Prepare to embark on an unforgettable Caribbean cruise adventure that will take you to some of the most captivating islands in the region. From the vibrant culture of St. Croix to the beaches of Barbados, this itinerary promises seven fun-filled days packed with excitement, relaxation, and exploration.
Discover the history, indulge in thrilling activities, and uncover the hidden gems of St. Croix, St. Kitts, St. Martin, Martinique, and Barbados. Yes, that’s five exciting ports in seven days. So, sit back, relax, and let’s set sail on this extraordinary journey!
St. Croix – Discover the Essence of the Caribbean
Our first stop on our Caribbean cruise vacation is the island of St.Croix, the largest island in the United States Virgin Islands. It has two towns, Frederiksted on the western end and Christiansted on the island’s northeastern part. Our Royal Caribbean cruise ship moored at a pier in Frederiksted near Fort Frederick.
History of St. Croix
St. Croix is the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands and a haven for history buffs. Arawak Indians once inhabited this island, which was later colonized by the Spanish and English before becoming part of the United States in 1917.
Europeans first visited the island of St Croix in the Eastern Caribbean when Christopher Columbus landed on November 14, 1493. He called it Santa Cruz or Holy Cross. During the period until 1733, the island was occupied intermittently by English, Spanish and French forces. At this time, Denmark purchased St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix from France.
The U.S. Virgin Islands began when the United States purchased the islands from Denmark in 1916. The fusion of cultures has left an indelible mark on the island’s heritage and laid the foundation for its diverse population today.
The islands have been susceptible to tropical storms, with Hugo in 1989 and Maria in 2017 causing significant damage to many buildings on the island. Today St. Croix is largely dependent on tourist visits for its economy.
Things To Do in St. Croix
Whether you choose to explore historic sites such as Fort Frederiksted or simply relax at one of its many beaches, your time spent in St. Croix will be full of enchantment and discovery. Indulge in outdoor adventures like snorkeling at the Buck Island National Reef Monument, strolling through the port town, or visiting Point Udall, the easternmost land in the United States.
Fort Frederik is visible at the end of the Frederiksted pier near the cruise ship docks. It is from here that the Danish government emancipated slaves in 1848. Inside the fort are a museum and gallery. Fort Frederik is open for visitors on weekdays from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm at a minimal cost. The fort museums and displays were educational, and the view from the upper level is quite enjoyable. If you are searching for other things to do in St. Croix, Viator offers several tours that are suitable for cruise ship guests to the island.
Experience the island’s flavors at local eateries, explore the charming boutiques and art galleries, and don’t miss the breathtaking views along the pristine beaches.
St. Kitts – Where History Meets Natural Beauty
Our second island to visit in the Eastern Caribbean is St.Kitts in the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis. The capital city is Basseterre, where our ship moored. St. Kitts is approximately 1,300 miles southeast of Miami, Florida. It was previously a member of the British West Indies until becoming independent in 1983.
The History of St. Kitts
St. Kitts was inhabited by a variety of indigenous peoples prior to Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the island in 1493. Spain, France, and Great Britain controlled it at various times. In 1783, St Kitts became permanently affiliated with Great Britain. The island produced sugar cane in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Things To Do in St. Kitts
St Kitts offers something for everyone — from adventure seekers to chilling beach lovers to history buffs!
Adventure seekers have many options in St. Kitts. Here are a few:
Beach lovers will find a sunny paradise at any of these beach locations:
Frigate Bay is your closest option when choosing among the best beaches in St Kitts, located just six miles from Basseterre. Brown Hill Beach is a secluded beach with warm, pristine waters and is approximately seven miles from the cruise port. South Friar’s Bay is a great spot for swimming and snorkeling.
And if you are looking for more culture, there is plenty of history to explore near Basseterre
Near the town center, the Berkeley Clock Tower is at the roundabout. Known as “The Circle,” this memorial structure is a functional water fountain and a valuable clock. Erected in memory of Thomas Berkeley, the four faces of the clocks point toward the four streets that come together into the roundabout. It’s a place where tourists gather to establish their bearings while touring and a place where locals visit to relax throughout the day. Some locals refer to the clock as “Little Ben.”
