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Top Caribbean Ports Reviews for Cruises in 2023

Discover where ships dock in the most popular cruise ports in the Caribbean. Find out all you must know about the cruise ports and top things to do. Learn how and what can be explored on your own.

Recently UPDATED

Top 12 Beach Day-Passes Nassau (the Bahamas)

Photo of Baha Mar Resort close to Nassau cruise port

 The Atlantis is the most famous resort in Nassau offering a beach day passes. But Margaritaville and Baha Mar have also opened resorts close to Nassau and offer day passes to passengers visiting the cruise port for the day.  Discover all 12 Beach Day-Passes in Nassau   ❯

The ABC islands

Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao are three Dutch islands in the South Caribbean, off the coast of Venezuela, that are a delight to visit on a cruise.

Aruba has been a popular cruise port for over two decades, and many cruise ships also visit Curaçao . But it was only recently that Bonaire became a regular port of call by the most popular cruise lines.

Click on the photos below to dicover what these islands have to offer.

Photo of walk to town from the ship terminal in Aruba cruise port

Aruba  ❯

Photo of ship docked in Bonaire cruise port

Bonaire ❯

Photo of waterfront buildings in Curaçao cruise port

Curaçao ❯

Labadee cruise port.

Royal Caribbean's Private Enclave in Haiti

Panoramic Photo of Miami Port

Unlike what you may read in less acurate reviews, Labadee is not an island. The cruise port of Labadee is in an enclosed peninsula in Haiti that is in reality a gatted resort for the exclusive privilege of passengers of Royal Caribbean. Read the full review  ❯

Recent Port Reviews

La Romana Dominican Republic

Panoramic Photo of Miami Port

• Where is La Romana and Where Cruise Ships Dock • What's at the Cruise Terminal • How to explore La Romana • Top 15 Things To Do and Shore excursions • Must-know, Basics and more...  Read the full review  ❯

East Caribbean

Top Cruise Ports Articles and Reviews

Antigua St. Johns's Heritage Quay Downtown Beyond St. John's To See and Do

Photo of Redcliff Cay in Antigua Cruise Port

Explore ❯

Barbados Bridgetown Port and Terminal What's Close By To See and Do Landmarks

Photo of Heroes Square in Barbados Cruise Port

St. Lucia Castries The Terminals To Do and See Shopping Day-Passes

Photo of Marigot (Panoramic) in St Lucia Cruise Port

St. Kitts Port Zante Where Ships Dock Highlights Shorex On Your Own

Photo of Arrivals Hall Port Zante in St Kitts Cruise Port

San Juan - Puerto Rico

Port of Call and Home Port

Photo of Cruise Ships Docked in San Juan Cruise Port

 The Piers and Terminals of San Juan Calling and Embarking in San Juan, Which Cruise Lines Dock Where What's Within Walking Distance | Old San Juan Atractions Essential and Basic Information  Learn More  ❯

St Thomas (Charlote Amalie) Cruise Ports

After the devastation of both Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, St. Thomas and its two cruise terminals - Crown Bay and Havensight - were open one month after the island was hit.

Four years later, there are still a few attractions that have not yet been fully restored, but most highlights are fully operational. Discover what is open, what to do and see, where ships dock and much more ...

St Thomas (Charlotte Amalie) Overview

Panoramic Photo of Zip Line in St Thomas

Read More ❯

Top 8 Things to Do and Visit

Photo of Skyline in St Thomas (Charlotte Amalie)

Read All Reviews ❯

The 12 Best Beaches in St Thomas (USVI)

Photo of Bolongo Bay Iggies Beach in St Thomas (Charlotte Amalie)

St Thomas Cruise Port Shopping

Photo of Tiffany's Shop in St Thomas (Charlotte Amalie)

Read Full Review ❯

Where to Have Lunch or a Quick Bite

Photo of Cafe in St Thomas (Charlotte Amalie)

St Thomas Cruise Port Top Articles and Reviews

① Docking and Tendering Where cruise ships dock or anchor in Charlotte Amalie, and which ships dock where ...

Photo of Cruise Ship Anchoring in St Thomas (Charlotte Amalie)

Learn More ❯

② Docking in Havensight Discover all you must and need to know about the Havensight Dock: Piers, Tourist Information Office, Shopping, Taxi Fares, Car Rental, Attractions Nearby...

Panoramic photo of Havensight Dock in St Thomas (Charlotte Amalie)

③ Docking in Crown Bay Discover what's in Crown Bay Cruise Terminal: Amenities and Services, Tourist Information and Wi-Fi, Shopping, Quick Bites ...

Photo of ships docked in Crown Bay in St Thomas (Charlotte Amalie)

④ Top 16 Historical Sites Reviews of Fort Christian, Blackbeard's Castle, Haagensen House, Villa Notman, Hotel 1829, Historical Museum, Pissaro's Building, The 99 Steps ...

Photo of 99 Steps in St Thomas (Charlotte Amalie)

⑤ Top 8 Tours and Shorex Review the Top Shore Excursions in St Thomas (USVI) including cruise lines price comparisson ...

Photo of Screamin Eagle Jet Boat in St Thomas (Charlotte Amalie)

⑥ History and Facts Brief History, Time Line, Trivial Curiosities, Geography and Demographics...

Historical photo of street in St Thomas (Charlotte Amalie)

St. Kitts (Basseterre)

Port zante overview.

Photo of Nevis Island (Panoramic) - St Kitts Cruise Port

• Where is St Kitts and When to Cruise • Top Highlights and How To Explore On Your Own Read the full review  ❯

Photo of Ships Docked in St Kitts, Basseterre, Cruise Port

What's at the Terminal ❯

Photo of Scenic Railway in St Kitts Cruise Port

Top Things To Do ❯

Photo of National Museum in St Kitts Cruise Port

The Old Town ❯

Photo of Bloody Point Canyon in St Kitts Cruise Port

Off The Beaten Track ❯

Sint maarten (philipsburg) cruise port.

Photo of Terminal in St Maarten cruise port

Sint Maarten (Saint Martin in French) was one the Caribbean Islands more seriously hit by hurricane Irma in 2017. However, the recovery was fast and St Martin is back on all major itineraries cruising the Eastern Caribbean. Learn More ❯

Amber Cove - Puerto Plata (Dominican Republic)

Photo of Maimon beach and cruise ship docked at Amber Cove cruise port

 Overview: where is the port and where ships dock, to see and do, how to explore and get around, shops, lunch, wi-fi, maps, tourist info, basics ...  Learn More   ❯

Panoramic photo of Amber Cove Cruise Center and Pier

The Cruise Center: activities & services ❯

Panoramic photo of Cable Car in Puerto Plata near Amber Cove

Top Attractions Close to the Port ❯

Photo of downtown Puerto Plata city near Amber Cove

Top Things To Do in Puerto Plata City ❯

Saint lucia castries cruise port.

Photo of Jetskiing in Saint Lucia cruise port

Overview ❯

Photo of walk into town in Saint Lucia cruise port

Where cruise ships dock ❯

Miami: the top cruise port in the world.

Panoramic Photo of Miami Port

 How to get to the Cruise Port and Around: from the Airports (mia and ffl) Driving to the Port, Shuttles, Taxis, Parking ...  Learn More   ❯

Photo of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami Cruise Port

Top Things To See and Do ❯

Photo of Brickell City Center Mall in Miami Cruise Port

Shops and Malls ❯

Nassau (the bahamas).

Photo of Port (Panoramic) in Nassau Cruise Port

Port Overview ❯

Photo of Atlantis in Nassau Cruise Port

Top Highlights ❯

Photo of John Bull Shop in Nassau Cruise Port

Shopping ❯

Photo of John Bull Shop in Nassau Cruise Port

Activities ❯

Photo of John Bull Shop in Nassau Cruise Port

Landmarks ❯

Photo of John Bull Shop in Nassau Cruise Port

Beach Day-Passes ❯

Nassau Shore Excursions

Photo of British Colonial in Nassau Cruise Ship Port

Discover the best Shore Excursions in Nassau, including cruise lines price comparisson, how and when you can book on your own, everything you need to know about each shore excursion.

Learn More ❯

Recently Updated

Cozumel - Puerta Maya Terminal

Photo of Puerta Maya terminal in Cozumel cruise port

 Where is the Terminal, Basic Info, ATM, Pharmacies, Taxis, Shore Excursions, Car and Scooter Rental, Shopping, Restaurants, Bars, Grills and What's Nearby 

The 3 Cruise Ports

Depending on your cruise line, ships will dock in different ports in Jamaica.

Photo of Ratfting in Martha Brae in Montego Bay Cruise Port

Montego Bay ❯

Photo of Terminal in Falmouth Cruise Port

Falmouth ❯

Photo of Pier in Ocho Rios Cruise Port

Ocho Rios ❯

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Roatán (Honduras) Cruise Port

Photo of Coxen Hole Port of Roatan

Carnival corporation cruise lines dock at Mahogany Bay, and all other cruise lines dock at Coxen Hole.

• Discover all you need to know about the two terminals in Roatán • Which cruise ships dock where • What's at the piers and terminals • Basic Services and Amenities   Learn More  ❯

Off Track Cruise Port Reviews

Bonaire (Kralendijk) Cruise Port

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Explore: The Two Piers, Getting Around, What's Close By, Top Things To See and Do, How to Explore on Your Own, Shopping, Basics and more ...

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Basic Guide to Grenada Cruise Port

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Find out Where Cruise Ships Dock, What's At the Pier, the Terminal, Close By, Sightseeing and more ...

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Cozumel Day-Passes

(2023 Top Review)

The BEST Beach Clubs, Water Parks, All-Inclusive Resorts and Hotels offering Day-Passes in Cozumel.

Photo of Beach Club in Cozumel Cruise Port

• What's Offered: services and amenites • Where and How To Get There. • Opening Times and Prices.

Most Popular Ports

Photo of Blue Lagoon in Nassau Cruise Port

Pier, Terminal, Attractions, Shopping ...

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Attractions, Mayan Ruins, Mahahual, Excursions ...

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Grand Cayman

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Where Ships Dock, Top Attractions ...

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Labadee, Haiti (Royal Caribbean)  ❯

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Freeport (Grand Bahama)  ❯

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Progreso (Mexico) Overview  ❯

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Rafting in Martha Brae close to Mosntego Bay cruise port

Montego Bay Overview ❯

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Cozumel Overview ❯

Customs House in Key West

Key West Overview ❯

Cartagena (colombia).

Photo of Street in Cartagena (Colombia)

Cartagena de las Indias is one of the most stunning Historical Cities in the South Caribbean and Panama Canal Itineraries. Meandering the streets of the Walled City is a memorable experience not to be missed ...

Curaçao (Willemstad)

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The Piers and Close By Top Attractions and Landmarks Shopping and Restaurants

Aruba Oranjestad

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The Port, Walking and Taxis The Best In Town The Beaches

Miami Things To Do and See

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Vizcaya Museum South Beach Downtown

Shopping in Miami

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Bayside Brickell Lincoln Road

All Nassau Cruise Port Reviews

① Overview - Nassau is the most visited port in The Bahamas and one of the most popular cruising destinations in the Caribbean ...

② At The Pier - The harbor of Nassau is quite impressive and sailing in an interesting spectacle not to be missed ...

③ Highlights - Top Editor's picks such as the Cabbage Beach, the John Watling's Distillery, the Junkanoo Beach, the Fort Fincastle ...

④ Activities - Atlantis, The Adastra Gardnes, The British Colonial Hotel, the Junakanoo Beach the Fat Tuesday Beach Club ...

⑤ Landmarks - Sightseeing and exploring on your own: Parliament Square, the Garden of Remembrance, the Public Library and Museum ...

⑥ Tours - Most of the excursions can only be booked onboard but some can be booked 'independently' as savvy cruises like to say ...

⑦ Shopping - Nassau is one of the top shopping paradises for cruise passengers looking for duty free goods like jewlery, watches and accessories.

⑧ Restaurants - Nassau is one the best ports for the cruise ship passenger that enjoys savoring local flavors and delicacies ...

⑨ Facts - Nassau's Time Line, Personalities - Trivial Curiosities, Geography, Demographics, Economy ...

Cruising Europe

Top 18 Ports in the Mediterranean to Explore in 2023

Discover the wonders of cruising in Europe. Explore what to do and see in famous cruise ports like: Athens, Dubrovnik, Santorini, Rome, Barcelona and more ...

Panoramic Photo of Venice, Italy

Top Cruise Ports in Europe ❯

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Cruise Ports in the Caribbean

Set sail to the epitome of paradise as you explore the captivating cruise ports of the Caribbean. From the turquoise waters of St. Maarten to the lively streets of Jamaica, this region entices with its stunning beaches, vibrant music, and a kaleidoscope of cultures and flavors.

Welcome to the Caribbean!

Situated on the Caribbean Plate, the region is home to more than 700 islands, islets, reefs, and cays that stretch in a 2,500-mile arc. The region has lush, tropical geography that has been greatly shaped by sea temperatures and precipitation.

You will find beaches galore to be able to take advantage of the year-round 80 degree temperatures.

In Falmouth and Montego Bay, Jamaica , you will be able to take advantage of the pristine white sands and turquoise-blue waters.

And while in the Caribbean, be sure to take a walking tour of Old San Juan .This beautiful 500-year-old city will put you in step with the history of Puerto Rico. While there, you can take the Old San Juan food tour to sample traditional local dishes and desserts.

Feel just like the pirates that previously roamed this port of call when you shop duty-free in Charlotte Amalie, St.Thomas . Try your luck at the Casino Royale at Maho Village in St. Maarten or take a bus tour of this island that is today part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Explore the world just beneath the surface of the water with a sail and snorkeling tour of the Marine Sancturay at Buck Island in St. Thomas, the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Whatever you choose, you are sure to create memories of a lifetime in the Caribbean!

Basse-Terre – Guadeloupe

Basseterre – st. kitts & nevis, bridgetown – barbados, castries – st. lucia, charlestown nevis & st. kitts, charlotte amalie – st. thomas, falmouth – jamaica, fort de france – martinique, george town, grand cayman, grand turk – turks & caicos, gustavia – st barthelemey, kingstown – st vincent & the grenadines, kralendijk – bonaire, labadee – haiti, marigot – saint martin, montego bay – jamaica, ocho rios – jamaica, oranjestad – aruba, philipsburg – st. maarten, point-a-pitre – guadeloupe, roseau – dominica, san juan – puerto rico, scarborough – trinidad & tobago, st thomas – us virgin islands, st. croix – u.s. virgin islands, st. george’s – grenada, st. john’s – antigua, tortola – british virgin islands, virgin gorda – british virgin islands, willemstad – curacao.

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12 Best Caribbean Cruise Ports For a Great Shore Excursion

The allure of the Caribbean is undeniable. With its warm, turquoise waters, vibrant cultures, and sun-drenched islands, the region beckons travelers seeking both relaxation and adventure. As the heart of many cruise itineraries, Caribbean cruise ports offer a diverse array of experiences. From the bustling marketplaces and historical landmarks to serene beaches and lush rain forests, each port presents a unique doorway to the treasures of the Caribbean Sea.

Travelers looking for the best Caribbean cruise ports are met with a wealth of options. Nassau, the bustling capital of the Bahamas, offers a mix of colonial history and modern-day resort comfort.

Cozumel, Mexico enchants divers with its world-class coral reefs, while Ocho Rios in Jamaica promises cascading waterfalls and verdant gardens. Across the waters in St. Thomas, duty-free shopping and breathtaking views from Charlotte Amalie’s hilltops await.

Assessing the best ports involves considering accessibility, variety of attractions, and the quality of the experience. Ports that consistently rank highly include Bridgetown, Barbados with its British colonial architecture, and Phillipsburg, St. Maarten, known for its dual French and Dutch cultural influences. Each destination’s unique blend of natural beauty, cultural offerings, and recreational activities ensures that there is something for every cruiser to enjoy in the Caribbean’s sun-soaked havens.

The best Caribbean cruise ports

Choosing the Right Cruise Line

When selecting a cruise line for a Caribbean trip, passengers should consider their desired route and the specific amenities offered by various luxury cruise ship companies . The experience can differ greatly between Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises as well as between different cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Virgin Voyages and Holland America .

Key Aspects to Consider:

  • Route Preference: Eastern itineraries for more relaxation, Western for adventure.
  • Port Accessibility: Some ships can dock at smaller ports, offering unique itineraries.
  • Traditional or relaxed ambiance.

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady cruise ship

Categorizing Eastern vs. Western Caribbean Cruise

Eastern Caribbean cruises typically call at ports like the Bahamas, St. Thomas, and Puerto Rico, providing a mix of shopping, pristine beaches, and historical sites. Western Caribbean itineraries often include destinations like Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and Mexico, which are well-suited for adventure activities and cultural experiences.

Cruisers should choose based on the kind of experience they desire, the amenities that are important to them, and the type of Caribbean cruise they are looking to enjoy.

According to Edwina Lonsdale, Managing Director, Mundy Cruising:

“We think the Caribbean is one of the world’s most appealing cruising destinations. But feedback from our clients when we propose this amazing destination can be negative:  they lump all of the islands together based on bad past experiences or some horror story they’ve heard from a friend.

This dismissive view of the Caribbean is rooted in the world of mainstream megaships. The big ships are restricted to busy, overdeveloped islands where going ashore means running a gauntlet of hassle from street vendors, touts and taxi drivers.

Often the main attractions are duty free shopping malls, and the chances of experiencing an authentic slice of Caribbean culture are minimal. Instead, discover the tiny islands and secluded beaches that the big ships can’t reach with small ship cruises to the Caribbean.”

Terre de Haut, Iles des Saintes

Top Ports of Call in Eastern Caribbean

The Eastern Caribbean is home to some of the most picturesque and vibrant cruise ports. Each port combines rich history, beautiful beaches, and unique shopping experiences.

1. Charlotte Amalie , St. Thomas

Charlotte Amalie , the capital of St. Thomas, offers an enticing blend of colonial elegance and island charm. Cruise visitors can explore Fort Christian , a Danish-built fortress dating back to the 1600s, or stroll along Yacht Haven Grande for high-end shopping. This beautiful Caribbean port is also a gateway to stunning beaches like Magens Bay .

  • Historical Sites : Fort Christian, 99 Steps, Blackbeard’s Castle
  • Popular Activities : Duty-free shopping, snorkeling, beach visits
  • Beaches : Magens Bay, Coki Beach, Lindquist Beach

View of St. Thomas harbor from Paradise Point

2. Great Bay Beach , St. Maarten

Cruisers to St. Maarten will find themselves at Great Bay Beach , where vibrancy and a lively atmosphere are the orders of the day. The capital, Philipsburg, offers duty-free shops along Front Street and the famous Boardwalk for leisurely beachfront strolls. It is famous for its dual French and Dutch culture.

  • Cultural Experience : French Saint Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten exploration
  • Beachfront: Boardwalk, beach bars, watersports
  • Shopping: Front Street, duty-free deals, local crafts

St Maarten cruise port

3. St John’s , Antigua

There are two main cruise ship docking facilities in St. John’s:

  • Heritage Quay – This is located right in downtown St. John’s and can accommodate up to 4 large cruise ships at once. It has duty-free shopping right at the terminal.
  • Deep Water Harbour – This facility is about 1 mile from downtown St. John’s and can dock 7 cruise ships at once. Passengers are shuttled into town.

Taxis and rental cars are readily available right at the cruise terminal. Public buses also provide an inexpensive way to get around the island.

Some top sights and activities near the port include:

  • Fort James and other historic sites in St. John’s
  • Nelson’s Dockyard and English Harbour
  • Shirley Heights Lookout
  • Beaches like Dickenson Bay

A view of Nelson's Dockyard from the mountains of Antigua

4. Old San Juan , Puerto Rico

The historic city of Old San Juan in Puerto Rico greets travelers with colorful Spanish colonial buildings and cobblestoned streets. Visitors can tour the grand El Morro fortress , which towers over the ocean, or enjoy authentic Puerto Rican cuisine in one of the many local restaurants.

  • Historical Landmarks : El Morro, La Fortaleza, San Cristobal Fort
  • Cuisine : Local food tasting, rum distillery tours, street foods
  • Shopping : Artisan boutiques, souvenir shops, local art galleries

Cruise port and downtown area in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Western Caribbean Highlights

The Western Caribbean offers an array of exotic destinations with diverse cultures, breathtaking natural landscapes, and ancient historical sites. These ports provide enriching experiences for every traveler.

