Paradisial. Ethereal. Enigmatic. The reputation of the Caribbean cruise islands well and truly precedes them.  

If you’re of the opinion that when you’ve visited the Caribbean once then you’ve seen it all … think again. There’s no identity crisis here; each island has its own distinct charm and personality that keep visitors coming back for more. But where to begin? 

From the big and bold to the shy and retiring types, we present to you a rundown of just a handful of the 700 Caribbean cruise islands waiting to beguile you.  


Known as: The all-rounder 

Barbados is the poster child of the Caribbean cruise islands. Its very name alone conjures up images of dove-white beaches and iridescent waters that stretch as far as the eye can see – but its beauty is far from being only skin deep. Pockets of the island are etched with colonial architecture and a rich history that makes Barbados as intriguing as it is endearing. 

Barbadians are excellent storytellers, so let them showcase their 166-square-mile corner of paradise. Scale Gun Hill Signal Station where you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the entire island, or find yourself in presidential company at George Washington House. Top off your time with a rendezvous with the resident sea turtles or snorkelling with seahorses … what is certain is that you’ll return home suitably satisfied that you’ve conquered all things Caribbean. 

St. Lucia 

Known as: A natural paradise 

St. Lucia has long found itself as the nectar of honeymooners, but beyond its romantic facade lies the promise of more exhilarating adventures. The Pitons provide the perfect backdrop, a pair of volcanic plugs begging to be admired or explored.  

But if a holiday hike isn’t exactly front and centre of your holiday wishlist, there are plenty of other options for basking in St. Lucia’s natural beauty. And you can do so, quite literally, at the island’s sulphur springs, which squat at the heart of ‘the world’s only drive-in volcano’. Just when you thought you couldn’t return from a Caribbean getaway any more refreshed, here lies the opportunity to douse yourself in detoxifying mud and bask in the geothermal-heated water. Top it off with a spectacular St. Lucia sunset and leave wholly convinced that you’ve discovered paradise. 


Known as: The Spice Island 

Grenada’s gusto is entwined with its nickname as the spice isle of the Caribbean. Ginger, cloves, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg are grown and harvested across the island, with the latter even playing a starring role on the country’s flag. Sure, a day at the beach could easily while away a few hours, but it’s wise to be more gastronomically adventurous when you make landfall in the West Indies.  

Needless to say, Grenada’s foodie scene is a force to be reckoned with. Green figs and saltfish is the national dish, which, rather deceptively, uses unripened bananas as its main ingredient. Add some salted codfish to the mix, plus some of those spices we mentioned, and your tastebuds will be well and truly tantalised.  


Known for: Blissful beaches 

There’s a temptation to head to the beach and do little else while you’re in Antigua – and who could blame you? Alas, this doesn’t excuse you from at least some decision-making; the island is acclaimed for its 365 beaches which, you guessed it, means there’s one for each day of the year. 

Ffryes Beach on the west of the island dazzles in every sense of the word, or if nothing short of true Instagram fodder will suffice, Half Moon Bay is guaranteed to have you fumbling for your camera. If you’re more for catching waves than soaking up rays, Jabberwock Beach is the place to be, where windsurfing, kiteboarding and surfing are all par for the course in the north of Antigua. 


Known as: The Nature Island 

Dominica is hot property. Quite literally. Home to the second-largest boiling lake in the world, and hot springs that crouch inconspicuously in the middle of the rainforest, this is travel to the Caribbean cruise islands, reimagined. The landscape is volcanic and the adventures esoteric; Dominica invites the beach-dwellers to step a hesitant foot outside their comfort zone and sample the thrills and spills. If you’re on a cruise, there is always the option to recuperate in your next port of call.  

It will come as no surprise that an abundance of flora and fauna choose to call the island home. Whether you choose to keep your feet solidly on the island, or venture offshore in search of whales and dolphins, it’s teeming with experiences that will reside firmly in your fondest travel memories. 


Known for: Its rich heritage 

The namesake of that questionable bottle of spirit that languishes at the back of your drinks cabinet is just as intoxicating as you would expect. Flecks of home are never too far away, with a distinctly European influence permeating through much of the island’s architecture. The Arawak people of South America first settled on this slice of heaven, which the Spanish, Dutch and British have all grappled over ever since – and who could blame them? Their influence is peppered across the island, so if you can possibly tear yourself away from the beach, there’s an abundance of ways to dip into this rich history.  

Curaçao will entice even the most reluctant of architecture admirers, and the district of Otrobanda never fails to delight with its extravagant street art and galleries. Capital Willemstad’s crayon-coloured houses can’t help but capture the imagination, and the evident melting pot of cultures, customs and traditions only amplifies its appeal. Some of the colourful buildings are known as Landhuizen, which means ‘mansions’, and were constructed during the 18th and 19th centuries as plantation houses for agriculture or salt, a handful of which are open to visitors.  

St. Vincent & the Grenadines 

Known for: Reefs & relaxation 

These idylls are, by the standards of the Caribbean cruise islands, peaceful and secluded, making them the very definition of what it means to achieve total rest and relaxation. This chain of 32 tiny volcanic islands has largely evaded the notice of tourists – and its beauty is all the better for it. The same cannot be said for seafarers and even pirates from years gone by, whose mark on the islands creates the most fascinating and beguiling history.  

St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ status as one of the lesser-known spots grants it the enviable position of being able to showcase nature to the highest degree, where pristine coral reefs are ripe with an entire rainbow of fish, while sea turtles wade through the sparkling waters. In fact, making landfall here seems more of a privilege than a right. 

