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8 Best Southern Caribbean Cruise Ports

St. Lucia Pitons
Piton mountains. © St. Lucia Tourist Board
A large number of seven-day cruises to the southern Caribbean leave from San Juan, Puerto Rico, in order to reach the largest number of islands in the shortest period of time.

Southern Caribbean cruises often include ports that are listed on eastern and western cruises. Taking a southern cruise is a good idea during the colder winter months to reach the islands with the best temperatures.

Ports of call often include:

Antigua


Unique attractions include Shirley Heights with its military fortifications and overlook of English Harbour; the historical Sea View Farm Village with displays of folk pottery available for purchase; Harmony Hall Art Gallery, the showplace of island art; and Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, which displays the island’s historical past.

The island also is known for having 365 beaches or one for every day of the year. One of the better ones that is close to the cruise docks is Miller’s Beach. A taxi is the best way to get there; be sure to negotiate rate before getting into the cab.

Barbados


Unique attractions include the Flower Forest that combines a botanical garden and nature trail; Andromeda Natural Gardens, with six acres of tropical plants and flowers; and Harrison's Cave, which includes underground streams and a 40-foot waterfall.

The island is one of the more commercial destinations in the Caribbean, but cruise visitors will find plenty of the usual island attractions plus a few that are unusual. One of the best is swimming with the sea turtles, a popular excursion just off the coast.


Dominica


Dominica is promoting itself as an ecotourism vacation and with good reason. It is one of the better hiking experiences in the Caribbean because of rain forests, mountains and waterfalls.

The cruise dock has a small tourist area that doesn’t have the same level of shopping and dining as other destinations. Given a choice of whether to pick a cruise with Dominica on the list, anyone who likes hiking should consider it while those who like shopping, dining and beaches should try for another cruise that goes elsewhere.

San Juan


San Juan is a common departure port for southern Caribbean cruises. Tourists who fly into San Juan and have time to explore should consider going to Old San Juan, which is close to the cruise docks.

Old San Juan has two famous forts, cobblestone streets and a variety of historical and architectural attractions.

St. Kitts


St. Kitts beach
St. Kitts beach. © St. Kitts Tourism Authority
St. Kitts & Nevis promotes itself as an ecotourism destination because it is quiet and undeveloped compared to many other islands.

Unique attractions include climbing a dormant volcano, numerous hikes, bird watching and the usual assortment of water sports.

The St. Kitts Scenic Railway is unique in the Caribbean. Guests can take a 30-mile route around the island and encircle the 3,800-foot Mount Liamuiga.

St. Lucia


Unique attractions include Pigeon Island National Landmark with a history of Amerindians, piracy and battles between the English and French; Fond d'Or Nature Historic Park with more island history, nature and culture; and Fond Doux Estate, an authentic working plantation.

But the most famous landmark is the Pitons, a pair of mountains that stand 2,000 feet over the island. Visitors there can hike, photograph and take volcanic mud baths. The views in the more remote part of the island are among the best in the Caribbean.

St. Maarten


This small but beautiful island has relatively few unique attractions, although visitors are more likely to go because of cruises and for quiet stopover vacations.

Attractions include the famous (and clothing optional) Orient Bay Beach Bay; Grand Case, which has the best restaurants on the island; sailing to nearby St. Barths and Anguilla; and the panoramic views of Fort Louis.

Perhaps the best attraction on the island is the cruise port of Philipsburg, which is one of the best in the Caribbean because of its size and atmosphere.

U.S. Virgin Islands


Any list of attractions starts with shopping in the capital city of Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas. Buck Island is one of the few fully protected marine parks in the United States.

Virgin Islands National Park includes an underwater reserve that makes up 5,650 acres. For these reasons, U.S. Virgin Islands abounds with snorkeling and diving opportunities.


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