was then called San Juan Bautista in honor of St. John the Baptist—with that of the settlement of Puerto Rico ("rich port").Defended by the imposing Castillo San Felipe del Morro (El Morro) and Castillo San Cristóbal, Puerto Rico's administrative and population center remained firmly in Spain's hands until 1898, when it came under U.S. control after the Spanish-American War. Centuries of Spanish rule left an indelible imprint on the city, particularly in the walled area now known as Old San Juan. The area is filled with cobblestone streets and brightly painted, colonial-era structures, and its fortifications have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Old San Juan is a monument to the past, but most of the rest of the city is planted firmly in the 21st century and draws migrants island-wide and from farther afield to jobs in its businesses and industries. The city captivates residents and visitors alike with its vibrant lifestyle as well as its balmy beaches, pulsing nightclubs, globe-spanning restaurants, and world-class museums. Once you set foot in this city, you may never want to leave.
Esperanza, Vieques Island
Caja de Muertos
SummaryBetween Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, Falmouth is located on Jamaica’s north coast. Take a walk through Jamaica’s history and local cuisine, dare to take a ride down the river on a tubing tour, visit the local sites and learn about Bob Marley’s history, and see where he was influenced to make his music on a tour of his local village.
SummaryOne of Jamaica's largest resort cities, Montego Bay offers a range of activities bound to interest an array of visitors, from arts enthusiasts to the more adventurous type.
SummaryPort Antonio, on the Northeast coast of Jamaica, is the islands third largest port, mainly for bananas and coconuts. It is also an important tourist destination. In fact, it has been featured as a model of paradise in several famous Hollywood films such as Club Paradise and Cocktail. Port Antonio was a sleepy coastal town until the 1880s, when Lorenzo Dow Baker, an American businessman, started the banana trade in Jamaica and promoted Port Antonio as a vacation spot for wealthy Americans. "Portie", as it is nicknamed, became a boom town. Even the movie star Errol Flynn was enamoured and ended up buying property here after his yacht washed ashore in 1946. Today it is still a major destination with plenty to do and see, from stunning scenery, creative arts and crafts, and cultural and historical sites.
SummaryPort of Spain is a seaport on the north-west coast of the island of Trinidad. The capital and commercial centre of Trinidad and Tobago, Port of Spain has architecture from around the world from Hindu temples to gingerbread Rococo. Trinidad, home of the carnival and the steel band, is an astonishing melting-pot of people and cultures - including African, Oriental, Indian, European and New World. It is also home to an interesting array of South American flora, as well as more than 400 species of birds, some of which can be seen if you visit the Asa Wright Nature Reserve. A Native American village known as Conquerabia occupied the site when the Spanish settled in the area in 1595 and renamed the community 'Puerto de España'. After the British took control of the island in 1797, the settlement's name was anglicised to Port of Spain. The city served as the capital of the Federation of the West Indies from 1958 to 1962, before the grouping was dissolved.
SummaryTogether, the islands of Trinidad and Tobago make up a state and as such are an independent member of the British Commonwealth. Located just off the coast of Venezuela, both islands are excellent getaways offering different attractions. While Trinidad pulses with life, the smaller and unspoiled island of Tobago is the place for a restful and relaxing holiday. Most of its appeal lies in the beautiful scenery and the availability of outdoor activities. The tourist area is concentrated on the southwestern end, about six miles from the island’s capital of Scarborough. The recently completed deep water harbor with its new cruise terminal has helped to spruce up the town a bit. Although not warranting an extended visit, Scarborough features interesting Botanic Gardens, a few historical buildings and the well-maintained Fort King George, located above the town. The primary appeal, however, lies without doubt in the great outdoors - swimming, snorkeling, diving, fishing, golfing, playing tennis or simply relaxing on Tobago's glorious beaches.
Man O War Bay, Tobago
SummaryThis warm city is located in Guadeloupe and offers a choice of activities and places to visit for all the family. From markets to educational theme parks, children and adults alike will find something to entertain them.
Îles des Saintes
SummaryThis small group of islands lies opposite the western part of Guadeloupe. They were discovered in November 1493 by Columbus, who named them Los Santos. French settlers established themselves in 1648 and changed the name to Iles des Saintes, commonly known as Les Saintes. Since then the islands have been closely connected with Guadeloupe. Until a recent influx of tourism, Les Saintes were among the Caribbean’s most unspoiled destinations. Only two of the eight islands are inhabited: Terre-de-Bas and Terre-de-Haut. The latter is known for its impressive Fort Napoleon built in the early 19th century to replace an earlier 17th-century fort. From its vantage point there are fine views of the many tiny islets scattered in the bay and across to Guadeloupe. Terre-de-Haut is the main island of Les Saintes, with steeply scarped hills, scenic valleys, hidden coves and beautiful beaches. Its main settlement consists of a charming village of red-roofed houses situated along a curving bay. A number of small boutiques and gift shops invite browsing. Quaint cafés and restaurants offer food and drink. To the east of the village lies Grande Anse, a fine sand beach. Most of the attractions on this small island can be seen on foot. With just a few vehicles on the island, there are no organized tours possible. Time ashore here is at your leisure.
