Cruising the Caribbean: 10 Days of Golden Sunsets & Sand

Courtesy Oceania Cruises

Now how does THAT journey look? Something different, right?

Well, that’s what I’m talking about. This is an Oceania Cruises 10 day cruise through the Caribbean to some lesser-known ports of call to those who sail on the huge cruise ships!

Yes, they do cost a little more, but you get so much in return! You get 6 free shore excursions, a free beverage package, or a $600 onboard credit, PLUS 2 for 1 cruise fares at the time of this post, and roundtrip airfare with transfers included (subject to some special rules of course).

Check out this amazing December 2023 cruise!

Day 1 – Friday

Depart from Miami 6pm (embarkation 1pm) – People-watchers will enjoy South Beach’s Ocean Drive, while architecture buffs will love the Art Deco District. If you’re looking for something a bit different, there are world-class museums and shopping venues too. In Miami, there really is something for everyone.
Miami, Courtesy Oceania Cruises

Day 2 – Saturday

Cruising the Atlantic Ocean

Cruising Courtesy Oceania Cruises

Day 3 – Sunday

Cruising the Atlantic Ocean

Day 4 – Monday

St. John’s, Antigua – Take a scenic drive, enjoy panoramic island views and visit famed Nelson’s Dockyard. Go deep-sea fishing or off road to interesting seaside villages and see the fragile mangrove ecosystem. Play golf, enjoy snorkeling and sea kayaking, or just spend the day relaxing on a fabulous white sand beach.

St. John’s, Courtesy Oceania Cruises

Taking tours on St. John’s amazing! Here’s just a few examples of the tours you can take at this port of call:

  • Island Safari and Beach: Travel along Antigua’s winding back roads and off road whenever possible, sit back, relax and take in the scenery, as your guide will do all the driving, drive through a rainforest and lush watershed and cool off with a refreshing swim in the Caribbean.
  • Montserrat Volcano Helicopter Tour: As you fly high above the turquoise sea between the islands of Antigua and Montserrat, the pilot will describe the devastation from the volcano since 1995, when it erupted for the first time in centuries, see the widespread destruction that the volcano’s past eruptions have caused, & look for whales and sea turtles in the waters between Antigua and Montserrat islands.
  • Nicole’s Table: Help to create a three-course meal of Antiguan cuisine with the chefs at Nicole’s Table, a cooking school within the home of master chef Nicole Arthurton Dennis while looking over the harbor.
  • Tropical Delight Catamaran Experience: Sail along the beautiful coastline of Antigua aboard the custom-built Tiami Catamaran and view the many breathtaking beaches and resorts. Anchor at Cades Reef, where your instructor will give you a safety briefing and then lead you through the underwater world as you snorkel over vibrant and colorful reefs. After snorkeling, enjoy a delicious lunch of local dishes. Then the Tiami will bring you to the beach, where you can swim and bask in the sun. As we sail back along the coast, relax and enjoy the trade wind breeze of this tropical paradise.

Day 5 – Tuesday

Bridgetown, Barbados – Discover the many beautiful aspects of this island, from its rugged Atlantic coastline to its beautiful Great Houses, cane fields, exquisite gardens and glorious beaches. See the island’s spectacular underwater treasures on your own snorkeling expedition.

Bridgetown, Courtesy Oceania Cruises

Check out some of Bridgetown’s most unique tours:

  • The Sugar Trail: This delightful tour will take you to the historic former sugar plantation, St. Nicholas Abbey, and Morgan Lewis Wind Mill, a wonderfully restored sugar mill. Starting off from the pier, you’ll travel along Barbados’ west coast, enjoying some picturesque scenery as well as viewing several of the area’s beautiful hotels and fine restaurants while en route to St. Nicholas Abbey. Continuing on, your tour next makes its way to Morgan Lewis Wind Mill, one of only two intact and restored sugar mills in the Caribbean.
  • Atlantis Submarine Adventure: Enjoy incredible underwater views at depths up to 150 feet from the comfort of the Atlantis III submarine. A scenic ferry ride will take you to the submarine, where you will settle in for an adventurous journey into areas that only scuba divers usually see. The submarine’s co-pilot will provide narration throughout the cruise and point out the most fascinating marine life. You can expect to view an ever-changing, nonstop parade of tropical fish darting in and out of the coral reefs and gracefully swimming by the submarine. Brightly colored queen angelfish, honeycomb cowfish, glasseye snappers and black durgons are commonly spotted. You might even catch sight of southern stingrays, moray eels and hawksbill turtles. You will also cruise past a shipwreck that adds yet another dimension to the experience.
  • Concorde Experience: Barbados is one of the few places in the world to have had regularly scheduled flights of the now retired famous Concorde aircraft. A scenic drive along the South Coast of the island will bring you to the Barbados Concorde Exhibit. This is one of Barbados’ newest attractions and provides guests with the opportunity to experience what it must have been like to fly on a Concorde aircraft, as well as learn some of the history of flight development and how this particular aircraft differed from others. You will also have the opportunity to sit in a replica of a Concorde VIP departure lounge as well as fly the Concorde using flight simulators. Following your memorable visit to the Concorde exhibit, your tour travels to the delightful Crane Beach Resort, named “One of the Ten Best Beaches in the World” by Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Before returning to the pier, you’ll be invited to enjoy a specialty cocktail on the cliff top as you take in a view that is widely recognized for its stunning beauty.

