Barbados is back on the cruise agenda, baby! We’ve missed the Caribbean heat on our skin like the moon misses the sun, and the news that not only are P&O Cruises cruising to the Caribbean again, but they’re also doing so over Christmas and New Year no less, is music to our ears. But it’s been a while, so ahead of Britannia returning to her Barbados homeport, we thought we’d give you a little rundown on how best to spend a day or two in what is arguably the most popular Caribbean cruise port.
From rum cocktails to colonial plantations and everything in between, here’s what to do in Bridgetown.
After starting your day with breakfast on the ship, make your way ashore and start your day with a walking tour.
Bridgetown has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2012 and is packed full of architecture and history that give a great idea of the island’s British colonial heritage. The best way to see the sights is on two feet, with must-see’s including the neo-gothic style Parliament Building, Barbados Synagogue and St Michael’s Cathedral, which was re-built in 1789 after being destroyed in a hurricane in 1765. Lord Nelson’s statue in National Heroes Square (formerly Trafalgar Square) is another photo-worthy spot and the Garrison provides an intriguing insight into life at a historic military base.
The Careenage takes its name from the merchant vessels that would be careened in Bridgetown’s busy harbour, undergoing cleaning, repairs and repainting before setting sail on their next voyage. You’ll still find a distinctly British seaside feel about the place, though the rum and food stuffed warehouses have been replaced with boutiques, waterfront cafes and restaurants.
Catch the last tour of the day at the Mount Gay Rum Distillery, a Barbados export since way back in 1703. There are several tours to choose from, including the Bajan Buffet Lunch Tour offering the signature tour, a rum toast and a buffet of local dishes and rum-infused deserts. If you already ate lunch give the buffet a miss and indulge in a rum-centric cocktail class with the distillery’s resident mixologist instead.
Locals and visitors alike know that there is only one place to spend a Friday and Saturday night on the island. The town of Oistins on the island’s tranquil south coast transforms come nightfall, as people flock to experience the region’s famous Fish-Fry. Over 30 vendors provide the fish, with tuna, marlin, swordfish and more on offer. You’ll need to get there early if you want to grab a seat and miss the queues, but you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained including live music, dancing, craft stalls and old timers playing chess.
Image credit: Kevin Costain
After a hearty breakfast to soothe the after-effects of last night’s ‘lime’ (that’s a party to us non-Bajans), head ashore to see the island from two completely different perspectives. Having spent yesterday seeing how beautiful Barbados is above ground, today is all about going underground and underwater, starting with a catamaran tour around the coast.
Hop aboard your catamaran and see the island from the turquoise waters that lap its coastline, dropping anchor at several secluded bays along the way. With the ship secured, you’ll be invited to dive in and snorkel with the colourful coral reef, fish, turtles and other marine life that call the waters home. Many catamaran cruises in Barbados offer unlimited refreshments too, so you’ll always have an ice-cold coke and rum in hand whilst soaking up the views.
After spending the morning in the sun, you’ll be happy to cool off in Harrison’s Cave, one of Bridgetown’s most popular attractions. Specially-designed solar powered trams will take you to the heart of this natural wonder, where you will find beautifully illuminated stalactites and stalagmites, along with some hugely photogenic water pools and waterfalls. Fascinating tour guides really know their stuff and will keep you well-entertained along the way.
After enjoying one last wander, it’s time to make your way back to the ship, ready to set sail for your next port. Bridgetown has this funny way of leaving quite the impression on those who visit, so we’re sure you’ll be back soon to experience everything else that makes Bajan life so sweet.
Find your escape to the Caribbean with P&O Cruises in 2021 here. We’ll see you there!