SummaryGuadeloupe, shaped like a giant butterfly, lies between the islands of Antigua and Dominica. As a French overseas department it has the same form of administration as any other French department. The main concentration of population is in Pointe-à-Pitre, its name derived from a Dutch fisherman of Jewish origin who was expelled from Brazil by the Portuguese. As the island’s main economic centre, Pointe-à-Pitre lies at the junction where the bridge spans the Salée River, dividing Basse-Terre from Grande-Terre. The bustling city of some 100,000 inhabitants experienced over the years severe damage from earthquakes, fires and hurricanes. The remaining French colonial structures help to retain a certain charm while at the same time a modern city is emerging. In sharp contrast to the glitzy duty-free shops are the bustling market and the Place de la Victoire, surrounded by wood buildings with balconies and shutters. Out of town, on the Grande-Terre side, are the major tourist areas of Gosier and Ste. Anne, known for their white sand beaches and resort hotels. Mountainous Basse-Terre is home to the Soufrière volcano and the 74,100-acre (29,600-ha) Parc Naturel, full of lakes, waterfalls and hot springs in addition to lush vegetation and stunning scenery.
SummaryThe largest of the Windward Islands, Martinique is 4,261 mi (6,817 km) from Paris, but its spirit and language are decidedly French, with more than a soupçon of West Indian spice. Tangible, edible evidence of the fact is the island's cuisine, a superb blend of French and creole. Martinique is lushly landscaped with tropical flowers. Trees bend under the weight of fruits such as mangoes, papayas, lemons, limes, and bright-red West Indian cherries. Acres of banana plantations, pineapple fields, and waving sugarcane stretch to the horizon. The towering mountains and verdant rain forest in the north lure hikers, while underwater sights and sunken treasures attract snorkelers and scuba divers. Martinique is also wonderful if your idea of exercise is turning over every 10 minutes to get an even tan and your taste in adventure runs to duty-free shopping. A popular cruise-ship excursion goes to St-Pierre, which was buried by ash when Mont Pelée erupted in 1902.
Grande Anse, Les Anses-d'Arlet
SummaryNassau's sheltered harbor bustles with cruise-ship activity, while a block away Bay Street's sidewalks are crowded with shoppers who duck into air-conditioned boutiques and relax on benches in the shade of mahogany and lignum vitae trees. Shops angle for tourist dollars with fine imported goods at duty-free prices, yet you'll find a handful of stores overflowing with authentic Bahamian crafts, food supplies, and other delights. With a revitalization of downtown ongoing—the revamped British Colonial Hilton leading the way—Nassau is recapturing some of its past glamour. Nevertheless, modern influences are completely apparent: fancy restaurants, suave clubs, and trendy coffeehouses have popped up everywhere. These changes have come partly in response to the growing number of upper-crust crowds that now supplement the spring breakers and cruise passengers who have traditionally flocked to Nassau. Of course, you can still find a wild club or a rowdy bar, but you can also sip cappuccino while viewing contemporary Bahamian art or dine by candlelight beneath prints of old Nassau, serenaded by soft, island-inspired calypso music. A trip to Nassau wouldn't be complete without a stop at some of the island's well-preserved historic buildings. The large, pink colonial-style edifices house Parliament and some of the courts, while others, like Fort Charlotte, date back to the days when pirates ruled the town. Take a tour via horse-drawn carriage for the full effect.
SummaryPreviously called Little Stirrup Cay, Coco Cay is now a private island owned by Royal Caribbean International. The resort offers exclusive activities and relaxation for their cruise line passengers.
Half Moon Cay
SummaryThe Half Moon Caye is a natural monument situated at the southeast corner of Lighthouse Reef Atoll. The crescent-shaped caye is a protected marine reserve that was established as a World Heritage Site in 1996. The pristine caye has breath-taking walk-in snorkelling from the beach, idyllic sandy beaches and magnificent wildlife both in the sea and within the littoral forest.
SummaryLocated on Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas, Princess Cays is a 40-acre tourist resort owned by Princess Cruises. Cruise passengers can enjoy some fun and relaxation on this exclusive resort.
Freeport, Grand Bahama
SummaryFreeport is the tourist centre on Grand Bahama Island. With surroundings filled with beautiful sights and opportunities for exciting activities, Freeport should have something of interest for most visitors. Most notable attractions of the area include the Garden of the Groves, a 12-acre botanical garden, and Port Lacuya Marketplace.