1. George Town , Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

George Town is the vibrant capital of Grand Cayman , known for its excellent duty-free shopping. We didn’t spend long here though, as a short cab ride away, you’ll find the famous Seven Mile Beach. This is one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful shores.

If you have a full day in Grand Cayman, we recommend a trip to Stingray City, where you can get up close with friendly marine life. Alternatively, the Botanical Gardens with their distinctive blue iguanas are well worth a visit.

caribbean island cruise ports

2. Belize City, Belize

Belize City port acts as a portal to limitless adventures in Belize ‘s lush jungles and ancient Mayan ruins. Belize City itself isn’t particularly photogenic, so shore excursions are definitely recommended.

The highlight for many is the opportunity to visit the iconic Altun Ha , an important Mayan site, or to explore the spectacular Barrier Reef , second in size only to Australia’s. We took a plane over the Great Blue Hole, an enormous marine sinkhole, and also travelled by water taxi to laid-back Caye Caulker.

The Great Blue Hole in Belize

3. Cozumel and Costa Maya

Cozumel and Costa Maya are gems of the Yucatan Peninsula, offering cultural richness and some of the best snorkeling and diving spots.

  • Cozumel is celebrated for its vibrant coral reefs and is a gateway to the famed Chichen Itza ruins.
  • Costa Maya , less developed, presents an authentic slice of Mayan culture with easy access to majestic ruins and beautiful beaches.

Royal Caribbean cruise ships docked in Cozumel cruise port

4. Montego Bay, Jamaica

Located on Jamaica’s north coast, Montego Bay is one of the most popular West Caribbean cruise ports. Ships dock at the Montego Freeport Cruise Terminal, close to the many shops and restaurants of the Hip Strip.

From here, passengers can explore the lush green mountains of the inland rainforests. Exciting shore excursions include river rafting, zip lining through canopy forests, visiting Dunn’s River Falls or touring a historic plantation house like Rose Hall. 

To experience Jamaica’s famous beaches, excursions travel to Doctor’s Cave Beach or book a catamaran sail and snorkeling trip. For an authentic taste of Jamaican culture, visitors can check out Sam Sharpe Square, barter at the craft market, or join a reggae dancehall party. With its stunning natural scenery, activities ranging from adventurous to laidback, and fun-loving spirit, Montego Bay offers cruise goers the quintessential Caribbean experience.

Dunn's River Falls is a popular Jamaica shore excursion

Best Southern Caribbean Destinations

The Southern Caribbean is acclaimed for its diverse and paradisiacal ports, each offering unique attractions and boasting their own piece of paradise.

1. Pointe Seraphine , St. Lucia

St. Lucia , often recognized for the Pitons —majestic twin peaks that are a UNESCO World Heritage Site—invites travelers to explore its volcanic beaches and reef-diving sites. They can immerse themselves in a landscape where lush rainforests meet azure waters.

We recommend either the Lucian aerial tram or Sulphur Springs and Toraille Waterfall as St Lucia cruise excursions – we really enjoyed all these activities.

The cruise port at Castries, Saint Lucia

2. Bridgetown , Barbados

Barbados presents a compelling cultural and historic tapestry in its capital, Bridgetown. Visitors to Bridgetown are often enchanted by its well-preserved British colonial architecture, bustling harbor, and vibrant shopping districts.

Notable attractions include:

  • Harrison’s Cave
  • George Washington House

Bridgetown cruise port in Barbados

3. St George’s , Grenada

Grenada, known as the ‘Spice Island’ for its nutmeg and mace production, is a treasure chest of tropical flora and aromatic markets. The island’s capital, St. George’s , is famed for its horseshoe-shaped harbor and colorful homes dotting the hillside.

St George's cruise port in Grenada

4. Oranjestad, Aruba

Located on the southern coast of the Caribbean island of Aruba , Oranjestad serves as a popular cruise port of call. Arriving ships dock at the Renaissance Marketplace, adjacent to the historic downtown featuring Dutch colonial architecture and shopping venues.

Popular shore excursions allow cruise passengers to explore Aruba’s natural sights , including idyllic beaches, Arikok National Park, and complex cave systems. Adventurous excursions involve touring the rugged east coast by 4×4 or embarking on a scuba dive or sailing catamaran trip.

Back in Oranjestad, relaxed activities include browsing souvenir shops or enjoying a cold beverage at open-air cafés situated along the charming harbor promenade lined with divi-divi trees. With its sunny climate, beautiful scenery and friendly locals, Oranjestad offers cruise travelers the perfect taste of island life.

Snorkelling in Aruba

Caribbean Port Shopping

Shopping in Caribbean cruise ports offers a wide variety of unique finds and duty-free deals. Popular ports for shopping include St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Nassau, Cozumel, and Grand Cayman. Typical items to shop for include jewelry, watches, liquor, cigars, souvenirs, beachwear, handicrafts, art, and clothing.

In St. Thomas, visitors will find a large variety of jewelry and watch retailers, as well as shops with perfumes, cigars, and electronics. St. Maarten is known for its shopping districts in Philipsburg and Marigot, featuring high-end boutiques, galleries, and souvenir shops.

Nassau and Cozumel offer duty-free liquor along with handicrafts, souvenirs, cigars, and other typical Caribbean gifts. The Cayman Islands boast luxury shopping with name-brand stores in Grand Cayman.

Cruise passengers should come prepared with a shopping list and budget in mind to fully enjoy browsing the diverse shops and markets found across Caribbean ports.

Tortuga Rum Factory in Grand Cayman

Unique Experiences at Caribbean Sea Ports

The Caribbean Sea offers ports where visitors can immerse in the local wildlife, historic landmarks, and shopper’s havens, making every stop a unique adventure.

Snorkeling with Sea Turtles in Turks and Caicos

Turks and Caicos are renowned for their crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life. Visitors can experience snorkeling alongside sea turtles that glide gracefully among the colorful coral reefs. This is an intimate way to observe these majestic creatures in their natural habitat, making for an unforgettable encounter.

Exploring the Mayan Ruins near Playa del Carmen

Just a short journey from the port of Playa del Carmen , one can discover the ancient Mayan ruins . These archeological sites provide a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the Mayan civilization. They stand as silent watchers over the lush jungles and offer not only a spectacular view but also an educational journey.

Duty-Free Shopping in U.S. Virgin Islands

The U.S. Virgin Islands boast some of the best duty-free shopping in the Caribbean. Shoppers can enjoy significant savings on jewelry, electronics, and luxury goods. The experience is not just about the savings, but also about the high quality and wide range of products available, ensuring visitors find something unique to take home.

Tulum Mayan Ruins on the Riviera Maya, Mexico

Seasonal Tips for Caribbean Cruising

When planning a Caribbean cruise, understanding the regional climate patterns and tourist seasons is critical for an optimal experience.

Best Time to Cruise for Weather

The Caribbean has a tropical climate with a pattern of a wet and dry season. The best time of year for cruising with favorable weather is typically from December to April , during the dry season. This period offers sunshine, warm temperatures, and minimal rainfall, making it ideal for outdoor activities and beach excursions.

  • Ideal for: Beach visits, snorkeling, water sports
  • Typical weather: Warm temperatures, clear skies
  • Note: Higher chance of rain and potential hurricanes, especially from August to September.

Navigating Peak Tourist Seasons

The peak tourist season in the Caribbean coincides with the best weather, meaning December to April also sees the highest visitor numbers. Cruisers should book well in advance during this time to secure their preferred travel dates and accommodations. To avoid crowds, one could consider the shoulder months of early December or late April when schools are typically in session.

  • Prepare for : Higher prices, more crowded ports
  • Booking tip: Reserve early, up to a year in advance recommended
  • Benefit: Lower prices, fewer tourists
  • Drawback: A stronger likelihood of rain and tropical storms

White sandy beach in Grand Turk in the Caribbean

Local Flavors and Culture

The allure of the Caribbean goes beyond its iconic beaches. The region’s rich tapestry is most pronounced in its culinary delights and cultural festivities that reflect a diverse historical legacy.

Sampling Authentic Caribbean Cuisine

Caribbean islands offer an abundance of flavors steeped in a melting pot of culinary traditions. Local cuisine is an eclectic blend, drawing influence from African, European, East Indian, and indigenous peoples.

  • Jamaica : Visitors should not miss trying jerk chicken or pork , marinated with a fiery mix of spices and slow-cooked over pimento wood.

Jamaican jerk chicken

Adventurous Activities and Relaxation

The Caribbean, renowned for its beautiful beaches and clear waters, offers a plethora of activities for thrill-seekers and serenity-lovers alike. Visitors can immerse themselves in a variety of water sports or unwind on pristine white sand beaches .

Water Sports and Beaches

Best Beaches for Water Sports:

Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos:

  • Ideal for: Snorkeling, paddleboarding
  • Noteworthy for its calm, clear waters and extensive coral system.

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman:

  • Ideal for: Jet skiing, windsurfing
  • Renowned for its length and accessibility to multiple water sport vendors.

Travelers seeking the ultimate Caribbean beach experience should visit:

A fofoti tree on Eagle Beach in Aruba

Nature and Historical Tours

For history and nature lovers, the Caribbean offers:

Rainforest Adventures:

  • Locations: Dominica, Puerto Rico (El Yunque)
  • Activities: Hiking, zip-lining
  • These rainforests boast rich biodiversity and breathtaking landscapes.

Historical Sites Tours:

  • Brimstone Hill Fortress, St. Kitts: A well-preserved historical site offering insights into the Caribbean military architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • Old Havana, Cuba: Here, one can wander through colonial buildings and plazas steeped in history.

Navigating Ports of Call in the Caribbean

As cruise passengers arrive at various Caribbean ports of call, they encounter distinct transportation systems and nuances. Understanding these options ensures seamless onshore experiences.

Transportation Options in Port

Upon disembarking at the cruise terminal, passengers typically find several modes of transportation. They have the choice between taxis , shuttles , and, in some locations, rental cars .

For direct routes to specific attractions, taxis are widely available and provide fixed or metered rates. Shuttles are often offered by the cruise line or local operators, giving passengers group transportation at a lower cost.

Rental cars can be reserved ahead of time for those seeking independence on their excursions, though it is essential to consider local driving regulations.

Many Caribbean ports also offer water taxis , presenting an enchanting alternative to explore surrounding areas. These boats grant direct access to beaches and neighboring islands not immediately accessible from the main port.

Vintage cars in Cuba

Tips for First-Time Cruise Passengers

First-time cruise passengers should acquaint themselves with the layout of the cruise terminal for efficient disembarkation. It’s advisable to research transportation options in advance and, if possible, book services like shuttles or excursions through the cruise line for added convenience. Passengers might find it useful to carry local currency for places where credit card transactions are not readily accepted.

For those venturing independently, downloading offline maps or navigation apps of the area can prove invaluable. Passengers should also be aware of the time they need to return to the ship, as cruise liners adhere strictly to their departure schedules.

In Conclusion: Best Caribbean Cruise Ports

The Caribbean region hosts an array of exceptional cruise ports, each offering a unique blend of culture, adventure, and relaxation. Among the best are:

  • Cozumel, Mexico ; notable for its spectacular coral reefs and water activities.
  • St. Maarten ; a fusion of Dutch and French cultures with vibrant markets and white sand beaches.
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico ; rich in historical significance and local cuisine.
  • Bridgetown, Barbados ; distinguished for its British colonial architecture and rum distilleries.
  • Nassau, Bahamas ; famous for its bustling Straw Market and close proximity to Atlantis Resort.

Guests should ensure they research each destination’s unique offerings. From the historic forts in San Juan to the underwater wonders of Cozumel , there is an experience tailored for every traveler.

Choosing the ‘best’ depends on one’s personal interests:

  • Cultural Exploration : Opt for San Juan or Bridgetown .
  • Beach Relaxation : St. Maarten and Nassau are top picks.
  • Adventure and Water Sports : Cozumel stands out.

The Caribbean’s warm climate year-round makes it an ideal setting for cruise enthusiasts to enjoy these ports at almost any time of the year. However, travelers should be mindful of the peak hurricane season from June to November when planning their voyage.

Selecting the right port involves balancing personal preferences with the activities and experiences available. Hence, future passengers are encouraged to consider what experiences they desire most when choosing their perfect Caribbean cruise destination.

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Caribbean cruise guide: Best itineraries, planning tips and things to do

Erica Silverstein

"All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray …" When the weather turns cold, you could be California dreamin' but doesn't a Caribbean cruise sound so much more relaxing?

Many people would agree with me that a Caribbean cruise is the perfect antidote to the winter doldrums and work stress, plus a wonderful way to reconnect with friends and loved ones. The ship takes care of everything -- transportation, accommodation, meals and entertainment – so you can skip much of the daily planning drama and simply enjoy your vacation and travel companions. Every day you wake up to warm weather and sunny skies (well, most of the time) and a new destination promising white sand beaches, fun activities and memories to be made.

The biggest decision you have to make is between a pina colada and a strawberry daiquiri.

For cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter .

Before you go, however, you have lots of choices to make: Which is the best cruise line? Which are the best Caribbean cruise ports for the activities you most enjoy? What time of year should you travel?

Don't let planning a rejuvenating vacation add more stress to your life. This Caribbean cruise guide gives you the lowdown on everything you need to know to plan the perfect island getaway.

Why cruise to the Caribbean?

caribbean island cruise ports

Sun, sand and sea are what most travelers want when they book a cruise to the Caribbean. If you want to trade chilly weather at home for warm, sunny days spent relaxing on a beach or swimming in clear blue waters, a Caribbean cruise is an ideal vacation. Unlike a resort stay, you can sample multiple beaches in various destinations, as well as the pool life on board the ship.

Many people choose Caribbean cruises because they're affordable getaways to tropical destinations. The sailings depart from several U.S. home ports — from Galveston, Texas, to Boston — so many Americans can drive to their departure ports and avoid paying for airfare.

Plus, cruise ships can change course to avoid bad weather, such as hurricanes, so you can salvage your beach vacation when a storm is headed toward a particular island by cruising to a different one. If you booked a land-based stay, you'd be forced to cancel — or hunker down and wait for the rain and winds to pass.

When do cruises go to the Caribbean?

Caribbean cruises sail year-round, so you can plan your trip for the winter holidays, spring break or summer vacation. However, more ships sail this region of the world in the winter, when other destinations (such as the Mediterranean, Baltic, Canada/New England and Bermuda) are too chilly for vacations at sea.

The luxury and upscale cruise lines especially tend to only base ships in the Caribbean during the winter because their fleets are too small to base a ship there year-round — and their passengers want to explore bucket list destinations around the world.

Best Caribbean itineraries

caribbean island cruise ports

Cruise lines divide the Caribbean into three regions: Eastern, Western and Southern. Itineraries tend to concentrate on one area, but longer itineraries may include islands in two or all of the regions, as well as ports in the Bahamas and Florida.

Which itinerary is best for you will depend primarily on which port you want to depart from and how long a vacation you can take. Once you see the options that fit your parameters, you'll want to look at how many port stops versus sea days an itinerary has and which specific islands you'll visit.

The best Caribbean itineraries for first-time cruisers are often the seven-night Eastern or seven-night Western Caribbean cruises out of Florida home ports, such as Miami , Fort Lauderdale or Port Canaveral (near Orlando).

Western Caribbean

You'll find two main types of Western Caribbean cruises, and both are fabulous introductions to Caribbean culture and attractions. The classic Western Caribbean itinerary visits Mexico (typically Cozumel or Costa Maya), Jamaica, Grand Cayman and a cruise line's private island, which is typically in the Bahamas.

However, some ships sail a Western Caribbean itinerary that's more focused on Central America, with stops in Mexico, Belize and Honduras. These itineraries are great for travelers who are interested in Mayan or Mexican culture in addition to beaches and water sports.

Western Caribbean itineraries are typically a week, but can be as short as four days (with just one stop in Mexico) or as long as 12 days (though these might include stops in the Bahamas, too). You can find departures from ports all along the U.S. East Coast, Gulf Coast and Florida.

Eastern Caribbean

Another popular itinerary for first-timers is the Eastern Caribbean, with visits to St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Grand Turk, the Dominican Republic and/or San Juan, Puerto Rico. Private island and Bahamas stops are common. Longer cruises or smaller-ship itineraries might stop elsewhere in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, St. Barts, Antigua or St. Kitts.

These itineraries are slightly more targeted toward beach time and water sports, with fewer options for historical or cultural attractions than their Western Caribbean counterparts.

As with the Western Caribbean, seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruises are the most common itinerary length. The shortest options are four nights, typically visiting only Grand Turk or Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. The longest, around 10 to 12 nights, will often include Southern Caribbean ports or start from more northerly home ports.

You can find departures from ports as far west as Galveston and as far north as the New York area, but the majority of true Eastern Caribbean cruises set sail from Florida or Puerto Rico.

Related: Eastern Caribbean vs. Western Caribbean cruises: Which itinerary will I like more?

Southern Caribbean

Southern Caribbean cruises tend to attract luxury travelers and repeat cruisers. That's because these islands are farther from U.S. shores, meaning you'll need to fly to an island to catch your cruise ship or need more than a week's vacation to get from Florida all the way south to ports in Aruba or St. Lucia and back. The islands themselves tend to be more exclusive, with fewer ships visiting on any given day.

Common destinations on Southern Caribbean cruise itineraries include Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Barbados, Trinidad, St. Lucia, Dominica, Martinique and Grenada. You'll find everything from gorgeous beaches and diving destinations to lush rainforests and flowing waterfalls.

The shortest Southern Caribbean cruises are five or six days and leave from places such as Barbados, San Juan and St. Thomas. You can find weeklong sailings from Florida, but more commonly, they're eight nights or longer.

The Bahamas and Florida

Yes, I know that the Bahamas is technically located in the Atlantic, but it's an easy mistake to think the balmy islands are found in the Caribbean. Besides, many cruises add stops in the Bahamas to a Caribbean cruise. The majority of the cruise line private islands are located in the Bahamas, and these appear regularly on all Caribbean itineraries. The Bahamian ports of Nassau and Freeport, even Florida's Key West, may appear on Caribbean-centric cruises.

Why? They're close to the U.S. and cruise lines use these ports to break up the multiple days at sea needed to sail farther south into the Caribbean proper.

Related: Caribbean vs. Bahamas cruises: Which itinerary will I like better?

Best Caribbean cruise lines

caribbean island cruise ports

You'll be hard-pressed to find a cruise line that does not sail to the Caribbean at least for a few months a year. The big-ship lines will station multiple ships in this region year-round, with additional ships swinging by during the colder months.

If you consider the best Caribbean cruise lines to be the ones with the most ship and itinerary choices, look to the big-ship lines such as Carnival , Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line .

These lines offer a range of itinerary lengths, port combinations and departure cities from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast. Their biggest and newest ships are often deployed to the Caribbean, so you can find all the latest celebrity-backed restaurants, crazy top-deck attractions (like waterslides, climbing walls and roller coaster rides) and expanded cabin choices. These lines cater to all ages, including older couples and families with children.

Related: The best Caribbean cruise for every type of traveler

If you're looking for an adults-only option, Virgin Voyages caters to the young at heart with its edgy new ships. It offers six- and seven-night Caribbean cruises from the late fall until early spring. Viking takes an entirely different approach to no-kids cruises, catering to mature travelers craving culture and educational vacations. It also offers wintertime Caribbean cruises, though many are paired with a Panama Canal crossing.

Luxury lovers should look at the smaller ships of the Seabourn , Silversea and Regent Seven Seas fleets for opulent accommodations and fine dining while sailing the tropics. Oceania , Azamara and Windstar Cruises are less inclusive, but still high end.

For something a little different, try SeaDream Yacht Club for a super-small ship that feels like a private yacht, complete with an emphasis on alfresco recreation and dining. Star Clippers appeals to sailing enthusiasts with its masted ships, simple entertainment and emphasis on water sports.

Things to do in the Caribbean

White sand beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters are the biggest attractions for most Caribbean cruisers. You'll be hard-pressed to find a Caribbean cruise port that does not offer beach access. Whether you enjoy a cruise line's private beach, a public beach lined with bars or get a day pass to a resort or beach club, you can rarely go wrong with a beach day in the islands.

