St. John's, Antigua
St John's, the capital city of the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, in the Lesser Antilles, has been the administrative center since the islands were first colonised in 1632. The nation achieved its independence from Great Britain in 1981.
Arawak and Carib Amerindian tribes lived on the islands when Christopher Columbus first arrived in 1493. Early settlements were made by Spain and France. Subsequently the English formed a colony in 1667, bringing African slaves to work sugar plantations. Slavery was abolished in 1834.
Most of the present day population is descended from those slaves. Europeans, principally British and Portuguese, make up the remainder. The official language is English, but the locals speak a patois, a mixture of English, local languages and some other European languages.
Terre-de-Haut, Iles des Saintes (overnight)
The Saints are an archipelago of 8 volcanic islets, tropical hideaways scalloped by white sandy beaches and sheltered coves. The 17th century Fort Napoleon is impressive, with fine views over the islands and surrounding seas. A charming and seductive atmosphere pervades Iles de Saints. It's enough to make you want to buy your dream villa and leave the world behind.
Cabrits National Park is at the north end of the island, north of Portsmouth on a peninsula. The park protects tropical forest, coral reefs and wetlands. There are hiking trails and an English garrison called Fort Shirley.
Beach Stop, Martinique (PM)
Swim and beachcomb at one of Martinique's beautiful beaches selected for you by your Captain.
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.
Tobago Cays (St. Vincent & Grenadines)
The five small islands of the Tobago Cays are an archipelago with extensive coral reefs located in the Southern Grenadines, and make up the Tobago Cays Marine Park. These uninhabited cays offer heavenly lagoons with green turtles, colorful fishes and crystal clear waters.
Marigot Bay, St. Lucia
"The most beautiful Bay in the Caribbean", said James Michener. All year round, Marigot Bay is the home of dozens of sailboats which choose this tropical fjord, a wonderful natural harbor and
yachtsman's haven. It's so picturesque in fact that it has been used for background shots in many Hollywood films.
The restaurants overlooking the bay are all unique, some laid back and mellow, others rowdy. The locals are very sweet and helpful, with real interest in showing you a good time. The beach merchants are definitely pushing their wares, but not in an obnoxious way.
The snorkeling is reported as excellent. You might like to try some scuba diving, as well.
Soufriere, St. Lucia
Soufriere is a fishing town on St. Lucia's southwest coast. Surrounded by lush tropical rainforest, Soufriere sits below the Pitons, St. Lucia's landmark volcanic peaks. The town is small and simple, with a central square on which is located the Church of the Assumption, and narrow streets lined with bright-painted houses. You can wander with your camera, stop at a local seafood restaurant, or buy some treats to eat from a street vendor, or perhaps linger at a bar for a rum drink. The people are friendly and fun-loving. There are spas for massage, and hot, volcanic spring-fed mineral baths for soaking. Visit an old sugar plantation. Rent a trail bike to ride along the French Wall Trail, an old hand-built stone wall, or any of several other trails. Go diving among the coral formations on the reef in the Soufriere Marine Management Area. Or try snorkeling if you prefer.
Take a walk through the rainforest, visit a botanical gardens, or use binoculars to seek the elusive St. Lucia parrot. You'll not lack for things to do on this laid-back island.
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.