Great Stirrup Cay
SummaryLocated 50 miles from Nassau, Great Stirrup Cay is a 250-acre island owned by Norwegian Cruise Line. A range of activities are on offer, including water sports, ping-pong, beach volleyball and a water slide. For lunch, the Jumbey Beach Grill offers barbecues on the beach. Afterwards, head to the Berried Treasure Bazaar to find a little something to bring back home.
SummaryThe lovely little dual islands of Bimini consists of two main islands—North Bimini Island and South Bimini Island— as well as countless cays. Located just 50 miles off Florida’s coast, Bimini is the closest Bahamian island to the United States, and as such is the most “American” if all the Bahamian Islands. Yet, the miles and miles of pristine beaches are witness to the fact that yes, this is the Bahamas and yes, this is paradise indeed.
Ocean Cay, MSC Marine Reserve
Clarence Town, Long Island
Cockburn Town, San Salvador Island
SummaryHarbour Island is a small slip of island, extending three miles from north to south and less than half a mile wide. The island at the northern tip of the much larger Eleuthera Island. Despite its small size it has about 1,700 residents and one incorporated town, Dunmore Town, named after the governor of the Bahamas John Murray, the 4th Earl of Dunmore (1785 to 1798 governorship). The island is known for its pink sand beaches – the pink comes from a microscopic organism (foraminifera) with a reddish-pink shell. Harbour Island charms every visitor, with its colorful Colonial houses and wild horses occasionally spotted running along the serene beaches.
SummaryThe typical image of a lush tropical paradise comes to life on the friendly island of St Lucia. Despite its small size – just 27 miles long and 14 miles wide – St Lucia is rich in natural splendour with dense emerald rainforest, banana plantations and orchards of coconut, mango and papaya trees. The twin peaks of Les Pitons, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site rise dramatically 2,000 feet into the sky and dominate the island. Look out for unusual birds with brilliant plumage such as the St Lucia parrot, see a surprising diversity of exotic flora and enjoy the warm hospitality of the islanders in the small villages and open-air markets. Please be aware that St Lucia is a small, mountainous island, with steep, winding and bumpy roads. Customers with back and neck problems should take this into consideration when booking an excursion.
SummaryThe oldest town in St. Lucia and the island’s former French colonial capital, Soufrière was founded by the French in 1746 and named for its proximity to the volcano of the same name. The wharf is the center of activity in this sleepy town (population, 9,000), particularly when a cruise ship anchors in pretty Soufrière Bay. French colonial influences are evident in the second-story verandahs, gingerbread trim, and other appointments of the wooden buildings that surround the market square. The market building itself is decorated with colorful murals. Soufrière, the site of much of St. Lucia’s renowned natural beauty, is the destination of most sightseeing trips. This is where you can get up close to the iconic Pitons and visit colonial capital of St. Lucia, with its "drive-in" volcano, botanical gardens, working plantations, waterfalls, and countless other examples of the natural beauty for which St. Lucia is deservedly famous.
SummaryDutch settlers came here in the 1630s, about the same time they sailed through the Verazzano Narrows to Manhattan, bringing with them original red-tile roofs, first used on the trade ships as ballast and later incorporated into the architecture of Willemstad. Much of the original colonial structures remain, but this historic city is constantly reinventing itself and the government monument foundation is always busy restoring buildings in one urban neighborhood or another. The salty air causes what is called "wall cancer" which causes the ancient abodes to continually crumble over time. The city is cut in two by Santa Anna Bay. On one side is Punda (the point)—crammed with shops, restaurants, monuments, and markets and a new museum retracing its colorful history. And on the other side is Otrobanda (literally meaning the "other side"), with lots of narrow, winding streets and alleyways (called "steekjes" in Dutch), full of private homes notable for their picturesque gables and Dutch-influenced designs. In recent years the ongoing regeneration of Otrobanda has been apparent, marked by a surge in development of new hotels, restaurants, and shops; the rebirth, concentrated near the waterfront, was spearheaded by the creation of the elaborate Kura Hulanda complex.There are three ways to cross the bay: by car over the Juliana Bridge; by foot over the Queen Emma pontoon bridge (locally called "The Swinging Old Lady"); or by free ferry, which runs when the pontoon bridge is swung open for passing ships. All the major hotels outside town offer free shuttle service to town once or twice daily. Shuttles coming from the Otrobanda side leave you at Riffort. From here it's a short walk north to the foot of the pontoon bridge. Shuttles coming from the Punda side leave you near the main entrance to Ft. Amsterdam.