Day 6 – Wednesday

Castries, St. Lucia – Explore this lush, beautiful island and its bustling capital. Visit the historic La Toc Battery, see banana plantations, and watch silk screening at Bagshaws. Venture south to Soufriere at the base of the Piton peaks and see the unique gingerbread architecture of the marketplace. Take a bike ride through the rain forest to a lovely waterfall, kayak in the deep blue Caribbean, snorkel or dive to spectacular reefs.

Castries, St. Lucia, Courtesy Oceania Cruises

Some incredible St. Lucia tours include:

  • Kayak Pigeon Island – Kayak in the tranquil waters of the Caribbean Sea, bask in the sun on a powdery white sandy beach and relive pirate history while exploring the ruins of Fort Rodney. Your tour begins with a scenic drive to Pigeon Island, a 40-acre islet connected by a causeway to St. Lucia’s west coast and a beautiful nature park, which reflects a thousand years of history. Paddle along the tropical beach as your guide entertains you with colorful stories about the history of this island, from the French pirates to the old British Fort. After kayaking, spend some time on lovely Pigeon Island or even take the opportunity to snorkel. Refreshments will be served and you will have free time to swim. Explore the ruins and marked trails such as the remains of an 18th-century British fort and Fort Rodney, where the admiral for which it is named, spied on French ships from its strategic viewpoint; or visit the Pigeon Island Museum and Interpretive Center. Through interactive displays and ancient artifacts, learn about the Carib Indian settlers and the island’s role in the French and British battles during colonization. A highlight is Admiral Rodney’s victory in 1782 at the famous Battle of the Saints. You may even have a chance to relax at the island’s restaurant before re-boarding your bus for the return ride to the ship.
  • Honeybees, Enhancing Biodiversity – Gain insight into how honeybees contribute to St. Lucia’s biodiversity while browsing the Iyanola Apiculture Collective, an organization that supports beekeeping throughout the Caribbean. From the on-site observation room, you will watch beekeepers in protective suits as they check on the hives and honey production. You will also learn a bit about the history of beekeeping over the past 4,500 years, the importance of bees with regard to pollinating many of the world’s food sources and why bees are becoming endangered perhaps due to environmental factors. Bees are fascinating creatures, as they have five eyes, fly up to 15 miles an hour and are the only insect that produces food that humans eat. You will be offered a taste of the black mangrove honey produced at the collective and have the chance to make a scented candle from natural beeswax.
  • The Tree Top Adventure – Race through a rainforest canopy on an exhilarating zip line while admiring the tropical countryside from a unique vantage point high above the forest floor. Upon arriving at Errard Estate in the heart of the lush rainforest, you will receive a brief orientation on zip lining to maximize the experience. Then, the real fun will begin. The zip line features nine wooden platforms in the trees, all at different heights. During stops, the guides will prepare you for the next thrilling leg of the journey and describe the most fascinating sights along the way. If you are interested in the vegetation that you are zip lining through, the guides will be happy to describe the rainforest flora in detail. At the end of the zip line adventure, you will follow a nature trail back to the welcome center for a refreshing drink.

Day 7 – Thursday

Gustavia, St. Barts – Tour this beautiful island and marvel at the rugged coastline and its unspoiled, upscale atmosphere, unique in the Caribbean for its Swedish and French heritage. Enjoy the spectacular beaches and resorts, snorkel or dive in the crystalline waters, or see underwater wonders from a semi-submersible marine vessel.