Water sports are another quintessential Caribbean attraction. Cruisers can swim, snorkel and scuba dive, of course, but they can also kayak, snuba, Jet Ski, sail and parasail. Sometimes you can do these things right from whatever beach is your destination for the day. Otherwise, book a tour to the best spots or for a guided activity. Or, book a leisurely sunset sail or high-octane party cruise to get on the water, not necessarily in it.

Shopping is a popular diversion, from high-end French stores in Martinique and St. Barts to crafts markets and souvenir shops. Historical attractions range from forts erected to protect against pirates to Mayan temples. Cultural tours focus on local cuisine, wine and spirits, and dancing. (Yes, even you can learn to salsa.) Active travelers will find plenty of hiking, biking, zip lining and ATV tours.

Best Caribbean cruise ports

caribbean island cruise ports

A single cruise line might call at 20 to 30 different ports in the Caribbean. Although you might think they all look like stock photos of white sand beaches with palm trees and blue skies, each island has its own look, culture and vibe. I've sailed to a large number of those ports and would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite. They all have their charms for different reasons.

The following Caribbean cruise ports are generally standouts, no matter your travel style.

Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel is an island in the Caribbean just offshore from Playa del Carmen and just south of Cancun. It truly offers something for everyone. You can head to the beach, go scuba diving or snorkeling or head to the mainland to see Mayan cultural sites like Tulum and Chichen Itza. Stick around town to find cheap drinks at Senor Frog's or shop for souvenirs.

Cruise ships call at a number of ports in Jamaica: Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Kingston and Falmouth. Many folks spend the day on the beach, often at one of the resorts, but climbing up Dunn's River Falls is a unique experience not to be missed. Cruisers seeking a thrill can find bobsled, zip line, river tubing and ATV tours. And, yes, reggae fans — there is a Bob Marley tour you can take.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan is both a popular departure port and port of call on Eastern and Southern Caribbean cruise itineraries. Its Old Town and historic fort overlooking the water are top attractions, but cruisers have the opportunity to visit El Yunque National Forest (the only tropical rainforest on U.S. soil) or head to the beach.

Belize City, Belize

Travelers don't tend to spend much time in Belize City itself, but it's a great jumping-off point for all Belize has to offer. Visit the Altun Ha Mayan ruins, go river tubing and spelunking in caves, zip line through the jungle or go snorkeling or diving along Belize's famous barrier reef (the northern hemisphere's largest).

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

This island is known for its gorgeous Magens Bay beach. However, if you'd rather not share the beach with several ships' worth of cruisers, take the ferry to nearby St. John for the day and find a U.S. national park and a more chill beach experience. Take the kids to the Coral World Ocean Park, your sweetie on a catamaran sail or snorkel trip and your crazy friends on a helmet dive or BOSS underwater scooter adventure.

Known for its lush green twin peaks known as the Pitons, St. Lucia entices travelers with postcard-perfect beaches set against jungle scenery. It even has its own volcano with sulphur springs to visit and all the usual land and sea activities.

Beach, beach and more beach — Aruba is definitely a port to be in, on or near the water. It's one of the southernmost Caribbean islands, found just off the coast of Venezuela, and its location protects it from the summer and fall hurricanes that can hammer the islands to its north and east. Animal lovers might want to check out its ostrich farm — not something you usually find in a Caribbean cruise port.

When to book a Caribbean cruise

caribbean island cruise ports

The best time to book a Caribbean cruise is clearly right now! Seriously, you can almost always find a deal on a Caribbean cruise if you're flexible enough with your travel dates and cabin types.

If you want to book a popular sail date (such as a Christmas and New Year's Eve sailing) or are looking for a cabin type that's in limited supply (connecting cabins or studio rooms for solo travelers), book as far in advance as you can, at least nine months out if not longer. If you're retired and can drive to a port, you can likely find an inside cabin to book just a few weeks prior to sailing.

The first few months of the year, known as "wave season" in the cruise industry, is a time when cruise lines all offer some kind of booking promotion, and you can often find discounted fares or free booking perks on Caribbean cruises. Many cruise lines also run sales at the end of the summer or during Black Friday/Cyber Monday, and Caribbean sailings are almost always included.

What to bring on a Caribbean cruise

Swimsuits and warm-weather clothing should top your Caribbean cruise packing list, but don't forget the sunscreen. The sun is stronger than you might expect in this part of the world, and you can easily burn during a long day at the beach if you don't apply and reapply plenty of sunscreen. Hats, sunglasses, moisture-wicking athletic clothing and your favorite cover-ups and sundresses are all must-pack items.

I also recommend that all passengers bring a passport on their Caribbean sailing. If you're cruising round-trip from a U.S. port, a passport is not required by law — but it's a good idea to pack one in case of an unexpected medical emergency or mechanical problem that forces you to debark the ship in a foreign country.

Bottom line

Whether you're new to cruising or a hardy sailor, the Caribbean is the perfect place for a cruise vacation. If you've never been, any of the islands will delight. If you've sailed before, there's always some destination you've never visited or an activity you haven't tried.

When winter in your hometown drags on, or the stress of the workweek gets you down, a Caribbean cruise is often just what the doctor ordered to lift the weight of the world from your shoulders and let you escape to a tropical paradise for a few days.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

  • The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A beginners guide to picking a cruise line
  • The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
  • 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
  • 15 ways cruisers waste money
  • 12 best cruises for people who never want to grow up
  • The ultimate guide to what to pack for a cruise

Exploring Caribbean

10 Best Caribbean Cruise Ports

There are so many amazing itineraries and ports for cruises in the Caribbean , it can be really hard to choose the right one for you. 

Whether you’re looking for inspiring historical sites, duty-free shopping, beautiful beaches, fun-filled adventure, or a mix of all these things, the perfect port is out there. It’s just a matter of finding it. 

We’re here to help make it easier with our list of the top 10 best Caribbean cruise ports.

caribbean island cruise ports

Havana, Cuba

One of the best Caribbean cruise ports for those interested in rich history, vibrant culture, friendly locals, interesting architecture, excellent food, and beautiful scenery is the unmissable destination of Havana in Cuba .

Situated in the western Caribbean very close to the U.S., Havana has a modern cruise port which can accommodate large ships and provides easy access to the city for cruise passengers. 

If you’re a history fan, be sure to explore Havana’s landmarks, such as the Old Town of Havana , a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the Museum of the Revolution; the Cathedral of Havana; the Morro Castle; or the Plaza de la Revolucion. For a quick way to get around the sites, you can even take a tour of the city in a vintage car!

There are plenty of opportunities for cultural experiences as well. Stroll down the Malecon and mingle among the locals, take a Cuban cooking lesson, or even participate in a salsa dancing class.

Cruising between November and April? This is the perfect time to head to Havana, as it is during the dry season when temperatures are not too hot and there’s very little rainfall.

caribbean island cruise ports

Phillipsburg, St. Maarten

Located on the Dutch side of this dual-heritage island (St. Martin/ St. Maarten ), Phillipsburg is a gorgeous destination, taking pride of place on many Caribbean itineraries.

The port in Phillipsburg consists of two piers, accommodating up to four vessels. This cruise terminal is surrounded by boutique shops, luxury hotels, a tourist information center, and a fantastic selection of local restaurants, so you can start experiencing the fun of St. Maarten as soon as you disembark.

Looking to relax on a lovely beach? Head to downtown Phillipsburg, just a one-kilometer walk from the port or a short water taxi ride away. If you have more time to spend relaxing on the sand, be sure to visit Great Bay Beach where you can rent a lounger and umbrella and enjoy swimming and playing with the whole family. There are restaurants nearby, so you don’t have to stray too far for lunch.

December to April is the best time to enjoy Phillipsburg and its beaches.

caribbean island cruise ports

Roatan, Honduras 

Roatan , Honduras offers stunning scenery and great excursions. Since Roatan is a small island, you can reach all the top spots within less than an hour from either of the ports, Mahogany Bay and Coxen Hole, which are located just 20 minutes apart.

Roatan is one of the best Caribbean cruise ports for snorkeling, and Grand Roatan Resort on West Bay Beach is one of the best spots for snorkeling in the whole of the Caribbean. You don’t need a boat to get there and can find amazing sea life such as vibrant coral, sea turtles, and a variety of tropical fish. It is a public beach, so cruise ship passengers can enjoy snorkeling here too. 

Many thrilling and adventurous activities await in Roatan. Be sure to visit Gumbalimba Park, where you can zipline through the jungle canopy, or escape from the crowds on the serene and secluded Camp Bay Beach.

This Caribbean cruise port is best between March and August, as temperatures in the area at this time of year are amazing.

caribbean island cruise ports

George Town, Grand Cayman

The largest of the Cayman Islands , Grand Cayman is a must-visit spot on any multi-destination trip to the Caribbean. It is home to a wide range of experiences plus a variety of beautiful beaches. 

Cruise ships anchor slightly offshore and passengers must take a tender to the George Town Cruise Port. For this you’ll require a tender ticket, which can be a lengthy process, so it’s important to plan ahead. 

Grand Cayman is an excellent destination for those who enjoy strolling along a beautiful beach or going on a snorkeling adventure. A number of tour operators offer trips around cruise port times to the famous Stingray City , an amazing snorkel location where you can interact with and feed the stingrays.

If you’re not looking to spend extra money on this kind of excursion or if snorkeling simply isn’t your thing, head down to Seven Mile Beach, a scenic strip of shoreline popular with tourists looking to relax and catch a tan.

Grand Cayman is best between January and April, as this time of year offers nice warm weather and very little rainfall.

Beautiful summer afternoon at the outer wall with sentry box of fort San Felipe del Morro in old San Juan in Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

One of the best Caribbean cruise ports when it comes to history, culture, nature, and above all variety, Puerto Rico is well worth the visit. 

From the port in the famous city of Old San Juan , guests can immediately begin exploring world heritage sites, jungles, and glorious white beaches as soon as they step off the ship. Cruise vessels dock downtown, so all the popular attractions are easy to reach via a short walk up the cobblestones.

If Puerto Rico is the start or end point of your journey, you may want to consider spending a few days here. This will give you the opportunity to explore not only the wonderful historic city of Old San Juan but also many more sites across the island as well as the towering rainforest, home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in all of Puerto Rico.

No matter how long you’re here, be sure to head to a restaurant, as Puerto Rican cuisine truly sets itself apart from the rest.

If you’re planning on taking a cruise between June and November, you won’t find many itineraries that include Puerto Rico as a destination, as this is the time of year when it experiences many storms. Instead, the best time to visit is between December and March.

caribbean island cruise ports

St. George’s, Grenada 

One of the most southern ports in the Caribbean, Grenada is fondly known as the Island of Spice due to its production of spices; it is the second-largest producer of nutmeg in the world.

With a rich history, an abundance of waterfalls, some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, and interesting reefs and wrecks to explore, Grenada is a top destination. Cruise ships dock in the heart of the capital city, St George’s, and there is plenty to be seen within walking distance. However, public transport on the island is incredibly cheap. 

While access to all beaches on the island is free, Grand Anse Beach is arguably the most popular. There’s a selection of shopping malls, restaurants, and banks all within walking distance, making it the perfect spot for a relaxing day out.

Grenada is one of the best Caribbean cruise ports between December and April as this is the beginning of the dry season and offers warm sunny weather.

caribbean island cruise ports

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

One of the most beautiful cities to visit in the Caribbean, Puerto Plata has both a rich history and stunning natural scenery. There are actually two cruise ports in Puerto Plata, one at Taino Bay and the other at Amber Cove. Both of these have easy access to town, where you can explore a range of museums, historical sites, bars, restaurants, and shops.

If you’re a history fan, you’ll want to tour some of the most famous sites such as the Cathedral San Felipe and the 16th-century Fortress of San Felipe. Be sure to visit the breathtaking beaches such as Plata Dorada, also known as the golden beach. The most famous on the island, it’s located just a short taxi ride from each of the ports.

If you’re looking to take in the astonishing views from the mountains, you can hop in a cable car to the top of Mount Isabel de Torres. Or if you’re interested in taking part in something a little more exhilarating, try a ziplining adventure or visit Ocean World Adventure Park or Monkeyland.

It’s best to visit the Dominican Republic between December and March, when the weather is dry and temperatures are warm but not too hot.

Punda boardwalk in Curacao's capital of Willemstad

Willemstad, Curacao

An amazing island that should be on everyone’s cruise itinerary is Curacao , whether you’re looking to relax on one of the island’s beaches, snorkel with sea turtles, or simply sit back and enjoy a delicious cocktail with the island’s namesake liqueur.

Cruise ships visiting Curacao dock right in the capital city of Willemstad , and the newly built cruise terminal is adjacent to both a tourist center and a shopping center and just mere steps from the history-rich streets.

Willemstad also offers a variety of cultural experiences to enjoy. Separated into the two districts of Otrabanda and Punda, this charming city has interesting museums, vibrant street art, brightly colored houses, and excellent shopping.

Curacao is one of the best Caribbean cruise ports year round. Located just outside of the hurricane belt, it experiences fantastic weather all year.

caribbean island cruise ports

Cozumel, Mexico

A popular destination on many cruise itineraries is Cozumel , an island just off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. There are three ports for ships to dock at in Cozumel. At each one, many taxis are available so you can begin exploring the island with ease as soon as you disembark.

Cozumel is known for its incredible diving and snorkeling opportunities. If you’re looking for an underwater adventure, you’ll want to head down to the clear waters surrounding Palancar Reef where you can see a great variety of colorful tropical fish.

There are also plenty of beaches near the port, where you can simply relax and soak up the sun. If you’re planning on cruising between March and June, this is a great opportunity to enjoy mild temperatures and dry weather in Cozumel.

caribbean island cruise ports

Port Zante, St. Kitts

If you’re looking for a destination that is filled to the brim with activities, look no further than the island of St. Kitts, part of St. Kitts & Nevis . Ships dock at Port Zante in the island’s main town of Basseterre, from where you can explore the outstanding mix of history, beaches, and nature that this island has to offer.

Just a short taxi ride from the port are some of the most beautiful white sand beaches on the southeast peninsula, where you can take in the views from Timothy Hill. Other than this, the majority of beaches on the island have black sand due to St. Kitts being a volcanic island. They aren’t especially picturesque sunbathing spots, but definitely worth seeing!

There’s a variety of hikes available around the island, and history lovers won’t want to miss out on a trip to Brimstone Hill Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the only remaining forts in the Caribbean.

The weather in St. Kitts is generally good all year round, but June to November is the hurricane season.

After reading our picks for the best Caribbean cruise ports, where do you want to go? Let us know in the comments! And if you’d like help planning your perfect cruise, feel free to reach out to one of our expert Caribbean travel advisors ! 

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Forever Karen

17 Great Ports In The Caribbean For Cruise Lovers

Cruise ship leaving Mahogany Bay cruise port in the Caribbean

Selecting a Caribbean cruise itinerary can be a tough choice. With so many stunning Caribbean Island ports, how do you pick the right ones?

Luckily, there are plenty of options depending on the duration and starting point of your voyage. For instance, cruise ships sailing from Florida take longer if you’re heading to the Southern Caribbean.

A year-round destination, the best Caribbean cruise ports attract vacationers for their beautiful beaches, historical sites, duty-free shopping, and the opportunity for adventure.

Caribbean Cruise Embarkation Options

Old san juan, puerto rico, philipsburg, st. maarten, puerto plata, dominican republic, st. thomas, us virgin islands, port zante, st. kitts, grand turk, turks and caicos, ocho rios, jamaica, george town, grand cayman , cozumel, mexico, havana, cuba, roatan, honduras , belize city, belize, willemstad, curacao, roseau, dominica , st. george’s, grenada , bridgetown, barbados , oranjestad, aruba.

Seven-day voyages provide three to four port stops, but you can take a mini-cruise of four to six days.

Should you take a partial or full-transit Panama Canal cruise, you’ll enjoy ports of call in the Caribbean and Central America.

For those looking to embark on a Caribbean adventure, most cruises start in Florida. Miami boasts the highest passenger count of five million per year. If you arrive early, you can start relaxing by hitting up one of Miami’s beaches.

Alternatively, you can begin your journey from other ports like Fort Lauderdale,  Orlando, Tampa, and Port Canaveral.

A cruise ship in the Caribbean, and attractions in two cruise ports

Caribbean cruises from Florida go to all areas of the Caribbean, and most itineraries consist of seven days. Cruise visitors wanting a longer vacation can opt for an extended itinerary or sail back-to-back.

Those who live further north can take an eastern Caribbean cruise from New York, Baltimore, Bayonne, and Norfolk. West of Florida, Galveston, and New Orleans provide itineraries to the Western Caribbean.

Caribbean cruise destinations in the southern Caribbean,may require an embarkation in Guadalupe, Barbados, Martinique, and Puerto Rico.

Looking for the best Caribbean cruise? Find it on Cruise Direct . Choose from short 3-day getaways to 14+ day itineraries to the eastern, western, and southern Caribbean.

Best Ports In The Eastern Caribbean Islands

Since the eastern Caribbean Islands are closest to the mainland United States, they see more travelers than the other regions. While each area has its star attractions, its history and culture are hard to beat.

Since it takes a short time to reach some eastern Caribbean cruise ports, you can opt for a sailing of under 7 days. The best cruise ports in Caribbean come down to your interests and what you prefer to do on your port day.

Old San Juan offers a bit of everything, such as world heritage sites, the El Yunque Jungle, and pristine beaches. Vessels dock downtown, so cruise passengers can walk on cobblestone streets to the most popular attractions.

Since Puerto Rico sits in the storm path, you’ll want to avoid traveling there between June and November. December through March offers slightly cooler temperatures (in the 80s) and lower humidity.

Aerial view of El Morro, Old San Juan

If you embark in Old San Juan, consider spending a few days in Puerto Rico exploring the city and beyond. The colonial architecture and historic forts provide a cultural escape for history buffs.

You can choose to tour El Morro or Castillo San Felipe del Morro, constructed to protect the city from pirates. Alternatively, a tour of Castillo San Cristobal allows you to see the fortress that prevented invasions from the land.

Both structures are National Historic Sites and sit within the old walled city.

If you prefer to escape the city, immerse yourself in the serene beauty of El Yunque Rainforest. This 28,000-acre national park is home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls Puerto Rico has to offer.

La Coca Falls, Juan Diego Falls, and La Mina Falls are only some of this park’s natural wonders that beneath the Sierra de Luquillo Mountains. If you love nature and adventure, El Yunque Rainforest is a great place for an unforgettable day trip.

Juan Diego Falls, Yunque rainforest

During your port day, stop to sample the local Puerto Rican cuisine. Mofongo, Empanadillas, and Arañitas will tantalize your taste buds.

Philipsburg , St. Maarten, is a beautiful destination to visit while cruising and a popular port on many itineraries. Cruise ships dock at Port Philipsburg, where its two piers can accommodate up to four vessels.

Downtown Phillipsburg is about a 1km walk from the port to a white sandy beach with inviting turquoise waters. You can also take a water taxi if you prefer a quicker route.

Located just minutes from the city center of Phillipsburg, the cruise terminal is near boutique shopping, local restaurants, a tourist information center, and numerous hotels. 

December through April provide the best time for visitation as it has the warmest weather. The island is unique in that it is divided between two nations: the French and the Dutch. 

Despite this division, St. Maarten is known for its beautiful coastal lagoons and stunning beaches, making it a must-visit destination for any Caribbean traveler. Philipsburg is a great location to come back and enjoy an  all inclusive Caribbean getaway .

If you’re planning a trip to the Dutch side of the island, make sure to add Great Bay Beach to your itinerary. This stunning beach allows visitors to rent a comfortable lounger and umbrella and buy a bucket of ice-cold beers for just $20. 

Great Bay Beach is perfect for families to enjoy sand castle building and swimming. The beach has a shallow, gradual entry, with excellent restaurants steps away. 

Maho Beach, St. Maarten

If you’re not looking for a beach day, head to Maho Beach, known worldwide for watching planes land right over your head. Maho Beach has a noisy location at the end of Princess Juliana International Airport’s runway. 

Nearby restaurants display the arrivals timetables as watching airplanes pass over the beach is a popular tourist attraction.

