This little Dutch island is slowly beginning to creep onto the tourist radar, and for good reason. It offers up an unbeatable mix of footprint-free beaches and pretty…Time in port: 09:00 - 20:00
You’ll board a brightly-coloured trolley train for this tour, which ticks off a long list of historical sights as you pass them by. For starters, there’s Pietermaai Cathedral – the biggest and most impressive on the island. From a distance you’ll see the Mikve Israel Emmanuel Synagogue, too. It’s the oldest in continuous use in the whole of the western hemisphere. Then there’s Queen Wilhelmina Park, dedicated to the Queen who ruled the Netherlands for half a century, and Waterfort Arches – the site of the Willhem III Barracks. You’ll also stop off at Bolo di Bruit in Scharloo. It's known as the ‘wedding cake house’ because of its decoration. Lastly, there’s Fort Amsterdam, which was built in 1635 to guard the harbour. Today, it’s listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When you’ve finished the tour you can either head back to the ship or stay in town and make your own way back later – it’s only a short walk.
You’ll get to see three of the island’s biggest attractions on this tour, starting with the Curacao Museum in Otrabanda. The upper floor of this place is kitted out like a 19th-century Curacao mansion, and it gives a really good impression of what life was like back then. The basement exhibition is all about the island’s geological history, and there’s another space dedicated to contemporary art. Afterwards, you’ll drive past the island’s salt flats and on to the Hato Caves. They were formed below sea-level millions of years ago, and today they’re full of stalagmites and stalactites. Next up, we’ll head over to the Chobolo Liqueur Factory, passing the Queen Juliana Bridge on the way. At the factory, you’ll get to see how the island’s famous Blue Curacao Liqueur is made. The drink is distilled from the dried peel of bitter oranges, and you’ll get to taste it for yourself. Lastly, you’ll head back to the ship via downtown Willemstad – you can get dropped off if you’d rather stay and have a look around.
This tour starts with a 30-minute boat ride, so you’ll get fantastic views of the harbour and the coast. Then you’ll arrive at the Wet & Wild Beach at the Sea Aquarium – one of the island’s most popular stretches – and the rest is up to you. Head to the shops, take a dip in the sea or just laze on the sand. There’s plenty in the way of watersports, too, if you fancy something a bit more active. Later on, we’ll head back to the ship by boat. Or, you can stick around and make your own way back later.
Nowhere showcases Aruba’s Dutch roots quite like Oranjestad. With its gable-topped houses and colonial clock towers, the island’s capital is like a little slice of Amsterdam.…Time in port: 08:00 - 20:00
When it comes to snorkelling, De Palm Island has got it all. Set adrift off the Aruban coastline, this private reef offers up pristine waters and a huge variety of exotic marine life, it’s a first-class spot for an underwater exploration. Your day will start off with a short boat trip over to the island, where the friendly staff will be waiting to meet you. After a short safety briefing, you’re ready to slip on your mask and wade into the warm, clear waters. Expect to meet friendly blue parrotfish and angelfish. Back on dry land, there’ll be time to sprawl out on the sand, take your seat for a banana boat ride or visit the island’s small waterpark before heading back to the ship. Don't forget that a full buffet lunch and refreshments throughout the day will be included.
This panoramic coach tour does exactly what it says on the tin, ticking off all the highlights of Aruba in one easy go. Your day starts with a drive to the lively Schooner Harbour. Look out for the marble statue of Queen Wilhelmina, the historical battlefield of Frenchman’s Pass and the 19th-century Gold Mill Ruins. Turning inland, you’ll head to Casibari Rock – a spectacular natural rock formation that’s a result of strong trade winds – before travelling along the rugged windward side of the island to the Natural Bridge Ruins. Formed by years of pounding surf, this coral limestone bridge counts as the number one must-see in Aruba. We'll then take you to the island's famous California Lighthouse and the small Alto Vista Chapel. Before stopping at the port, if you fancy a spot of shopping, you can choose to get off the bus in Oranjestad, rather than heading back. And if you’re treating yourself, try the Renaissance Mall – it’s crammed with designer stores like Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren.
This full-circle tour lets you get to know Aruba from both dry land and under the sea. The day starts with a scenic boat ride to the Seaworld Explorer – a state-of-the-art semi-submarine that used to glide through the waters surrounding Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The vessel doesn’t completely submerge, but its glass-fronted hull stretches five feet below the surface of the water, offering up great views of the area’s marine life. But the piece de resistance of the trip is manoeuvring over the wreck of Antilla, a 440-foot German freighter that was destroyed in the Second World War. Listen in as your guide gives you the lowdown on its violent past. After returning to shore, you’ll take a coach trip to the iconic California Lighthouse and the breathtaking Casibari Rock Formations for a photo stop. Next on the agenda is the ocean-carved Natural Bridge, Aruba’s top must-see. Lastly, you’ll drive past the Gold Mill Ruins before returning to Oranjestad.
