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Getting To Know Bridgetown, Barbados – Cruise Port Guide
Our Bridgetown, Barbados cruise port guide is the only tool you need in order to build your perfect day on this wonderful Caribbean island.
Your ship will dock in Bridgetown and it will take you approx. 15-minutes to get from here into the town on foot. It’s a straight walk from the port, along the boardwalk and into the heart of the capital city. Taxis are widely available and you’ll often find a shuttle bus service is provided, although there is usually a small charge to use it. On your walk into the centre of Bridgetown, you’ll pass Cheapside Market (a bustling food market that is at its busiest on Saturday’s) and St Mary’s Church. One other place you will pass as you stroll into the city is the Pelican Craft Centre and we absolutely recommend that you stop and explore the several small stalls here. Everything here is made and sold by local craftsmen and it’s a very pleasant way to break up your walk. You’ll find walkways lined with tropical flowers, refreshment options and many happy locals that can’t wait to tell you more about their island.
There’s a lot of history to take in here and lots of things to do, but would a visit to Barbados be the same without seeing a beach? We don’t think so and thankfully, there are many to choose from on this tropical island. The Boatyard has long been popular with younger generations as it’s always alive with great music, cold drinks, fun water based sports and local food. The Boatyard can be found at Carlisle Bay, just south of Bridgetown and within walking distance – depending on your fitness level. Other beaches worth noting are Accra Beach, on the south coast (you’d need a local bus or taxi to reach Accra) and Paynes Beach, considered one of the best in Barbados. Paynes is an ideal family option and there’s also the chance to swim with turtles in the bay.
If a beach day doesn’t sound quite like your ideal, then why not consider a trip to the Mount Gay Distillery? Or, failing that, you could take in some of the islands rich history within Bridgetown. Highlights include Bridgetown’s synagogue and museum and the 19th-century Parliament Buildings. There’s also the chance to see George Washington House, where the American President once lived. The house is located in the Garrison area which housed the largest British military establishment in the Caribbean in the late 18th-century, so it’s also a great stop for military history enthusiasts.
Welchman Hall Gully is one for nature lovers and it was named after its first owner, General William Asygell Williams, a former soldier from Wales. He was banished by Cromwell after losing the Battle of Bristol in 1650 and it was then he established the plantation here. He added many exotic tress and an orchard, and it has continued to flourish ever since. Welchman Hall Gully is also home to the world’s smallest species of snake and wild green monkey’s. The Gully was acquired by the Barbados National Trust in 1962.
The Bajan dollar is the local currency, however US dollars are widely accepted.
Always agree a taxi fare price before leaving the port.
There is a large duty free hall at the terminal in Bridgetown – it’s a major turnaround port for fly-cruise holidays to the Caribbean.
Key highlights of Barbados
- The Boatyard
- Payne’s Beach
- Scuba Diving
- Mount Gay Rum Distillery
- St Michael’s Cathedral
- Harrison’s Cave
- Sunbury Plantation House
- Flower Forest
- Welchman Hall Gully
- Pelican Craft Centre
Regular cruise line visitors
- P&O Cruises
- Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
- Princess Cruises
- Celebrity Cruises
- Royal Caribbean
Cruise Expert Insider 🔎 Bridgetown, Barbados Cruise Port by Jen Hadley
When you think of the Caribbean, you automatically think of Barbados – white sands, turquoise waters, guaranteed sunshine, turtles, steel drums and rum, never forget the rum!! Barbados has so much to offer, with varied landscapes and local island traditions, it really is at the heart of the Caribbean.
I simply love this island and having worked in the cruise industry for over twenty years, Barbados is still one of my favourite places to visit and has a firm place in my heart. Being an adventurer and a foodie, I always enjoy getting under the skin of a destination and I have loved exploring the length and breadth of this independent nation from the south coast to the north.
If you are wondering about when is the best time to visit Barbados, cruise lines will plan itineraries to coincide with the best part of the season which is from November through to March, P&O Cruises offer long duration cruises to the Caribbean directly from Southampton on Arcadia and Ventura. Temperatures are between 23 to 30 Degrees Celsius and the days are mostly filled with gorgeous sunshine, but as this is a tropical, humid region, you can expect the odd passing rain shower, which will disappear as quickly as it came.
My absolute all-time favourite thing to do on the island is to jump on a boat and sail around it, this would be something to plan in advance. You can either find an independent company who will look after you for the day, or even book an excursion directly with the cruise company which will often include food and drink. P&O Cruises has a number of options available to guests. But sitting on deck in the sunshine, whizzing over turquoise waters, wind in your hair, taking in all the beautiful beaches and watching the flying fish go by is my idea of heaven. Even better still if you can jump in the sea for a spot of snorkelling, you may be lucky enough to spot a turtle or two.
If you just want to hit the beach for the day then there is also plenty of choice. If you are a surfer, I would suggest heading towards Bathsheba bay on the East coast, this is the Atlantic side of the island and therefore has bigger waves. There are also the most amazing giant rock formations along the beach making it a really photogenic spot!
For a livelier beach with a bit of atmosphere head to Carlisle Bay, a short taxi ride away from the port (5 US Dollars each way) and you will get some great packages which include sunbeds, cocktails and use of inflatables in the sea. My favourite is the Boatyard, but there are various options available, including Pirates Cove, Harbour Lights and Copacabana beach club.
For a more sophisticated, luxury beach day then I would suggest Nikki Beach Club which sits to the Northwest of the island and has 1.4 acres of pristine beachfront. This place has everything you need in one place, chilled music, fresh local dishes and a swim up bar!
If you happen to call at the Island on a Friday and have a late sail, then you should head over to Oistins for the Fish Fry which has a fantastic atmosphere. It is a reasonable drive across the Island from the cruise terminal, however if there is a group of you sharing a taxi you can easily bring the costs down. The drivers will often wait for you, probably best to negotiate this up front.
I suppose you could liken Oistins to a Caribbean pumped up version of Borough market meets Notting Hill Carnival with plenty of the local Banks beer thrown in for good measure! When you arrive, you will find a wonderful mix of locals and tourists all coming together for good food. Wander around 80 plus stalls for something authentic and tasty, you will find mahi mahi, swordfish, tuna and of course chicken – so pull up a seat at your chosen venue, tuck in and enjoy the atmosphere.
These are only a few of my favourite things, but Barbados has so much more to offer – paddle boarding, rum distillery tours, diving (clearly do not mix rum and diving), rainforest adventures, 4×4, visit caves, have a special dinner at The Cliff, go hiking or just stroll through the historic town of Bridgetown.
However you choose to spend your time in Barbados you will find it brimming with local life from rum shops, fish markets, roadside takeaways to churches. Just drop in and the gracious, warm friendly Bajans will make you feel absolutely welcome, and be part of memories you will treasure forever.
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