PORTS OF CALL
This page is in its infancy. As the title suggests, this will be a listing of ports of call and some highlights with a brief summary to help you plan your day ashore. I am sure this will be as overwhelming an undertaking as the Caribbean Beaches Page; hopefully, this page will be completed much quicker. As I have not yet traveled to all corners of the world, I will not be able to provide first hand knowledge to every port of call(this just means I have more traveling to do). I will provide personal experiences and those of other cruisers for each Port of Call listed.
ACAPULCO - A historical city and popular with celebrities in the 1950's, it no longer holds the same stature, but one thing that continues to delight visitors and has been doing so for decades would be the cliff divers of La Quebrada. An afternoon performance of entertainment requiring a camera and a few oohs and aahs. The Zocalo, town plaza, is still the place to be as you enjoy a leisurely walk or listen to mariachis. Visit the historical fort, El Fuerte de San Diego which was built in 1616. Tehuacalco is a new archeological site with regular tours being offered to this new site. Acapulco also has many beaches for you to pass your day in pure relaxation. Parque Papagayo is a large park for children to enjoy. Bars and discos are still active, especially in evenings and just a note to remember that Acapulco is still popular with spring-breakers.
ARUBA - The island with its own natural compass. The divi dive tree, found not only on Aruba, leans or points to the southwest forced to grow in this direction from the breezy northeasterly trade winds which also help keep the island's temperature bearable. The island, overall, is desert-like, but dotted with many highlights not to be overlooked. There is something for all visitors to the island of Aruba from the adventurous, beach goers, snorkelers, explorers, golfers, hikers, and shoppers. Your ship will dock at the island's capital of Oranjestad with it's buildings trimmed in gingerbread house-style architecture and covered in a palette of pastel colors. Oranjestad is a short walk from the cruise ship pier and for diehard shoppers, your shopping needs can be fulfilled. Venturing away from the capital offers many choices in which to spend your day. Palm Beach is a wide expansive beach where most of the hotels are located and is a great place to relax and is only a short ride from the ship. There is an island bus service that you can hop on and off to reach the hotels and beaches. At the northern tip of the island is the California Lighthouse and the island's golf course. The famous natural bridge formed of coral and spanning a cove collapsed in Sept 2005, but still attracts many visitors. Stop by the gold mine ruins located near the natural bridge. A visit to Arikok National Park can be explored on one of its several paths winding through the park. While enjoying the park you may discover a few historical petroglyphs still evident on some rocks. Casibari and Ayo rock formations are a sight to see. The bewilderment is not just in the size of these massive boulders, but also as to how these giant boulders arrived on the island of Aruba. Speculation ranges from volcanic action from Venezuela and the more scientific explanation of a massive collision of tectonic plates forcing these giants from below. For adventure climb Mount Hooiberg (or haystack as it looks like a giant haystack from a distance). There are 561 steps to reach the top. You will be rewared with a 360 degree breath-taking view. Just remember there are 561 steps to the bottom - a very good workout for the calf muscles and legs. Snorkelers will enjoy De Palm island. You can walk into the water from shore at your leisure. The coral is amazing and the highlight is swimming with blue parrotfish the size of small dogs. Another snorkel/sailing adventure stops at Arashi Beach and the Antilla, a German cargo ship sunk off the coast to prevent from being seized. More watersports include windsurfing, fishing, sailing, parasailing, and diving. As mentioned above, Palm Beach is the hot spot for beaching and sports and activities, but to get away from it all visit Baby Beach - a sheltered, shallow cove that has warm, shallow water and the shallow water is great for the children. Swim out beyond the protected reef and you will discover some great snorkeling. De Palm Tours offers an island safari tour of the island highlights that will allow you to see many of Aruba's attractions including Baby Beach. There are many other activities and sights to see on Aruba and your visit will leave you with a taste of wanting to return again.
BORA BORA -
COSTA MAYA -
FT LAUDERDALE - An extremely convenient embarkation/debarkation port. You can see the ships in Port Everglades from the airport and in between this short distance a myriad of hotels in which many offer free shuttle service to/from the airport and cruiseport. If you are staying pre/post cruise there are a number of attractions and activities to see. If you arrive early enough you can take a one day cruise to the Bahamas on the Discovery Sun with an early morning departure and late night return. See alligators in their natural habitat while riding an airboat in the Everglades. One of my favorites is Flamingo Gardens which is a beautiful tropical garden and aviary to enjoy at your leisure for all ages. Another favorite is the Jungle Queen. Cruise on this riverboat and enjoy a lazy day of sightseeing of historic Ft Lauderdale and yacht basin or enjoy a late dinner cruise. Perfect if you have a late flight. Stop by at the Bahia Cabana for delicous fresh seafood.