Contributed by Erin from The Exploring Family

Along the northern shores of the  Dominican Republic in the eastern Caribbean lies a beautiful gem of a city called Puerto Plata. And lucky for cruise lovers around the world, this town also has a cruise port!

In fact, it has two. One at Taíno Bay and the other at Amber Cove.

With a rich history, Puerto Plata was founded in 1503 by Christopher Columbus himself. It is located along the islands’ Amber coast, which got its name because, underneath the surface, you find some of the clearest ambers on Earth.

Surrounded by the fierce sea, mountains, and valleys overflowing with lush greenery, Puerto Plata is one of the most popular destinations on the island.

There is a myriad of stunning beaches close by. Plata Dorada, the golden beach, is the most famous and a short taxi drive from the port.

When you dock at Taino Cruise port, you are within walking distance of the cruise center in Puerto Plata. You can walk to the historic center with numerous museums and historical sites to explore, as well as lots of nice restaurants, bars, and shopping options.

Fortress of San Felipe in Dominican Republic

Puerto Plata’s most famous historic sites include the Cathedral San Felipe and the 16th-century Fortress of San Felipe, with fantastic city and bay views.

While in Puerto Plata, take the  teleferico , the cable car, to the top of Mount Isabel de Torres (you can hike up, too) for the amazing city views!

Other fun options nearby are visiting the Ocean World Adventure Park, the Monkeyland, or going on an airy zip line adventure! Alternatively, you can repel down the 27 waterfalls of Damajagua.

The most pleasant time to visit Puerto Plata is between December and March, during the dry season when the temperature is in the 70s or low 80s.

Contributed by Hege from The World By Hege

St. Thomas is located in the Eastern Caribbean and is renowned for its white-sand beaches, sparkling turquoise waters, and rich history. Whether you’re a beach lover or a cultural enthusiast, St. Thomas has something to offer everyone.

The beaches here are simply stunning. Magens Bay, one of St. Thomas’s most famous beaches, is known for its mile-long stretch of white sand and crystal clear waters. Other popular beaches include Sapphire Beach, Lindquist Beach, Coki Point Beach, and more.

Magens Bay, St. Thomas

In addition, St. Thomas offers visitors a glimpse into its past with colonial architecture, cobblestone streets lined with colorful buildings, and historic sites like Fort Christian and The Blackbeard Castle — all intertwined with the local culture that makes this island truly unique.

St. Thomas has two cruise ship ports on the island’s south side: Havensight Cruise Pier and Crown Bay Cruise Pier. Both piers make it incredibly easy to disembark and explore the island immediately, with plenty of transportation options once you get off the ship.

The best time to visit St. Thomas is from December to April when the temperatures are pleasant and rainfall is low. You can expect warm days filled with sunshine and pleasant breezes during these months.

There are plenty of things to do in St. Thomas on a port day. You can spend the day exploring the abundant underwater world with a snorkeling or scuba diving excursion around Buck Island National Refuge, Secret Harbor Beach, or Hull Bay.

If you want a relaxing day, you can spend the day at Magens Bay Beach. There’s a bar behind the beach, so you can have a drink while listening to the gentle sound of the Caribbean waves.

Last but not least, you can even go on a sightseeing tour of St. Thomas ‘s best attractions, including the Skyride to Paradise Point, The Mountain Top, Drake’s Seat, and the Pirate’s Treasure Museum.

Contributed by Disha of Disha Discovers

St Kitts is in the leeward islands of the West Indies and one of the best ports in the Caribbean for cruisers. Ships dock at Port Zante in the main town of Basseterre, and there is plenty of activities on port days.

With average temperatures between 28-31C/82-89F throughout the year, there is no best time to visit in terms of temperature. However, June-November is hurricane season, so it may be wetter during those months.

St Kitts has an incredible mix of history, beaches, and nature to explore. Some of the  best beaches on St Kitts  are easy to reach from the cruise port in a short taxi ride. 

The best white sand beaches are down the southeast peninsula, where you can also stop for spectacular views at Timothy Hill viewpoint.

View from Timothy Hill in St. Kitts

Most of the island’s natural beaches are black sand due to the volcanic nature of the island. You can find some fantastic shallow snorkeling spots off the beaches, namely South Friars Beach.

For history lovers, you won’t want to miss a trip to Brimstone Hill Fortress , a UNESCO world heritage site. Brimstone Hill is one of the only remaining forts in the Caribbean and has been largely restored so visitors can get a real sense of what life was like in the 1700s.

Alternatively, St Kitts is the perfect place to get out into nature. Many hikes around the island are suitable for everyone, including children.

Some walks go to hidden waterfalls or secret beaches, while others go into the jungle, where you can see some of St. Kitts’ unique flora and fauna.

Contributed by Steph of Book It Let’s Go!

Grand Turk is a small island in the Caribbean but the largest of the Turks and Caicos Islands. It is the ideal destination for those seeking a relaxing beach vacation.

While the island is only 7 miles long and 1.5 miles wide, it can accommodate two large cruise ships daily at its southern dock.

Unlike other Caribbean islands, there is no town at the cruise port.

Instead, visitors can enjoy a stunning beach with opportunities for paddleboarding, snorkeling, and other water sports.

Grand Turk cruise port

The cruise center complex offers shopping, a Margaritaville, a large pool with swim-up bar, a FlowRider, and more. It’s an ideal venue for families who want to stay close to the port. If two cruise ships are in port, expect a crowd at the pool area.

Most cruise guests spend their day at the beach, where they can snorkel amongst nurse sharks, barracudas, and sea turtles.

Like the islands further south, December through April provides a warm climate and temperatures in the low 80s. Water temperatures are lower, in the mid to high 70s.

A catamaran fishing cruise is also available for those looking for a more private experience. To escape the crowds, visitors can head to the island’s lighthouse, built in 1852, or visit the Turks and Caicos National Museum in Cockburn Town for a dose of history.

While the southern Caribbean Islands have the best beaches, Grand Turk provides an excellent option for those wanting a shorter cruise.

Best Cruise Ports In The Western Caribbean

The western Caribbean Islands’ top shore excursions are all about adventure. If you’re looking for fun in the sun, diving tours, and zip-lining, be prepared for an adrenaline-filled week.

Jamaica is a popular cruise port because of its amazing beaches, a hallmark of the Western Caribbean islands. Each cruise line has its port around the island, and Ocho Rios is where the Norwegian Cruise Line docks. 

A   Caribbean cruise is excellent for first-time cruisers  since the tropical weather is warm year-round. The rainy season in the Caribbean is from July to November, and the best time to visit is February to May, when you’ll enjoy drier weather.

Right outside the dock of Ocho Rios is a shopping center that cruisers can visit if they want to stay near the ship. There is a Starbucks and lots of shops with Jamaican-themed gear and souvenirs. 

The waterfront is pretty, and there are chairs available to spend the day sunbathing. But it is way better to go out and explore! There are many places within a short drive of the pier. 

Blue Hole, Ocho Rios, Jamaica

The Blue Hole and Dunn’s River Falls are fun outings for those who love nature. Both require a pair of water shoes since visitors have to hike through the jungle and walk in the river to see the sites. 

Jamaican jerk chicken is a must-try! Foodies can visit Scotchies for delicious grilled chicken. For an authentic Jamaican experience, a plate of chicken should be partnered with scotch bonnet hot sauce and washed down with a glass of Ting, a grapefruit soda.

These are just a few things to do while in Ocho Rios for a day. Cruisers should visit this lovely city to get a taste of what Jamaica offers. 

Contributed by Bernadette of Live A Relaxed Life

The western island of Grand Cayman is filled with unique adventures and one of the Caribbean’s best beaches.  

Ships anchor slightly offshore, and cruise passengers tender to the George Town Cruise Port. Guests require a tender ticket which can be a lengthy process. So plan ahead and leave early. 

January to April provides the best months to visit, with little rainfall and warm weather. Generally, the average lows are in the 70s, and highs are in the mid-80s during these months. The ocean water is warm year-round. 

Grand Cayman is famous for Stingray City, a shallow sandbar offshore where hundreds of stingrays aggregate daily. You’ll have the chance to interact with and feed the stingrays if you feel brave. 

Grand Cayman Stingray city

Most  Stingray City tours  offer the chance to explore the area’s abundant marine life, including schools of colorful fish and friendly stingrays. You may even spot a sea turtle if you’re lucky. Tour operators offer trips around cruise port times, making it an excellent activity for cruise guests.

If you prefer a low-cost activity, hop in a taxi in George Town and make your way to beautiful Seven Mile Beach. This pristine strip of shoreline attracts visitors and locals alike. 

There are a few coral reefs offshore, but it’s best to spend the day with your feet in the sand or swimming in the warm waters. 

Overall, if you’re making a port stop to Grand Cayman, you can’t go wrong with Stingray City or Seven Mile Beach. 

Contributed by Rachel of Caribbean Uncovered

Cruise lines visit Cozumel more often than other ports in the Caribbean. Located off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, vessels dock in one of three ports. Taxis are readily available to take you around the island or to an all-inclusive resort.

Playa Palancar, Cozumel

Cozumel is known for its amazing diving and snorkeling. The crystal-clear waters of Palancar Reef are ideal for both divers and snorkelers. Protected from fishing, the coral reefs are home to a variety of tropical fish in every color of the rainbow.

If you prefer to stay dry and enjoy the sun’s rays, there are lots of beaches near the port . While you can walk to some, the ones further away have more amenities, such as Mr. Sanchos.

A popular choice for families, Mr. Sanchos has lots of water toys to keep the kids entertained. If you prefer a quieter locale void of children, Nachi Cocom will fit the bill.

Depending on your time in port, passengers can head to the mainland instead. To avoid missing your ship, these tours should be booked through your cruise line.

Chichen Itza Mayan ruins

So, if seeing Chichen Itza or visiting a cenote is on your bucket list, expect to spend most of your eight-hour tour in transit. Depending on your cruise line, you can visit Chaak Tun Cenotes or Amazing Secret River.

March through June provide the driest months, and temperatures in the high 80s. Should you visit in the early months, you could enjoy the festivities of Carnaval.

Havana – Cuba , is considered one of the best ports in the Caribbean for cruisers due to its rich history, scenic location, vibrant culture, stunning architecture, and warm, hospitable locals.

Located in the western Caribbean, Havana has a modern cruise terminal centrally in the city that can accommodate large ships. It is easily accessible for cruise passengers to disembark and explore the city.

Havana boasts a picturesque harbor surrounded by hills and mountains, and the city offers a range of activities for cruise passengers on a port day.

Visitors can explore Havana’s historical landmarks, such as the Old Town of Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They can also visit the Museum of the Revolution, the Cathedral of Havana, the Morro Castle, or the Plaza de la Revolucion. 

Hotel Inglaterra, Cuba

If you don’t fancy walking much and want to see the sights in style, a great option is to take a vintage car tour of the city!

Those who want to immerse themselves in Cuban culture can take a Cuban salsa dancing lesson, a Cuban cooking class, or stroll down the Malecon and mingle with the locals. 

Cuban people are known for their warm hospitality and friendly nature, which makes Havana a welcoming destination for cruise passengers.

The best time to visit Havana is between November and April, the dry season, with average temperatures ranging from 73°F to 81°F. May to October is the wet season, with higher temperatures and more rainfall.

Contributed by Catrina of 24 Hours Layover

If you’re looking for the best Caribbean cruise parts, you can’t leave Roatan, Honduras, off your list. Roatan is one of three Honduran Bay Islands Located in the Western Caribbean Sea. It has stunning scenery and entertaining excursions for adults and kids alike.

Roatan makes the list of the best cruise ports in the Caribbean, first and foremost, for its exceptional snorkeling. 

Grand Roatan Resort on West Bay Beach is one of the  best resorts for snorkeling in the Caribbean  because the reef starts just offshore in shallow waters. That means you can access the top-notch snorkeling area from the beach without getting on a boat.

West Bay Beach is public so cruise ship passengers can snorkel here too! The water is crystal clear and filled with vibrant coral, tropical fish, and sea turtles. It’s a must-do experience for anyone who loves the underwater world.

West Bay Beach, Roatan

If you want something more thrilling or unique, visit Gumbalimba Park for ziplining through the jungle canopy and then a snorkeling break. Alternatively, head to Roatan’s more remote East End to escape the crowds on the long, secluded Camp Bay Beach.

Roatan is home to two ports: Mahogany Bay and Coxen Hole. The ports are only about 20 minutes apart from one another, and each offers easy access to the island’s excursions and beaches. 

Roatan is a small island; you can reach all the island’s top sights from the ports in an hour or less. You’ll have a fantastic day, no matter the excursion you choose, but the best ones should include snorkeling.

The best time of year to visit Roatan is from March to August when average temperatures range from approximately 76-88 degrees.

Contributed by Lee of Mango Tree Travel

North of Guatemala, Belize City is a popular destination for cruise ships, and for good reason. The city boasts a perfect climate year-round, the stunning Belize Rainforest, and the second-largest reef system in the world.

December through April provide the best months to visit to avoid hurricane season. During these months, you’ll enjoy average temperatures in the low to mid 80s.

Visitors can choose from various activities, including jungle ecotours, cave explorations, and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef excursions.

Offshore, you can choose from a myriad of islands to spend a port day.

A day trip to Caye Caulker lets you enjoy a laid-back isle with a hippie vibe. Your operator may combine your tour with snorkeling at Shark Ray Alley . Here you can swim with stingrays and nurse sharks in crystal-clear waters.

Those without a budget might prefer a flight to see the mesmerizing Great Blue Hole. The giant underwater sinkhole is so large it can be seen from space.

Aerial view of the Great Blue Hole, Belize

Inland, tours travel to ancient Maya archaeological sites for a chance to immerse yourself in the Mayan cultural history. Xunantunich and Lamanai ruins are rated the most popular.

If you prefer to explore the rainforest, book with a repeatable guide. Half of Belize is covered in rainforest, home to wildlife species you won’t find back home. Jaguars, Ocelots, Tapirs, Poison Dart Frogs, Spider and Howler Monkeys call the jungle their home.

You can also find hundreds of bird species, over 500 different trees, and 250 types of orchids. The Black Orchid, which is actually purple, is Belize’s national flower.

Best Southern Caribbean Ports Worth Visiting

Many of the southern Caribbean ports lie outside the storm path. So, you can travel there safely year-round.  Here, the best cruise ports in Caribbean comes down to whether you’re a beach lover, history buff, or adrenaline junkie.

Of the three areas in the Caribbean Sea, the southern provides the best beaches. Here are some top ports to visit.

Curacao is an amazing island that should be on everyone’s Caribbean cruise itinerary. The cruise ships headed for Curacao dock right in the capital city of the island, Willemstad.

The newly built cruise terminal is only a few steps away from Willemstad’s history-rich, colorful capital city. There is a shopping center and a tourist center adjacent to the cruise terminal, making it very convenient.

Handelskade, Curacao

Curacao is located outside the hurricane belt, so it is a great destination year-round. Temperatures hover between 29 and 31 degrees all year. Even during the official rainy season (December until March), the weather is fantastic, aside from a few short showers.

When arriving by cruise ship in Curacao , there are many amazing things to do. The island’s magnificent beaches invite visitors for a fun day of beach hopping, snorkeling with sea turtles, and colorful cocktails.

The island’s northwest is quite rough and offers some magnificent natural spectacles. The Shete Boka National Park invites visitors to see stunning waves crashing onto impressive cliffs.

Visitors looking for an untouched Caribbean Paradise will love a day trip to Klein Curacao . The small, uninhabited island offers a magnificent beach and great diving to undersea caves.

Visitors looking for a more cultural experience will love exploring Willemstad on foot. The city is separated into two districts (Otrabanda and Punda) by Sint Anna Bay.

Cas Abao Beach, Curacao

Stunning street art, colorful houses, and interesting museums fill both communities. Of course, there are many shops scattered around the capital city for souvenir shopping.

Contributed by Sabrina of Shades of Summr

Dominica, located in the southern Caribbean, is a ruggedly beautiful island known as the ‘Nature Island of the Caribbean.’ Dominica is the perfect place to enjoy the beauty of nature and is known for its incredible waterfalls and pristine waters for snorkeling.

Most cruise ships will dock at the Roseau cruise terminal, which is on the southwestern coast of Dominica.

February through April are the most popular times to visit Dominica, as it’s the season with the lowest rainfall. (Since most of Dominica is a rainforest, you’ll likely get some rain whenever you visit – especially in the mountainous areas.)  

Expect high temperatures in the low-mid 80s and lows in the low 70s.

There is little infrastructure in the town of Roseau, so you’ll want to book a shore excursion or  tour in Dominica  to explore this beautiful island. You could hike through the rainforest to see the island’s stunning waterfalls, such as the twin waterfalls of Trafalgar Falls.

Trafalgar Falls in Dominica

Whale watching tours are extremely popular in Dominica, as the island’s unique geography provides the perfect harbor for sperm whales. Sperm whale sightings are most common from November through March.

Another excellent choice for your port day in Dominica is to go snorkeling! Dominica has some of the best waters for divers. Snorkel in Champagne Reef, where bubbling volcanic gases make you feel like you’re swimming in a giant glass of Champagne. 

Whatever activity you choose, you’ll have a great day in Dominica!

Contributed by Lisa of Waves and Cobblestones

Grenada is one of the most Southern ports in the Caribbean, and the destination is fondly known as the Isle of Spice. 

Though it covers a landmass of only 133 square miles, the island is the second-largest producer of nutmeg in the world after Indonesia. 

This port is an extraordinary one to visit as Grenada has a rich history, wrecks, waterfalls, reefs, and some of the best beaches in the Caribbean.

Grand Anse Beach, which visitors love for its blue turquoise waters and a two miles stretch of white sand, is only 15 minutes away by car. Public transportation is available for only USD 1, and access to all beaches on the island is free. 

Grand Anse Beach in Grenada

Malls, banks, and restaurants are all within walking distance of Grand Anse Beach, so it’s a perfect place to go also to explore the South of the island. 

Cruise ships dock in the heart of the capital city, St George’s, and there are lots to see and do by walking. 

One of the best  things to do in St George’s  is to visit a café on Young Street called House of Chocolate, which serves locally made eats and drinks made with premium cocoa beans grown on the island.  

The best time of year to visit is between December to April, which marks the end of the hurricane season and the start of the dry season.  

Temperatures are in the mid-eighties, so prepare for warm sunny weather.

Contributed by Rachel of Around The Caribbean

Are you looking for the perfect Caribbean cruise port? If so, Barbados has it all! It has crystal-clear waters, white sand beaches, lush tropical rainforests, and vibrant culture. 

Barbados is the ideal destination for those seeking a unique and unforgettable vacation. Moreover, as Barbados is south of the Caribbean, it is often considered one of the better islands during the hurricane season, with lesser impact than some islands further north. 

The best time to visit is January to April, when you can catch the rays and have minimal rainfall to worry about. 

Arriving at the port of Bridgetown, the island’s capital, you’ll be right in the center of the action. You’re close to the shopping district, where you can snap up some tax-free bargains (just take your passport), or you can easily head south to one of the beautiful beaches nearby. 

Dover Beach, Barbados

Barbados is one of the  best Caribbean islands for adventure , and for a good reason! If you have time, take to the waters for unforgettable snorkeling with sea turtles or scuba diving around the infamous shipwrecks. 

If you want to explore, you can hire a driver for the day. He will take you to where Rhianna grew up, the Animal Flower Caves on the north coast, or Harrison’s cave in the central region. 

Barbados offers something for everyone, so whether you want adventure or relaxation, you can get it all here.

Contributed by Kerry of VeggTravel

Aruba is a small island, a mere 21 miles (33km) long and 6 miles (9km) wide in the southern Caribbean Sea. It’s just north of Venezuela, which you can sometimes see on a clear day. 

Aruba is a popular destination while cruising and part of the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao). The weather is good year-round, for a start. It’s a great family-friendly destination and offers lots of activities for who visit Aruba with children.

The ships dock in northern Oranjestad, the capital, just a 5-10 minute walk from downtown. You can get public transportation to access the rest of the island at the end of the dock. 

Divi Divi trees on Eagle Beach in Aruba

The main drawcard of visiting Aruba is its beaches. In fact, Eagle Beach has been voted the #2 Caribbean beach by a USA Today survey . Discover its magnificent stretch of white sand, clear turquoise waters for watersports, Divi Divi Trees, and shaded picnic areas for yourself! 

