Cruisers' Guide to the Southern Caribbean

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The heady ports of call in the southern Caribbean include far-flung exotic islands such as Aruba, Barbados, and Curacao, all with a potpourri mix of Spanish, Dutch, French, and British influences. Here are your options for southern Caribbean cruise destinations.

Cruise liners visiting Antigua dock at the capital of St. John’s on the island’s west coast, while Antigua’s sister island of Barbuda is an easy day trip by catamaran for shore visitors. In St. John’s, visitors can stop at the market, head out on an off-road beach safari, or hit the water at Cade Reef for snorkeling. Barbuda has its own pristine beaches, as well as a popular frigate bird sanctuary.

Ships sailing to Aruba dock in Oranjestad, the island’s capital on its southwest coast. You’ll hear English, Spanish, and Dutch spoken here, and although the official currency is the Aruban florin, US dollars are widely accepted. A shore excursion tour will show you the highlights with the option to learn to dive, snorkel, or sail on at the famous white-sand beaches.

This is a little slice of England in the Southern Caribbean. English is spoken, and US dollar bills (but not coins) are accepted. Ships dock in the capital of Bridgetown, full of shops, historic buildings, and the famous Mount Gay rum distillery.

Pastel-painted, gabled houses with red roofs welcome cruise ships to Curacao’s capital, Willemstad. English, Spanish, and Dutch are spoken, and although the local currency is the Antillean guilder, US dollars are accepted. Cruise ships dock on the western side of the channel at Otrobanda, just a short walk over the bridge to the shops and restaurants in Punda. 

British and French influences are evident on Dominica, and you’ll be docking in the former French port of Roseau on the island’s southwest coast. Popular shore excursions include water-based activities like kayaking, rainforest river tubing, and beach snorkel tours by jeep.

There are so many things to do and so many different ways to relax when you're spending time on Grenada, the Caribbean's Isle of Spice. Bring your camera to capture stunning waterfalls, your swimsuit to cool off in tropical pools, and a sense of wonder and adventure.

This high, green island is one of the Caribbean's top fashionable resort destinations, but it's still a long way from being overdeveloped. Bananas are still bigger business than tourism in this archetypal island paradise, and the western shores are a fine place to be from February to April when the rain eases off.

St. Kitts is as hopping as Nevis is sleepy, but relaxation and a rum punch are requisites on both islands. The dual island nation offers a menu of plantation-cum-boutique hotels, palm tree-lined beaches, and adventurous hikes. Between February and May, the hot and dry conditions will fuel your tropical dreams. Other months can get quite wet, with a hurricane season from August to October.
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