Published on June 12, 2017 by Dylan Hughes
best cruise ports of call in alaska and the caribbean

 

If you’re cruising out of a port in Florida, Texas, Seattle, or New York and heading to the Caribbean or Alaska, you’re in luck. There’s so much to do at stops along the way that it can be hard to know where to start.

An organized tour is a great option, and you can always book these once you’re onboard the cruise. However, if you’re interested in exploring on your own, we’ve listed some amazing things to see and do at the most popular cruise ports of call. Check out our recommendations for some fun activities below!

Best Caribbean Cruise Ports of Call

Nassau, Bahamas

Tour the Atlantis Bahamas Resort, which features a casino and several attractions, including Dolphin Cay and many dining options. You can also take a short ferry to Blue Lagoon Island, where visitors can hang out with dolphins and sea lions. While there, you’ll probably need to rent a manual wheelchair for your cruise, as the island only allows motorized vehicles to weigh 200 lbs. including the occupant. If you’re more into swimming and sunbathing, stick close by and keep it low key at the free and popular Junkanoo Beach.  Animal lovers can take a short drive to the Ardastra Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre, home to an abundance of flamingoes, as well as hundreds of other animals.

Cozumel, Mexico

This Mexican island is one of the top scuba diving destinations in the world. Check out the white sandy beaches or head to Chankanaab Park for snorkeling and diving. You can visit the Mayan ruins of Tulum, relax at a beach club, or check out the world famous Xcaret park, which features a lagoon, cave exploration, an aviary, and more. Alternatively, spend the day shopping in San Miguel – the island’s main town – where you can feast on a wide variety of delicious food offerings.

Port of San Juan, Puerto Rico

Explore the old, walled city of San Juan, built in the 16th century, which houses art galleries and antique shops along its cobblestone streets. You can also visit the Cathedral of San Juan, the El Morro and San Cristóbal forts, or go shopping in the Calle San Jose, Calle Fortaleza, and the Calle del Cristo. For rum lovers, a tour of the Bacardi Distillery is a must.

St. Maarten

St. Maarten is divided into the French and Dutch sections (capitals are Marigot and Philipsburg, respectively). The cruise ship docks are located in Philipsburg, but it’s easy to get to Marigot. Take a tour, or have a bite or libation at one the restaurants and bars on the Great Bay Boardwalk. Later, head out for some shopping in either the Dutch or French section – there are high-end boutiques, as well as great deals to be found. You can also visit an open-air market, or (of course) relax on a beach. Finally, find time to watch the daily 12 Metre Challenge, a head-to-head sailing race that is consistently voted one of the top shore excursions in the Caribbean.

Port of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

St. Thomas features some of the best duty-free shopping you’ll find anywhere – and once you’re shopped out, there are plenty of beaches, dining, and sightseeing options to check out. Attractions include Fort Christian (the oldest standing structure in the Virgin Islands) and St. Peter Greathouse & Botanical Gardens. The SkyRide to Paradise Point offers incredible views, and Coral World is a marine park not far from the cruise pier. Among the beach options, Magens Bay is one of the most popular spots on the island.

 

Best Alaskan Cruise Ports of Call

*Most Alaskan cruise ports of call offer zip lining, hiking, and other activities for the more active members in your travel group.

Juneau

The mining town of Juneau is surrounded by the breathtaking scenery of mountains and the Gastineau Channel, and the only way in is by air or sea. Activities include whale watching and touring the Alaska State Capitol or the Alaskan Brewing Company. Visitors can also check out the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area, a massive, 13-mile long glacier surrounded by waterfalls, ice, and potentially bears.

Ketchikan

Ketchikan is known as the "Salmon Capital of the World," so be sure to try the fish while you’re there. Activities on offer include shopping and visiting galleries around town. Visit Creek Street to see the former red-light district – now a famous row of wooden buildings standing over the water. Off the Creek Street boardwalk, visitors can often see the salmon swimming upstream to spawn. Ketchikan also has the world's largest collection of Northwest totem poles, which are on display around the town.

Skagway

The charming tourist town of Skagway is exceptionally scenic. Be sure to ride the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad, which ascends nearly 3,000 feet along a 20-mile path from Skagway to the White Pass Summit, passing many landmarks along the way. Take a tour of the Klondike Gold Fields, check out the Gold Rush Restaurant and Brewery, visit a musher’s camp, take a short trip to Haines, or stay downtown and see The Arctic Brotherhood Hall (“The most photographed building in Alaska”). It’s also worth visiting the historic Moore Cabin, the oldest structure in Skagway, built in 1887.

Haines

Accessible from Skagway, but also a port of its own, Haines is a small town with plenty of local charm. Visit the Hammer Museum, which is literally a museum of hammers, the Sheldon Museum & Cultural Center, and the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve.

We hope you have a chance to enjoy some of these accessible attractions while on your cruise. Be sure to waste no time getting around these attractions by contacting Scootaround for your cruise mobility rental needs. Rent a wheelchair or scooter for your cruise in advance of your trip, or check out the cruise lines and cruise ports we serve for more information!