Grand Cayman

Your cruise ship will dock at George Town, Grand Cayman – almost certainly with several others – it gets very busy here!!

One of the breeding turtles – about to spit!

But don’t let that put you off – Grand Cayman has lovely beaches (Seven Mile beach isn’t quite 7 miles – but this is the Caribbean – who’s counting??!), fabulous crystal clear sea, access to marine life – the Cayman Turtle Farm is amazing!, a fabulous rock formation know as Hell – THE favourite place to send postcards from, lots of Rum Cake, more banks than you can possibly deal with and plenty of duty free shops. It’s easy to access the many tours available once you get off the ship. We found the people of Grand Cayman to be friendly and helpful – very happy to point you in the direction of the best dive sites or trips out to Stingray City. George Town itself is busy, but has a great vibe and is worth a look. We really enjoyed our visit!

St Maarten

The cruise ships generally moor at the new-ish cruise port, from where you can get a taxi or water taxi to Philipsburg very easily.

One of the busy streets in Philpsburg

This is an island of two nations – Philipsburg is the capital of St Maarten and is Dutch, with Marigot the capital of St Martin – the other side of the island – which is French. Philipsburg is a shopping paradise where there are almost always deals to be done, particularly on electronics. It’s still pretty though, with a lovely beach area where family members who can’t face yet more shops, can wait happily for the one waving the credit card! Taxis are available to Marigot – both in the cruise port and at the pier where you get off the water taxi. Marigot is reputed to be very chic and very french where duty free shopping definitely isn’t the focus! The famous Orient Beach is also on the French side – again, taxis available from the port.

Dominica

Dominica is known as the nature lovers island – as confirmed townies, we were a bit reluctant to go ashore but we fell in love with this gorgeous place and have added it to our most favourite places list!

Steam rising from the hot springs

This is definitely a place to take a local tour so that you get to see the rain forest, learn about the plants and animals, taste the fruits, see sulphur springs, impressive waterfalls, fabulous views and even a squished school bus! (Work of a hurricane – no one was in it at the time). Dominica claims to have one of the highest levels of centenarians in the western hemisphere, and says that the reason for this is the pure air and water, and the diet of fish, fruit and vegetables. Most of the Carib Indians driven out from nearby islands by the European settlers in the 17th century found refuge on Dominica, and the Carib Territory is well established on the eastern side of the island and visitors are welcomed. the other ‘must do’ on Dominica is to visit one of the natural spas and relax in the pools, shower under the waterfalls or take a mud treatment – you might not live longer, but your skin will feel lovely!

Bridgetown, Barbados

Barbados is the eastern most island in the West Indies. This Caribbean island is probably one of the least touristy islands and so offers a good

The museum of Barbados

opportunity for cruise ship passengers to see a bit of ‘real caribbean life’. Your ship will dock about a mile from Downtown – there is a well organised taxi rank where you can buy seats in one of the many mini buses that will drive you the 10 minute journey. Bridgetown is a thriving town with a busy high street where the familiar ‘Diamonds International’ type stores rub shoulders with the regular shops and a department store. Past the statue of Nelson (same as the one in Trafalgar Square but much nearer the ground so you can actually see him!!) and opposite Heroes Square is the Parliament Building – have a look in the museum that traces the history of Barbados and then tour the parliament with a guide – really interesting!

St Kitts

Cockleshell Beach

St Kitts is a hugely popular cruise ship destination, and is part of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean. Dramatic scenery, beautiful beaches and a rich and interesting history make this island a fabulous stop on your cruise. It has a dormant volcano, previously dubbed Mount Misery by the British settlers, but renamed since independence as Mt Liamuiga (The Caribe Indian name for the island). The Black Rocks to the north of the island are the remnants of lava deposits and along some parts of the shoreline the sulphur smell in the air indicates that below the sea, there is still volcanic activity in the region! St Kitts was the first British territory in the Caribbean, claimed by Thomas Warner in 1623, and became known as the ‘Mother Colony’ as it was from here that the British colonised 10 other Caribbean islands. You’ll find Picadilly Circus in Basseterre, red British phone boxes and everyone driving on the left. Until recently there was also a Pall Mall Square! This is an island of natural beauty, historic interest and amazing weather – we experienced heavy rain and hot bright sunshine several times each during our short stay!

St Thomas

St Thomas is the largest of the 3 US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean and is a popular cruise ship destination. You will be docked in one of the two cruise ship docks: either Havensight or Crown Bay – both are a short $4pp taxi ride from Downtown Charlotte Amalie, the capital.

Views across Charlotte Amalie harbour & Hassel Island from Paradise Point

St Thomas was bought by the US from the Dutch government in 1917 in order to secure a naval base in the Caribbean so that they could protect the Panama Canal. The Dutch influence is still to be found, particularly in the Royal Dane Mall – a wonderful historic district where you can wander in between the old buildings and warehouses that have now been converted into a fabulous range of shops, galleries and bars. Shopping in St Thomas is said to be rivalling that in Phillipsburg, St Maarten, the historic sites are within easy walking distance of each other, and the beaches are as beautiful as only Caribbean beaches seem to be able to be! Oh – and it’s the home of the banana daquari – we loved St Thomas!