Nine out of ten of the world’s most popular cruise ports are in the Caribbean. With its vivid waters, paradise sands and ample quantities of rum, it doesn’t take much to fathom why. Caribbean cruises usually depart from Florida, and are a great way to explore several destinations in one itinerary. But with so many ports to point one’s compass towards, some Caribbean destinations are more likely to unearth treasured memories than others. Read on for some of the best places to drop anchor as you cross the Atlantic on your Caribbean cruise.
Barbados: rum and rainforest
Dock in Bridgetown Cruise Terminal and you’ll be greeted by shimmering pink sand, lush rainforest and more rum than you can shake a sugar cane at. Surfers should strike out directly for the white-crested waves of the east coast, while divers will be buoyed by the scuba opportunities that can be arranged directly from the island’s capital. Squander an afternoon sauntering through fine examples of British colonial buildings or delve deeper on a trip to the stalactite-hung Harrison’s Cave.
St Lucia: fire and romance
This windward island to the northwest of Barbados is renowned for its romantic credentials, and is a popular honeymoon hideaway. Not just for lovers, this volcanic landscape has bubbling sulphur springs, jagged mountains and the rather opulently-dubbed Diamond Waterfall to boast of. Soar leisurely through the treetops on a zipline or aerial tram, or grit your teeth and conquer a hike of the Gros Piton.
Ocho Rios: resort relaxation
A luxury port to the north of Jamaica, this chilled township is a far cry from the tussle of Kingston, and Ocho Rios, or “Ochi,” is designed around anticipating the whims of the tourists who cruise to its port. Cool down at the pretty Blue Hole, a natural water park in the heart of the forest, sample some fresh Jamaican seafood, then kick back with a cocktail and some live music in one of the many beachfront bars.
Costa Maya: hidden temples
This quirky peninsula in the Mexican Caribbean is developing its cruise port credentials as an excursion point for those interested in Mayan culture, and is very much an up and coming, rather than fully-formed, destination. Chacchoben, a city dating to around 350 A.D is the main draw, though it remains unswamped by tourists, and the Fortress de San Felipe Bacalar offers further incentive for historians in need of a heritage fix.
Dominica: Nature’s bounty
Known commonly as The Nature Island, Dominica’s natural assets attract visitors to this Eastern Caribbean port. Sparsely populated, this landscape of waterfalls, hot springs and mountainous rainforest, and the MorneTrois Pitons National Park has been awarded World Heritage recognition. Visit the Boiling Lake, the second largest geothermic spring in the world, spot sperm whales in the surrounding ocean, or snorkel the bubbling waters of the Champagne reef for a uniquely aerated underwater experience.
Wherever you choose to base your trip to the Caribbean from the above destinations, it will be in the knowledge that it’s already a tried and tested choice. Get caught up in the easy pace of island life, and whatever you do, remember not to leave without some Tortuga rum cake; it’s the ultimate Caribbean souvenir.