If you don’t want to sit on a beach, shop till you drop in Oranjestad. Lloyd G. Smith Boulevard, Main Street, and the Renaissance Marketplace are the main shopping precincts. They also offer some great restaurants. 

Or hop on the Street Car, taking you to the capital’s landmarks – the Archaeological Museum of Aruba, Fort Zoutman Historical Museum, and City Hall. 

Although Aruba can be easily explored by public transport if you only have a day in Aruba,   a shore excursion  organized onboard your ship may be the best option. 

Tours will take you around the island, to Aruba’s best beaches, the natural arches, and through the rugged terrain of Arikok National Park with its tall cacti before ending in the capital.

Contributed by Sharyn of Live Work Play Travel

A waterfall, stingrays, Chichen Itza, and fort - all excursions in the Caribbean on a cruise

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The Caribbean is one of those places where you don’t really need a watch. A place where island time rules. During your Caribbean cruise stops, let the beat of the tropics take control. With over 30 sun-soaked destinations, spread through 19 countries, you’re sure to stock up on Caribbean good vibes. Enjoy pristine beaches and turquoise waters in Tortola, St. Maarten, and Belize to name a few. The warm Caribbean Sea is a paradise for water sports enthusiasts. From snorkeling, to sailing and surfing, the Caribbean is a hub for all aquatic activities. Relax on sugar sand beaches, and listen to gentle waves. Foodies are in for a treat too, with a wide array of culinary options and influences. Delight in the French-Caribbean cuisine of Fort-de-France, or take a break at the colorful cafés of St. John’s in Antigua. Rent a “Mexican Ferrari” and hit the road in Cozumel, stopping at some of its many beach clubs to refuel both body and spirit. Scuba dive in St. Croix, or discover its lush landscape, and finish off the evening with an enlightening rum tasting. Shop till you drop in bustling Bridgetown, Barbados. Brush up on your Spanish while you immerse yourself in the legendary walled city of Cartagena, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The possibilities are limitless. The Caribbean is a destination that will leave you relaxed for days to come, even when you’re back home dreaming of the hammock you left behind.

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Cape Liberty, New Jersey

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Miami, Florida

Orlando (Port Canaveral), Florida

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Tampa, Florida

Ports of Call Caribbean

Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis

Belize City, Belize

Bimini, Bahamas

Bridgetown, Barbados

Castries, St. Lucia

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

Colon, Panama

Costa Maya, Mexico

Cozumel, Mexico

Falmouth, Jamaica

Fort De France, Martinique

George Town, Grand Cayman

Grand Bahama Island

Key West, Florida

Kingstown, St. Vincent

Kralendijk, Bonaire

Labadee, Haiti

Nassau, Bahamas

New Orleans, Louisiana

Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Oranjestad, Aruba

Perfect Day at CocoCay, Bahamas

Philipsburg, St. Maarten

Ponce, Puerto Rico

Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

Puerto Plata, Dominican Rep.

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Roatan, Honduras

Roseau, Dominica

Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda

Samana, Dominican Republic

St. Croix, U.S.V.I.

St. George's, Grenada

St. Johns, Antigua

Tortola, B.V.I.

Willemstad, Curacao

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The Traveling Moore

Best and Worst Caribbean Cruise Ports for Vacationers

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I’ve been on 10+ Caribbean Cruises and dozens of cruise ports. I’ve honestly loved every trip, but there are some ports that are better than others. This list of the best and worst Caribbean cruise ports breaks down the hits and misses when it comes to islands in the Caribbean.

I grew up going on cruises with my family, to the point of earning Diamond status on Royal Caribbean. Now, I average one 7-day cruise per year.

I say this not to brag, but to let you know I’ve visited most Caribbean ports of call many times.

This list of the best Caribbean cruise ports shares the best places I’ve visited and will 100% return to. I also share a list of my least favorite places. I share the misses to help you choose an itinerary for your next cruise. However, I encourage you to try every destination on this list for yourself!

Some links on this blog are affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through them. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products and services I personally use and believe in. Thanks for your support!

The 7 Best Cruise Ports in the Caribbean

old san juan port

1. San Juan, Puerto Rico

Natural Beauty 5/5 | Beaches 4/5 | Excursions 5/5 | Local Culture 4/5 | Safety 4/5 | Total 22/25

San Juan Puerto Rico is in the running for the best Caribbean cruise destinations. It really has it all – history, unique culture, great beaches, jungle, and a ton of things to do.

In Old San Juan, you can visit La Forteleza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Old San Juan has an European-like charm and a ton of history.

Alternatively, you can take an excursion out of the city for rum tasting at the Bacardi Factory, waterfall hiking in the El Yunque Rainforest, or a catamaran tour of the island.

In addition to having a ton to do, San Juan feels super safe and Old San Juan is walkable from the cruise terminal.

I love Southern or Eastern Caribbean cruises that start in San Juan so I can stay for a few days prior to embarkation.

  • Great mix of jungle, mountains, and beaches
  • The cruise port is close to a lot of attractions
  • There are a ton of different things to do, from relaxing on the beach to active adventures
  • Unique and vibrant local culture, including architecture, food, and friendly people
  • Great gateway to other top Caribbean cruise ports

Considerations:

  • No notes, I love San Juan!

The Best Things To Do:

  • Old San Juan Food and Walking Tour
  • Casa Bacardi Rum Tasting
  • El Yunque Rainforest Adventure

Positive Reviews:

Love that so much is accessible by foot. You can take a short walk and tour the fort or enjoy the many shops closer to the port.  – LoveandLight
Very walkable city. Downloaded a walking tour and saw a ton of the city. – Fire2149

Negative Reviews:

Previous visit we walked around Forteleza St and did the pina colado thing and shopped. Not my favorite port but there are some things to do. – tigg21rrr

Read more about San Juan

caribbean island cruise ports

2. Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas

Natural Beauty 4/5 | Beaches 5/5 | Excursions 3/5 | Local Culture 4/5 | Safety 4/5 | Total 20/25

St Thomas has the most beautiful beach in the Caribbean, Magen’s Bay. Just look at the photo above to see what I mean! The water is bright blue and the sand could not be softer.

St Thomas is a US Virgin Island and a popular luxury vacation destination. Unlike some of the other best Caribbean islands to visit on a cruise, there is not a ton of activities to do in St Thomas.

Instead, St Thomas is a great place to soak in the beauty and relax.

  • Beautiful beaches
  • Super safe port
  • Good shopping
  • Luxurious atmosphere
  • Not a ton of excursions, so it’s a great place to relax on the beach
  • Mountaintop Viewpoint
  • St John Day Trip
Magens bay is amazing! Stunning water and beach! – Pippy
St. Thomas was terrific, and the length of the stop allowed us to see most of what we wanted to see. – Demotage
Beautiful island, but I couldn’t find much to do. We went to Magens Bay since it was reviewed as top 10 beach in the world. – tigg21rrr

Read more about St Thomas

view of St Lucia coastline from a boat tour

3. Castries, St Lucia

Natural Beauty 5/5 | Beaches 4/5 | Excursions 5/5 | Local Culture 4/5 | Safety 3/5 | Total 21/25

St Lucia is a popular cruise port and honeymoon destination in the Southern Caribbean. It’s known for the lush jungle, iconic Piton mountains, and white sand beaches.

It’s home to popular resorts such as Sandals or Sugar Beach. St Lucia is so popular because there are many things to do, such as relaxing on the beach, taking a mud bath in the mountains, ATVing through the jungle, or taking a catamaran cruise to the Pitons.

I’ve visited St Lucia a handful of times and already have a return trip booked. My favorite thing to do there is taking a catamaran tour to the Pitons for an up-close view of the beautiful mountains.

  • The island is naturally super beautiful, and the Pitons are an amazing sight
  • The roads are very windy, so it can be challenging for people who get car sick easily
  • Pitons Catamaran Tour
  • St Lucia Snorkeling Adventure
  • Jungle Zipline
Love St. Lucia. Lots to do. booked a tour with beach, snorkel, waterfall and hot springs mud bath. Our favorite day.  – deetrix1
St. Lucia is such a beautiful, unspoiled island. – knani
We spent almost the entire day riding around in a bus. St. Lucia is very impoverished and the locals can be aggressive trying to sell their stuff. – Savmom

Read more about St Lucia

roatan honduras island view

4. Roatan, Honduras

Natural Beauty 4/5 | Beaches 3/5 | Excursions 4/5 | Local Culture 4/5 | Safety 4/5 | Total 19/25

Roatan is one of the most overlooked cruise ports. It’s super common on many Western Caribbean itineraries, but is also one of the most fun destinations.

Roatan is a small island in Honduras, off the coast of the mainland. Although it’s small, it has a ton to offer. There are great beaches , ATV tours, chocolate factories, and nature preserved.

Roatan is also located on the Mesoamerican reef, which has some of the best snorkeling in the world.

I’ve visited Roatan twice in the past few years, and loved it both times. The first time we took an ATV tour around the island, to a chocolate factory, beach, and through the jungle. It was a little scary, but a great way to see the island.

The second time, I took a combo tour that visited an animal sanctuary and beach club. I even got to hold a monkey!

  • Beauiful lush rainforest, combined with great beaches
  • The local people are so nice and welcoming
  • The island does not get overcrowded when cruises visit, so everything feels intimate
  • Close to the US, so easy to find on cruise itineraries
  • The cruise excursions for Roatan aren’t great, so I recommend booking on your own
  • Customizable private island tour (choose your own adventure)
  • Island ATV excursion
  • Snorkeling the Mesoamerican reef
This was the BEST snorkeling I’ve ever seen in 30 years of cruising. The reefs are unbelievable and I would not miss this if you have the chance. – Tybro
The area around the ship is not nice, but if you do an excursion, then there are a lot a great things to see and do, especially snorkeling and scuba diving . – backandforth78
Went to a private beach here which was just okay. Lunch was served at 10am which threw most people for a loop, we really didn’t care but I will say the booze they used was bottom self here and made it hard to finish a drink. – okie82

Read more about Roatan

caribbean island cruise ports

5. Coco Cay, Bahamas

Natural Beauty 4/5 | Beaches 5/5 | Excursions 3/5 | Local Culture 1/5 | Safety 5/5 | Total 18/25

Cococay is Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas. Its commonly referred to as “perfect day at Cococay,” because of the paradise-like atmosphere of the island.

I have mixed feelings about private islands. On one hand, they are literally designed to be great for cruise passengers. The food is free, your drink package works, and every amenity is focused on fun and relaxation.

However, you miss out on the local experience and culture of the destination you are visiting as the island becomes an extension of the ship.

That said, Cococay is an objectively amazing island. The beaches are beautiful, there are a ton of things to do, and since it’s owned by the cruise line, its super easy to plan your day. No need to worry about taxis, scheduling tours, or other logistics.

  • Free food, no taxis required, complimentary activities
  • If you get the drink package, free drinks
  • Beautiful white sand beaches
  • A ton of bars and restaurants
  • Super safe and easy to navigate
  • Lacks local culture
  • Thrill Waterpark
  • Swim up Bar at South Beach
  • Jet Ski Rentals
Literally a perfect day. – backandforth78
I love their island a great deal. Gorgeous to look at, easy to get around, beautiful beaches. – leapol
Not bad. We did the Coco Beach day pass. It was very quiet, great water and pool. Lunch was OK. we realized that we should have saved the $ and just went to one of the free beaches. – Michele
Families are getting priced out at Coco Cay. Absolutely ridiculous for a family of four to go to thrill water park for 5 hours costing over $600. – Charlie

Read more about CocoCay

caribbean island cruise ports

6. Cozumel, Mexico

Natural Beauty 3/5 | Beaches 4/5 | Excursions 3/5 | Local Culture 4/5 | Safety 4/5 | Total 18/25

Cozumel is another super popular Western Caribbean cruise port, often combined with Roatan, CocoCay, and Costa Maya.

Even though a lot of cruises visit Cozumel, it’s a great port. Cozumel is a small island in Mexico off the coast of Cancun. It’s located on the Mesoamerican reef, so it has amazing snorkeling. There are also many great beach clubs and fun island tours.

As a kid, I loved visiting Cozumel and getting my hair braided on the beach. As an adult, I love renting a car to drive the perimeter of the island, stopping at beach clubs along the way.

  • Super tourist friendly, with many restaurants, public beaches, and things to do
  • Close to Miami, so easy to find on cruise itineraries
  • Very safe, kind locals, and easy to experience the local culture
  • Some days, there can be 4+ ships in port, making it a little crowded
  • Snorkeling the Mesoamerican Reef
  • Rent a car for an island tour
  • Visit Punta Sur National Park
Daughter and I took a taxi to l Iovely resort. Beautiful beach, great food, wonderful service, friendly guests. Fabulous time, hated to leave. – Lady of the Lodge
The water was so clear it was amazing – Jcdeese
Has not changed in years and needs a makeover. If you book an excursion, you are paraded thru many shops as you zig zag to the excursion pick up. – Royerskine

Read more about Cozumel

Swings and floating bar at adrenaline beach in labadee haiti

7. Labadee, Haiti

Natural Beauty 4/5 | Beaches 4/5 | Excursions 2/5 | Local Culture 2/5 | Safety 5/5 | Total 17/25

Labadee is Royal Caribbean’s other “private island” which is actually a peninsula in Haiti. Above, I mentioned my thoughts on private islands when I talked about CocoCay.

Like CocoCay, I really enjoyed Labadee. It’s super nice to have activities, food, and drinks included during the day. I also love that I don’t have to do any planning prior to visiting.

Unlike CocoCay, Labadee is much more “authentic” and has more local culture. The area is built in ruins of an old fort, which you can explore on nature trails. Everything in Labadee feels much less manufactured than CocoCay.

There is also a local market where you can meet local people, learn a bit about their culture, and purchase handcrafted goods.

There are less excursions on Labadee than CocoCay, but the beaches are great for relaxing. There is also a mountain coaster and zipline if you want some adventure.

  • Beautiful beaches and scenery
  • Super safe and protected area
  • All-inclusive food and drinks (with drink package)
  • No need to get taxis or coordinate excursions
  • You cannot explore beyond Labadee to see more of Haiti
  • Swim out to the floating bar at Adrenaline beach
  • Explore the nature paths on the island
  • Take a ride on the zipline
Gorgeous! Clean beach great customer service, felt safe. – Skinny03
We chose to do Labadee on our own this time and just enjoy the hammocks and barbeque. We had a great time relaxing and enjoying our day on this beautiful Haitian peninsula. Coco Cay and Labadee are always ports I look forward to because everything is clean, food, drinks good and no traffic. – Duane
Royal Caribbean needs to do a better job with this port. Sad, kind of pathetic stepchild to CoCo Cay. RC needs to invest some money in the infrastructure and make it more upscale. – gelormbi

Read more about Labadee

The 3 Worst Caribbean Cruise Ports

Before I list some of the lower ranked cruise ports, I want to emphasize that there are no bad places to visit on a cruise. Every place has fun things to do, redeeming qualities, and can be super fun.

There are places on this list that I had a great time visiting and would 100% visit again. However, these cruise ports are places I’d be less excited to find on a cruise itinerary.

view of the atlantis resort in bahamas from the beach

1. Nassau, Bahamas

Natural Beauty 3/5 | Beaches 4/5 | Excursions 3/5 | Local Culture 2/5 | Safety 4/5 | Total 16/25

I went back and forth on whether I should list Nassau as one of the best or worst Caribbean cruise ports. It get a bad reputation and many people elect to spend the port day on board their ship.

However, there are also quite a few great things to do in Nassau . You can visit an amazing resort, take a sightseeing tour, taste local cuisine and rum, or charter a boat.

My biggest issue with Nassau is how crowded it can get. There can be five or more ships in port, which overwhelms the island a bit.

Also, one of the most popular things to do is a resort pass, which can be hard to justify spending money on when a cruise is already an all-inclusive resort that you’ve paid for.

  • Great resorts to get a day pass to
  • Easy to get to from Florida
  • There can be a lot of ships in port, making it quite crowded
  • The island is mostly focused on tourism, so it can be hard to experience the local culture
  • Windy weather
  • Boat Charter
  • Resort Day Pass
  • Swimming with Pigs
Last time I was in Nassau was 2006- it is quite a bit more built up since that time! We went to the Swimming with the Pigs excursion, so we did not spend much time at the actual Nassau port. The excursion was fabulous- would definitely recommend. – Supernova Eyes
Really not our cup of tea. I have been to Nassau many times. It is too crowded, and the people are too pushy to sell things or provide rides, or to just give them money – Brenda
Nassau isn’t my favorite port. The cruise port itself is newly remodeled. Basically it’s a huge shopping mall. – Jon

Read more about Nassau

costa maya mexico cruise terminal

2. Costa Maya, Mexico

Natural Beauty 4/5 | Beaches 2/5 | Excursions 3/5 | Local Culture 2/5 | Safety 3/5 | Total 14/25

Costa Maya is a port town in Mexico, a few hours south of Cancun. I’ve actually had a ton of fun in Costa Maya, but after two visits, I feel like I’ve done everything there is to do there.

Costa Maya is primarily a cruise port, and not many people visit as a standalone vacation. There are a few beaches near the port, but most things to do are an hour away.

The most popular things to do are the Chacchoben ruins or Bacalar lake, both of which take around 1.5 hours on a bus to get to from the port.

  • Good natural beauty
  • A few things to do in the general area
  • The best excursions are over an hour from port
  • There isn’t much to do near the cruise terminal
  • Since Costa Maya is primarily a cruise port, there isn’t much local culture around
  • Chacchoben Ruins
  • Bacalar 7 Colors Lagoon
The weather was not the best, but the port is beautiful and has a lot of activities.  – Rafael
We took a 50 minute bus ride to the Mayan Ruins and say 3 ruins. The bus seemed very new and our guide was very informative. – emazzio
It’s just not a very interesting place, except for the Chacchoben pyramid excursions. The surrounding water at the port looks beautiful, and I wish they would let you access it more. – backandforth78
No beach access here. Just shopping. – 1jmcdonald1cc

Read more about Costa Maya

people swimming in the blue water at seven mile beach in grand cayman

3. Georgetown, Grand Cayman

Natural Beauty 3/5 | Beaches 1/5 | Excursions 2/5 | Local Culture 2/5 | Safety 4/5 | Total 14/25

Grand Cayman was one of the biggest disappointments on my recent Western Caribbean cruise . The first issue with the port was that it is a tender port.

This means you need to take a small boat from your ship to shore, which took us at least an hour. Tendering isn’t the end of the world but I did miss the convenience of walking off the ship to port.

The second issue was that there were four ships in port and it was way overcrowded. It was challenging to get a taxi, and the beach we visited was sold out of chairs by the time we arrived.

The final issue was that the most popular beach on the island, seven mile beach, was almost completely washed away in a hurricane a few years back.

This wiped out most of the beach clubs, and severely reduced the beachfront at the remaining areas.

One of the most popular things to do in Grand Cayman is stingray city, which I haven’t done for at least a decade, so maybe that would have been a better choice for the day.

  • Clear blue water that is good for swimming
  • Beaches washed away from hurricane
  • Need to tender to land
  • Can be overcrowded with cruise ships
  • Stingray City
  • Coral Beach Club at 7 Mile Beach
Beautiful island and could definitely see myself spending time there. – growingsealegs
Water is the prettiest I have ever seen. The tender ship annoying but necessary. The beach is soooo crowded. It like 7 rows deep and packed.  – mrscageiii
This is one of the few ports where you have to tender to. Tendering made a lot of passengers sea sick–including myself. – lovenandlight
Grand Cayman has its beautiful Seven Mile Beach, but the rest of the island is just okay. – soul traveler

How I Rated These Caribbean Ports

Of course, all of these ratings are highly subjective. Even though I’ve done a ton of cruising, each port visit is unique and can be skewed based on the weather, excursion choices, and time of year.

If you’re curious, here’s how I ranked these cruise ports in the Caribbean:

Natural Beauty : There are some ports that you see from your balcony and immediately take your breath away. They typically have white sand beaches, bright blue water, and lush green jungles. They are also clean and well-maintained.

Beaches : The best beaches have soft sand, clean water, comfortable beach clubs, and are swimmable. Destinations ranked low on this aspect if the beaches are rocky or dangerous.