SummaryAruba's capital is easily explored on foot. Its palm-lined central thoroughfare runs between old and new pastel-painted buildings of typical Dutch design (Spanish influence is also evident in some of the architecture). There are a lot of malls with boutiques and shops—the Renaissance mall carries high-end luxury items and designer fashions. A massive renovation in downtown has given Main Street (a.k.a. Caya G. F. Betico Croes) behind the Renaissance Resort a whole new lease on life: boutique malls, shops, and restaurants have opened next to well-loved family-run businesses. The pedestrian-only walkway and resting areas have unclogged the street, and the new eco-trolley is free and a great way to get around. At this writing, Linear Park was well and will showcase local merchants and artists. There will be activities along a boardwalk that will eventually run all the way to the end of Palm Beach, making it the longest of its kind in the Caribbean.
Port Elizabeth, Bequia
SummaryBequia is a Carib word meaning "island of the cloud." Hilly and green with several golden-sand beaches, Bequia is 9 miles (14½ km) south of St. Vincent's southwestern shore; with a population of 5,000, it's the largest of the Grenadines. Although boatbuilding, whaling, and fishing have been the predominant industries here for generations, sailing has now become almost synonymous with Bequia. Admiralty Bay is a favored anchorage for both privately owned and chartered yachts. Lodgings range from comfortable resorts and villas to cozy West Indian—style inns. Bequia's airport and the frequent ferry service from St. Vincent make this a favorite destination for day-trippers, as well. The ferry docks in Port Elizabeth, a tiny town with waterfront bars, restaurants, and shops where you can buy handmade souvenirs—including the exquisitely detailed model sailboats that are a famous Bequia export. The Easter Regatta is held during the four-day Easter weekend, when revelers gather to watch boat races and celebrate the island's seafaring traditions with food, music, dancing, and competitive games.To see the views, villages, beaches, and boatbuilding sites around Bequia, hire a taxi at the jetty in Port Elizabeth. Several usually line up under the almond trees to meet each ferry from St. Vincent.
SummaryThe small island of Mayreau, just one and 1/2 square miles in area (3.9 square kilometres) is the smallest inhabited island of The Grenadines, and is part of the independent state of St.Vincent in the eastern Caribbean Sea. Two of the best known islands in The Grenadines are Mustique and Bequia, the second largest island in this group. The Grenadine Islands are strung out in a gentle sweep between St.Vincent and Grenada. Most visitors to Mayreau arrive from cruise ships, on the regular ferry, or by yacht. There are no proper roads on the island, only a few vehicles, no airport and only a single unnamed village. Mayreau and the neighboring Tobago Cays are very popular for divers and snorkellers. Saline Bay, on the west coast of the island, has a wonderful broad beach and a few local vendors selling T-shirts and local craft. A climb up the road to the hilltop village on the island provides breathtaking views across Mayreau, Canouan, the Tobago Cays and Carriacou.
Captain's Best, Grenadines
Admiralty Bay, Bequia
Admiralty Bay is a beautiful bay in the southwest of Bequia Island in the Grenadines.
There are several marinas in the area, including Bequia Marina, Dafodil Marine and Kingston Dock.
It lies 75 miles northeast from St Georges in Grenada and 14 miles southeast of Kingston. It lies off the town of Port Elizabeth, sitting in the shadow of the 760-foot-high Mount Pleasant.
The area is very popular with yachting enthisiast, due to its unspoilt nature. The earliest inhabitants of the island were Amerindians, first the Arawaks, then the Caribs.
SummaryNutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, cocoa those heady aromas fill the air in Grenada (pronounced gruh-nay-da). Only 21 miles (33½ km) long and 12 miles (19½ km) wide, the Isle of Spice is a tropical gem of lush rain forests, white-sand beaches, secluded coves, exotic flowers, and enough locally grown spices to fill anyone's kitchen cabinet. St. George's is one of the most picturesque capital cities in the Caribbean, St. George's Harbour is one of the most picturesque harbors, and Grenada's Grand Anse Beach is one of the region's finest beaches. The island has friendly, hospitable people and enough good shopping, restaurants, historic sites, and natural wonders to make it a popular port of call. About one-third of Grenada's visitors arrive by cruise ship, and that number continues to grow each year. Grenada's capital is a bustling West Indian city, much of which remains unchanged from colonial days. Narrow streets lined with shops wind up, down, and across steep hills. Brick warehouses cling to the waterfront, and pastel-painted homes rise from the waterfront and disappear into steep green hills. The horseshoe-shaped St. George's Harbour, a submerged volcanic crater, is arguably the prettiest harbor in the Caribbean. Schooners, ferries, and tour boats tie up along the seawall or at the small dinghy dock. The Carenage (pronounced car-a-nahzh), which surrounds the harbor, is the capital's center. Warehouses, shops, and restaurants line the waterfront. The Christ of the Deep statue that sits on the pedestrian plaza at the center of The Carenage was presented to Grenada by Costa Cruise Line in remembrance of its ship, Bianca C, which burned and sank in the harbor in 1961 and is now a favorite dive site. An engineering feat for its time, the 340-foot-long Sendall Tunnel was built in 1895 and named for Walter Sendall, an early governor. The narrow tunnel, used by both pedestrians and vehicles, separates the harbor side of St. George's from the Esplanade on the bay side of town, where you can find the markets (produce, meat, and fish), the Cruise Ship Terminal, the Esplanade Mall, and the public bus station.
