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Trinidad Cruise Port Guide

Steelpan players. © Trinidad & Tobago Tourism Development Company
Steelpan players. © Trinidad & Tobago Tourism Development Company

Trinidad is one of the less active cruise destinations in the Caribbean, but the island’s culture is famous worldwide.

The island is the home of the steelpan, the country’s national instrument, as well as calypso music. It also is the home of Carnival, the island’s also famous annual festival.

Cruise visitors will disembark at Port of Spain, the capital city of the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. What is a bit different about the experience is that Port of Spain is a major commercial port, so it doesn’t have the typical look of a Caribbean cruise port.

Trinidad-Tobago is one of the most industrialized nations in the Caribbean and is the largest oil exporter in the Western Hemisphere.

In that sense, it is similar to the cruise port of Bridgetown, Barbados. But cruise visitors will be made to feel that they have arrived in a festive atmosphere anyway.

Visitors will disembark at the cruise ship complex and often be greeted by calypso singers, steelpan players and dancers in Carnival costumes.

The terminal includes an information office along with clothing boutiques, souvenir shops and duty free stores. A craft market is located outside of the terminal.

Few major cruise lines visit Trinidad because it is so far south in the Caribbean. Cruise lines that do visit Trinidad include Princess, Silversea, MSC and Oceania. They include Trinidad usually during longer cruises such as 10 to 27 nights.

Attractions and Shore Excursions

Trinidad Cruise Port Map

Ariapita Avenue may be the most popular attraction for cruise visitors, but Trinidad has other tourist attractions as well.

They include Fort George, which was built by the British in 1804, and Port-of-Spain Museum, which displays the city’s history. A city tour that may include Fort George costs about $65 per person.

Queen’s Park Savannah is the location of Carnival as well as other events. This 400-acre park was formerly a large sugar estate.

One of the more unusual attractions for a Caribbean island is Mt. St. Benedict’s Monastery, located 800 feet above sea level. The oldest Benedictine monastery in the Caribbean is still actively managed by the monks. It offers visitors attractive views of the island, 600 acres of nature trails, an art gallery, studio and cafe.

Nature lovers have several options including the Royal Botanical Gardens; the Caroni Bird Sanctuary, home to the Scarlet Ibis and filled with mangrove-lined waterways and lakes; and Asa Wright Nature Center, a former cocoa and coffee plantation that is a bird sanctuary and ecological center.

Nearby Beaches

Trinidad beach
The most common beach excursion is Maracas. Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons license

Beach lovers may find that some of the best beaches on both Trinidad and Tobago are on Tobago. For cruise visitors on Trinidad, one of the most popular beaches is located at Maracas Bay. It is about a 45 minute to one-hour drive from Port of Spain. A four-hour shore excursion to Maracas will cost about $50 per person.

Another beach option is Las Cuevas on the north coast. It is sometimes available as a more expensive shore excursion than Maracas because it is farther away. Other beaches usually require travel by car or taxi.

Transportation / Getting Around

Because the ships dock right by the heart of Port of Spain, visitors will be able to walk a short distance to the main shopping district downtown.

One of the hot spots of Port of Spain is Ariapita Avenue. It runs parallel to the docks and is only one block away from them. It is the location of many restaurants, casinos, cafes, shops and bars.

For more adventurous visitors, public transportation is available in the form of buses, maxi taxis and route taxis. Tickets for the state-owned buses range between $2 and $12 Trinidad dollars. Taxis do not have standard fares, so ask the driver for the fare before getting in the car. Be aware that taxi drivers may require Trinidad-Tobago dollars.

Visitors who rent a car will need a valid international driver’s permit or one issued in the Bahamas, Canada, England, France, Germany or the United States. Car rental prices may range up to $35 a day. Note that local drivers commonly use hand signals to indicate they are stopping or turning.

For anyone interested in visiting the sister island of Tobago (and who has plenty of time), ferries run between Port of Spain and Scarborough, Tobago. The crossing takes about 2.5 hours.

Weather

Trinidad and Tobago have distinct wet and dry seasons with the dry season running from January through May and the wet season running from June through December, roughly in line with the Caribbean hurricane season.

The islands lie at the southern edge of the hurricane zone, so they usually feel only indirect effects from tropical storms and hurricanes, according to the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service.

The average high temperature throughout the year is 88 degrees Fahrenheit, while the average low is about 73 degrees.

March is the warmest month during the dry season and September the warmest during the wet season.

Other Tips

  • English is the primary language.
  • Tipping: 10% of the fare for taxi drivers; 10-15% at restaurants.
  • U.S. currency is widely accepted. Most ATMs will give advances on credit cards in TT dollars and banks will convert your cash.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the America.
February 17, 2020