Gustavia, Courtesy Oceania Cruises

Some of Gustavia’s interesting tours are:

  • ATV Adventure in St. Barts – Zip through the countryside in an all-terrain vehicle made for exhilarating off-road adventure. You will have the choice of driving or being the passenger in the two-person ATV. Either way, the ride will be thrilling and wonderfully scenic as your caravan of vehicles traverses the back roads on the windward and leeward sides of St. Barts. The route will take you through small hillside villages, along the gorgeous coastline and through the seaside resort town of St. Jean. From atop Morne Tourterelle, you will look out over the Salines salt ponds while the guide explains their history. Incredibly, the production of salt was the only industry on St. Barts until the mid-1950s. The return drive to Gustavia will also offer breathtaking vistas of the mountains and the sea from several superb viewpoints.
  • Yellow Semi-Sub Exploration – Admire the bountiful marine life and coastal beauty of St. Barts from inside a modern semi-submersible vessel and on deck, where you can enjoy the sea breezes as well. While cruising toward the entrance of Gustavia harbor, you can expect to see green sea turtles gracefully swimming by and the wreck of the Marignan. Now an artificial reef teeming with brightly colored tropical fish, the fishing boat sunk in 1995 during Hurricane Luis. More spectacular underwater sights await you as the semi-submersible heads into St. Barths’ Marine Reserve. Angelfish, sergeant majors, spotted moray eels and tarpon are just a few of the creatures that inhabit the reserve’s protected reefs. On the approach to a group of three rocky islands known as The Saints, the crew will attract even more fish by feeding them. It will be quite the spectacle, especially if sharks join the frenzy.
  • Rib Boat Snorkeling – Race across Gustavia Harbor in an open-air Rigid Inflatable Boat known as a RIB for a snorkeling adventure that will be just as thrilling as the ride there. The captain will assess the weather and water conditions for the best spot to anchor, but chances are it will be just outside the harbor to maximize your snorkeling time. The waters there are crystal-clear and teeming with reef fish. You may spot brilliantly colored angelfish, large groupers and schools of queen triggerfish. One of the most curious-looking species is the four-eye butterflyfish, which is named for the two dark spots – or false eyes – on the sides of its tail, which are meant to confuse predators. You might also see green sea turtles gracefully swimming by and feeding on seagrass and algae on the reef. They are noteworthy as being the largest of all sea turtles and the only ones that are herbivores.

Day 8 – Friday

San Juan, Puerto Rico – Begin in Old San Juan, a walled enclave of hundreds of restored 16th and 17th century Spanish colonial buildings. Notice the blue-tinged cobblestone streets; they were once ballast on Spanish ships. Elsewhere, tour the medieval Saint John the Baptist Cathedral, the Museum of Art, and Casa del Libro, a repository of priceless documents.

San Juan, Courtesy Oceania Cruises

Check out these fun tours in San Juan (only a few of quite a few options):

  • Rainforest Visit – Discover the abundant flora and fauna in a sprawling national forest by browsing interactive exhibits before experiencing the nature firsthand on a leisurely walk through the wilderness. El Yunque National Forest is the only rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System, and it is spectacular. Upon arriving, you will explore the welcome center, which is constructed of natural materials that beautifully blend into the landscape. Here you will see exhibits and an enlightening video describing the environment. Continuing on, you will head into the rainforest and pause for photos at La Coca Falls before climbing a nearly 7-story lookout tower that offers expansive views of the lush foliage, mountain peaks and distant ocean. A short but eye-opening hike through Palo Colorado Forest follows. It is one of four different types of forests within El Yunque, so the foliage will be quite different than what you have seen previously.
  • Ron de Barrilito Rum Tasting – Enjoy an enlightening tour of Hacienda Santa Ana and the adjacent distillery where Ron del Barrilito rum has been produced using traditional methods since 1880. A mixologist will welcome you to the estate with a special cocktail to set the stage for your immersion into the world of premium rum. While meandering through the distillery with a guide that is a rum expert, you will discover how the spirits are produced step by step. The warehouse will be particularly enlightening, as it will show how the aging process and the vintage white oak sherry barrels impart unique flavors to the various rums. During the tasting that follows, you can expect to sample a fruity medium-bodied rum blend, an elegant rum aged for 20 years and an aromatic handmade rum aged even longer to give it a natural sweetness and smoky wood finish. Many of these extraordinary spirits will be available in the distillery gift shop.
  • Chef Led Local Farm-to-Table Renaissance – Join your Chef instructor in The Culinary Center for an overview of today’s tour and an interdiction to the vibrant culinary scene of Puerto Rico. Visit a family-owned farm that follows sustainable agricultural practices that result in extraordinary farm-to-table experiences. A scenic drive along the coastal region west of San Juan will bring you to Frutos Del Guacabo, an eco-friendly farm that supplies fresh produce throughout the island. Although the farm initially grew plants solely through hydroponics, it has expanded its agricultural methods to include other heritage technologies. Everything grown and produced at Frutos Del Guacabo is free from pesticides and fertilizers. While sampling items such as goat cheese, pickled vegetables, marmalades and a variety of tapas, you will taste the organic difference. You may also be offered edible flowers and a variety of microgreens, which are young, strongly flavored vegetables with highly concentrated nutrients. For a bit of fun, you will have the opportunity to milk a goat. Studies show that goats get nervous if they sense negativity, so be in a good mood to ensure success.