St. George’s Anglican Church in Basseterre also offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of St Kitts. It is the oldest Anglican church in the Caribbean, dating back to 1670. Its impressive architecture and beautifully kept interior make it one of Basseterre’s premier attractions. Watch for the narrow stone steps near the main door if you want a top-of-the-tower view from the church to the crystal waters.
St. Martin / Sint Marteen – Where Two Worlds Unite
St. Martin is a unique 34-square-mile island in the Eastern Caribbean, divided between the French and Dutch sides. The French side is known as Saint-Martin, while the Dutch side is known as Sint Maarten. The island was first inhabited by the Arawak people and then later by the Carib people. In 1493, Christopher Columbus sighted the island and claimed it for Spain without landing there. However, it was the Dutch who established a permanent settlement on the island in 1631.
In 1648, the Dutch and French signed the Treaty of Concordia, dividing the island into two territories. The agreement stipulated that the French would occupy the northern half of the island while the Dutch would occupy the southern half. Today, both sides of the island operate as separate countries with their own governments and languages.
Things to Do
Upon exiting the cruise ship terminal in Sin Maarten, head toward the Phillipsburg boardwalk, a broad walkway at the beach’s edge. You will find tourist amenities and many shops, bars, and restaurants along the path. Philipsburg is the capital of the Dutch side of the island and is a great place for duty-free shopping. The town has a variety of shops and boutiques selling jewelry, electronics, clothing, and more.
Discover Colonial-Era Architecture: Both the French and Dutch sides of the island have a rich history of colonial-era architecture. Visitors can explore historical buildings such as Fort Louis and Fort Amsterdam or stroll through the charming streets of Marigot and Philipsburg.
Carnival in St. Maarten, having grown into the Island’s largest attraction and world-known festivity, is the ultimate celebration of life. It spreads and showcases dance, laughter, culture, food, and music in the streets. During this tour, visitors enjoy a local experience immersed in the Caribbean Culture and lunch at the Carnival Festival Village. The tour includes Orient Bay Beach, delivering pristine crystallized oceans with white sands and free time to swim, discover or snorkel.
Read more about St Maarten’s Carnival Festival Village Experience and Beach
St. Martin is a fascinating island with a rich history and diverse attractions. Caribbean cruise passengers will enjoy a port day filled with exploration and adventure.
Martinique – The Caribbean’s French Delight
Martinique is a 435-square-mile island in the Lesser Antilles of the Eastern Caribbean. It is known for its stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and rich cultural heritage. Martinique is in an Overseas Department and Single Territorial Collectivity of France, which means it is part of France and the European Union. The island’s official language is French, although most inhabitants also speak Martinican Creole.
History of Martinique
The Arawaks first inhabited Martinique. The island was colonized by the French in 1635. Napoleon Bonaparte had a significant connection to Martinique. He was born on the island of Corsica, another French territory. In 1794, Napoleon was sent to Martinique to quell a slave rebellion. He was unsuccessful in his mission and was eventually recalled to France. The island was a major producer of sugar and rum during the 18th and 19th centuries. The economy of Martinique was based on the exploitation of slave labor until slavery was abolished in 1848.
In February 1848, François Auguste Perrinon became head of the Committee of Colonists of Martinique. He was a member of the Commission for the Abolition of Slavery, led by Victor Schœlcher. On April 27, Schœlcher obtained a decree abolishing slavery in the French Empire. Perrinon was appointed Commissioner General of Martinique and charged with the task of abolishing slavery there. However, he and the decree did not arrive in Martinique until June 3, by which time Governor Claude Rostoland had already abolished slavery.
The imprisonment of a slave at Le Prêcheur had led to a slave revolt on May 20; two days later, Rostoland, under duress, had abolished slavery on the island to quell the revolt. That same year, following the establishment of the Second Republic, Fort Royal became Fort-de-France. In 1981, May 22 was declared a national holiday in celebration of emancipation.
Things to Do in Martinique
This island has many interesting cultural and historic locations within a short walk from the cruise ship pier. One of these is the Schoelcher Library, with an impressive interior that beckons you to stop and read a rare book. Victor Schoelcher was a famous resident of Martinique who led the initiatives to end slavery on the island.
