Why go on a Caribbean cruise holiday? Because, once paradise has been discovered, it can never be forgotten. The Caribbean, with its sugar-soft beaches, turquoise seas and gently swaying palms, is one of the world’s best-loved holiday destinations. With so many beautiful and diverse islands, there is always somewhere or something new to explore. The Caribbean really is made for cruise holidays. From Barbados and Antigua to St. Lucia and Mayreau, a wealth of hidden treasures including historic harbours, lush tropical forests and characterful towns are waiting.
Famous for their laid-back life style, the locals are as special as the Caribbean islands themselves. Always welcoming, their leisurely outlook on life will soon help you unwind, especially with a little help from a freshly prepared cocktail or two. Ashore, choose between bustling local markets, or escape it all on a seemingly endless, deserted beach. On board, tropical themed party nights will bring you dancing under the stars as you cruise to your next port of call.
Watching the Atlantic surf crash down on the rugged east coast of this richly diverse island and, for a moment, you may feel you could be on the Cornish coast but the moment you hear the waves of gospel singing emanating from a tiny local church you realise you could not be anywhere else but Barbados.
While, over on the sheltered west coast, the glorious beaches are pure Caribbean. And there are more beaches and a lot more bars, cafés, restaurants and clubs creating a vibrant 24/7 lifestyle on the south coast, too.
In the capital and cruise port, Bridgetown, there are intriguing signs of its British colonial past while, across the island, you are really spoilt for choice. You can enjoy every watersport under the sun; stunning nature walks and bike rides; or maybe a trip to the uniquely magnificent Harrisons Cave underground complex of caverns, waterfalls, stalactites and stalagmites.View typical shore excursions for this port
|TortolaShow more||British Virgin Islands|
If you want to experience the ‘undiscovered’ Caribbean, cruise to the unspoiled British Virgin island of Tortola. Rising to 1,709 feet at its highest point and famed for its rugged volcanic landscape, Tortola has proved difficult to develop as a major tourist haunt, and so has preserved its charm.
Its quaint capital, Road Town, is charming and compact. Just five minutes walk from the tender drop-off at Wickhams Quay you will find Main Street, home to a colourful crafts market and a range of small speciality shops selling Tortolan ceramics, Mexican glassware and unusual carvings sculpted from sea flotsam.
You will also find some of the loveliest and least crowded beaches in the Caribbean. At Cane Garden Bay you can tuck into a barbecued freshly caught fish; snorkellers will find the most eye-boggling marine life at Lower Belmont Bay, while those who prefer to stay dry can stroll through spectacular virgin rainforest at Mount Sage National Park.View typical shore excursions for this port
|Grand TurkShow more||Caicos Islands|
About Grand Turk
Bursting with turn-of-the-century Caribbean charm, Grand Turk, the historic capital of the Turks and Caicos is best known for its sugary white shores, calm blue waters and rustic colonial charm. And at just six miles long, and just over a mile, wide this small but
perfectly formed island is easy to explore.
On your walk round Cockburn, Grand Turk’s main town, take a turn down Duke and Font Street which are lined with 18th and 19th century landmarks which reflect the Bermudian architecture of the salt era. The nearby Turks and Caicos Museum discloses the rich cultural and natural diversity of the islands and tells the story of the Molasses Reef Wreck, the oldest European shipwreck discovered in the western hemisphere.
The surrounding seas offer a variety of dramatic and colourful underwater landscapes and snorkellers and scuba-divers will be spoilt for choice. From the seahorses and stingrays of Coral Garden Reef and Columbus Landfall National Park to the curves of McDonalds Arch and cliffs of the beautiful Black Forest.View typical shore excursions for this port
|AntiguaShow more||Caribbean Islands|
With over 365 beaches, there is a slice of white sand heaven for every day of the year - even a leap year - on the idyllic Caribbean holiday island Antigua, which played host to Admiral Horatio Nelson’s fleet in the late 1700’s. Nelson’s Dockyard now bustles with crew and passengers from yachts and cruise ships sailing these waters for pleasure rather than for King and Country.
The main port, St John’s, is also the capital and a vibrant hub for shopping as well as being within easy range of some of the best beaches – at Fort James, Deep Bay, Galley Bay and Hawksbill. Almost perfect weather conditions and low humidity, due to the warm prevailing trade winds, allows Antigua to boast of being the sunniest of the Eastern Caribbean islands with the lowest annual rainfall. It is also the largest of the English-speaking Leeward Islands although it is only 14 miles long and 11 miles wide. Still, with a population of less than 70,000, this means there are lots of wide open spaces – especially on those gorgeous beaches.View typical shore excursions for this port
This lush island is right on the whales Caribbean migration path so be sure you take a boat trip out to spot them on their way north. And, even if you do not see whales, there are plenty of playful dolphins that usually tag along in the boats wake.