If you’re in any doubt concerning what Bonaire’s all about, just look at an island number plate – above every registration number you’ll find the words ‘Divers’ Paradise’.…Time in port: 08:00 - 18:00
Bonaire is best known as a diving destination. Even the license plates of the island’s cars are tagged with the line Divers’ Paradise. On this trip, though, you’ll see there are more sides to the island. Its history, for example, is just as deep as its waters. Arawak Indians were the first to live on the island, before the Spanish colonisers arrived in 1499. Then the Dutch took over in 1634. The first place you’ll see on this trip will give you an insight into industry on the island. You’ll drive past a plantation in the Karpata area, where they once produced aloe, charcoal and dyewood for shipping to Curacao. Your first stop of the day will be in the village of Rincon, which was settled by the Spanish in the 16th century. From here, you’ll visit the popular outdoor venue Rose Inn where you sample locally produced Cadushy liqueur made out of cactus and lime. Pressing on, you’ll head to the Mangazina di Rei Culture Park, where The King’s Warehouse is the second-oldest building on the island. While you’re here, you’ll get to hear people playing traditional Creole music. Finally, you’ll head south to see the salt flats and salt mountains that were mined by slaves in the 19th century. The old slave huts are still standing here in lest-we-forget fashion.
Lac Bay National Park is like a small-scale Eden, measuring up at just two-and-a-half miles long and two miles wide. On this trip, you’ll take a boat tour past the mangrove forests, barrier reefs and unspoilt beaches that make up the area. Your vessel for the day is an electric-powered boat. It’s eco-friendly and quiet, so you’ll be able to listen to the sounds of your surrounds, rather than an engine, as you explore the area. Keep an eye out for the brown pelicans, blue herons, and pink flamingos that flock to breed among the mangroves. Later, we’ll moor up on the beach, where you’ll have some free time to take a dip in the warm Caribbean Sea or relax on the sands.
This trip will give you a taste of the high life. You’ll begin by boarding the Mushi Mushi catamaran, a luxury boat that’s 40 feet long. Then, the crew will set the sails, and you’ll ride the waves out to the Bonaire Marine Park. This 7,000-acre site is one of the oldest protected areas of sea in the world and scientific studies have shown the fish population to be the most diverse in the Caribbean. You’ll get to judge this for yourself when the captain stops at a Marine Park mooring buoy. Pull on a snorkel and you can explore the coral reefs. There’s a good chance you’ll find yourself swimming with the likes of parrot, butterfly and angel fish. Drinks will be served on board and you won’t have to queue up at the bar, because they’ll be served by waiters. After a few hours in the sun, you’ll head back to port.
St Lucia’s skyline is high rise. But it’s not the hotels that make this island look serrated against the sky, it’s the mountains. The Pitons are 2 of the biggest. Both…Time in port: 08:00 - 18:00
Beaches. Mountains. Rainforests. Volcanoes. Springs. When it comes to natural beauties, St Lucia’s in a league of its own. This trip takes you on a tour of some of the island’s best bits and, because they can all be seen from the sea, you’ll get to enjoy them from the comfort of a catamaran. Setting off from Castries, you’ll glide along the island’s west coast, passing mangrove-lined beaches and lush forests. And then it’s time for the star of the show. As you enter Soufriere bay, the twin mountains of Petit and Gros Piton will rise out of the sea before you. Topping over 2,000 feet each, their summits have only been tackled by the most daring of climbers. We’ll circle the bay for some great photo opportunities, before heading to one of the scenic bays along the coast. We’ll make a quick stop, and you’ll be served snacks, drinks and get the chance to dive into the Caribbean Sea for a quick swim. Last up is Marigot, the most famous cove on the island. This was a favourite battleground of the English and French back in the 18th century and, more recently, was the setting of Dr Doolittle.
This short tour packs a lot in, so it’s a good way of ticking off St Lucia’s top attractions. It begins with a scenic drive up the Morne Fortune hillside. Translated as ‘hill of good luck’, it was a key battleground during colonial times. You’ll look out over thick, green vegetation as you get higher and higher, making your first stop at the colonial-style St Mark’s House high in the hills. From here, you’ll be treated to a panoramic view of Castries’ harbour and the Caribbean Sea. Next on the agenda is St Lucia’s one-and-only rum distillery. Here, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at how the spirit is made, before enjoying a tasting session. Sip premium, spicy and crème liquor varieties, then head to the gift shop to pick up a bottle of your favourite. Your next stop is a viewpoint at the picturesque Marigot Bay, with its turquoise waters and velvety green hills. Last but not least, there’ll be time for a bit of retail therapy, as you call in at Caribelle Batik. This place is famous throughout the Caribbean for its batik prints, and you can see the artisans at work on the clothes and wall hangings.
Think Caribbean, think soft sands and turquoise seas. Throw in a palm tree or two and you could be in paradise. It’s true - beach-wise, you just don’t get better than this. That’s why you’ll probably want to make the most of the shoreline while you’re here. And our trip to Reduit Beach, in Rodney Bay, is a great chance to do just that. The choice of restaurants, shops and bars on offer has cemented Rodney Bay’s reputation as a top tourist spot, but Reduit Beach itself has remained pretty unspoilt. Cue clean waters, soft sands and plenty of space to pull up a sunlounger and relax, Caribbean-style. Of course, if you don’t fancy staying horizontal the whole time, there’s a good selection of watersports on offer. Or there’s a scattering of beach bars where you can chill out if that sounds just a little too much like hard work.