The Schoelcher Library is a historic landmark in Fort-de-France. Constructed in the late 19th century, the library was designed by French architect Henri-Paul Nénot and shipped to Martinique in pieces. The inside of the library is adorned with beautiful frescoes, intricate woodwork, and books from floor to ceiling.
You can see many of these sights on an audio walking tour of the downtown area of Fort de France. It is inexpensive and will take about two hours to complete. Some other excursions worth considering are the Street Art Tour or the Private History Tour of Rum Production in Martinique.
Be sure to dress lightly with liberal use of sunscreen as you are in the warm sun of a Caribbean day. However, consider a beach massage if you are ready for complete relaxation.
Martinique is a fascinating island that offers a unique blend of French and Caribbean cultures. Visitors can explore the island’s rich history and enjoy its natural beauty while experiencing the charm of French culture in the Caribbean.
History of Barbados
Barbados is the easternmost island in the Caribbean. It is located in the Lesser Antilles, so its location makes it less likely to be impacted by hurricanes in comparison to the other islands. European explorers visited Barbados during the 16th century, but it became an English possession in 1627. Barbados enjoyed being the most popular destination for English colonists until 1660, when the colonists found Virginia to be more appealing due to tobacco cultivation. Most of the early settlers of Barbados were indentured servants. Barbados remained a British colony until 1966 when it became independent and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Things To Do in Barbados during a Caribbean Cruise
Today, this small island nation offers visitors a welcoming blend of culture, history, and natural beauty. Here are a few things to do when visiting Barbados:
Pelican Craft Center
The Pelican Craft Center & Village offers a unique shopping experience in which visitors can purchase locally made arts, crafts, and souvenirs.
This vibrant market also hosts local artisans demonstrating knitting, weaving, pottery making, and more.
George Washington House
The George Washington House is a must-see for any history buff. It is the only known residence of George Washington outside of the United States and was home to him in 1751 when he was a 19-year-old surveyor’s assistant. George Washington’s half-brother, Lawrence, was suffering from tuberculosis and was advised to spend the winter in the tropics. George agreed to accompany Lawrence, and the adventure left an indelible imprint on his plantation farming techniques.
Visitors can explore the original house, which has been preserved since its construction in 1649, as well as an interactive exhibition about his life at this residence. The best way to get there from the cruise port is by taxi or private tour – just under four miles from Bridgetown Cruise Ship Terminal.
The Atlantis Submarine is a great way to experience the beauty of Barbados’s underwater world. During this unforgettable adventure, guests will venture to the ocean floor in a state-of-the-art submarine and explore coral reefs and shipwrecks.
On board the vessel, tourists can view tropical fish, stingrays, sea turtles, and much more from the comfort of their air-conditioned cabin – no need for scuba gear! Guests learn about local marine life through interactive displays and educational commentary provided by onboard experts. The entire excursion lasts approximately two hours.
Be sure to bring along your camera, as there are plenty of photo opportunities during a tour of Barbados.
Embarking on a Caribbean cruise adventure through St. Croix, St. Kitts, St. Martin, Martinique, and Barbados guarantees seven fun-filled days of exploration, relaxation, and cultural immersion. From uncovering the rich histories of these islands to indulging in thrilling activities and taking in breathtaking natural beauty, this itinerary offers travelers an unforgettable experience.
So, pack your bags, set sail, and get ready for a Caribbean voyage that will leave you with lasting memories of sun-soaked beaches, vibrant cultures, and endless adventures.
If You Go on a Caribbean Cruise
You can visit these islands either by booking a cruise ship or by making an extended visit.
We chose the Royal Caribbean cruise line for our trips to the Caribbean because we have enjoyed sailing with them in the past, but the islands can be visited on many other cruise ship lines.
For more information on visiting these beautiful islands, check out their visitor websites.
Visit St. Croix – visitstcroix.com
St. Kitts – stkittstourism.kn
Vacation in St. Martin/Sint Maarten – vacationstmaarten.com
Martinique – us.martinique.org