But, by passing Dominica by, the whales do not know what they are missing. It is an island of breathtaking natural beauty with crater lakes and waterfalls, forests and gorges, many with evocative names like Boiling Lake and Valley of Desolation.
Offshore, there are coral reefs teeming with fish of all colours, shapes and sizes to amaze swimmers, snorkellers and scuba divers. You are also welcome to visit the last surviving community of Carib Indians, the original inhabitants of the entire Caribbean, who still follow the old ways - fishing, carving and basket-making.View typical shore excursions for this port
|ArubaShow more||Dutch Antilles|
Talcum-soft beaches, world class shopping, glitzy casinos, stunning sea views and tracts of desert landscape scattered with giant boulders and exotic cacti are all yours to enjoy when you visit popular Aruba, jewel of the ‘deep’ Caribbean.
And you will find most of these attractions without straying far from the capital and cruise port, Oranjestad, a waterfront city endowed with a cosmopolitan population – of Portuguese, Spanish, Venezuelan, Indian, Pakistani and African as well as Dutch origin.
This cultural mix makes Oranjestad heaven for adventurous foodies and a great place to `shop the world’ as you can pick up Delft china, Dutch cheese, Danish silverware and Madeiran embroidery at low prices.
For local colour, visit Schooner Harbour, which is crammed with brightly painted boats and craft stalls, and Willemstad, famed for its 16th century Dutch houses.
And water babies will love Eagle Beach, Palm Beach and Baby Beach, all a short distance from the port.
View typical shore excursions for this port
|BonaireShow more||Dutch Antilles|
The least developed of the Caribbean ABC islands (Aruba and Curacao are the others), Bonaire has many good reasons to protect its own extraordinary environment.
Bonaires Marine Park, which covers the coral reefs along the islands west coast, has a vast number and variety of fish, and snorkelling and diving amongst these colourful residents is a sheer delight. A more conventional national park spreads across the whole northern part of the island.
Originally plantations, this freshwater swampland is now home to pelican, parrots and geese. Pick of the islands beaches is called Pink Beach because of the attractive colour the coral has turned the sand.View typical shore excursions for this port
|CuracaoShow more||Dutch Antilles|
The largest island in the Dutch Antilles, Curacao is home to more than 50 nationalities so has a cosmopolitan atmosphere. Its lovely capital and cruise port, Willemstad, is full of 17th, 18th and 19th century Dutch and Spanish Colonial architecture.
The two sides of the city are divided by Santa Anna Bay, a narrow channel flanked by pastel-tinted, gabled houses and spanned by the spectacular swing-aside Queen Emma pontoon bridge.
On one side you will find the 18th century Fort Amsterdam and Breederstraat, gateway to Willemstad’s main shopping and restaurant district where you can buy everything from Delft pottery to Italian silk ties, Japanese electrical goods, Indonesian batik clothing, locally-made black coral jewellery and, of course, the sapphire-blue liqueur to which Curacao has given its name.
Also worth a visit is the Floating Market, lined with boats from Colombia, Venezuela and other Caribbean islands selling colourful local produce and handicrafts.View typical shore excursions for this port
|St. BartsShow more||Leeward Islands|
About St. Barts
A large dash of French chic makes St. Bart’s feel more like Antibes than Antigua.
Tiny and serene this hilly island originated from ancient coral reefs and is considered one of the most beautiful in the Caribbean. When you discover its idyllic blend of white sands, crystal clear waters and green, undulating landscape, you will understand why.
Its combination of style and glorious natural scenery make it popular with the rich and famous who like to escape here during winter. In the picturesque port town of Gustavia, you can soak up the isles distinctly continental charm. Its vista of red-roofed buildings provides the backdrop to numerous duty free boutiques, a yacht-filled harbour and a very relaxed lifestyle. After a few hours exploring, head up to Grand Fonds for wonderful views.
With over 20 beaches here you will be spoilt for choice. Two of the most pristine are Saline and Governor on the southern side. Enjoy a spot of snorkelling or simply bask in the sun.View typical shore excursions for this port
|St. KittsShow more||Leeward Islands|
About St. Kitts
If you have ever dreamt of the classic Caribbean island, chances are it looked a lot like St. Kitts. You will recognise that mixture of deserted beaches, sleepy villages, lush rainforest greenery and sugarcane fields and maybe even the mini-mountain range with a dormant volcano in its midst.
