Cruising around Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and other nearby islands with 12 port visits along the way.
On the wild and rugged east coast of Barbados, the isolated beaches are the colour of sunrise, the red sands having blown all the way across the Atlantic from the Sahara. The eastern most island of the Windwards, and indeed, of the entire Caribbean, reaches out to Africa and the Old World, as if not quite part of the New. Bridgetown, Barbados is an interesting town full of contrasts. George Washington actually slept here! Trafalgar Square reminds you that the laid back, rum-and-fun-loving island’s British-influenced heritage includes revered traditions like cricket and high tea.
Isla de Margarita
Isla Margarita is a mountainous tropical Caribbean island paradise located off the north shore of Venezuela. Margarita is blessed with an average of over 320 days a year of sun, beautiful tropical beaches lined with palm trees like Playa el Agua or Playa Parguito and a temperature that is never too hot or too cold. In addition to excellent white sand beaches, water sports, natural parks, the island has a golf course. It offers activities such as scuba diving or snorkeling, horseback riding, fishing, and sailing.
Blanquilla is an island, one of the federal dependencies of Venezuela, located in the southeastern Caribbean Sea about 182 miles northeast of Caracas. It is a popular location for divers and the white sand beaches, for which it is named. The island's wildlife include local cacti and iguanas, as well as wild donkeys and goats. Its reefs are notable for their black coral, which is used for jewelry and other crafts. The island is formed by the Aves Ridge, a seafloor feature which protrudes above water to the north, forming several other islands.
Willemstad, Curacao's capital is a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its importance in the slave trade in the 18th and 19th century. Willemstad blossomed in this period, and Willemstad grew rapidly. Over 300 years later these buildings are still there, and in great condition.
Your first look at Curacao across the small channel from the ship is just like looking at a scene somewhere in Amsterdam or any city in the Netherlands. Pastel colored buildings (complete with the hoist towers so common in the Netherlands) line the waterfront and it is hard to believe that you are actually in the deep southern Caribbean almost to South America.
Willemstad is what sets Curacao apart from the rest of the Caribbean islands. Curacao might have many charms to it, but its biggest charm is its beautiful city.
Oranjestad ("Orange City") is the capital and most important city of Aruba located on the southern coast near the western end of the island. The town was built around Fort Zoutman in 1796 and Oranjestad has been the capital of Aruba ever since. The fort is still one of the town's attractions, others being the tax-free harbor and the Willem III Tower, located near the fort. The city is named after the first King Willem van Oranje-Nassau (William of Orange-Nassau), the first heir to the Dutch House of Orange.
Small portions of the city are formed from a series of man-made expansions of land into the sea. Present-day Renaissance Marketplace as well as the adjacent Queen Wilhelmina Park, are within part of this expansion. Dutch colonial architecture is less visible than on neighboring island Curacao, but several modern recreations have emerged, including the outdoor shopping mall at Royal Plaza, and a few scattered buildings along Main Street and on the Main Square. Due to increased government interest in maintaining the island's cultural heritage, a number of old buildings and houses in the center of town have been transformed into colorfully restored landmarks, such as the lime-colored Civil Registry on Wilhelminastraat.
Picture Over the last two decades, Bonaire has consistently ranked as the finest snorkeling and scuba diving destination in the Caribbean. A major reason for this prominence is the island's diligent stewardship of its marine resources -- all of the waters off Bonaire's coast have been legally protected since 1979, and it shows.
But there is plenty more to do here. The unusually steady trade winds that wash over the island create ideal conditions for world-class windsurfing, and the shere beauty of its semi-desert landscape is home to an outlandish assortment of wildlife. Iguanas meditatively toast themselves atop the desert rock formations of Washington Slagbaai, while vast orange-pink clouds of flamingos drift across bone-white salt flats. Divi-divi trees bend into surreal sculptures of the wind itself, and towering cacti stand as reminders of the Caribbean's diverse ecology.
Isla de Coche, Venezuela
Isla de Coche is one of three islands forming the Nueva Esparta State of Venezuela, located in the Caribbean between Isla Margarita and the mainland. The other two islands are Isla Margarita, the main island of the state, and Cubagua, the smallest.
Coche Island is uniquely positioned for minimal tourism. To the west of the island conditions for windsurfing and kite boarding is excellent. Given the absence of clouds during the year the temperature, though high, is pleasant in the fresh sea air.
Testigo Grand, Venezuela
Venezuela is a country in northern South America. Possessing shorelines on the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, Venezuela borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east and Brazil to the south, and is situated on the major sea and air routes linking North and South America. The Los Testigos Islands are included in Venezuela's federal dependencies, which are composed of 600 islands and smaller formations.
The Los Testigos islands are the most remote of the Venezuelan islands called "The Witnesses". These islands are inhabited by a handful of interconnected fishing families who jealously protect the resources of these islands. You can hire the locals as guides by bringing them gifts. The Islands are all different with huge sand dunes, gorgeous beaches, lots of fish and lobsters.
St. George's, Grenada
An attractive colonial-era town spilling down a hillside above the Carenage, with its horseshoe-shaped harbor, Grenada's capital of ST GEORGE'S received the full brunt of Hurricane Ivan's high winds, and the bevy of new terracotta-coloured roofs stand in testament to the power of the wind.
St George's won't take more than a day to explore, and it's worth taking time away from the beach to do so. Though the market is at its liveliest on Saturday morning, most shops close on Saturday afternoons, Sundays and public holidays, making the town a quiet place during those times – except when a cruise ship moors at the spanking new docks, in which case the town explodes into a frenzy of activity, market stalls spring up on shore, restaurants and bars fill up, street vendors and local guides come out in force.
Captain's Best, Grenadine Islands
The Grenadines have many small uninhabited islands with beautiful unspoiled beaches. Your Captain will choose one where the ship will anchor offshore, and you will be tendered ashore.
Marigot Bay & Soufriere, St. Lucia
James Michener called this Bay the best he's ever seen.
A yachtsman's haven, this picturesque bay has been used for background shots in many Hollywood films such as Dr. Doolittle and Fire Power. Also there is a national park and lovely beaches.
Bridgetown, Barbados (return)
Return to Bridgetown for disembarkation