Cruisers' Guide to the Western Caribbean
With a mix of mainland and island ports of call, you can explore Maya ruins, relax on white-sand beaches under palm trees, go reef diving, and shop for souvenirs in market towns while in western Caribbean cruise destinations in Mexico, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica. Here are your options.
CAYMAN ISLANDS Cruise liners touring the Caribbean tender visitors to shore at George Town on Grand Cayman Island, where colonial buildings and gardens reign supreme. Most visitors head to the long stretch of sand at Seven Mile Beach or go diving at Stingray City. English is spoken here, and US dollars are accepted.
BELIZE Belize is famous for its diving and snorkeling, two activities that are just as essential as sightseeing in town. English is the official language here, and US dollars are widely accepted, along with the local Belizean dollar. Ships dock in historical Belize City’s harbor, and tenders bring you ashore to the capital’s shopping village. There are ancient Maya temples to explore at Lamanai and Xunantunich, riverside jungles to hike, and offshore coral cayes to spot on a helicopter tour.
Often overshadowed by other Central American locations, Honduras is growing in popularity as a cruise destination. It offers the beautiful Bay Islands, the second-largest barrier reef system in the world, and mountains that descend into coastlines full of ancient ruins. Spanish is the primary language here, but English is prominent in the Bay Islands.
Roatan is the Bay Islands’ largest isle and a world-class diving hub, with a cruise port in Coxen Hole. Spanish and English are spoken here, and US dollars are accepted if you don’t have the official currency, the Lempira. Take the chance to go reef snorkeling in year-round warm waters on the enormous barrier reef, paddle a kayak at West Bay Beach, sample local seafood at a beachfront cafe, or visit the island’s Butterfly Farm.
With miles of ivory-sand beaches, lush mountains and all-night reggae parties, there’s a lot to be happy about on the third-largest island in the Caribbean. Jamaica’s coastline is blanketed with all-inclusive resorts, but nature and adventure are rarely far away.
The beaches and colonial history in Montego Bay make it a great spot to dock. You'll hear Patois-accented English here and be able to use US dollars. Take a shore excursion to splash in Dunns River Falls, hit the beach at Negril, or shop for duty-free bargains downtown.
Ships dock at Turtle Bay and James Bond Pier, further east along the island from Montego Bay. Outdoor pursuits include Dunns River Falls, dolphin encounters, horseback beach riding, and white-water rafting.