Day 9 – Saturday

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic – Christopher Columbus dubbed the peak overlooking the town Monte de Plata due to the silvery hue of its cloud cover, but the region is actually best known for its abundant amber deposits. View ancient fossils and insects encased for millions of years in this translucent, hardened sap at the Amber Museum, stroll among vividly painted Victorian mansions and then take a cable car to the 2,600-foot summit of Pico Isabel de Torres for glorious views of the entire Amber Coast. At the superbly preserved 16th-century Fortaleza San Felipe, look out to sea and imagine an onslaught of pirates eager to plunder the town’s treasures. Fortunately, today you need not cannonade Puerto Plata from a frigate to access its myriad attractions.

Puerto Plata, Courtesy Oceania Cruises

Check out these great experiences you can enjoy in Puerto Plata:

  • Sea Lion Encounter & Ocean World Adventure – Spend time poolside interacting with South American sea lions and follow up with other animal encounters at Ocean World, an outdoor marine park right on the sea. All you have to do is sit on the side of the pool with your legs in the water, and the sea lions will come to you. As you will discover, these large short-haired mammals are agile, playful and bright. Chances are, the sea lions will waddle over on all four flippers, allowing you to pet and feed them fish. They might even encourage you to play ball, as they are skilled at bouncing beach balls off their noses. The males are the larger sea lions with lion-like manes running down their backs. In addition to this up-close encounter, you can enjoy the park’s other attractions, including the rainforest and bird sanctuary. You will also have time for a refreshing swim and to snorkel in the reef aquarium.
  • Party At the Sea – Drive along the Dominican Republic’s northern shore, enjoying spectacular scenery all the way to Sousa Beach. Board your party boat and spend the next few hours sailing along the bay. Enjoy the lively Caribbean music and icy-cold drinks while dancing on board. If you’d like to observe the wonders underwater, snorkeling equipment is available. You don’t have to snorkel far from the boat to see all sorts of brilliantly colored reef fish at 3 Rocks Snorkel Spot. You will pass other powdery stretches of sand, dense tropical forests and an airport named for national hero Gregorio Luperón before pulling into Playa Alicia. The crescent-shaped beach that rims the bay is one of the area’s most popular and gorgeous shorelines. You can spend your time there doing pretty much whatever you please. You might stroll along the water’s edge, swim in the sparkling sea, bask in the sun and lie in the shade.
  • Damajagua Waterfalls & Private Beach Getaway – Climb among the waterfalls on the Damajagua River and continue your water-themed adventure at a remote oceanside beach where you may snorkel, kayak and paddleboard. Although there are dozens of waterfalls on the jungle-enshrouded river, you will focus on seven of the lower cascades, which have a higher volume of water and are easier to reach. Some of the waterfalls feature natural stone slides into the sparkling waters below, while others tumble over steep cliffs and form natural pools that are ideal for swimming. After this exhilarating experience, you will dine at a Dominican-style beach house and then spend hours enjoying the house’s private stretch of sand along the Atlantic Ocean. Spend that time however you please. You might bask in the sun, stroll along the beach and relax in a beach chair shaded by an umbrella. If you are feeling more ambitious, all sorts of watersports are available for your enjoyment.

Day 10 – Sunday

Cruising the Atlantic Ocean

Day 11 – Monday

Miami, Florida – End your cruise in Miami where you boarded for easy return home after your amazing experiences in the Caribbean!

Ready to plan your next cruise?

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Oceania Vista, Courtesy Oceania Cruises

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