Hillsborough, Carriacou Island
SummaryWith its superb beaches, historical attractions and beautiful coral reefs, Antigua provides a host of diversions. It is said that the island contains 365 beaches, one for every day of the year. Antigua maintains its traditional West Indian character, with gingerbread-house style architecture, calypso music and carnival festivities. St John’s has been the administrative capital since the island’s colonisation in 1632, and has been the seat of government since it gained independence in 1981. From the port you can explore the colourful Redcliffe district, with its restored wooden houses, and Heritage Quay with its shopping mall and craft shops. The city has some fine examples of Colonial architecture, including the twin-towered cathedral, built in 1845 and considered one of the finest church buildings in the Caribbean. All coaches in Antigua are operated by smaller vehicles, and commentary will be given by a driver/guide.
SummaryThe British colonial influence is everywhere in pretty English Harbour. And yet, located on Antigua’s south coast, you are just minutes away from some of the loveliest beaches in the Caribbean. With its long ribbons of white sandy shores including the superbly named Rendez-Vous Bay Beach, the cold English drizzle and chimes of big ben have never been farther away! English Harbour is how the Caribbean is meant to be. Beautifully restored, the area still retains much in the way of its rich historic past. Nelson’s dockyard is absolutely not to be missed; a working dockyard that dates from the 18th century, this is part of a larger UNESCO World Heritage Site (Nelson’s Dockyard and National Park) which also contains Clarence House and Shirley Heights. Perhaps one of the best examples of British colonial development, the dockyard is named after the famous Admiral who lived on the island in the 1780’s. The fascinating naval history is palpable in all the buildings of this historic site and just a little further along you find beautifully restored warehouses that are now home to enchanting restaurants, art galleries, boutiques and hotels, all proudly stating their historic credentials on prominent, easy to read signs. Venturing beyond the “town” and you’ll find nature trails for all levels of fitness. Famous for having 365 different beaches, it is unsurprising then that a lot of Antiguan life takes place on its sandy shores. Beaches here offer all things to everyone so whether you want to rekindle the romance, indulge in some adrenaline fueled water sports, swim, snorkel or sail your way around the island, you’re sure to find you’re your own personal paradise here.
Prickly Pear Island
SummaryAlthough it's one of the smallest capitals in the Caribbean, Roseau has the highest concentration of inhabitants of any town in the eastern Caribbean. Caribbean vernacular architecture and a bustling marketplace transport visitors back in time. Although you can walk the entire town in about an hour, you'll get a much better feel for the place on a leisurely stroll. For some years now, the Society for Historical Architectural Preservation and Enhancement (SHAPE) has organized programs and projects to preserve the city's architectural heritage. Several interesting buildings have already been restored. Lilac House, on Kennedy Avenue, has three types of gingerbread fretwork, latticed verandah railings, and heavy hurricane shutters. The J.W. Edwards Building, at the corner of Old and King George V sreets, has a stone base and a wooden second-floor gallery. The Old Market Plaza is the center of Roseau's historic district, which was laid out by the French on a radial plan rather than a grid, so streets such as Hanover, King George V, and Old radiate from this area. South of the marketplace is the Fort Young Hotel, built as a British fort in the 18th century; the nearby statehouse, public library, and Anglican cathedral are also worth a visit. New developments at the bay front on Dame M.E. Charles Boulevard have brightened up the waterfront.
Cabrits National Park
Georgetown, Grand Cayman
SummaryBegin exploring the capital by strolling along the waterfront Harbour Drive to Elmslie Memorial United Church, named after the first Presbyterian missionary to serve in Cayman. Its vaulted ceiling, wooden arches, and sedate nave reflect the religious nature of island residents. In front of the court building, in the center of town, names of influential Caymanians are inscribed on the Wall of History, which commemorates the islands' quincentennial in 2003. Across the street is the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly Building, next door to the 1919 Peace Memorial Building. In the middle of the financial district is the General Post Office, built in 1939. Let the kids pet the big blue iguana statues.