Excursions : This ranking factor was focused on the quantity and quality of things to do. Destinations with a wide variety of fun excursions ranked the highest.

Local Culture : I’m not ranking the quality of people’s culture. That is NOT for me to decide. However, I do rank destinations on your access to their culture. Some places are so focused on tourism, you barely even interact with the local people.

Safety : The safety of destinations is a highly debated subject. This factor was based on the reputation and guidelines for a destination. Some places you are recommended to not leave the port on your own, so those places scored lower.

Summary of My Favorite and Least favorite Caribbean Cruise Ports

I hope this guide was helpful to guide you in choosing the best possible Caribbean cruise itinerary. If possible, select cruises with the top destinations and maybe avoid the bottom three.

However, don’t let my rankings scare you from visiting any of these destinations. As I stated at the beginning, I have loved every single Caribbean cruise I’ve taken.

Any other destinations you’re wondering about? Comment below for my thoughts or for others to share their insights!

Related Posts:

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Lauren is the creator of The Traveling Moore blog. She's travel obsessed, having been to nearly 50 countries and all 7 continents. She has a full time corporate job, and loves showing others that it's still possible to travel the world with limited PTO hours. Lauren is also travel hacking obsessed, finding every way to travel more often and more luxuriously.

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Welcome Aboard! We are Don and Heidi, the husband and wife travel team behind EatSleepCruise.com. We took our first cruise vacation together 13 years ago and have been hooked ever since. Follow along as we share our travel tips, cruise reviews, information on ports of call, and the latest cruise news to help you plan the ultimate cruise vacation. Are you ready to embark on your journey to “sea the world, one port at a time”?

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Find more information about the Caribbean Cruise Port Guides underneath. In these Cruise Port Guides you will find free maps, docking location, port information, transportation options and lots more. Learn all you need to know before visiting the ports of call on your next cruise. Select the port of call you are looking for underneath.

Bridgetown – Barbados Cartagena – Colombia Castries – St. Lucia Cozumel – Mexico

Fort-de-France – Martinique Georgetown – Grand Cayman Grand Turk – Turks and Caiscos Islands Key West – USA Kralendijk – Bonaire

Panama Canal – Panama Philipsburg – St. Maarten Port of Spain – Trinidad & Tobago San Juan – Puerto Rico Saint Thomas – US Virgin islands Willemstad – Curacao

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Barcelona cruise port is currently ranked the largest Mediterranean cruise port with turnaround operations (roundtrip itineraries) and the world's 4th busiest. Its harbor area is one of the world's...

 Isle of Arran , Lochranza-Lamlash-Brodick, Scotland

Isle of Arran is the largest island in Firth of Clyde and Scotland's 7th largest. Arran island covers a total area of approx 432 km2 (167 mi2) and has population around 5,000. By size, the list of...

 Kochi City , Japan Kochi

Kochi (Kochi-shi) is the principal seaport and the capital city of Japan's Kochi Prefecture (on Shikoku Island's southern coast) with population over 330,000. Port Kochi (locode JPKCZ) is also the...

 Bari , Italy

Bari is the principal and the largest port of Southern Italy's Apulia region (Adriatic Sea) and also Bari Province's capital city with a population of around 330,000. Port Bari is Italy's second...

 Portland , Victoria Australia

Portland is a small port city in Victoria (Australia) located on Portland Bay, with population around 10,000. Portland is also Victoria's oldest European settlement and the main urban centre in...

 Honolulu , Oahu Island Hawaii

Honolulu is Hawaii's largest seaport and the state's capital city located on Oahu Island's southern coast. The city is USA's westernmost and southernmost, with population around 340,000 (metro over...

 Roatan Island , Mahogany Bay-Coxen Hole, Honduras

Isla Roatan is a major cruise port (locode HNRTB) in the Southern Caribbean, located approx 65 km (40 mi) off the northern coast of mainland Honduras (North America). Roatan Island is the most...

 Balneario Camboriu , Brazil

Balneario Camboriu is a beach resort city in Brazil's state Santa Catarina, approx 10 km (6 mi) south of Itajaí and approx 80 km (50 mi) north of state's capital Florianopolis. The city (aka...

 Tokyo , Japan

Tokyo is a large seaport and Japan's capital city (Tokyo Metropolis) located on Honshu Island's southern part (Tokyo Bay's western shore). Tokyo is also Japan's largest city with population around 14...

 Grand Turk Island , Cockburn Town, Turks and Caicos

Grand Turk Island is the easternmost of the 30+ Turks and Caicos Islands and cays. The island is a British Overseas Territory (part of the UK/dependency) with total area 18 km2 (7 mi2) and population...

 Amsterdam , Netherlands North Holland

Amsterdam is The Netherlands' capital city and a major North Sea port (via IJmuiden), as well as Amstel (Rhine) river cruise port. Port's cruise schedule includes mainly ships with roundtrip UK and...

 Puerto Plata-Amber Cove , Dominicana

San Felipe de Puerto Plata is a major port city located on Dominican Republic's north coast (Caribbean Sea). By population (around 290,000) the city is ranked the country's 9th-largest. It is also...

 Funchal , Madeira Island Portugal

Funchal is the principal port and the capital and largest city of Madeira (Portugal's Autonomous Region / Archipelago), with population around 105,000. Funchal is also one of Because of Portugal's...

 Harvest Caye Belize , NCL private island

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) postponed the launch of Harvest Caye Island until November 2016 - 9 months after it was scheduled for inauguration. The 75-acre (0,12 mi2 / 303,500 m2) private island...

 Santorini Island , Thira, Greece

Santorini Island (Greece) is among the most popular ports of call on Eastern Mediterranean/Aegean cruises. The island is in the Aegan Sea and is the southernmost of the Greek Cycladic Islands...

  • Cruise From

DEPARTURE PORTS

Destination matters, but it's not the only thing. Every great vacation starts somewhere — how about yours?

take in the sights of the chesapeake bay bridge

Jacksonville

big ben and house of parliament sitting across from the london bridge

Dover (London)

parker's lighthouse in long beach california

Long Beach (Los Angeles)

walk down the iconic ocean drive in miami beach

New Orleans

take a tour of the statue of liberty in new york city

Port Canaveral (Orlando)

view of the coliseum in rome, italy

Civitavecchia (Rome)

golden gate bridge in san francisco, california

San Francisco

view seattle's famous cityscape including the space needle

I've been on 50 cruises. Here are 3 routes I'd sail again in a heartbeat and 3 I'd probably skip.

  • I've been on 50 cruises (at least six a year), and some routes are better than others. 
  • I try to avoid cruises that make stops at Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas.
  • My favorite cruise I've ever been on was a Mediterranean voyage from Barcelona. 

Insider Today

I've taken 50 cruises with family and friends, and I'm always looking to try out new routes with different port stops .

Before I ever book a cruise — which I do about six times a year — I try to find either a new-to-me ship or a new-to-me route. If neither of those options works for my budget or timeframe, I opt for a familiar favorite.

Here are my favorite cruise routes that I'm always happy to book, and the ones I don't need to sail again.

My favorite route is a Mediterranean cruise that starts and ends in Barcelona, Spain.

caribbean island cruise ports

Mediterranean cruises start and end in various ports of call around Europe, typically throughout the summer sailing season.

Last year, my family and I took a Disney Cruise that started and ended in Barcelona, with stops in France and Italy.

My favorite part of this trip was splitting a day between Nice and Eze in the French Riviera . I was able to walk through cobblestone streets overlooking the ocean while sipping on limoncello.

I love Caribbean cruises along the western ports.

caribbean island cruise ports

I've taken many western Caribbean routes over the years on Carnival Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line, and they never disappoint.

The route usually includes stops at Cozumel, Mexico, and Georgetown, Grand Cayman. But it may also include ports of call at Falmouth, Jamaica; Costa Maya, Mexico; or Roatán, Honduras.

I always get off the ship in Cozumel, even if it's just to have lunch at a taco shop. Don't get lured into the restaurants right at the docks because the best food is in the spots farther down the main street.

I also love getting off in Roatán. On a recent cruise, I took an excursion to Roatan Island Brewing Company to try different beers made with local ingredients.

I also enjoy routes that only stop at private islands.

caribbean island cruise ports

Every once in a while, I can find a short three-night cruise on Royal Caribbean or Disney that only visits the brand's private islands.

These short cruises are ideal weekend getaways and go to some of my favorite ports of call, like Royal Caribbean's CocoCay and Disney's Castaway Cay.

I love both of these destinations because there's so much to do — you really can spend the entire day at the beach or exploring the various parts of the island. I also love that food and drinks are all provided, so I don't have to return to the ship for lunch.

On the other hand, I don't need to go to Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas again.

caribbean island cruise ports

I love short cruises from Port Canaveral or Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but they often mean stopping at Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas .

I don't really think there's much to see at either stop once you've done it once or twice. If my route includes them, I usually stay on the ship to enjoy the less crowded pool and spa.

The trade-off for these two ports is often getting to visit a cruise line's private island , so I think it's worth it for that. But I don't need to go on another long cruise through the Bahamas.

I'm also not a big fan of Bimini, Bahamas.

caribbean island cruise ports

Many cruise lines, like Carnival and Virgin Voyages , are now taking cruisers to Bimini for an easy beach day. But if you're not a big fan of chilling at the beach, there's not much else to do on the island.

I’d probably skip cruising to Key West.

caribbean island cruise ports

I love Key West in the Florida Keys , but as a port stop, it was hard to see a lot of the island and explore beyond Duval Street.

I'd prefer to spend a few days in the destination to explore all that it has to offer instead of making it a cruise stop.

caribbean island cruise ports

  • Main content

Love Exploring

Love Exploring

These Are the World’s Most Stunning Cruise Ports

Posted: November 9, 2023 | Last updated: November 9, 2023

<p>Nothing beats the thrill of seeing a destination come into view from the water as you travel on board a cruise ship. The first glimpse you'll get of a destination as you come in to dock is its port, and while some can be unattractive, others are simply beautiful and will inspire you to explore the destination further. These ports often offer something special for the visitor, whether it’s their top-notch facilities, stunning and iconic scenery or proximity to the area's hustle and bustle. Here is a look at some of the best cruise ports and ports of call worldwide.</p>

Cruise control

Nothing beats the thrill of seeing a destination come into view from the water as you travel on board a cruise ship. The first glimpse you'll get of a destination as you come in to dock is its port, and while some can be unattractive, others are simply beautiful and will inspire you to explore the destination further. These ports often offer something special for the visitor, whether it’s their top-notch facilities, stunning and iconic scenery or proximity to the area's hustle and bustle. Here is a look at some of the best cruise ports and ports of call worldwide.

<p>This ancient city port has three harburs, making it the largest port in Greece and one of the largest in Europe. Piraeus has religious and historic landmarks of its own, but Athens is only eight miles (13km) to the northeast and is easily accessible via a 30-minute metro ride or a 20- to 30-minute taxi ride. The port connects the peninsula with most Greek islands, and it’s the main stop for cruise ships touring the Aegean Sea. The port is reached by cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, NCL, Celebrity, Princess, Azamara, Silversea and Virgin Voyages.</p>  <p><a href="https://www.facebook.com/loveexploringUK?utm_source=msn&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=front"><strong>Love this? Follow us on Facebook for more travel inspiration</strong></a></p>

Piraeus port, Athens, Greece

This ancient city port has three harbours, making it the largest port in Greece and one of the largest in Europe. Piraeus has religious and historic landmarks of its own, but Athens is only eight miles (13km) to the northeast and is easily accessible via a 30-minute metro ride or a 20- to 30-minute taxi ride. The port connects the peninsula with most Greek islands, and it’s the main stop for cruise ships touring the Aegean Sea. The port is reached by cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, NCL, Celebrity, Princess, Azamara, Silversea and Virgin Voyages.

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<p>The port of Singapore is one of the biggest in the world. There are two berthing facilities at the Singapore Cruise Centre and Marina Bay Cruise Centre, located next to the Marina South Pier. The port is close to attractions such as Sentosa Island, Gardens by the Bay, Chinatown and Marina Bay Sands. Singapore’s strategic location means the destination is often described as the gateway to southeast Asia. Some of the major cruise lines operating from there are Princess, Celebrity, Cunard, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Holland American Line (HAL) and Silversea.</p>

Port of Singapore

The port of Singapore is one of the biggest in the world. There are two berthing facilities at the Singapore Cruise Centre and Marina Bay Cruise Centre, located next to the Marina South Pier. The port is close to attractions such as Sentosa Island, Gardens by the Bay, Chinatown and Marina Bay Sands. Singapore’s strategic location means the destination is often described as the gateway to southeast Asia. Some of the major cruise lines operating from there are Princess, Celebrity, Cunard, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Holland American Line (HAL) and Silversea.

<p>The glamorous emirate of Dubai remains a major port of embarkation and a call for cruise travelers on itineraries to destinations in the Middle East and Arabian Gulf. The city has two cruise ports, with two terminals in Port Rashid and two at the new Dubai Harbour, which opened in 2020. The latter have entertainment venues, leisure spaces and premium retail shopping areas. Dubai Harbour is directly linked with the city's transport network and monorail system and is visited by Carnival Corporation cruise line brands, while Port Rashid welcomes other major cruise lines.</p>

Ports of Dubai, UAE

The glamorous emirate of Dubai remains a major port of embarkation and a call for cruise travellers on itineraries to destinations in the Middle East and Arabian Gulf. The city has two cruise ports, with two terminals in Port Rashid and two at the new Dubai Harbour, which opened in 2020. The latter have entertainment venues, leisure spaces and premium retail shopping areas. Dubai Harbour is directly linked with the city's transport network and monorail system and is visited by Carnival Corporation cruise line brands, while Port Rashid welcomes other major cruise lines.

<p>Seeing the port of Manhattan from the water is arguably one of the most iconic sights to be had from a cruise ship. Passengers can take in the Manhattan skyline, Statue of Liberty and Governors Island. Manhattan Cruise Terminal is situated on the Hudson River on the city's west side in the Hell's Kitchen area. New York City has been serving cruise passengers longer than any other US city. From the port, it’s a taxi or subway ride into the city. Cruise lines berthing there include NCL, Cunard, Princess, P&O, Carnival, Oceania, Disney Cruise Line, Fred. Olsen and Viking.</p>

Manhattan Cruise Terminal, New York City, New York, USA

Seeing the port of Manhattan from the water is arguably one of the most iconic sights to be had from a cruise ship. Passengers can take in the Manhattan skyline, Statue of Liberty and Governors Island. Manhattan Cruise Terminal is situated on the Hudson River on the city's west side in the Hell's Kitchen area. New York City has been serving cruise passengers longer than any other US city. From the port, it’s a taxi or subway ride into the city. Cruise lines berthing there include NCL, Cunard, Princess, P&O, Carnival, Oceania, Disney Cruise Line, Fred. Olsen and Viking.

<p>San Miguel de Cozumel port is at the heart of this Mexican island and is surrounded by beautiful clear water, a coral reef and miles of beaches offering snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities soon after you disembark. The buzzing city of San Miguel is also a short walk away and has many seafront shops and restaurants. Visitors can walk along the sea wall, El Malecon, and head to the main square. If there is time, ancient Mayan ruins can be explored too. Many ships docking at this port head on to the Caribbean and some of the cruise lines stopping here include Carnival, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Marella, MSC and Princess.</p>

Port of San Miguel de Cozumel, Mexico

San Miguel de Cozumel port is at the heart of this Mexican island and is surrounded by beautiful clear water, a coral reef and miles of beaches offering snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities soon after you disembark. The buzzing city of San Miguel is also a short walk away and has many seafront shops and restaurants. Visitors can walk along the sea wall, El Malecon, and head to the main square. If there is time, ancient Mayan ruins can be explored too. Many ships docking at this port head on to the Caribbean and some of the cruise lines stopping here include Carnival, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Marella, MSC and Princess.

<p>The cruise terminal at the port of Cape Town is operated by the V&A Waterfront, a 304-acre neighborhood with shops, restaurants, hotels and entertainment options. On the approach to the port, passengers can view the scenic bay and harbor and the mountains beyond. Take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain to get a beautiful vista of the city that's within walking distance of the port. The major cruise lines heading to and from the port include Oceania, Seabourn, NCL, MSC and Regent Seven Seas.</p>

Port of Cape Town, South Africa

The cruise terminal at the port of Cape Town is operated by the V&A Waterfront, a 304-acre neighbourhood with shops, restaurants, hotels and entertainment options. On the approach to the port, passengers can view the scenic bay and harbour and the mountains beyond. Take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain to get a beautiful vista of the city that's within walking distance of the port. The major cruise lines heading to and from the port include Oceania, Seabourn, NCL, MSC and Regent Seven Seas.

<p>Cruise guests will enjoy magnificent views of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Geirangerfjord area as they head to the small cruise port. Lined by mountains and waterfalls, the fjord has a magical looking landscape and a very small village. Cruise lines offer excursions from the port, such as kayaking along the waterways, helicopter rides and hiking tours to amazing viewpoints like Eagle Bend and Dalsnibba mountain. Lines including Viking, Hurtigruten, Windstar, Silversea, HAL, Ponant, Celebrity and Cunard all have itineraries to the destination.</p>

Geirangerfjord Port, Norway

Cruise guests will enjoy magnificent views of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Geirangerfjord area as they head to the small cruise port. Lined by mountains and waterfalls, the fjord has a magical looking landscape and a very small village. Cruise lines offer excursions from the port, such as kayaking along the waterways, helicopter rides and hiking tours to amazing viewpoints like Eagle Bend and Dalsnibba mountain. Lines including Viking, Hurtigruten, Windstar, Silversea, HAL, Ponant, Celebrity and Cunard all have itineraries to the destination.

<p>Half Moon Cay is a 2,400-acre island retreat in the Bahamas, located 10 miles (16km) southeast of Nassau. The island is owned by Carnival Corporation and is therefore only a port of call for Carnival and Holland America Line, which use the island as part of their Caribbean and Panama Canal itineraries. The paradise island has facilities for families, couples and groups. There are beach cabanas, bars with thatched roofs and hammocks for relaxing days spent swimming and sunbathing. For more active pursuits scuba diving, snorkeling, jet-skiing, parasailing, glass-bottom boating, cycling and hiking are all part of the offering.</p>

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Half Moon Cay is a 2,400-acre island retreat in the Bahamas, located 10 miles (16km) southeast of Nassau. The island is owned by Carnival Corporation and is therefore only a port of call for Carnival and Holland America Line, which use the island as part of their Caribbean and Panama Canal itineraries. The paradise island has facilities for families, couples and groups. There are beach cabanas, bars with thatched roofs and hammocks for relaxing days spent swimming and sunbathing. For more active pursuits scuba diving, snorkelling, jet-skiing, parasailing, glass-bottom boating, cycling and hiking are all part of the offering.

<p>Cruise ships enter the Port of Valletta via the impressive and historic Grand Harbour, which extends for about two miles (3.6km) inland on the island of Malta. Passengers disembarking the ships at Valletta Cruise Port can head to the neighboring historic Valletta harbor. The waterfront venue offers food, shopping and entertainment and some of the island's most impressive views and iconic ancient buildings. Malta is strategically positioned in the center of the Mediterranean offering eastern and western itineraries and is visited by cruise lines such as Celebrity, Marella, P&O, Oceania, Fred. Olsen, Princess and HAL.</p>

Port of Valletta, Malta

Cruise ships enter the Port of Valletta via the impressive and historic Grand Harbour, which extends for about two miles (3.6km) inland on the island of Malta. Passengers disembarking the ships at Valletta Cruise Port can head to the neighbouring historic Valletta harbour. The waterfront venue offers food, shopping and entertainment and some of the island's most impressive views and iconic ancient buildings. Malta is strategically positioned in the centre of the Mediterranean offering eastern and western itineraries and is visited by cruise lines such as Celebrity, Marella, P&O, Oceania, Fred. Olsen, Princess and HAL.

