Cruising the Southern Caribbean
January 2018 | By Susan Milne | 3 minute read
Head for the Southern Caribbean, far from the crowds, to discover unique ports and tropical splendor! This region is steeped in natural beauty with fascinating history to discover. Choose from a variety of itineraries sailing from San Juan, St. Maarten, Barbados, Florida or Texas to some remarkable places.
The islands of the Southern Caribbean can be combined with eco-focused Costa Rica and Panama for a very enriching voyage that also touches the Panama Canal. Adventures ashore take you to rainforests, volcanoes, indigenous villages and wildlife viewing centers. Be amazed by the workings of the Panama Canal when you visit the Miraflores Locks visitor center near Panama City which houses an interactive museum, viewing platforms and a buffet restaurant with canal views.
Some ships make partial transits of the Canal, to Gatun Lake and back to the Caribbean. This is a very exciting way to really experience the canal in action as your cruise ship is raised and lowered in giant locks that work on gravity.
Favorites on Southern Caribbean cruise itineraries, these islands are all very different and with their own special features:
- The French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique ooze with charm. At Sainte-Anne, Guadeloupe there are beaches with shallow turquoise water, palm trees and white sand. Take a break from the pool and beach for an educational outing to the volcano museum at St. Pierre, Martinique. Here you’ll get a fascinating glimpse into the famous eruption that destroyed the city in 1902.
- Unspoiled rainforests, waterfalls, lakes rivers and mountains make Dominica the Nature Island of the Caribbean so excursions here revolve around enjoying the pristine terrain by hiking, ziplining and canyoning. Snorkeling, whale and dolphin watching are also very good here. Hire a jeep for the scenic drive between Portsmouth and Roseau.
- Grenada is the spice island where you’ll want to check out the market for a spectacular array of nutmeg, mace, cinnamon and other spices grown here. Get a panoramic view of the picturesque harbor by walking up the cobblestone streets. The beautiful white sand of Grand Anse Beach and Annandale Falls, where you can swim in the pool of a waterfall, are popular places to visit.
- Barbados is a sugar cane island with a bustling capital city; Bridgetown. Island tours take you to estates and plantation homes and Harrison’s Cave limestone cavern, or spend a day at one of the splendid beaches. Swim in the local sea turtles’ habitat at Carlisle Bay and spot the Green Monkey in the Barbados Wildlife Reserve.
- The colorful, gabled architecture of the ABC islands – Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao – is a testament to their Dutch history. These progressive islands offer many different experiences. They are major destinations for sophisticated towns, beautiful coves and beaches, snorkeling and diving, hiking and bird watching (including pink flamingos). On Curacao don’t miss trying the famed Curacao liqueur, see the picturesque floating bridge and stop by the remarkable Sea Aquarium where interacting with dolphins and feeding sharks and turtles is part of the fun.
When you are ready to unplug and escape, be sure to consider a cruise to the natural region of the Southern Caribbean.