GRAND CAYMAN - Grand Cayman is a tender port. Once ashore there is a large port area with shops and areas for you to easily find your booked shore excursion. There are many shops, restaurants, and bars within walking distance along the shore with great views of your ship anchored in the harbor. Famous Stingray City and the Turtle Farm are definately popular and can be crowded, but neither should be skipped. Stingray City is a blast and memorable. Shallow, crystal clear water (knee-deep), friendly stingrays greeting your entrance into the warm water waiting for a handout or quick petting make the experience one not to be forgotten. The Turtle Farm is now located at beautiful Boatswain's Beach and is an experience for all ages. Breeding pond, nesting beach, turtle tanks, it is all about the turtles. You can even hold one of the youngsters and don't forget the camera for your photo with a baby turtle. There is a lagoon that entices you to sit and relax on the beach or take a cool dip. A beach bar/restaurant will quench your thirst and satisfy your conch fritter craving. Enjoy the shark feeding demonstration nearby at the Predator's tank and a walk below offers a viewing window into their world. There is a snorkeling lagoon, which is great for beginners, and a nature trail. You can visit HELL during your trip to Grand Cayman. Walk out on the viewing stand and see the unusual rock formations that have sprouted and offers a glimpse of what Hell may be like - just add fire. You can stop by the post office and send postcards from HELL. Rum Point is a nice quiet relaxing beach that is sometimes offered in combination with the Stingray tour. Famous 7 mile beach is nearby with easy transportation for a day of sun and fun on the beach. End your day with a souvenir purchase of Tortuga rum cakes or a bottle of Tortuga rum before heading back to the ship.
GRAND TURK - The port that Carnival built. Grand Turk feels like a private island built just for cruisers. The pier can accomodate two ships and the port area is very clean and modern with a nice beach and cool refreshing ocean just yards from your cruise ship. As you walk down the pier the port area awaits. You may turn left and grab a waiting chair on Governor's Beach or grab a chair at the bar in Margaritaville. There is a large pool and lots of chairs and cabanas for your relaxation. Margaritaville is very busy as the fun and drinks do not stop flowing. Adjacent to the pool and restaurant is a Flow Rider for you to test your skills at surfing. If quiet and solitude is your pleasure you will want to turn right as you enter the port area. You can take a long quite stroll along the beach and hunt for shells. There are no chairs on this strip of beach, but the water, shells and scenery are camera worthy. Take a long stroll past the point for an escape from it all. Activities on Grand Turk are those to be expected (snorkeling, island tour, biking, boats, dune buggy, kayaking) with a couple unique adventures. The Flow Rider at Margaritaville is a fun time, even just as a spectator sport. Conch World is a new feature and you can learn all about the delicious little creature. To honor NASA there is Splashdown Grand Turk honoring John Glenn's water landing in 1962. Even though Margaritaville can get crowded, this small island really does lend itself to a more secluded retreat and is just as relaxing as one of the cruise line's private islands.
GRENADA - The spice island is the correct namesake as you can smell the spice in the air upon your arrival and the scent lingers throughout the island. Fort George overlooks and guards the harbor and offers great views of the town and the Carenage and of course your docked cruise ship. Unfortunately there remains visible scars of Hurricane Ivan that struck in 2004, but don't let that disappoint the great views offered from this vantage point. Grand Anse beach is very popular and is a great place to sit back and relax while soaking in the sun's rays. On an island tour you can see Annadale Falls and famous Grand Etang Lake which sprouts out of the forested mountain. As you come back into town stop by Clarks Court Rum Distillery and take a tour and have a few free samples before making up your mind as to which rum you purchase. There are island tours that immerse you in the island's spices as you make stops at varying locals along the way. You may even have a chance to take a dip at Seven Sisters Falls (you can even hike to the falls).
