Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond

Barbados Cruise Port: Tips, Excursions, Weather

Barbados cruise port tips
© 2023 Scott S. Bateman

A Barbados cruise port visitor may feel disappointment on arrival at the cruise terminal after getting a first glimpse of this popular Caribbean island. It all looks so commercial and not like a lush Caribbean island.

Barbados is a fairly large island at 166 square miles and a fairly populated one at 300,000 people. So the commercialism is not a surprise.

It also gets populated with tourists. A half million people visit the island every year for hotel and resort vacations, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). It is one of the 10 most popular Caribbean destinations for hotel visitors. Another half million visit by cruise, the CTO says.

The cruise port at the capital city of Bridgetown is used heavily for commercial freight and other needs of this bustling former British colony.

But cruise visitors need not worry. They will find Barbados has plenty of things to do, food to eat and tropical beaches for sunning.

Quick Travel Tips

  • The Barbados cruise terminal is right by Bridgetown. No need for transportation to shop or dine, although getting to the best of Bridgetown is a mile walk.
  • The main thoroughfare is Broad Street, which has most of the duty-free shopping and historic attractions.
  • Snorkeling with sea turtles is one of the best unique excursions.
  • Beaches are accessible by taxi, bus or car rental.

Where is Barbados?

Barbados is in the southeastern Caribbean Sea, which makes it a common cruise destination for both eastern and southern Caribbean cruises. It is about 100 miles southeast of St. Lucia. Only Grenada and Trinidad are farther south in the eastern Caribbean.

Cruise Port Terminal

Barbados Cruise Port Map

Cruise ships arrive at the Bridgetown Cruise Terminal. It is one mile west of the city center. The modest cruise terminal has more than 60 duty-free shops that sell goods that most cruisers will find at major Caribbean ports. They include jewelry, clothing (plenty of T-shirts), crystal and liquor. The terminal also has vendors that sell local food and beers.

Two more attractions are a quick walk from the terminal. They are the Chattel House shopping area next to the terminal and Bridgetown Public Fish Market across the street.

At this point, visitors can decide if they want to make the one-mile walk downtown, take a taxi there or go on an excursion that includes transportation. If they walk downtown on Princess Alice Highway, they can stop at about the half mile point at the Pelican Craft Centre. It has retail shops, arts and craft shops and a gallery among other attractions.

For us, we didn’t mind walking on our first visit. On the second visit, the heat encouraged us to take a taxi. Expect to pay taxi drivers about $5 per person one way to get there.

Attractions and Shore Excursions

Snorkeling with sea turtles is a popular excursion

Walking Around Attractions

Broad Street is the place to go. It has some of the city’s historic attractions, such as St. Mary’s Anglican Church, built in 1825, and the Barbados Parliament Building, which has a beautiful clock tower and vaulted windows.

St. Michael’s Cathedral, which was built in the mid-17th century, is nearby as well. We also enjoyed lunch on a warm and breezy day overlooking Constitution River right by Independence Arch and Independence Square.

Shore Excursions

Outside of the city, one of the best experiences on the island is snorkeling with sea turtles. Visitors will take a boat out of Bridgetown to a nearby location, just off the coast, where a large number of hawksbill sea turtles gather because they have become comfortable with human contact.

Visitors can snorkel with the turtles while guides feed them. The turtles come within just a few feet of people in the water, but they veer away if anyone gets too close. The excursion usually costs about $60 to $70 per person with discounts for children if visitors get there by boat. Some options that go directly to the beach by the turtles are less expensive. Prices vary according to amenities. We paid extra for a catamaran tour that included snorkeling and a beach visit.

Harrison’s Cave, a stream cave system more than a mile long, is another popular attraction. It also is a common shore excursion of the cruise lines. The cave is 10 miles northeast of the cruise terminal, so it requires a taxi, rental car or excursion bus to reach it. Prices for a Harrison Cave shore excursion start at about $125 per person.

Like several other Caribbean destinations, Barbados has an Atlantis submarine. This 48-person submarine with viewing windows dives as much as 150 feet during a 45-minute underwater tour. Prices start at $90 per person with steep discounts for children.