Yet the first thing you will see when the ship docks is pretty much brand new: St. Kitts cruise terminal and marina complex - a collection of shops, bars, restaurants and gardens. Once through that, though, you can explore the back streets and impressively restored Georgian buildings of the capital, Basseterre.
Independent since 1983, St. Kitts covers just 65 square miles but has its own World Heritage site: Brimstone Hill fortress. Another option for St. Kitts cruise visitors is the 45-minute ferry to sister island Nevis.View typical shore excursions for this port
|St. MaartenShow more||Leeward Islands|
About St. Maarten
Half French and half Dutch, St. Martin/Sint Maarten is one of the Caribbean’s most diverse and interesting islands.
Ships dock at the Dutch capital Philipsburg, a delightful warren of narrow streets called steegjies, where you will find interesting shops and leafy courtyard cafés. Start your exploration at Wathey Square, which is home to a fine collection of traditional West Indian ‘gingerbread’ houses as well as a colourful market.
If you would prefer to enjoy a little French ‘je ne sais quoi’, take an island tour to the pretty French capital Marigot, worth visiting for its colourful markets, lovely café-lined waterfront and the chic boutiques of Marina Port La Royale, where you can pick up unusual jewellery and leather goods. Or spend your day on a catamaran trip from Philipsburg for fabulous deep-sea snorkelling with lunch.View typical shore excursions for this port
Martinique, one of the Lesser Antilles, is a chic, beautiful and beguiling island that offers a taste of France deep in the heart of the Caribbean. It also possesses an endearing West Indian warmth in its personality and a special Caribbean spice in its music, dance and cuisine.
Martinique’s capital, Fort-de-France, is a neat and colourful town that boasts a scaled down replica of Paris’ Sacre Coeur, as well as a memorial to the island‘s most famous local daughter – Napoleon’s ‘Not tonight’ empress – Josephine.
Catch a ferry from the seafront and cruise across the magnificent bay to a clutch of superb beaches. Or visit Mont Pelée to see the site of the worst ever volcanic eruption in the Caribbean – then cool off with local rum punch!View typical shore excursions for this port
|GrenadaShow more||Windward Islands|
Sailors through the centuries have rated it one of the worlds prettiest harbours and it is hard to disagree. Horseshoe-shaped and set in a volcanic crater, Grenadas capital and cruise port St Georges is flanked by two forts, with colourful French colonial style buildings ranged along the front.
It is the perfect entrance to one of the Caribbeans most scenic islands. Only 12 miles by 21, it is awash with waterfalls, mountain valleys, rainforests, lakes and volcanic craters. The beaches are to die for, especially Grand Anse - a two-mile stretch of pure white sand just around the bay from St Georges.
Grenada is also the island you can smell before you can see it. The ‘Spice Island’ grows more spices per square mile than anywhere else on the planet with nutmeg its signature seasoning.
In fact, gentle haggling with spice vendors is part of the fun of cruising to this laid-back Caribbean island.View typical shore excursions for this port
|St. LuciaShow more||Windward Islands|
About St. Lucia
St Lucia has a fascinating if bloody history with the French and British spending years fighting over it. One look at this luscious island will show you why.
Cloaked in verdant rainforests, its skyline dominated by the dramatic twin peaks of Les Pitons and its gardens a riot of hibiscus and bougainvillea; St. Lucia is the epitome of a Caribbean paradise.
Here you can watch parrots and hummingbirds skim through the trees, bask on beautiful beaches, visit charming fishing villages, view stunning volcanic scenery and glory in the Caribbean’s best botanical gardens.
If it is your first visit, an island tour to the dramatic Soufriére volcano will show you the island’s full beauty. Boat trips to spot dolphin and whales are also available, as are biking, jeep and hiking tours of the rainforest. But do leave time to explore the shops of Castries, where you can pick up bread, wine and even ketchup made from bananas.View typical shore excursions for this port
|St. VincentShow more||Windward Islands|
About St. Vincent
Although he never landed on the island, Columbus sailed past in 1498 on 22nd January, which happens to be St Vincents Day in the Spanish calender, and so gave the island its name.
The Carib Indians were initially left to their own devices by the Europeans and external contacts were limited, however they did intermarry with the survivors of a slave ship that was wrecked on the coast. There’s a strong British influence here as the islands official British roots go back to the mid 18th century.
Notable sights include La Soufriere a 4,000 ft volcano that last erupted at the end of the 1970’s. In Kingstown the botanical gardens are well worth a visit, there’s even a descendent of the original breadfruit tree planted by Captain Bligh.View typical shore excursions for this port