There are so many amazing itineraries and ports for cruises in the Caribbean, it can be really hard to choose the right one for you.
Whether you’re looking for inspiring historical sites, duty-free shopping, beautiful beaches, fun-filled adventure, or a mix of all these things, the perfect port is out there. It’s just a matter of finding it.
We’re here to help make it easier with our list of the top 10 best Caribbean cruise ports.
One of the best Caribbean cruise ports for those interested in rich history, vibrant culture, friendly locals, interesting architecture, excellent food, and beautiful scenery is the unmissable destination of Havana in Cuba.
Situated in the western Caribbean very close to the U.S., Havana has a modern cruise port which can accommodate large ships and provides easy access to the city for cruise passengers.
If you’re a history fan, be sure to explore Havana’s landmarks, such as the Old Town of Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the Museum of the Revolution; the Cathedral of Havana; the Morro Castle; or the Plaza de la Revolucion. For a quick way to get around the sites, you can even take a tour of the city in a vintage car!
There are plenty of opportunities for cultural experiences as well. Stroll down the Malecon and mingle among the locals, take a Cuban cooking lesson, or even participate in a salsa dancing class.
Cruising between November and April? This is the perfect time to head to Havana, as it is during the dry season when temperatures are not too hot and there’s very little rainfall.
Phillipsburg, St. Maarten
Located on the Dutch side of this dual-heritage island (St. Martin/St. Maarten), Phillipsburg is a gorgeous destination, taking pride of place on many Caribbean itineraries.
The port in Phillipsburg consists of two piers, accommodating up to four vessels. This cruise terminal is surrounded by boutique shops, luxury hotels, a tourist information center, and a fantastic selection of local restaurants, so you can start experiencing the fun of St. Maarten as soon as you disembark.
Looking to relax on a lovely beach? Head to downtown Phillipsburg, just a one-kilometer walk from the port or a short water taxi ride away. If you have more time to spend relaxing on the sand, be sure to visit Great Bay Beach where you can rent a lounger and umbrella and enjoy swimming and playing with the whole family. There are restaurants nearby, so you don’t have to stray too far for lunch.
December to April is the best time to enjoy Phillipsburg and its beaches.
Roatan, Honduras offers stunning scenery and great excursions. Since Roatan is a small island, you can reach all the top spots within less than an hour from either of the ports, Mahogany Bay and Coxen Hole, which are located just 20 minutes apart.
Roatan is one of the best Caribbean cruise ports for snorkeling, and Grand Roatan Resort on West Bay Beach is one of the best spots for snorkeling in the whole of the Caribbean. You don’t need a boat to get there and can find amazing sea life such as vibrant coral, sea turtles, and a variety of tropical fish. It is a public beach, so cruise ship passengers can enjoy snorkeling here too.
Many thrilling and adventurous activities await in Roatan. Be sure to visit Gumbalimba Park, where you can zipline through the jungle canopy, or escape from the crowds on the serene and secluded Camp Bay Beach.
This Caribbean cruise port is best between March and August, as temperatures in the area at this time of year are amazing.
George Town, Grand Cayman
The largest of the Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman is a must-visit spot on any multi-destination trip to the Caribbean. It is home to a wide range of experiences plus a variety of beautiful beaches.
Cruise ships anchor slightly offshore and passengers must take a tender to the George Town Cruise Port. For this you’ll require a tender ticket, which can be a lengthy process, so it’s important to plan ahead.
Grand Cayman is an excellent destination for those who enjoy strolling along a beautiful beach or going on a snorkeling adventure. A number of tour operators offer trips around cruise port times to the famous Stingray City, an amazing snorkel location where you can interact with and feed the stingrays.
If you’re not looking to spend extra money on this kind of excursion or if snorkeling simply isn’t your thing, head down to Seven Mile Beach, a scenic strip of shoreline popular with tourists looking to relax and catch a tan.
Grand Cayman is best between January and April, as this time of year offers nice warm weather and very little rainfall.
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
One of the best Caribbean cruise ports when it comes to history, culture, nature, and above all variety, Puerto Rico is well worth the visit.
From the port in the famous city of Old San Juan, guests can immediately begin exploring world heritage sites, jungles, and glorious white beaches as soon as they step off the ship. Cruise vessels dock downtown, so all the popular attractions are easy to reach via a short walk up the cobblestones.
If Puerto Rico is the start or end point of your journey, you may want to consider spending a few days here. This will give you the opportunity to explore not only the wonderful historic city of Old San Juan but also many more sites across the island as well as the towering rainforest, home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in all of Puerto Rico.