Other attractions include the Flower Forest, which has 50 acres of flowers, animals and trails. Andromeda Natural Gardens is six acres of flora and fauna. Ocean Park is a marine aquarium with 26 exhibits. St. Nicholas Abbey in northern Barbados is a 350-year-old Jacobean plantation house, syrup factory and rum distillery.

The island has seven golf courses at last count. Sandy Lane, Rockley and the Rockley Tree Plum courses are closest to the Bridgetown cruise port.

Beaches Near Cruise Port

Beach lovers will find more than 60 of them stretched across 70 miles of sand. The best of the bunch is Crane Beach in St. Philip parish, according to Barbados Tourism Marketing. It is on the other side of the island and is a 40-minute drive from Bridgetown.

Anyone who doesn’t want to take the time to go to Crane Beach will find three popular beaches just north of the capital. Excursions may cost as little as $20 a person. Cruise visitors may find that taxis are cheaper.

One of the most popular beaches for cruise visitors is Brandons Beach, which is 1.5 miles north of Bridgetown. It offers water sports, restaurants and plenty of activity.

Brighton Beach lies just next to Brandons. Batts Rock, another beach near Bridgetown has picnic areas, playground, facilities and shade trees.

Another group of beaches lies to the south starting at 1.5 miles from the cruise terminal. They are Brownes, Bayshore and Pebbles, although they really make up just one beach. They are available as a cruise line shore excursion. Some of them cost as little as $15 per person in part because of the short ride. It’s possible to reach them with a half mile walk for anyone who is visiting the city center.

Shopping and Restaurants

Bridgetown Barbados pedestrian mall
Swan Street is a popular pedestrian mall. © 2023 Scott S. Bateman

Shopping is the first option for any visitor because passengers will walk right off the ship and into the Bridgetown Cruise Terminal in the bustling capital of Barbados.

The terminal has more than 60,000 square feet of space with 20,000 square feet dedicating to shopping. Most of the shops are duty free and offer typical tourist items.

Outside of the main entrance, Chattel Village has 16 more shops in a courtyard environment.

From there, visitors will need to walk or drive about a mile to get to the city center of Bridgetown.

Broad Street provides the bulk of the duty-free shopping. Cave Shepherd is a shopping center on Broad Street and provides some of the best variety in duty-free shopping.

Those looking for local crafts should travel a little farther down the road to Pelican Village, where a wide selection of handcrafts, art and local food is available. Walkers will find it about halfway between the cruise terminal and city center.

Broad Street lies next to Constitution River with some restaurants offering nice views along the opposite bank.

Broad Street offers higher-end shops with duty-free shopping. The more interesting experience lies along Swan Street, which runs parallel to Broad. This cobblestone, pedestrian-only street is popular with local and has many shops and street vendors.

Transportation / Getting Around

The government transit board and private operators provide taxis and minibuses. Taxis are not metered, so confirm the price before getting into the cab.

Government buses are blue with a yellow stripe. There are two terminals in Bridgetown and one in Speightstown.

Car rental agencies are common on this island that is 21 miles long and 14 miles wide in part because beaches, resorts and other major attractions are widely dispersed. Many of the agencies serve the cruise terminal.

Visitors must drive on the left side of the road as common with British and former British territories.

Weather / Best Months to Go

Barbados monthly rainfall
The Barbados cruise port has the best weather in the late spring months. © 2023 Scott S. Bateman

Barbados weather maintains an average high temperature of about 83 degrees Fahrenheit from December through March.

The average high starts to climb in April and hovers around 87 degrees from June through October.

Rainfall is light in the winter and spring, moderate in the summer and heavy in the fall.

Total rainfall is about two inches a month from January through April and peaks at more than five inches in September through November.

Late spring is the best time to visit Barbados for a combination of warm temperatures and low risk of rain.

The most popular months to visit are January, March and especially December.

Other Tips

  • Like most Caribbean islands, Barbados widely accepts U.S. dollars.
  • The island is divided into 11 parishes.
  • The official language is English, although the Bajan dialect is common.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
October 26, 2023

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