Barbados is a frequent port of call on both eastern and southern Caribbean cruises. Once a British colony, the laid-back island now offers visitors a taste of European sophistication blended with Caribbean flair.
Arriving in Barbados
With a modern terminal conveniently located a mile from the capital city of Bridgetown, cruise passengers find themselves immediately involved in the culture of this Caribbean nation. Most major cruise lines visit the country, including Princess, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, and Norwegian. Several luxury lines also offer sailings to Barbados, including Silversea, Seabourn, and Cunard.
Upon arriving at the port, guests can choose taxi or inexpensive bus transportation, or can opt for the mile-long shorefront walkway that leads to Bridgeport (a 15-30 minute stroll). The port's tourist information office can provide current information and suggestions.
Necessary information about Barbados:
- As a former British colony, the official language is English.
- The Barbados Dollar is the national currency and is worth roughly twice the value of United States dollars. Be sure to clarify which currency is quoted when shopping.
- Residents are frequently called Bajans, a term that can be heard everywhere on the island.
Cruise Ship Shore Tours
Depending on the cruise line, a variety of shore excursions are available for every activity level. Cruise passengers can choose from cultural highlight tours, horseback riding, pirate cruises, eco-tours, kayaking, ATV adventures, scenic drives, rainforest gully hikes, golfing, exploring the sea with snorkeling or submarine tours, and visits to some of the nation's more famous sites. One popular tour option is to snorkel with sea turtles, where guides will tempt the gentle creatures by feeding them to be sure of spectacular views. Visitors interested in this type of tour should note that it sells out quickly, and they must be careful on the excursion to help protect the turtles, many of which are endangered species.
Sightseeing in Barbados
Unlike many popular Caribbean nations, there are few notable artificial sites on Barbados. Instead, the island is known for its stunning natural beauty, which the government has sought to protect through numerous parks and preserves. Some of the most popular sites to visit include:
- Harrison's Cave: The most popular attraction on the island, this underground cave system includes pools, stalactites, and waterfalls. Electric tram tours make this a suitable attraction for most activity levels.
- Flower Forest at Richmond Plantation: A former sugar plantation, the grounds of this majestic manor have been transformed into sumptuous botanical gardens with intimate trails.
- Orchid World: Thousands of different blooms await visitors to this six acre floral paradise, which includes exquisite coral grottos. Admission prices are often combined with the Floral Forest.
- Sunbury Plantation House: All rooms in this 300-year-old mansion are open for viewing, decorated with period antiques include horse-drawn carriages and authentic artwork.
- Mount Gay Rum Distillery: Alcohol aficionados will appreciate this working rum distillery, which not only offers a tour but also highlights many different flavors of the popular Caribbean beverage.
- Beaches are some of the most popular attractions, with their white and pink sand beckoning visitors to relax and enjoy the tropical climate. The western "Gold Coast" beaches are sheltered from the worst winds and currents. Watersport equipment rentals are available at most beaches, and windsurfing is particularly popular on Silver Sands Beach, located along the southeast shoreline where waves are more enticing to adventurous visitors.
- Travelers who prefer shopping may want to stay near the cruise terminal, where a shopping mall has been designed for passengers' convenience. Local handicrafts, food, and drinks are all available, as well as leather goods, china, crystal, jewelry, pottery, and more.
Despite the nation's relaxed demeanor, travelers should take precautions to protect themselves and ensure they have a fabulous cruise vacation. Due to the island's British history, driving is on the left - a crucial fact for visitors renting cars. For beachgoers, it is important to remember that the eastern beaches are pummeled by the Atlantic Ocean, and waves and currents can be treacherous.
With abundant natural wonders to entrance visitors of all ages, Barbados is a popular destination for Caribbean itineraries. With many different cruise lines offering a range of itinerary options featuring the island, passengers are sure to find a way to include it in their sailing plans.