Top 5 destinations to visit on a Caribbean cruise

I recently spent eight nights in the Caribbean with Atlas Ocean Voyages aboard their yacht, World Voyager.

The itinerary was incredible with a different slice of sun-kissed paradise waiting for us each day. What I didn’t realise was how diverse this region of the world can be. I’ve broken down the top five stops on our Caribbean voyage for you to consider when booking your Caribbean cruise with Panache Cruises.


Roseau, Dominica
You mustn’t worry if a thunderous rain cloud awaits you in Roseau, the capital of Dominica—a rainforest needs rain. We dock in-port. A coastal traffic jam awaits, snaking its way through the city’s narrow streets, made more narrow by the vendors selling all kinds of tropical fruits all the way along them—cliché coconuts, fresh yams, golden-yellow mangoes and all other sorts of tropical delicacies. We start to trudge through the traffic. This is a busy city—but we're not interested in it. It’s the verdant, green and beating heart of the island that we want—and soon our car starts to slope up the dizzying mountains. The driver explains that the hills are so steep that the minibus drivers have to change their brakes every three weeks or so.

Actually it’s not long before the poor guy’s own brake cable snaps. We're stranded.

Dominica

While we wait to be picked up by another friendly Dominican driver the rain starts to fall. And when it rains, it pours—but this isn’t rude English rain that’s here to ruin your day. It’s a pleasure to be rained on by Dominican rain, washing away at least a little of the jungle humidity. Our hero arrives and before long we’re back slaloming along the road all the way to what we’re looking for—waterfalls. This, afterall, is a Land of Waterfalls—and the Land of Hummingbirds, Crabs, Volcanoes, Boiling Lakes and Everything Else. The waterfalls—Emerald Pool, Trafalgar Falls, Spanny Falls and Jacko Falls—were worth every drop of rain.

We even had the chance to swim in two of them. Back on board the ship I made a promise to myself—I'll be back in Dominica one day.

Mayreau, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

There’s nothing much to Mayreau and that’s why I like it.

With no port to dock in, we drop anchor five minutes from the shore. A white strip of paradise beach backed by palm trees awaits, and there was nobody—not another soul—on the beach. Walking along it I can see the other side of the island through the lush palm trees and a town (a village, a settlement, or just a couple of houses?) at the nearest end to the pier. Children play on a rope swing in the sun next to a local tempting the few passers-by into the only gift shop.

I realise that we save up all year to visit places like this, but the village folk live there with not much but everything they need: A ladder up a coconut tree, a couple of ramshackle bars made from beer crates, a place to play dominoes and that rope swing. There’s not a car in sight. This is true island life in a real paradise.

Mopian

Mayreau is also interesting because it’s a gateway to Mopian, a surreal mound of sand with a single straw parasol on it. Our catamaran captain has the cheek to call it an island, but it offers incredible snorkelling opportunities on the vibrant surrounding reef. Turtles, stingrays and tropical fish are plentiful.

Terre-de-Haut, Guadeloupe
Terre-de-Haut is a culture shock. This hip and happening town shares the same name as the island of highlands around it. It’s been well looked-after by the French—a cosmopolitan town that charges Euros in the local Carrefour supermarket, provides free local WiFi and features a strip of busy bars, cafes, coffee shops, souvenir shops, ice cream parlours—whatever you need. It’s full of beautiful people, tanned by the loyal sun, zooming about in golf buggies and on mopeds. We consider scaling one of the hills to Napoleon’s Fort that was once used to defend this playground, but we’re enamoured with the vibe. We sit to drink a €10 mocktail each in one of the many bohemian bars. The waiter speaks five languages perfectly and I’m not surprised.. I realise that I could easily be sitting in Cannes, Nice, St. Tropez or somewhere similar; Terre-de-Haut is a perfect slice of the French Riviera on a Caribbean island.

Terre de haut

Gustavia, St. Barthelemy 
Gustavia offers a very similar cosmopolitan charm to Guadeloupe. So it should, it was part of the Guadeloupe islands way up until 2003. The difference is that St Barts feels even more exclusive with mega-yachts, rather than fishing boats, docked in the harbour and with designer stores such Louis Vuitton, Dior and Hermès standing in the sun as soon as I disembark the tender. With not much money to spend and without a moped to explore the green heart of this island, we head to the stunning beach of Shell Beach. 

Gustavia

Why do they call it Shell Beach? Well instead of sand, shells make up the beach. This creates a particularly paradisiacal feel—the waters are even more blue than you can imagine. With sun beds from a nearby bar costing upwards of €150—we decide to lay on the beach and snorkel. I’ll admit that we spent so long here that I experienced my first sunburn of the trip. St. Barts is brilliant.

Little Bay, Montserrat
Little Bay is reachable by tender in five minutes and nothing much in the way of a town—a few bars and a couple of restaurants. This is the land that time forgot—or, being a British colony since  at least the one that Great Britain forgot. The capital city of Montserrat, Plymouth, was damaged by a hurricane in 1989 before a volcanic eruption in 1995 struck the killer blow. It hasn’t been rebuilt since. The result is a beach that is half-rocky, half-black and and like nothing I had ever seen before. Head inland to find the fascinating, but tragic history, where the volcanic half of the island is inaccessible unless you’re with a licensed guide. The whole town of Plymouth is buried up to its roofs by lava and pyroclastic flow. What wasn’t buried was burnt. As a stark contrast, the rest of the island is wild rainforest. A haunting but beautiful place, Montserrat offers something very, very different.

Montserrat


Unsurprisingly, I’ve got so much to say about this trip. We’ve also got some incredible photos taken by our in-house photographer Adam. Stay tuned to the Panache Cruises Blog for more!
Call Panache Cruises on 0161 513 8200 if you want to learn more about Atlas Ocean Voyages.

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