HALF MOON CAY
NEW ORLEANS - the Crescent City has its own charm with most highlights experienced by foot. The French Quarter and The St Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square is a popular starting point for a nice walking tour. Bourbon Street is nearby with plenty of watering holes to choose. Shopping, eating, and drinking can be found in the Big Easy along with the popular jazz clubs. You can view the city and French Quarter on a walking tour or you can hop on the trolley. The Audubon Zoo is nearby and is a wonderful way to escape the city bustle. You can board the Natchez and enjoy a riverboat cruise of the Mississippi. Casinos and casino ship gambling are now present in the city. The Audubon Aquarium is located on the Riverwalk. The Acme Oyster and Seafood House is the place for your oysters on the half shell craving. Don't forget to check out the Voodoo Museum and the old U.S. Mint and while in Jackson Square the touristy yet famous Cafe du Monde serving beignets may catch your attention. Brennan's and its famous Banana's Foster and Johnny's Po Boys and the famous po' boy sandwhiches are also popular stops. More in depth review on my blog: www.fromtheporthole.wordpress.com
ST CROIX -
ST LUCIA -
ST MAARTEN -
ST THOMAS - The Shopping Mecca of the Caribbean. Don't worry, there is more to St Thomas than just shopping - actually there is something for everyone. If your ship docks at the West Indian Dock Company at Havensight everything is at your fingertips. As you exit the pier you will enter Havensight: a large shopping complex for those who do not care to venture far from the ship. Across the street is Paradise Point Tram offering a ride and great views of your ship and the surrounding islands on your ride to Paradise Point. Once at the top you will be rewarded with great views and you may (if you choose) partake in the deliciously famous Bushwacker alcoholic beverage that goes down smooth (think chocolate shake) and sneaks up on you. If Havensight does not curb your shopping appetite Charlotte Amalie, the capital, is 2 miles away and a beautiful walk along the water. You can experience shopping overload once you reach town. Watersports are abundant (snorkeling, diving, parasailing, swimming, and more). My favorite snorkel beach getaway is Coki Beach offering great snorkeling from the beach and of course beaching. Coral World is also located at Coki Point. Buck Island offers more snorkeling adventures with turtles highlighting the water adventure. Emerald Beach is a quiet relaxing beach scene and if your ship docks at Crown Bay Dock it will be a short taxi ride and about $4 to the beach and $4 to Charlotte Amalie. Crown Bay is not as convenient as Havensight and transportation will be needed from Crown Bay. There are several island tours of St Thomas and all are great with most offering many photo opportunities. If St Thomas is over the top for you, enjoy a relaxing sail over to St John and enjoy several of its beaches and snorkeling with the most famous being Trunk Bay with its underwater snorkeling guide. Let's not forget on St Thomas the Famous and Popular Magen's Bay. A fantastic beach with many amenities and worth a day of rest and relaxation.
SAN DIEGO - The airport is very close to the pier and very convenient. There is a lot going on here near the cruise terminal. Gaslamp Quarter is nearby with restaurants and clubs to occupy the senses. The palm lined Embarcadero is the point for tours, excursions, and people and traffic watching. The aircraft carrier USS Midway opened as a museum in 2004 and requires at least 3 hours for a comprehensive tour of this venerable hero. There are several tributes and memorials of past wars fought in this nostalgic Navy town. Shopping at Seaport Village is a short walk from the cruise pier and is active with music and street performers for your enjoyment. Enjoy a great view of the area from the 40th floor of the Hyatt. Don't forget Balboa Park with museums and gardens and nearby is the famous San Diego Zoo. Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St Louis is housed at the San Diego Air and Space Museum and for model railroad buffs, visit the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. With so many attractions San Diego begs you to visit more than once as just one day is not enough to see and absorb all the great attractions the city has to offer.
SAN JUAN - As your ship arrives San Juan you have a bird's eye view of the famous El Morro fortress. El Morro is a great walking tour set on a wide lawn expanse as you approach the fortress. There is a lot of history to absorb once inside and many photo ops as you walk the grounds. At the bustling Plaza de Armas main square you can sit and relax and people watch while listening to a band or while you watch artists sketching or even watch over a game of dominos. Another and larger fortress is San Cristobel overlooking the bay and also historical with numerous photo ops. There is shopping near the pier and just beyond the plaza. Bacardi Rum Distillery on a massive complex is an interesting experience offering free samples. Very popular is El Yunque tropical rain forest. This is a half day tour with a refreshing waterfall to cool off.
TAMPA - right next to the cruise port is the Florida Aquarium a must for all ages and make sure you are there for the feeding of the stingrays as they are quite active waiting for their snack; unfortunately, they become quite lazy and dormant once they eat and are not the attention getters they were when it was close to feeding time. Channelside is also steps away from your ship offering dining and entertainment in a nice setting.
VIRGIN GORDA - On a cruise, you will be coming here from Tortola. There are excursions that go directly to the Baths and Devil's Bay and there are excursions that take you snorkeling near the Baths in this beautiful clear and multi-hued blue water. Devil's Bay is more impressive than the Baths section and it is not an easy task to get from one side to the other as you duck and crawl through the narrow passageways that these giant bolders have created. When we visited there was another ship in port which arrived earlier than we did so the beaches were crowded and the scenic photo ops were marred by lots of people enjoying the sun, sand, and surf, The sand is almost like walking in snow as you sink in when you walk. There were a lot of catamarans offshore visiting and I think the best way to see the Baths would be from an offshore boat. I can now say I have been to the Baths and Devil's Bay, but I cannot say that this is a must see on your list of adventures. Cruise passengers definately conjest the area; perhaps another visit with fewer people will be a more enjoyable experience.