Think ‘Caribbean’ and islands such as Barbados, Antigua and Jamaica immediately spring to mind. But while these may be among the most popular tourist destinations in the region, they are by no means the only exotic islands you can visit. In fact, with 30 territories making up the Caribbean group, the wealth of options for a cruise holiday are endless.
Let’s take a look at some of the Caribbean’s lesser-known gems and what you can get up to once the ship has made port:
With a name that wouldn’t be out of place in the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movie and the scenery to boot, the island of Tortola, the largest of the four main British Virgin Islands, is a fabulous place to make land during a cruise of the Caribbean.
The British Virgin Islands is, as you might have guessed, a British Overseas Territory situated to the east of Puerto Rico that enjoys a tropical climate. Visitors can therefore expect year-round warmth, with average minimums in the low 20s from January to December.
While sun is the order of the day for the most part, you can expect the odd tropical shower from time to time in the British Virgin Islands, but this only serves to give Tortola a picturesque lush greenness that you can enjoy on a panoramic island tour.
Other highlights of a stay on the island include swimming with dolphins, heading off road in a 4×4 and, of course, lazing on the white sand beaches.
Underscoring the reach of the British Empire, the Cayman Islands, which are located to the south of Cuba and the northwest of Jamaica, are also ruled by Queen Elizabeth II. But it was a former king, George III, who gave his name to the capital of Grand Cayman, George Town.
Attractions of the largest of the Cayman Islands include the rather misleadingly named Seven Mile Beach (it’s actually only a measly 5.5 miles long), which is one of the Caribbean’s finest, and sailing aboard a racing catamaran – a slightly different experience to a huge cruise ship!
The Cayman Islands’ climate is split into two distinct seasons – wet and dry – so you most likely want to arrive in winter time when the least rain will fall.
Aruba might be one of the Lesser Antilles in the south Caribbean, but there’s nothing inferior about this warm, dry, sunsoaked island.
Although it’s not owned by Britain, Aruba is a former Dutch colony, the legacy of which is heard in the language and seen in the form of the colourful town houses in the capital Oranjestad.
Highlights of a visit to the island include the Butterfly Farm, where you will encounter a stunning array of these creatures; snorkelling among tropical fish in the warm, blue waters; and a fun-filled tour of the island.
As you can tell, there’s a whole lot more to the Caribbean than just Barbados, Antigua and Jamaica – as fantastic as they are – and undoubtedly the best way to see it all is aboard a cruise ship, which can whisk you from island to island in no time at all while you enjoy the onboard entertainment.
Then once you’ve made port, you’re free to enjoy everything Tortola, Grand Cayman, Aruba and the like have to offer.