Basseterre, Saint Kitts
SummaryMountainous St. Kitts, the first English settlement in the Leeward Islands, crams some stunning scenery into its 65 square miles (168 square km). Vast, brilliant green fields of sugarcane (the former cash crop, now slowly being replanted) run to the shore. The fertile, lush island has some fascinating natural and historical attractions: a rain forest replete with waterfalls, thick vines, and secret trails; a central mountain range dominated by the 3,792-foot Mt. Liamuiga, whose crater has long been dormant; and Brimstone Hill, known in the 18th century as the Gibraltar of the West Indies. St. Kitts and Nevis, along with Anguilla, achieved self-government as an associated state of Great Britain in 1967. In 1983 St. Kitts and Nevis became an independent nation. English with a strong West Indian lilt is spoken here. People are friendly but shy; always ask before you take photographs. Also, be sure to wear wraps or shorts over beach attire when you're in public places.
South Friars Bay
Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda
SummaryVirgin Gorda, or "Fat Virgin," received its name from Christopher Columbus. The explorer envisioned the island as a pregnant woman in a languid recline, with Gorda Peak being her belly and the boulders of the Baths as her toes. Different in topography from Tortola, with an arid landscape covered with scrub brush and cactus, the pace of life is slower here, too. Goats and cattle own the right of way, and the unpretentious friendliness of the people is winning. The top sight (and beach for that matter) is the Baths, which draws scores of cruise-ship passengers and day-trippers to its giant boulders and grottoes that form a perfect snorkeling environment.
Chrishi Beach Club, Nevis
SummaryThe written history of Nevis begins with the account recorded by Columbus when he sailed by Nevis in 1493. The name Nevis is derived from “Nuestra Senora de Las Nieves” which means “Our Lady of the Snows”, because of the cloud capped mountain reminding Columbus of snow. Prior to the Columbus saga, Nevis was named Dulcina “Sweet Island” by the Arawaks and later Oualie “land of beautiful waters” by the Caribs. Later in the 18th century, Nevis became known as “Queen of the Caribees.” Evidence of pre-ceramic people abounds with finely crafted stone tools and intricately colored pottery found. Over the years Nevis has made a number of significant contributions to the Caribbean and the world. Two men who played part in international history were Alexander Hamilton and Lord Horatio Nelson. On September 19, 1983, Nevis became part of an independent nation and form part of the sovereign democratic state of St. Christopher and Nevis. It has the unique constitutional arrangement of being part of the Federal Parliament while having a separate parliament of its own Nevis Island Administration headed by a Premier. The island is covered with ruins of the sugar plantation era, which declined in the late 1800s after slavery was abolished and the sugar beet created competition for sugar cane. Nevis is a paradise for nature lovers. There is excellent snorkeling just offshore and scuba diving around wrecks and natural reefs. There are rainforests, reefs and ruins, a fascinating destination for people who enjoy the natural side of the tropics.
SummaryFrench and Dutch have lived side by side on St. Maarten/St. Martin for hundreds of years—with no border patrols or customs between them. The French side has a more genteel ambience, more fashionable shopping, and a Continental flair. The Dutch tends to be less expensive, has casino hotels, and more nightlife. Water sports abound all over—diving, snorkeling, sailing, and windsurfing are all top draws. And it's easy to while away the day relaxing on one of the 37 beaches, strolling the boardwalk of Dutch-side Philipsburg, and exploring the very French town of Marigot. Although luck is an important commodity at St. Maarten's 13 casinos, chance plays no part in finding a good meal at the island’s excellent eateries. The best way to explore St. Maarten/St. Martin is by car. Though often congested, especially around Philipsburg and Marigot, the roads are fairly good, though narrow and winding, with some speed bumps, potholes, roundabouts, and an occasional wandering goat herd. Few roads are marked with their names, but destination signs are common. Besides, the island is so small that it's hard to get really lost—at least that is what locals tell you. If you’re spending a few days, get to know the area with a scenic "loop" around the island. Be sure to pack a towel and some water shoes, a hat, sunglasses, and sunblock. Head up the east shoreline from Philipsburg, and follow the signs to Dawn Beach and Oyster Pond. The road winds past soaring hills, turquoise waters, quaint West Indian houses, and wonderful views of St. Barth. As you cross over to the French side, turn into Le Galion for a stop at the calm sheltered beach, the stables, the butterflies, or the windsurfing school, then keep following the road toward Orient Bay, the St-Tropez of the Caribbean. Continue to Anse Marcel, Grand Case, Marigot, and Sandy Ground. From Marigot, the flat island of Anguilla is visible. Completing the loop brings you past Cupecoy Beach, through Maho and Simpson Bay, where Saba looms in the horizon, and back over the mountain road into Philipsburg.