No matter how long you’re here, be sure to head to a restaurant, as Puerto Rican cuisine truly sets itself apart from the rest.
If you’re planning on taking a cruise between June and November, you won’t find many itineraries that include Puerto Rico as a destination, as this is the time of year when it experiences many storms. Instead, the best time to visit is between December and March.
St. George’s, Grenada
One of the most southern ports in the Caribbean, Grenada is fondly known as the Island of Spice due to its production of spices; it is the second-largest producer of nutmeg in the world.
With a rich history, an abundance of waterfalls, some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, and interesting reefs and wrecks to explore, Grenada is a top destination. Cruise ships dock in the heart of the capital city, St George’s, and there is plenty to be seen within walking distance. However, public transport on the island is incredibly cheap.
While access to all beaches on the island is free, Grand Anse Beach is arguably the most popular. There’s a selection of shopping malls, restaurants, and banks all within walking distance, making it the perfect spot for a relaxing day out.
Grenada is one of the best Caribbean cruise ports between December and April as this is the beginning of the dry season and offers warm sunny weather.
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
One of the most beautiful cities to visit in the Caribbean, Puerto Plata has both a rich history and stunning natural scenery. There are actually two cruise ports in Puerto Plata, one at Taino Bay and the other at Amber Cove. Both of these have easy access to town, where you can explore a range of museums, historical sites, bars, restaurants, and shops.
If you’re a history fan, you’ll want to tour some of the most famous sites such as the Cathedral San Felipe and the 16th-century Fortress of San Felipe. Be sure to visit the breathtaking beaches such as Plata Dorada, also known as the golden beach. The most famous on the island, it’s located just a short taxi ride from each of the ports.
If you’re looking to take in the astonishing views from the mountains, you can hop in a cable car to the top of Mount Isabel de Torres. Or if you’re interested in taking part in something a little more exhilarating, try a ziplining adventure or visit Ocean World Adventure Park or Monkeyland.
It’s best to visit the Dominican Republic between December and March, when the weather is dry and temperatures are warm but not too hot.
An amazing island that should be on everyone’s cruise itinerary is Curacao, whether you’re looking to relax on one of the island’s beaches, snorkel with sea turtles, or simply sit back and enjoy a delicious cocktail with the island’s namesake liqueur.
Cruise ships visiting Curacao dock right in the capital city of Willemstad, and the newly built cruise terminal is adjacent to both a tourist center and a shopping center and just mere steps from the history-rich streets.
Willemstad also offers a variety of cultural experiences to enjoy. Separated into the two districts of Otrabanda and Punda, this charming city has interesting museums, vibrant street art, brightly colored houses, and excellent shopping.
Curacao is one of the best Caribbean cruise ports year round. Located just outside of the hurricane belt, it experiences fantastic weather all year.
A popular destination on many cruise itineraries is Cozumel, an island just off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. There are three ports for ships to dock at in Cozumel. At each one, many taxis are available so you can begin exploring the island with ease as soon as you disembark.
Cozumel is known for its incredible diving and snorkeling opportunities. If you’re looking for an underwater adventure, you’ll want to head down to the clear waters surrounding Palancar Reef where you can see a great variety of colorful tropical fish.
There are also plenty of beaches near the port, where you can simply relax and soak up the sun. If you’re planning on cruising between March and June, this is a great opportunity to enjoy mild temperatures and dry weather in Cozumel.
Port Zante, St. Kitts
If you’re looking for a destination that is filled to the brim with activities, look no further than the island of St. Kitts, part of St. Kitts & Nevis. Ships dock at Port Zante in the island’s main town of Basseterre, from where you can explore the outstanding mix of history, beaches, and nature that this island has to offer.
Just a short taxi ride from the port are some of the most beautiful white sand beaches on the southeast peninsula, where you can take in the views from Timothy Hill. Other than this, the majority of beaches on the island have black sand due to St. Kitts being a volcanic island. They aren’t especially picturesque sunbathing spots, but definitely worth seeing!
There’s a variety of hikes available around the island, and history lovers won’t want to miss out on a trip to Brimstone Hill Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the only remaining forts in the Caribbean.
The weather in St. Kitts is generally good all year round, but June to November is the hurricane season.
After reading our picks for the best Caribbean cruise ports, where do you want to go? Let us know in the comments! And if you’d like help planning your perfect cruise, feel free to reach out to one of our expert Caribbean travel advisors!