Caribbean Cruise. Island advice - what to do on a 1 day cruise visit.
is one of the larger of the islands which previously formed the Dutch Antilles. From the Cruise ship landing stage, its just a short walk into the town of Kralendijk where there are a number of shops and sometimes a street market. Cars, jeeps and mopeds can be hired here if you want to tour the island for the day.
After walking through the town, if you head back to the beach and walk Northwards - ie keeping the sea to the left - after about 20 minutes or so you will come to a Marina. Walk around the marina and on the far side you will find Eden beach which is a small free beach with a cafe beach bar. Here you can spend an enjoyable few hours swimming, snorkelling or just lazing on the beach. Sunbeds are available to hire and there are toilets and showers available.
In Jamaica, cruise ships usually either dock in Montego Bay or Ocho Rios. On my trip it was Ocho Rios so all comments here relate to arrival at Ocho Rios which was the setting for the very first James Bond film, Dr No.
The most notable tourist attraction to visit from Ocho Rios is Dunn's River Falls, which is walkable from the port. This is one of the few waterfalls in the world that empties directly into the sea. To walk there from the cruise terminal, turn right when exiting the port and walk along the pavement adjacent to the road for about 20 minutes or so and the entrance to Dunn's River Falls will be seen on the left. From the road, its quite a steep walk up the entrance path. Alternately there are numerous taxis available at the port entrance. Dunn's River Falls is a famous waterfall that attracts worldwide visitors who are keen to climb up the waterfall with the help of a guide and usually in a hand holding human chain. The entrance fee allows you to climb the waterfall or just enjoy the parkland and watch everyone else. There are numerous palm trees within the park and on our visit coconuts were being cut down and opened and offered for in the hope of a small tip.
To complete the day you could have a ride on a raft on the White river. The rafts are made of bamboo and are about 30 feet long and hold just 2 people. Generally its a gentle and relaxing trip and not a white water ride, despite the name of the river ! Get a taxi from the port or from Dunn's River Falls - its about a 15 minute scenic ride through lush tropical scenery. Ask the taxi driver to drop you at the starting point and pick you up again where it ends and return you to the town or the port. If time allows, you can also do some shopping at the Island village which is a short walk from the cruise ship. Jimmy Buffet's famous Margaritaville Bar and Restaurant can also be found nearby.
The cruise ship will dock in Oranjestad and its just a short walk off into the town. This is a shoppers paradise with top brand name shops all offering goods either duty free or well below the usual prices in the US. There are also a couple of bars overlooking a small marina for food and drink. After shopping or if shopping is not for you, it is only a short walk from the ship or the town centre to the bus station where you can get a very cheap local bus to one of the perfect Caribbean beaches.
Eagle beach is probably as good as any and the local bus stops alongside it. The buses along this 'hotel strip' run every 15 minutes during the day. The Caribbean water here is warm, clear and sparking and the beach is as good as it gets. Sun loungers can be hired for the day or half day and towels are provided. There are numerous care bars on the beach.
The Cruise ship will dock at the Grand Turk Cruise Center which is a fairly newly built cruise facility in large landscaped gardens and which contains everything you need for a day's visit. It is only about 150 meters / 500 feet walk from the ship to the cruise centre.
Apart from swimming in the clear blue Caribbean sea, in the cruise centre there is a free to use large swimming pool alongside a bar and café. The drinks are expensive compared to elsewhere on the island but all of the cruise centre is free to use so this is a small price to pay. The local beer – Turks Head – is very popular and worth sampling. The sun loungers around the pool are also free to use. For the more adventurous, at the side of the swimming pool is a ‘Flowrider’ surf attraction where you can try your hand at surfing.
There is a large shopping centre nearby which includes a duty free shop and the usual selection of holiday gifts, jewellery and clothes
St Martin / St Maarten
St Martin (the French half) and St Maarten (the Dutch half) is an Island of 2 countries and is 144 miles long. Usually the cruise ships dock at the landing stages in the outskirts of Philipsburg and this location has the great combination of a perfect beach along with numerous shops and cafe bars. The whole island is duty free so alcoholic drinks are very reasonably priced. It is only a short walk from the landing stage onto the main beach passing through an area with various cafes and stalls selling tourist souvenirs.
Once onto the main beach there are numerous sun lounger and sun shades available to hire for the day and there are some very good deals to be had so probably best to shop around rather than just stopping at the section. As a guide, $15 US in Jan 2011 bought 1 day hire of 2 sun loungers just feet from the sea, along with a sun umbrella and an ice bucket containing 5 local beers ! The local beers were generally just $1 each if purchased in a cafe. As usual, there were several local beach traders who were offering everything from beachwear, skirts, shirts and massages at quite reasonable prices.
The cruise ship will usually dock at Port Seraphine in Castries, the capital of St Lucia and with a population of about 10,000. From the port you can walk into the centre of the town. As you leave the ship there are a few shops at the Port itself which are well worth having a look at. From there it's about a 15 minute walk into Castries itself where the best places for shopping and window shopping are Bridge Street and William Peter Boulevard. Its not open every day but "Our Planet" in La Place Carenage, Jeremie Street, Castries is an inter-active treatre attraction and well worth a look. Unfortunately it was closed when I visited. There is probably sufficient to keep you entertained all day in Castries, but if you want to visit further afield, then there is plenty to see. To be continued.
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