Grand Turk Island
SummaryJust 7 miles (11 km) long and a little more than 1 mile (1½ km) wide, this island, the capital and seat of the Turks and Caicos government, has been a longtime favorite destination for divers eager to explore the 7,000-foot-deep pristine coral walls that drop down only 300 yards out to sea. On shore, the tiny, quiet island is home to white-sand beaches, the National Museum, and a small population of wild horses and donkeys, which leisurely meander past the white-walled courtyards, pretty churches, and bougainvillea-covered colonial inns on their daily commute into town. But things aren't entirely sleepy: a cruise-ship complex at the southern end of the island brings about 600,000 visitors per year. That said, the dock is self-contained and is about 3 miles (5 km) from the tranquil, small hotels of Cockburn Town, Pillory Beach, and the Ridge and far from most of the western-shore dive sites. Pristine beaches with vistas of turquoise waters, small local settlements, historic ruins, and native flora and fauna are among the sights on Grand Turk. Fewer than 4,000 people live on this 7½-square-mile (19-square-km) island, and it's hard to get lost, as there aren't many roads.
Road Town, Tortola
SummaryThe bustling capital of the BVI looks out over Road Harbour. It takes only an hour or so to stroll down Main Street and along the waterfront, checking out the traditional West Indian buildings painted in pastel colors and with corrugated-tin roofs, bright shutters, and delicate fretwork trim. For sightseeing brochures and the latest information on everything from taxi rates to ferry schedules, stop in at the BVI Tourist Board office. Or just choose a seat on one of the benches in Sir Olva Georges Square, on Waterfront Drive, and watch the people come and go from the ferry dock and customs office across the street.
Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke
SummaryJost Van Dyke, four miles long, is truly known as the 'barefoot island'. The smallest of the British Virgin Islands, it is known as a popular destination for yachts and is celebrated for its casual lifestyle, protected anchorages, fine beaches and beachfront restaurants and bars. The island has fewer than 200 inhabitants and they are widely known as a welcoming people. The island's name conjures up its rich, colorful past. Jost Van Dyke is said to have been named for an early Dutch settler, a former pirate. At Great Harbour, Little Harbour, and White Bay there are safe, protected bays and pristine beaches shaded with coconut palms and seagrape trees. Discover inviting shops selling local treasures, restaurants, and bars. 'The Painkiller', one of the Caribbean’s most popular drinks, originated at the Soggy Dollar Bar. Foxy’s and Gertrude's in White Bay are renowned for drinks made with the island's famous rum, frosty beers, and tales of pirates and sunken treasure. Explore Jost Van Dyke's history in the vegetation-covered ruins of centuries-old sugar mills, or on the old trails that crisscross the island. Revel in the natural beauty of the pristine, untouched beaches. Hike up to the highest spot on the island, Majohnny Point, and take in a stunning 360 degree view of the Caribbean. Relax in the natural 'bubble pool', a popular tourist attraction. Jost Van Dyke conjures up images of what the British Virgin Islands may have looked like many years ago.
White Bay, Jost Van Dyke
Sopers Hole, Tortola
Beef Island, Tortola
Leverick Bay, Virgin Gorda
Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
SummaryPeter Island is the largest private island in the British Virgin Islands and benefits from a tropical climate. It is surrounded by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and Sir Francis Drake Channel and is home to the luxury Peter Island Resort. The resort hosts fifty two guest rooms, three villas, five white sandy beaches and private grounds. Here, visitors will enjoy stunning views across the waters and plenty of space to relax. The resort is visited for its luxury Health Spa which offers treatments such as massages, facials and Ayurvedic treatments, all to promote health, happiness and wellbeing. In addition, the spa extends into the gardens of Reef Bay Beach where visitors can relax and enjoy the tranquility. The resort benefits from a quiet Eden-like atmosphere with private beaches and tranquil waters which is contrasted against the backdrop of stunning green-covered volcanic mountains and a cooling sea breeze.
SummarySandy Ground is a village beach on the island of Anguilla, located in the British West Indies. It benefits from a tropical climate and the warm Caribbean waters and is popular with tourists looking for a relaxing beach holiday. Sandy Ground is known by its long curved white sandy beach set against the backdrop of high cliff and a disused salt pond. It is the main port for the small island of Anguilla and its beach is popular with boat racing, beach bars, barbecues and dancing. The island of Anguilla is easy to explore with one main road running through the middle and plenty of beaches and bays to be discovered. The romantic Little Bay offers secluded coves, Junk’s Hole is home to the notorious Palm Grove barbeque, Island Harbour boasts bright coloured working fishing boats and the sands of Meads Bay host hotels for the elegant dining experience. At sunset, head to Crocus Bay and the coral cliffs for the best location on the island to watch the day’s end.
SummaryStretching just over 20 km, Anguilla is the discrete gem of the Caribbean. Still to be feature in the spotlight of Caribbean tourism, the white-sanded beaches, pristine waters and palm trees of the island make it a paradisiac destination that regularly attracts the likes of many American actors such as Denzel Washington, Robert de Niro and more recently Brad Pitt. A must-see for the avid traveller.
