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Just Add Land: Caribbean Pre-/Post-Cruise

A Feast of Caribbean Cultures: Stretch your stay and double your discoveries

By Janet Groene

When it comes to the delicious bouillabaisse that is Caribbean culture, three islands stand out. Stay in Barbados to go British, San Juan for Old Spain, or Sint Maarten/St. Martin for a touch of Dutch with dinner in France.

Besides serving as gateways to the unique delights of a Caribbean cruise, all three embarkation ports are destinations worth discovering. So if time allows before or after your next cruise to the region, take some extra time to discover the unique mélange that each island offers.

Barbados: Little England

The dewdrop-shaped island is only 21 miles long, but its 11 parishes offer an extensive menu of activities. Start by visiting a place of worship. Historic parish churches such as St. Michael’s Cathedral (built in 1784 on a site consecrated in 1665), St. James Parish Church (1627), and Nidhe Israel Synagogue (1654) provide a deep sense of this island’s heritage.

The second religion on Barbados is sports. Join locals at a cricket match, track meet, auto race, or horse race. Play golf in sea breezes and tropic greenery. Go sailing, surfing, paddleboarding, sportfishing, snorkeling, and reef or wreck diving in the clearest of waters. Play polo, croquet, or tennis in true British style.

Come sundown, head off to a rum shop, the island version of a British pub. Perhaps a festival will be going on at Queen’s Park that will surely include a tuk band made up of drums, triangle, and penny whistle musicians as well as traditional costumed figures such as Shaggy Bear, the Donkey Man, Mother….


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