The Caribbean’s Cultural Side

There’s much more to the Caribbean than aquamarine waters, white-sand beaches and swaying palms. Each country hosts a unique culture beyond their coasts, rich with artistic, historic and ecological significance. This is a region where the mastery of sugar paved the way for British prosperity, where chocolate emerged from volcanic-rich soil and where one thin country created an engineering marvel. Read on and you will find a few culture-focused shore excursions you can enjoy on a Caribbean cruise vacation. If you’re interested in any of these, are curious about other destinations, or need to find which Caribbean cruise ventures to these locales, then contact your travel advisor today.
See the entire island from Shirley Heights Lookout


Our first excursion involves an island ripe with English and African influences, all set across a verdant, rainforest palette. To better understand Antigua’s history, visit Betty’s Hope, the island’s first sugar plantation. Built in 1674, just after Antigua was colonized by England, the large-scale plantation was operational for over 260 years, and its history mirrors that of the island itself. Afterward, your knowledgeable local guide will lead you to Nelson’s Dockyard National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you’ll visit the opulent Clarence House, a colonial-era landmark that hosted governors, naval commanders and British royalty. After the estate, drive through the lush rainforest to the capital town of St. John, concluding your excursion.

View of the Pitons from Soufrière volcano in St. Lucia


Another child of African and English influences — with a dash of French culture as seen in its Creole language, music and cuisine — St. Lucia is ready to charm. During your tour, drive through Castries, the lively capital known for its immersive marketplace and the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, where the Afro-Caribbean flare of the murals definitely stand out. Drive along Marigot Bay until you reach the historic Rabot Estate of Soufrière, a cocoa estate founded in 1745. Here you can shell and grind cocoa beans, enriched by the soil of the Soufrière volcano. Instructors will teach you mixing and pounding techniques, so you can create your own chocolate bar! After class, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant where Callaloo, a spinach-like soup, or spiny lobster are often on the menu, before returning to your ship.

Explore the Miraflores Locks at the heart of the Panama Canal


Panama is a country of strategic importance and Old-World architecture. During your tour, your knowledgeable guide will transport you from Panama City to Colonial Panama, where you’ll enjoy European-style buildings dating back to the 16th century along the way. After a delicious lunch local favorites like empanadas or ceviche, your coach will transfer you to the Panama Canal, one of the Seven Wonders of the Industrial World. Visit the Miraflores Locks, where colossal ships pass with expert precision. After an informative stop at the Miraflores Visitor Center, which delves into the Canal’s fascinating history with eye-opening details, return to your ship with a profound appreciation of Panama and its industrial wonder.

A brightly painted Oxcart in Costa Rica


Like Panama, Costa Rica also exists between two great continents. Yet this tropical isthmus is unique for its oxcarts that are as colorful as its local flora. During your tour, visit the quaint town of Sarchi, where talented artisans have painted kaleidoscopic patterns on their oxcarts for more than a century. Stop by the Eloy Alfaro Oxcart Factory, the epicenter of this tradition, to learn firsthand from craftsmen how to design your own oxcart wheel. Afterward, enjoy a tasty lunch of tamal—the garlic-heavy, banana leaf-wrapped Costa Rican version of a tamale. Next up is the Else Kientzler Botanical Garden, home to 2,000 tropical plant species and a horde of colorful caterpillars that thrive in this protected domain. Near the end of your tour, you’ll be invited to release the adult butterflies into the wild, creating a magical moment of rapidly-flapping, vibrant butterflies filling the sky above.

To explore the Caribbean’s cultural side, contact your travel professional today.


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