SummaryYou can easily explore all of Gustavia during a two-hour stroll. Some shops close from noon to 3 or 4, so plan lunch accordingly, but stores stay open past 7 in the evening. Parking in Gustavia is a challenge, especially during vacation times. A good spot to park is rue de la République, alongside the catamarans, yachts, and sailboats.
SummaryLocated beside the island’s only natural harbour, the capital of Barbados combines modern and colonial architecture with glorious palm tree-lined beaches and a number of historical attractions. Experience the relaxed culture of the city renowned for its British-style parliament buildings and vibrant beach life, and seek out the Anglican church and the 19th-century Barbados Garrison. The distance between the ship and your tour vehicle may vary. This distance is not included in the excursion grades.
If you fly to the 32-square-mile (83-square-km) island of St. Thomas, you land at its western end; if you arrive by cruise ship, you come into one of the world's most beautiful harbors. Either way, one of your first sights is the town of Charlotte Amalie. From the harbor you see an idyllic-looking village that spreads into the lower hills. If you were expecting a quiet hamlet with its inhabitants hanging out under palm trees, you've missed that era by about 300 years. Although other islands in the USVI developed plantation economies, St. Thomas cultivated its harbor, and it became a thriving seaport soon after it was settled by the Danish in the 1600s. The success of the naturally perfect harbor was enhanced by the fact that the Danes—who ruled St. Thomas with only a couple of short interruptions from 1666 to 1917—avoided involvement in some 100 years' worth of European wars. Denmark was the only European country with colonies in the Caribbean to stay neutral during the War of the Spanish Succession in the early 1700s. Thus, products of the Dutch, English, and French islands—sugar, cotton, and indigo—were traded through Charlotte Amalie, along with the regular shipments of slaves. When the Spanish wars ended, trade fell off, but by the end of the 1700s Europe was at war again, Denmark again remained neutral, and St. Thomas continued to prosper. Even into the 1800s, while the economies of St. Croix and St. John foundered with the market for sugarcane, St. Thomas's economy remained vigorous. This prosperity led to the development of shipyards, a well-organized banking system, and a large merchant class. In 1845 Charlotte Amalie had 101 large importing houses owned by the English, French, Germans, Haitians, Spaniards, Americans, Sephardim, and Danes. Charlotte Amalie is still one of the world's most active cruise-ship ports. On almost any day at least one and sometimes as many as eight cruise ships are tied to the docks or anchored outside the harbor. Gently rocking in the shadows of these giant floating hotels are just about every other kind of vessel imaginable: sleek sailing catamarans that will take you on a sunset cruise complete with rum punch and a Jimmy Buffett soundtrack, private megayachts for billionaires, and barnacle-bottom sloops—with laundry draped over the lifelines—that are home to world-cruising gypsies. Huge container ships pull up in Sub Base, west of the harbor, bringing in everything from breakfast cereals to tires. Anchored right along the waterfront are down-island barges that ply the waters between the Greater Antilles and the Leeward Islands, transporting goods such as refrigerators, VCRs, and disposable diapers. The waterfront road through Charlotte Amalie was once part of the harbor. Before it was filled in to build the highway, the beach came right up to the back door of the warehouses that now line the thoroughfare. Two hundred years ago those warehouses were filled with indigo, tobacco, and cotton. Today the stone buildings house silk, crystal, and diamonds. Exotic fragrances are still traded, but by island beauty queens in air-conditioned perfume palaces instead of through open market stalls. The pirates of old used St. Thomas as a base from which to raid merchant ships of every nation, though they were particularly fond of the gold- and silver-laden treasure ships heading to Spain. Pirates are still around, but today's versions use St. Thomas as a drop-off for their contraband: illegal immigrants and drugs. To explore outside Charlotte Amalie, rent a car or hire a taxi. Your rental car should come with a good map; if not, pick up the pocket-size "St. Thomas–St. John Road Map" at a tourist information center. Roads are marked with route numbers, but they're confusing and seem to switch numbers suddenly. Roads are also identified by signs bearing the St. Thomas–St. John Hotel and Tourism Association's mascot, Tommy the Starfish. More than 100 of these color-coded signs line the island's main routes. Orange signs trace the route from the airport to Red Hook, green signs identify the road from town to Magens Bay, Tommy's face on a yellow background points from Mafolie to Crown Bay through the north side, red signs lead from Smith Bay to Four Corners via Skyline Drive, and blue signs mark the route from the cruise-ship dock at Havensight to Red Hook. These color-coded routes are not marked on most visitor maps, however. Allow yourself a day to explore, especially if you want to stop to take pictures or to enjoy a light bite or refreshing swim. Most gas stations are on the island's more populated eastern end, so fill up before heading to the north side. And remember to drive on the left!