St. Kitts & Nevis 

Known for: Historical intrigue 

Another Caribbean double act, St. Kitts and Nevis is the simple way to tick two nations off your Caribbean to-do list. Limin’ is the order of the day in St. Kitts – a brand of relaxation so special that it has its own name. If hanging out, drinking and having a good old chat are high on your agenda, then you’ve come to the right place.  

These were the first islands to be colonised by Europeans, so their historical mettle speaks for itself. There’s only one way to sightsee in St. Kitts and that’s by scenic train, which trundles along the only working railway in the Caribbean, no less. Its origins as a mode of transport for the local sugar cane industry only add to the charm, while nearby Nevis is dotted with its fair share of museums. The Museum of Nevis History does exactly as the name implies, or the Horatio Nelson Museum documents the naval commander’s marriage to local woman Fanny Nisbet, and includes a fascinating collection of his personal artefacts. 


Known for: Rum & reggae 

It has rhythm, it has soul … Jamaica dances to its own tempo, and visitors are invited to grab a partner and toe-tap to the beat. One thing is for sure as you land on these Caribbean shores – all your senses will be well and truly awakened. From the sweet-yet-spicy smokey scent of jerk to the roar of a nearby waterfall, it presents a heady mix of everything that’s good and great about a Caribbean holiday. 

While there might be a temptation to stay in one place, it pays to be ambitious. The former fishing village of Ocho Rios finds itself on many Caribbean cruise itineraries, placing attractions such as Blue Hole within easy reach. Ascend the falls where you’ll be met by enamel-blue pools, each inviting enough to encourage diving and swimming. Don’t forget your swimwear! 

Trinidad & Tobago 

Known as: A Caribbean cruise island of two halves 

As far as siblings go, Trinidad and Tobago could not be any less alike. Whichever island you land on – or, if you’re lucky, both – there lies a promise of exhilaration, rejuvenation, and everything in between. The Port of Spain provides a worthy capital, best explored on foot for a real taste of what makes Trinidad and Tobago tick. There’s more overseas influence than you would ever have thought possible, with the likes of Spain, France, the Middle East and even China making their mark on the architecture and cultural scene. 

The islands’ enviable position as oil and gas-rich nations makes them among the most affluent in the Caribbean. And it shows. Tobago’s Pigeon Point Beach finds itself on many visitors’ itineraries, where an iconic thatched-roof jetty extends out into the jade-coloured waters, surrounded by a wealth of amenities that make spending a day at the beach no less than an absolute pleasure.  


Known for: Its variety 

Not content with serving up one idyllic island, Guadeloupe has over a dozen to share, each scattered across this alluring archipelago. Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre provide the backbone of this Caribbean oasis, each as unique as you like but well worthy of a few of your precious on-shore hours.  

You’d be forgiven for being somewhat confused when you make landfall in Guadeloupe. It’s more European than you would ever dare to imagine, so much so that its currency is the euro; however, once you delve into the geography of the region, it soon becomes evident you’re a lot further away from home. Beaches are juxtaposed with dense rainforest, and mangrove swamps hunker down alongside jungle-strewn mountains. Guadeloupe is wild, it’s wilful and it’s wonderful. 


Known for: Spectacular scenery 

Clutch on to those euros, as they’ll also come in useful in Martinique, which, you guessed it, also has more than a smattering of European influence. The French territory is one of the bigger islands in our rundown, so rest assured spectacular scenery will come as standard. Les Salines beach tempts visitors with its honey-blonde sands that stretch a considerable 1,200 metres, while world-revered rum distilleries never fail to pour out good times in copious measures. 

Maybe you’ll find yourself in Le Carbet, where Columbus reportedly found himself back in 1502, followed centuries later by artist Paul Gaugin. A trio of gardens, a shipwreck and the aforementioned rum distillery give an incentive for stopping by – it’s leaving that could be the hard part. Should your need for flora not be entirely satisfied, Jardin de Balata will suffice, a beautiful botanical garden where a gentle breeze whisps through the bamboo, and birds chirp to their heart’s content.  


Known as: One Happy Island 

Welcomes don’t come much warmer than in Aruba, and once you set foot ashore, you’ll understand exactly what everyone is smiling about. Near-perfect weather conditions, beaches that defy your wildest imagination and an enviable culinary scene; there’s so much going for it that a return visit almost seems mandatory. 

The Aruban spirit shines brightest at carnival time, which you’ll stumble across at the start of the year. Just when you thought those smiles couldn’t get any broader – and the streets any more vibrant – the atmosphere ramps up another notch. For a more colourful affair, head out to the privately owned Renaissance Island, where you can join a flamboyance of flamingos by paddling in the shallow crystalline waters. 

St-Martin & Sint Maarten 

Known as: One Caribbean cruise island, two nations 

We conclude our foray across the Caribbean with something of a mind-bender. St-Martin and Sint Maarten are two parts of the same island, with the former being the French, northern area, and the latter residing in the south where it is under Dutch rule. Coincidentally, it’s the smallest area of land in the world that’s divided into two nations, which only adds to its geographical prowess. 

Despite living side by side on a single land mass, you can still line up quite different experiences. What unites the two is the incredible beaches, duty-free shopping opportunities and some of the most lip-smacking cuisine in the whole of the Caribbean. Creole spices and French herbs are used in abundance, and as for the seafood? Well, it doesn’t come much fresher.

Ready to explore the Caribbean cruise islands for yourself? Take a look at the available sailings here.