<p>The journey to the Greek island of Santorini offers some of the most beautiful views from the Mediterranean Sea. On the approach to the old port, passengers are met with scenes of whitewashed villages with cobalt-blue cupolas set high on the cliffs. Santorini's capital, Fira, can be reached from the port by tender dock and then by cable car, or by walking up 580 or so steps. Santorini is often the most popular cruising destination of all the Greek isles and is visited by lines including Marella, Celestyal, HAL, Royal Caribbean, MSC, Celebrity, Princess Cruises and Seabourn.</p>

Port of Skala, Santorini, Greece

The journey to the Greek island of Santorini offers some of the most beautiful views from the Mediterranean Sea. On the approach to the old port, passengers are met with scenes of whitewashed villages with cobalt-blue cupolas set high on the cliffs. Santorini's capital, Fira, can be reached from the port by tender dock and then by cable car, or by walking up 580 or so steps. Santorini is often the most popular cruising destination of all the Greek isles and is visited by lines including Marella, Celestyal, HAL, Royal Caribbean, MSC, Celebrity, Princess Cruises and Seabourn.

<p>Cruise passengers arriving at the port on the UNESCO-listed Jeju Island in South Korea have the opportunity to explore secluded beaches, underground lava tunnels, caves and waterfalls. Jeju city is one mile (2km) from the port. The island was once a honeymoon destination for South Korean couples and is also home to an adults-only theme park called Love Land, which features more than a hundred erotic sculptures. Quirky cruise itinerary excursions also take in the Teddy Bear Museum. Among the cruise lines stopping at the island are Celebrity, Princess, HAL, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, Oceania and Seabourn.</p>

Port of Jeju, South Korea

Cruise passengers arriving at the port on the UNESCO-listed Jeju Island in South Korea have the opportunity to explore secluded beaches, underground lava tunnels, caves and waterfalls. Jeju city is one mile (2km) from the port. The island was once a honeymoon destination for South Korean couples and is also home to an adults-only theme park called Love Land, which features more than a hundred erotic sculptures. Quirky cruise itinerary excursions also take in the Teddy Bear Museum. Among the cruise lines stopping at the island are Celebrity, Princess, HAL, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, Oceania and Seabourn.

<p>The Port of Haifa is directly linked with downtown Haifa and it only takes a few minutes to walk to the railway station, or around 15 minutes to walk to the city center. Haifa is the third largest city in Israel and its main attraction is the Bahá’í World Centre and surrounding Bahá’í gardens. The National Museum, Mount Carmel national park, Israel National Museum of Science, Technology, and Space and the Haifa Museum of Art are also worth a visit. The port welcomes HAL, Royal Caribbean, MSC, Azamara, Princess Cruises and NCL, among other cruise lines.</p>  <p><a href="https://www.loveexploring.com/galleries/129810/the-worlds-most-beautiful-cruise-ships?page=1"><strong>Want more cruise inspiration? Check out the world's most beautiful cruise ships</strong></a></p>

Port of Haifa, Israel

The Port of Haifa is directly linked with downtown Haifa and it only takes a few minutes to walk to the railway station, or around 15 minutes to walk to the city centre. Haifa is the third largest city in Israel and its main attraction is the Bahá’í World Centre and surrounding Bahá’í gardens. The National Museum, Mount Carmel national park, Israel National Museum of Science, Technology, and Space and the Haifa Museum of Art are also worth a visit. The port welcomes HAL, Royal Caribbean, MSC, Azamara, Princess Cruises and NCL, among other cruise lines.

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<p>Dubrovnik's main cruise port is located around two miles (3km) away from the Old Town. Most of the cruise ships dock here although some moor in front of the old port, where visitors can then take a tender boat to shore. The old port has UNESCO World Heritage status and is one of the busiest and most beautiful cruise ports in Europe. Dubrovnik’s medieval walled town can be discovered on foot and offers stunning views of the Adriatic Sea. The port of call is reached by cruise lines including NCL, HAL, Costa, P&O, Marella, Cunard, Celebrity, Emerald, Marella and Viking.</p>

Dubrovnik Cruise Port, Croatia

Dubrovnik's main cruise port is located around two miles (3km) away from the Old Town. Most of the cruise ships dock here although some moor in front of the old port, where visitors can then take a tender boat to shore. The old port has UNESCO World Heritage status and is one of the busiest and most beautiful cruise ports in Europe. Dubrovnik’s medieval walled town can be discovered on foot and offers stunning views of the Adriatic Sea. The port of call is reached by cruise lines including NCL, HAL, Costa, P&O, Marella, Cunard, Celebrity, Emerald, Marella and Viking.

<p>The Port of Lisbon is the third-largest port in Portugal. While cruising into it along the Tagus River, the impressive structures of the Belem Tower, Discoveries Monument and Cristo Rei statue of Christ – as well as the Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge – are all within sight. Lisbon center and all its attractions can be reached on a short walk from the cruise port. From Lisbon, it's easy to take day trips to resort towns such as Estoril, Sintra and Fatima. Princess, Virgin Voyages, Cunard, P&O, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Carnival, Windstar and Oceania all include ports of call at the destination.</p>

Port of Lisbon, Portugal

The Port of Lisbon is the third-largest port in Portugal. While cruising into it along the Tagus River, the impressive structures of the Belem Tower, Discoveries Monument and Cristo Rei statue of Christ – as well as the Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge – are all within sight. Lisbon centre and all its attractions can be reached on a short walk from the cruise port. From Lisbon, it's easy to take day trips to resort towns such as Estoril, Sintra and Fatima. Princess, Virgin Voyages, Cunard, P&O, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Carnival, Windstar and Oceania all include ports of call at the destination.

<p>The port of Miami is often referred to as the cruise capital of the world, welcoming more cruise passengers to its terminals than any other port. Miami's geographic position makes it easily accessible to the Caribbean and Latin America on cruise itineraries. MSC Cruises recently began work on its new £265 million ($350m) terminal at the port, which is expected to be finished by the end of 2023. It will have three berths for mega cruise ships, making it North America’s largest cruise terminal. Virgin Voyages opened a dedicated cruise terminal there earlier this year. The three-story Terminal V hosts the line’s first ship, Scarlet Lady, and will be joined by Valiant Lady later this year. </p>

PortMiami, Florida, USA

The port of Miami is often referred to as the cruise capital of the world, welcoming more cruise passengers to its terminals than any other port. Miami's geographic position makes it easily accessible to the Caribbean and Latin America on cruise itineraries. MSC Cruises recently began work on its new £265 million ($350m) terminal at the port, which is expected to be finished by the end of 2023. It will have three berths for mega cruise ships, making it North America’s largest cruise terminal. Virgin Voyages opened a dedicated cruise terminal there earlier this year. The three-storey Terminal V hosts the line’s first ship, Scarlet Lady, and will be joined by Valiant Lady later this year. 

<p>Passengers are immediately welcomed to Harbour Point Village when they arrive ashore on the small island of St. Maarten, affectionately known as "the Friendly Island". The island’s colorful capital, Philipsburg, can be reached in 15 minutes on foot. This town has plenty of Dutch charm, great shopping in the form of duty-free outlets, souvenir shops and market stalls, as well as bars and restaurants. There are plenty of watersports available too. This beautiful island is visited by Carnival, Costa, Disney Cruise Line, Princess,  P&O, NCL and HAL, to name a few.</p>

Port St. Maarten, Caribbean

Passengers are immediately welcomed to Harbour Point Village when they arrive ashore on the small island of St. Maarten, affectionately known as "the Friendly Island". The island’s colourful capital, Philipsburg, can be reached in 15 minutes on foot. This town has plenty of Dutch charm, great shopping in the form of duty-free outlets, souvenir shops and market stalls, as well as bars and restaurants. There are plenty of watersports available too. This beautiful island is visited by Carnival, Costa, Disney Cruise Line, Princess,  P&O, NCL and HAL, to name a few.

<p>The Port of Barcelona is a launching-off point for many Mediterranean cruises and has one of the highest concentrations of cruise passengers in Europe. Within it is the old harbor, Port Vell, and at the foot of the port is the city’s famous boulevard, La Rambla, which stretches through the heart of the city center. The thoroughfare can be reached on foot or by a cruise shuttle bus from the cruise terminals. The port is a draw for major cruise lines including Viking, Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Marella and Virgin Voyages.</p>

Port of Barcelona, Spain

The Port of Barcelona is a launching-off point for many Mediterranean cruises and has one of the highest concentrations of cruise passengers in Europe. Within it is the old harbour, Port Vell, and at the foot of the port is the city’s famous boulevard, La Rambla, which stretches through the heart of the city centre. The thoroughfare can be reached on foot or by a cruise shuttle bus from the cruise terminals. The port is a draw for major cruise lines including Viking, Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Marella and Virgin Voyages.

<p>Havana Harbour and the cruise terminal at Havana port are located on the eastern edge of this Cuban city, while Old Havana is almost on the doorstep of the cruise terminal. From there, passengers can walk to Plaza San Francisco, one of Old Havana's four main squares, while further south is seaside boulevard the Malecón. The city's central park is also accessible on foot, although a journey in a vintage taxi is a must. If your cruise is coming from Tampa, Key West, Miami or Cozumel, Havana is likely to be on your route, with cruise lines including Viking, Marella, Variety and Royal Caribbean all paying a visit. </p>

Havana Port, Cuba

Havana Harbour and the cruise terminal at Havana port are located on the eastern edge of this Cuban city, while Old Havana is almost on the doorstep of the cruise terminal. From there, passengers can walk to Plaza San Francisco, one of Old Havana's four main squares, while further south is seaside boulevard the Malecón. The city's central park is also accessible on foot, although a journey in a vintage taxi is a must. If your cruise is coming from Tampa, Key West, Miami or Cozumel, Havana is likely to be on your route, with cruise lines including Viking, Marella, Variety and Royal Caribbean all paying a visit. 

<p>The Port of Livorno is considered a major Italian port and is located on the western coast of the beautiful region of Tuscany. The destination is a popular cruise center, thanks to its close proximity to Pisa and Florence. Both cities are easy to reach by train after a shuttle bus transfer from the cruise terminal. It's then a 15-minute train journey from Livorno to Pisa, or just over an hour to Florence. The port destination is used by cruise lines including P&O, Marella, Royal Caribbean, HAL, Fred. Olsen, Carnival, MSC, Cunard and Regent Seven Seas.</p>

Port of Livorno, Italy

The Port of Livorno is considered a major Italian port and is located on the western coast of the beautiful region of Tuscany. The destination is a popular cruise centre, thanks to its close proximity to Pisa and Florence. Both cities are easy to reach by train after a shuttle bus transfer from the cruise terminal. It's then a 15-minute train journey from Livorno to Pisa, or just over an hour to Florence. The port destination is used by cruise lines including P&O, Marella, Royal Caribbean, HAL, Fred. Olsen, Carnival, MSC, Cunard and Regent Seven Seas.

<p>The port of Stockholm is one of the busiest in Europe and shortly after arriving ashore, passengers can visit the stunning city from one of two major cruise terminals: Stadsgarden and Frihamnen. The Millesgården is an art museum and sculpture garden located on the island of Lidingö in front of Frihamnen port. More of the city’s famous museums – such as ABBA The Museum, the Viking Museum and the maritime-focused Vasa Museum – are conveniently located on the city's island oasis of Djurgården. NCL, Royal Caribbean, Viking, Regent and Ponant all include itineraries to Stockholm.</p>

Port of Stockholm, Sweden

The port of Stockholm is one of the busiest in Europe and shortly after arriving ashore, passengers can visit the stunning city from one of two major cruise terminals: Stadsgarden and Frihamnen. The Millesgården is an art museum and sculpture garden located on the island of Lidingö in front of Frihamnen port. More of the city’s famous museums – such as ABBA The Museum, the Viking Museum and the maritime-focused Vasa Museum – are conveniently located on the city's island oasis of Djurgården. NCL, Royal Caribbean, Viking, Regent and Ponant all include itineraries to Stockholm.

<p>At the port of Key West in Florida, the main attractions are all in close proximity as the island city is only four miles long by two miles wide. The old town has historic buildings, art galleries, tropical gardens, shops, vintage saloons, restaurants and bars. Also situated there are The Hemingway Home and Museum and the famous Sloppy Joe's bar, which has been in Key West since 1933. Thanks to its year-round tropical climate, cruise passengers can snorkel or dive in the coral reefs and wrecks surrounding the port. Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Princess, Celebrity, P&O and Virgin Voyages regularly call here.</p>

Port of Key West, Florida, USA

At the port of Key West in Florida, the main attractions are all in close proximity as the island city is only four miles long by two miles wide. The old town has historic buildings, art galleries, tropical gardens, shops, vintage saloons, restaurants and bars. Also situated there are The Hemingway Home and Museum and the famous Sloppy Joe's bar, which has been in Key West since 1933. Thanks to its year-round tropical climate, cruise passengers can snorkel or dive in the coral reefs and wrecks surrounding the port. Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Princess, Celebrity, P&O and Virgin Voyages regularly call here.

<p>With its central Caribbean location, San Juan cruise port in Puerto Rico is a modern world cruise capital. San Juan offers old world charm and natural wonders. Old San Juan is a historic landmark, with 16th- and 17th-century Spanish-style buildings and the fortresses of San Cristobal and El Morro. There are also many shops, lively cafés and restaurants to visit. Natural beauty lies in San Juan's beaches and verdant El Yunque National Forest. Cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Carnival, P&O, Celebrity, Silversea and Disney Cruise Line all head here.</p>

Port of San Juan, Puerto Rico

With its central Caribbean location, San Juan cruise port in Puerto Rico is a modern world cruise capital. San Juan offers old world charm and natural wonders. Old San Juan is a historic landmark, with 16th- and 17th-century Spanish-style buildings and the fortresses of San Cristobal and El Morro. There are also many shops, lively cafés and restaurants to visit. Natural beauty lies in San Juan's beaches and verdant El Yunque National Forest. Cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Carnival, P&O, Celebrity, Silversea and Disney Cruise Line all head here.

<p>With iconic sights such as the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, Sydney is one of the world’s great port cities. Cruise ships glide past these iconic structures and through the dramatic sandstone passage cliffs of The Heads that lead to and from the Pacific Ocean. Sydney is the only Australian city to have two dedicated cruise terminals and thanks to its size, visitors will be able to see plenty there in a day or two. Cruise lines docking here include NCL, Cunard, Princess, Celebrity, HAL, Royal Caribbean, Silversea, Oceania and Virgin Voyages.</p>  <p><a href="https://www.loveexploring.com/galleries/110902/beloved-cruise-ships-that-will-never-sail-again?page=1"><strong>These cruise ships will never sail again</strong></a></p>

Port of Sydney, Australia

With iconic sights such as the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, Sydney is one of the world’s great port cities. Cruise ships glide past these iconic structures and through the dramatic sandstone passage cliffs of The Heads that lead to and from the Pacific Ocean. Sydney is the only Australian city to have two dedicated cruise terminals and thanks to its size, visitors will be able to see plenty there in a day or two. Cruise lines docking here include NCL, Cunard, Princess, Celebrity, HAL, Royal Caribbean, Silversea, Oceania and Virgin Voyages.

These cruise ships will never sail again

<p>Venice is one of the most stunning cities to cruise into, passing sites such as St Mark’s Square as the ship leaves the Adriatic Sea to enter a narrow entrance called the Porto di Lido, on the way to the piers at the Venetian Lagoon and the Venice Cruise Terminal. However, since 2021<strong>,</strong> medium and large cruise ships have been banned from Venice's historic center until further notice, due to environmental concerns. Instead, they currently moor at Marghera, a district of Venice on the Italian mainland. P&O, NCL, Royal Caribbean, Marella, Princess, Azamara, MSC, HAL, Oceania and many others call at the destination.</p>

Port of Venice, Italy

Venice is one of the most stunning cities to cruise into, passing sites such as St Mark’s Square as the ship leaves the Adriatic Sea to enter a narrow entrance called the Porto di Lido, on the way to the piers at the Venetian Lagoon and the Venice Cruise Terminal. However, since 2021 ,  medium and large cruise ships have been banned from Venice's historic centre until further notice, due to environmental concerns. Instead, they currently moor at Marghera, a district of Venice on the Italian mainland. P&O, NCL, Royal Caribbean, Marella, Princess, Azamara, MSC, HAL, Oceania and many others call at the destination.

<p>Cruise passengers are in for something special as they enter the port at the Bay of Kotor. The ship wends its way through a 17-mile (27km) waterway offering fjord-like views of mountains and leading to the old walled city of Kotor. The old city dates back to the Middle Ages and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with attractive buildings, churches, squares and stone streets. It is a short walk from the cruise port and has small shops and restaurants to stop off at. The destination is reached by cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, MSC and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). </p>

Port of Kotor, Montenegro

Cruise passengers are in for something special as they enter the port at the Bay of Kotor. The ship wends its way through a 17-mile (27km) waterway offering fjord-like views of mountains and leading to the old walled city of Kotor. The old city dates back to the Middle Ages and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with attractive buildings, churches, squares and stone streets. It is a short walk from the cruise port and has small shops and restaurants to stop off at. The destination is reached by cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, MSC and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). 

Now read these fascinating facts about the world's most luxurious cruises

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Closest Cruise Ports Near Me: Midwest United States

Here's how to choose the best cruise port.

By Robert Schrader | Published on July 19, 2023

If you live in the Midwest United States and Google "cruise ports near me," you might initially feel shocked. As a born-and-bred Midwesterner, I know all too well what an ordeal getting to the coast can be! Whether you fly west to Los Angeles and Seattle, or southward to Houston, New Orleans or Miami, the idea of having to take a flight before you take your cruise can be daunting. I, however, prefer to think of it as exhilarating — here's why.

View of the harbor at Mackinac Island Michigan. North America

The Truth About Cruising From The Midwest

Couple getting Ready to Board at the Airport

There are a lot of reasons to love living in the Midwest — easy access to the ocean is not among them. Growing up, I remember many a long drive to the Gulf or the Atlantic, arguably more than any beach or seafood meal. As an adult, however, I can appreciate that there's opportunity in having to reach one destination en route to another, even as an adult who's spent a fair few living outside the middle of the country.

Indeed, rather than asking, "Where is the closest cruise port to me?" you might instead ask where the coolest one is. Depending on how much time you've allocated for your cruise and the preferences of the people in your party, you can think of the place where you set sail from as a trip-within-a-trip. Before your ship leaves or after it returns to port, make the most of your travels by diving into the city where you'll embark on your journey.

Another factor to keep in mind, beyond convenience and personal preferences, is that not all cruise destinations are accessible from every cruise port. Obviously, if you're cruising to the Caribbean , doing so from the West Coast will be a very circuitous journey indeed. Likewise, the vast majority of Alaska cruises depart from Seattle, or even from ports in Alaska itself, depending upon which one you choose.

Here, too, lies an opportunity. Personally, rather than wondering about the nearest cruise port to me, I sometimes think of the two main decisions I need to make — where I'll leave from and where I'll go — together. Heading to Central America from New Orleans, for example, is a package deal. You can see the stunning beaches of Belize on the front end, then swim through a world of sugar and dough with beignets  at Café du Monde in New Orleans on the back end. Which combination will you choose?

Young Family with a Child Packing for Holiday

The Best Cruise Port To The Caribbean

Sunny Day Beach, Galveston, Texas

It's no surprise that the Caribbean is one of the world's most diverse cruising destinations, with as many ports to visit as there are postcard-perfect beaches. Some of the most popular ports for Caribbean cruises include Galveston (near Houston), New Orleans and the ports of Fort Lauderdale and Miami in South Florida. These ports are just a quick — and often affordable — flight from the Midwestern United States.

The Galveston  cruise port is a popular option, for many reasons. For travelers who are flying, the fact that both of Houston's airports are hubs means you'll have your pick of convenient flights from the Midwest. Driving to the coast? While the Houston area isn't exactly close to most of the Midwest, it's a relatively straight shot. As far as what to do in Galveston? Let's just say that if the beaches (and beach boardwalk) don't entice, the amazing seafood meals and century-old architecture should do the trick.

When it comes to Florida  cruise ports, meanwhile, you've got even more options. If you can plan for a few days here before or after your cruise vacation, you can explore all of South Florida, and maybe even beyond that. With a couple of days, you can explore everywhere from Palm Beach to South Beach; and with a few more than that, you could do a Florida Keys road trip.

Considering the New Orleans  cruise port? This is a personal favorite of mine. Usually, I like to set sail for my destination (typically somewhere in Mexico or Central America, but sometimes farther east) and then return to the Big Easy as my reward for a trip well-taken. Depending on my mood, I may just chill out in the French Quarter, explore churches and cemeteries, stuff myself on Jambalaya or even boat through the nearby bayous.

