On your Barbados cruise, you’ll dock in Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados and an important port city in the Caribbean. What’s not to love about Barbados? Miles of sandy beaches, turquoise island waters, and an abundance of plantations and historic sites to tour mean you’ll find plenty to occupy you during your time here. Be sure to try traditional Barbadian dishes like cou cou and macaroni pie, and make time to enjoy a rum tasting or distillery tour.
Children and families will be captivated by protected species like the West African green monkey at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve. You can head east to Bathsheba for plentiful chances to snorkel, surf, and dive. If your cruise ship docks in Bridgetown, be sure to stop in the numerous shops and boutiques in the historic downtown and visit sites memorializing British rule over the island. On your Caribbean cruise, Bridgetown stands out. It’s colorful, historic, and laid back, and the rest of Barbados is easily accessible by car or taxi.
Bridgetown is the capital of Barbados, and the city recently became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011. While on your Barbados cruise here, walk the winding streets (built naturally instead of in a typical grid system), tour the area’s Parliament House, and visit the British colonial garrison. There’s plenty in Bridgetown to take up an entire day, from historic sites to languid buffet-style lunches at spots like Brown Sugar or The Balcony.
Take an underground tram to reach these caves. As one of Barbados’ most popular attractions, these limestone caves are unlike anything else in the region. The walking paths outside of the caves paint a picture of Barbados’ lush landscape, while the cave stream itself is a perfect excursion for nature lovers and geology experts.
This former sugar plantation now offers tours of its steam mill as well as tastings from its rum distillery, making for a perfect 2-3 hour afternoon tour of the abbey. Walk through the plantation gardens, enjoying the local flora. The last tour goes out at 3:30 pm, and the abbey is closed on Saturdays.
George Washington stayed at this historic home in 1751, when he was just 19 years old. Today, a tour of the house is well worth a visit, and will give you a sense of Bridgetown’s history from hundreds of years ago, including how underground tunnels beneath the house were used for very interesting purposes.
While on your cruise to Barbados, you can’t miss St. Michael’s Cathedral in the center of Bridgetown, where the Anglican church still has weekend and weekday services. U.S. President George Washington once went to a church service here in the 18th century. The church dates back to the 1600s and has been built and rebuilt over the centuries.
While you’re on your Barbados cruise, take a catamaran offered variety of other tour operators in Bridgetown. Swim with leatherback turtles in Barbados’ crystal waters. Turtle watching and swimming is a popular day-long activity with cruise passengers because it combines time in the water with stops at historic shipwrecks for snorkeling as well as snacks and drinks.
Drive less than 45 minutes north of Bridgetown for a day among protected species and lush forest. Home to green monkeys, snakes, various bird species, and many others, kids and families will love seeing these animals walking freely through the habitat. The best time to see the animals is at their lunchtime around 2pm each day.
There’s an abundance of beaches on the island, almost too many to choose from, but each has its own vibe. Crane Beach has strong waves and turquoise water, but it’s better for activities like snorkeling and swimming, or head to Bathsheba less than an hour from Bridgetown for excellent surfing waters and a more rugged shorefront. If you want to stay here the port in Bridgetown, there’s Brownes, where shipwrecks in the area mean there’s plenty for divers and snorkelers to see underwater.
Take a drive or a taxi tour towards Bathsheba, Barbados, where you’ll hit the east coast of the island in no time. Stop in small fishing villages or enjoy the unique beaches here, which are characterized by jutting rock formations. It’s a more rugged landscape here than in Bridgetown, so you shouldn’t miss it for a complete picture of the island.
Cuz’s Fish Shack
Address: 39JR+R6 Pebbles Beach Bridgetown, Barbados
Look for this casual blue sandwich stand near Pebbles Beach for tasty fish sandwiches that receive rave reviews from visitors. The shack has been serving the area for nearly 70 years. It closes at 3pm, or whenever the fresh catches of the day run out. Try their signature sandwich, a fish and cheese cutter.
Brown Sugar Restaurant
Address: Bay St., Bridgetown, Barbados
When you’re feeling particularly peckish, head to Brown Sugar for an all-you-can-eat buffet lunch. The buffet is comprehensive, featuring local dishes like macaroni pie, Bajan fish cakes, baked plantains, and dessert favorites like coconut cream pie and rum balls.
Address: Broad St., Bridgetown, Barbados
When you’re done exploring historic downtown and Broad Street, take a lunch break at The Balcony, which is another lunch buffet spot in Bridgetown serving traditional Caribbean fare. Get the flying fish here, or take a break from fish to enjoy one of their beef or chicken dishes. The atmosphere is relaxed and the food won’t break the bank.
Address: The Boardwalk Main Road, Highway 7, Bridgetown, Barbados
For a more upscale dining experience in Bridgetown, take a seat on the boardwalk for lunch or dinner at Tapas, a wine bar and restaurant where the waterfront views add to the charm. You’ll find an extensive tapas menu and a great wine list, in addition to dinner menu items like spaghetti al mare, seared tuna, lamb shank, and more.
European colonization came to Barbados in the 16th century, but before that, the area was home to the native Arawaks and the Caribs. Barbados is heavily influenced by West African culture and the effects of over 300 years of British occupation. The region’s profitable sugar cane trade was built by the slave trade, but it took until 1834 for slavery to finally be abolished in Barbados. In 1838, former slaves celebrated their full freedom in the streets of Barbados by singing and dancing folk songs. In 1966, Barbados was declared a constitutional monarchy.
Barbados is known for its unique culinary offerings too, from macaroni pie, cou cou, fish cakes, and other regional delicacies must be experienced while on your Barbados cruise. They take their food and drink seriously, whether those are cheap eats downtown or spending time at one of Bridgetown’s many rum shops. Food is a huge part of the culture here.
You’ll find standard cruise port amenities here like free WiFi throughout the port, an information desk, and duty-free shopping for souvenirs. Within the port, there’s an area for tour guides to set up so passengers can purchase tours and depart from the port with their tour group. There are now over 60 businesses and shops located within the port. Bridgetown’s port welcomes you to Barbados with a festive, lively atmosphere, sometimes including performances from entertainers.
While on a cruise to Barbados, know that there are a variety of ways to get around once you’re there. Downtown Bridgetown is about a mile away from the cruise port. Taxis tend to be inexpensive in Barbados except during rush hour, and there will be taxi drivers waiting to pick up passengers outside the cruise terminal. You can arrange for a taxi to pick you up later, or to take you to multiple destinations. There is also a shuttle service from the port into Bridgetown available for cruise passengers to take.
Bridgetown isn’t known for its shopping, but there are still many options for all kinds of offerings. You’ll find duty-free shops near the port, ideal for quick souvenir shopping or if you eye any must-have jewelry or clothing while you’re in the cruise terminal. Shopping on Broad Street is most popular for jewelry and higher-end wares, including a Tiffany and Co. Swan Street is where locals shop for clothing and shoes.
The official currency of the area is the Barbadian dollar (B$), but US dollars are often accepted on the island, particularly at larger institutions like hotels. You’ll find banks along Broad Street, and ATMs are plentiful. At restaurants, your bill will typically already have a 10-15% service charge included, and unless the service was excellent, it’s not required for you to tip additionally. If the service charge isn’t included, leaving a 10% tip is customary. Be sure to establish a fare with a taxi driver before you set off.