Las Olas beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Where To Begin Your Pacific Pilgrimage

Santa Monica Pier at Sunset, LA

Pacific cruises aren't as typical of a choice for Midwestern travelers for one obvious reason: Los Angeles  is a lot farther than Louisiana! On the other hand, no matter where on America's left coast you hit the open sea from, Pacific cruises are more than worth the journey of getting there. This would be true even if you didn't spend a couple days in the port city but is especially true if you do.

Headed to Mexico? Even though ports in the LA area will never appear in a list of "cruise ports near me" if you live in cities like Chicago or St. Louis, SoCal is more than just a gateway to Mexico's Baja Peninsula or offshore Catalina Island. Sometimes, I like to spend a day or two here and rent a car. From there, I head north along the 101 to Malibu or Santa Barbara, or dig into unique neighborhoods — Thai town and its spicy food are a personal favorite place to stop.

If you have a little longer before or after your cruise, you have endlessly more options. Head south, whether to the OC and Laguna Beach or all the way to San Diego. You could also drive eastward into the desert, whether to the famous Joshua Tree or to somewhere more obscure or even farther north along the Pacific Coast Highway to Big Sur and beyond. Los Angeles is the city of dreams not just for Hollywood hopefuls, but also for travelers with inspiration and curiosity.

Apart from the Los Angeles cruise port, the most popular place to set sail is probably Seattle, which is a common jumping-off-point for cruises to Alaska. Here, you can spend a night or two and explore exciting neighborhoods like Downtown Seattle and Capitol Hill, or stay longer and hike Mt. Rainier or destinations even farther into the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest. Some Alaska cruises even depart from Anchorage. If you fly here, spend some time kayaking near Seward or even enjoy a drive north to Fairbanks before you head for even wilder waters.

Seattle, Washington Waterfront Skyline

The Europe Cruising Quandary

Spain Barcelona Barceloneta Beach City View

While it's technically possible to cruise all the way to Europe from ports on the east coast of the United States, many shorter European cruises actually depart from European ports. Some popular options include Barcelona, the timeless city of Antoni Gaudí where the curious sounds of Catalán  are as audible as more familiar Castellano, and the floating city of Venice, where your cruise vessel isn't the only ship that can take you somewhere exciting.

In this instance, being in the Midwest doesn't actually put you at much of a disadvantage compared to other American travelers. You may need to connect somewhere if you don't live in a city with a major hub (as I don't), but everyone who isn't sailing the whole way to Europe will have to get on a plane . If you think a Europe cruise will float your boat, then, don't stress out about the journey to your destination.

Instead, get excited: Most major European ports are well-connected to regions and cities you're unlikely to visit on your cruise itinerary — this really is two trips in one. Cruising from Athens? Use your days in the ancient city as an opportunity to head to inland Greek destinations like Mount Olympus and the monastery of Meteora, or even to head north into Balkan countries like Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia and beyond.

When "the closest cruise port to me" is on the other side of the ocean, it also invites you to make more adventurous choices. Everyone loves the Mediterranean, for example, by why not head north and sail beneath summer's Midnight Sun? Whether from the fairy tale city of Copenhagen and its Little Mermaid statue or from London where traveling the world can be as simple as visiting a few different neighborhoods, Northern Europe is a hotter cruise destination than its temperatures suggest.

Venice, Italy Rialto Bridge

Wheels Down, Anchor Up

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Written By ROBERT SCHRADER 

Robert Schrader is a writer, photographer and one of the web's original travel bloggers. In 2009 he launched his blog  Leave Your Daily Hell , which has taken him to nearly 100 countries, and has since spun off niche sites focused on Japan, Thailand, Taiwan and Italy. Robert seeks to inform, inspire, entertain and empower travelers through his work, which has been featured in in-flight magazines and digital media outlets around the world. He's excited about travel's post-pandemic rebirth, and in particular the cruise industry's comeback!

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The eight cruise passengers who were stranded on an African island after their ship left the port without them will be reimbursed for some of the costs they endured while trying to make it back onto the ship, the cruise line said.

Jill and Jay Campbell, of South Carolina, along with four other Americans and two Australians, had to race through seven different countries in 48 hours to reboard the Norwegian Dawn in Senegal on Tuesday.

They had earlier hoped to board the ship at the port in Gambia in West Africa, traveling 15 hours through six countries to reach the port on Sunday, only to find that the ship could not dock due to low tides, according to WPDE.

Jill and Jay Campbell

From there, the group boarded a bus and had to take a ferry across a river, Kurt Gies, the son-in-law of another passenger who was left on the island of São Tomé and Principe after she suffered a stroke , told The Post.

A spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line says the passengers will be reimbursed for the costs they endured while trying to race from Gambia to Senegal.

“Despite the series of unfortunate events outside of our control, we will be reimbursing these eight guests for their travel costs from Banjur, Gambia to Dakar, Senegal,” the cruise line said.

A passenger being refused to board the ship.

It had earlier said the passengers — who were left on the island without any of their belongings from the cabin, including money, medicine and necessary travel documents — were “responsible for any necessary travel arrangements to rejoin the ship.”

Keep up with The Post's coverage of the Norwegian Cruise debacle

  • Eight Norwegian Cruise passengers, including a pregnant woman and an elderly man with a heart condition, were stranded on an African island without money and vital medications after the vessel left port without them.
  • A spokesperson for the cruise line claimed the passengers were left on the island “on their own or with a private tour” and missed the “all-aboard time” by over an hour, according to the company.
  • Americans Jill Campbell and her husband, Jay Campbell, said they are unsure whether they even want to resume the 20-day voyage after Norwegian Cruise Lines forgot about its “basic duty of care.”
  • The eight passengers raced through seven different countries over a span of 48 hours to make it to Senegal, where the ship docked Tuesday morning,
  • Doug and Violeta Sanders, a stranded Australian couple, have spoken out about their ordeal , saying it was “the worst experience of our lives.”
  • Julie Lenkoff, 80,  suffered a stroke during an excursion on the cruise — and was left “alone” and “helpless” to find her way back to the US, according to her family.
  • COLUMN: Cruise ship was right to ditch the late passengers in Africa

Check out The Post’s tips on what to do if you’re left stranded like the Norwegian Cruise passengers

As they scrambled to find a way back to the ship, working with the US Embassy in Angola, the Campbells had to shell out more than $5,000 in food, toiletries and hotels — as they were the only ones in the group that had a Visa credit card on their persons, they told WRAL.

The group finally reboarded the Norwegian Dawn Tuesday morning, but they hadn’t spoken directly with cruise officials, Gies said.

Some of the stranded passengers.

The Dawn is now expected to continue its 21-day African voyage through next Wednesday, when it will dock for the final time in Barcelona, Spain.

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Jill and Jay Campbell

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How these cruise passengers missed boarding, got stranded in Africa

Both Americans and Australians were left at port after an excursion ran long.

After what seemed like a dream trip, several American travelers were left stranded at port in West Africa mid-cruise while traveling from Cape Town, South Africa, to Barcelona, Spain.

Jay and Jill Campbell told ABC News Myrtle Beach affiliate WPDE that they were in the first week of a three week voyage aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines when they stopped just off the coast of West Africa.

The couple and others opted to tour the nearby island of São Tomé and Príncipe on the afternoon of March 27, and when the excursion ran late, they said they brought it to the guides' attention.

"We were like, 'our time is getting short,'" Jay Campbell recalled, at which point he said the guide let them know, "'No problem we can get you back in an hour.'"

Upon their return, the passengers said cruise officials refused to let them aboard the ship, even as the local Coast Guard had ferried the group to the anchored vessel.

"The harbormaster tried to call the ship. The captain refused the call. We sent emails to NCL the customer service emergency number," Jay Campbell said. "They said the only way for us to get in touch with the ship is via email. They're not responding to our emails."

PHOTO: In this March 22, 2022 file photo, the Norwegian Dawn cruise ship is seen in San Miguel de Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico.

The Campbells say they were left stranded along with four other Americans and two Australians -- of whom one is a paraplegic, one has a heart condition and one is pregnant. Some did not have credit cards or medication that was left on board.

Cruise expert Stewart Chiron, known as The Cruise Guy, told ABC News that "the bottom line was, they were hours late, the ship was ready to go."

MORE: Norwegian Cruise Line passengers claim Antarctica voyage was rerouted mid-trip

"More than likely that the anchor was already up, and the ship was already possibly moving," he said.

He continued, "Any operation at that point to get these passengers back on the ship would have caused tremendous delays, and safety would have been a major concern."

In a statement to ABC News, a spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Lines said, "On the afternoon of March 27, 2024, while the ship was in São Tomé and Príncipe, an African island nation, eight guests who were on the island on a private tour not organized through us missed the last tender back to the vessel, therefore not meeting the all aboard time of 3 p.m. local time."

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They continued, "While this is a very unfortunate situation, guests are responsible for ensuring they return to the ship at the published time, which is communicated broadly over the ship's intercom, in the daily communication and posted just before exiting the vessel."

The spokesperson added that the passports for the passengers who did not return at the all aboard time "were delivered to the local port agents to retrieve when they returned to the port, as per the regular protocol."

"Our team has been working closely with the local authorities to understand the requirements and necessary visas needed for the guests to rejoin the ship at the next available port of call," they said.

The Campbells said that their eight person group spent 15 hours traveling through six countries in an attempt to rejoin the Norwegian Dawn ship in Banjul, Gambia, on April 1. However, the ship couldn't dock due to low tide, so they are now trying to get to Senegal where the ship is meant to dock on Tuesday.

PHOTO: In this Feb. 2, 2021 file photo, a panoramic view of the Obo National Park is seen in São Tomé and Príncipe.

The Norwegian spokesperson said, "Unfortunately the ship was unable to safely dock in the destination due to adverse weather conditions, as well as tidal restrictions that require specific timing for safe passage. While we share in our guests' disappointment, this modification was made with great consideration for their safety and that of our crew, which is our top priority."

The cruise line contacted the guests "regarding this itinerary adjustment and provided them with authorization to rejoin the ship at Dakar, Senegal on April 2, 2024."

In light of the "series of unfortunate events outside of our control," the spokesperson said Norwegian Cruise Lines "will be reimbursing these eight guests for their travel costs from Banjur, Gambia to Dakar, Senegal" and are still in communication with the guests to provide additional information as it becomes available.

MORE: Meet the cruise couple who have spent over 450 days at sea so far

In a separate, unrelated situation that took place coincidentally on the same day of the voyage, the spokesperson said, "An 80-year-old woman was medically disembarked after being evaluated by our onboard medical team, who thought it best that she receive further assessment and treatment as needed from a local hospital."

"In instances such as these, as the guest was released from the hospital and in a coherent state, our protocol is to contact the guest directly, as we would not have the authority to share any medical details with anyone else without their expressed consent," the spokesperson added, saying they worked with the port agent to receive updates.

"The guest has since been escorted on a flight to Lisbon, Portugal, and then put in the care of airport staff to continue her journey to the United States, where she has now made a safe return," they said.

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  5. 5 Best Cruise Ports in the Caribbean

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  6. Coco Cay (Bahamas, Royal Caribbean) cruise port schedule

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  6. CRUISE NEWS: Princess Cruise Drops Port, Itinerary Changes for Carnival Ships, Icon of the Seas

COMMENTS

  1. Top Caribbean Cruise Ports Guides and Reviews

    Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao are three Dutch islands in the South Caribbean, off the coast of Venezuela, that are a delight to visit on a cruise. Aruba has been a popular cruise port for over two decades, and many cruise ships also visit Curaçao. But it was only recently that Bonaire became a regular port of call by the most popular cruise lines.

  2. 30 Caribbean Cruise Ports and Their Best Shore Excursions

    10. Freeport: Snorkeling Excursions to the Coral Reefs. This Bahamian port lends well to the Caribbean classics: beach time and snorkeling. Set out to explore Freeport 's stunning coral reefs ...

  3. Cruise Ports in the Caribbean

    Cruise Ports in the Caribbean. Welcome to the Caribbean! Situated on the Caribbean Plate, the region is home to more than 700 islands, islets, reefs, and cays that stretch in a 2,500-mile arc. ... Try your luck at the Casino Royale at Maho Village in St. Maarten or take a bus tour of this island that is today part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

  4. 10 Best Eastern Caribbean Cruise Ports You Should Visit

    Cruise Shore Excursions in St. Lucia. If you get the chance to visit, St Lucia is a stunning port of call on longer Eastern Caribbean cruises. This lush volcanic island has many unique attractions ...

  5. 12 Best Caribbean Cruise Ports For a Great Shore Excursion

    The island's capital, St. George's, is famed for its horseshoe-shaped harbor and colorful homes dotting the hillside. St George's cruise port in Grenada. 4. Oranjestad, Aruba. Located on the southern coast of the Caribbean island of Aruba, Oranjestad serves as a popular cruise port of call.

  6. Caribbean cruise guide: Best itineraries, planning tips and things to

    The classic Western Caribbean itinerary visits Mexico (typically Cozumel or Costa Maya), Jamaica, Grand Cayman and a cruise line's private island, which is typically in the Bahamas. However, some ships sail a Western Caribbean itinerary that's more focused on Central America, with stops in Mexico, Belize and Honduras.

  7. 10 Best Caribbean Cruise Ports

    Roatan, Honduras offers stunning scenery and great excursions. Since Roatan is a small island, you can reach all the top spots within less than an hour from either of the ports, Mahogany Bay and Coxen Hole, which are located just 20 minutes apart. Roatan is one of the best Caribbean cruise ports for snorkeling, and Grand Roatan Resort on West ...

  8. 17 Great Ports In The Caribbean For Cruise Lovers

    Jamaica is a popular cruise port because of its amazing beaches, a hallmark of the Western Caribbean islands. Each cruise line has its port around the island, and Ocho Rios is where the Norwegian Cruise Line docks. A Caribbean cruise is excellent for first-time cruisers since the tropical weather is warm year-round. The rainy season in the ...

  9. Best Caribbean Ports to See on Your Cruise

    A cruise allows you to visit many different Caribbean islands in just a few days. From San Juan's historic old town to Belize's barrier reef, the Caribbean ports are filled with sights to see during a quick trip. 1. San Juan, Puerto Rico. Located on the north side of the island, San Juan is the cultural and commercial center of Puerto Rico ...

  10. 7 of the Best Caribbean Ports to Soak In on Your Cruise

    Here are some of the best ports around the Caribbean Sea to stop off and enjoy. San Juan, Puerto Rico. With its colorful streets, rich history, and delightful food, San Juan is a perfect place to start your cruise itinerary. And after hurricanes swept through the island in 2017, San Juan is back and booming.

  11. Caribbean Cruise Ports of Call & Departure Ports

    Learn about the Caribbean cruise ports we sail to. Over 300 destinations around the world. Sail with the Best Premium Cruise Line for 10 years running. ... The Caribbean is one of those places where you don't really need a watch. A place where island time rules. During your Caribbean cruise stops, let the beat of the tropics take control ...

  12. Caribbean Cruise Destinations: Which Ports Are Where?

    But, with more than 700 islands, inlets and cays, the Caribbean offers far more than just beautiful beaches. Our Caribbean cruise destinations are filled with excursions, adventures, and cultural experiences that celebrate this sunny part of the world. Caribbean cruise routes cover three major regions: Western, Eastern, and Southern.

  13. Best Caribbean Cruise Destinations and Ports of Call

    San Juan, Puerto Rico. Great for: Wilderness hiking, historic sites, dining, nightlife. If you've only got six hours: Take a short tour bus ride to El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the ...

  14. Caribbean Destinations: Which Caribbean Islands Are Where

    The Western Caribbean consists of destinations due south of Florida, as well as ports in Mexico and Central America. You can visit Mexico ( Cozumel, Costa Maya, Progreso ), Belize, Honduras ...

  15. Best and Worst Caribbean Cruise Ports for Vacationers

    The 7 Best Cruise Ports in the Caribbean. 1. San Juan, Puerto Rico. Natural Beauty 5/5 | Beaches 4/5 | Excursions 5/5 | Local Culture 4/5 | Safety 4/5 | Total 22/25. San Juan Puerto Rico is in the running for the best Caribbean cruise destinations. It really has it all - history, unique culture, great beaches, jungle, and a ton of things to do.

  16. Caribbean Cruise Port Guide: Pros, Cons & Reviews

    Learn about all of the different ports of call in Caribbean for the best cruise destinations. Read reviews, find the best excursions & more. Sea the world, one port at a time! ... Best Cruise Line Private Islands. by Heidi Bucolo | October 3, 2023 April 11, 2023 ... This complete guide to all the cruise ports in Mexico covers how safe they are ...

  17. 7 Best cruise ports in the Caribbean

    1. Cozumel, Mexico. Of all the cruise ports in Eastern Mexico, Cozumel is the top choice given the breadth of choices available and beautiful beaches. Cozumel is an island just off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula, and it has just about everything someone might want to do in a Caribbean cruise port.

  18. Caribbean cruise port guides by Cruise Crocodile

    In these Cruise Port Guides you will find free maps, docking location, port information, transportation options and lots more. Learn all you need to know before visiting the ports of call on your next cruise. Select the port of call you are looking for underneath. Caribbean cruise port guides for Curacao, St. Lucia, Puerto Rico etc.: free maps ...

  19. Best shore excursion in every Caribbean cruise port

    Located 30 minutes away from the cruise port by boat, Pearl Island offers a small, turquoise beach, bar and lunch buffet, lounge chairs, watersports equipment, and more. ... San Juan, Puerto Rico is a Caribbean cruise port where booking an organized shore excursion isn't totally necessary. Cruise ships dock directly in Old San Juan, the ...

  20. Cruise Ports Schedules 2024-2025-2026

    Cruise port schedules 2024-2025-2026, ships in port, real-time port maps, cruise terminals information, parking, hotels, shore excursions highlights. CruiseMapper. Tracker; Ships; Ports; Lines; ... (Leeward Islands, Caribbean Sea) as well as the capital city of Antigua and Barbuda. Located on Antigua Island's northwestern coast, the town has...

  21. Cruise Ports

    Learn More & Find Sailings. Find the cruise ports near you. Cruise from Miami, Galveston, Charleston, New York, Baltimore, Seattle, New Orleans, and more with Carnival Cruise Line.

  22. Airports That Are Far and Close From Cruise Ports

    In 2023, PortMiami regained its crown as the busiest cruise ship in the world, welcoming a record-breaking 7.3 million passengers. And the port keeps growing, with MSC Cruises' new terminal set ...

  23. Best Cruise Routes to Book From Someone Who's Done 50 + What to Skip

    Megan duBois. Every once in a while, I can find a short three-night cruise on Royal Caribbean or Disney that only visits the brand's private islands. These short cruises are ideal weekend getaways ...

  24. These Are the World's Most Stunning Cruise Ports

    The island is owned by Carnival Corporation and is therefore only a port of call for Carnival and Holland America Line, which use the island as part of their Caribbean and Panama Canal itineraries.

  25. Royal Caribbean's Secret Weapon: Private islands & beach clubs

    Private islands have been part of every major cruise line's game plan for decades, but Royal Caribbean is embarking on something different that will make it stand out. They're investing in their private islands while building out a collection of beach clubs. Last Friday, Royal Caribbean announced it would open a beach club in Cozumel, Mexico in ...

  26. Cruise Ports Near Me: Midwest United States

    Some of the most popular ports for Caribbean cruises include Galveston (near Houston), New Orleans and the ports of Fort Lauderdale and Miami in South Florida. These ports are just a quick — and often affordable — flight from the Midwestern United States. The Galveston cruise port is a popular option, for many reasons.

  27. Cruise passengers left stranded on African island to be reimbursed for

    The eight cruise passengers who were stranded on an African island after their ship left the port without them will be reimbursed for some of the costs they endured while trying to make it back ont…

  28. Cruise passengers stranded in Africa after they missed boarding

    In a statement to ABC News, a spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Lines said, "On the afternoon of March 27, 2024, while the ship was in São Tomé and Príncipe, an African island nation, eight ...

  29. Cruises to Los Angeles

    Los Angeles Cruise Port Address: Long Beach - 231 Windsor Way, Long Beach, CA 90802 San Pedro - World Cruise Terminal, Berth 93, 92 and 91, Port of Los Angeles, San Pedro, CA 90731