5 Caribbean Ports Not Worth Getting Off The Ship
The Caribbean is full of fun, beautiful islands to explore, which is why we don't understand how certain ports are still a staple of so many itineraries. Here are the 5 lowest-rated ports according to over 40,000 reviews submitted by Cruiseline.com members since 2015. (And since we know that not everyone has a bad time in these ports, we threw in a couple positive reviews for the sake of fairness.)
Avg. Rating: 3.19 / 5
The Gist: Punta Cana is not a typical stop on cruise itineraries, which likely explains why the biggest gripe seems to be a lack of options. The few excursions there are generally don’t live up to the hype, and certainly don’t seem to justify the price.
Common Complaints: “This was a waste of time. There was nothing near where the ship was tendered .Taxi drivers wanted too much money . So we just turned around and returned to the ship and had a very enjoyable day poolside.” - MaxiD
“Beach day with “snacks” (old plate of french fries) was only a few hours rather than advertised “day” and it was over $100 per person, not worth it” - JJSunshine
“I understand that this is not a regular port. We only spent about 15 minutes on shore. Would not return.” - dalepelton
Worst Review: “The excursion was supposed to be a tour of Rum factory, Chocolate factory, Coffee factory and Cigar factory. They were all within one compound. There was no factory tours at all. HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT! MONEY WASTED!” - Margaret2017Ann
Redeeming Review: “Beautiful area. We chose to use our time at the beach and some shopping near the dock. It was a very wonderful and relaxing experience.” - Cruiser51462334
Avg. Rating: 3.28 / 5
The Gist: Freeport was heavily damaged by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, and again by Hurricane Irma in August 2017. Not surprisingly, many reviewers agreed that the island hasn’t fully recovered, noting that many signs of the devastation are still very visible. Even so, earlier reviews were not exactly glowing either, with complaints focusing on the industrial focus of the island, the distance to the main shopping areas, aggressive salesman, and general lack of things to do and places to explore.
Common Complaints: “I really sometimes wonder why the cruise ships still stop in Freeport unless you have an Excursion there's really nothing for you to do you will spend more time standing in line to get off the ship then you will once you get out there. There are a few little shops, but the port is heavily industrialized it's really not designed for cruise passenger comfort or enjoyment in my opinion.” - DonnieB2017
“The main (very small) shopping area is 12 miles from the cruise port. Not much to do on the island except go to a beach or do a water sport excursion (expensive). I thought Freeport was a wasted stop...........Carnival could do better.” - 7timecruiser
“The island is dirty and looks like a war zone. I know the island was hit by a hurricane last October/November time frame. But come [on] people who live in Freeport. Have some pride in your houses and yards. Pick up the trash and clean up the storm damage. Beach resort was rundown and they ran out of chairs and umbrellas. Wound up sitting under a Palm tree. No the best beach to snorkel on. The only thing I saw underwater was tires and blocks.” - RichandChalley
Worst Review: “Freeport was not my favourite, I'll probably never go there ever again. as soon as you step off the boat you are bombarded with people trying to sell you stuff and they get mad [if] you say no, we had to rudely walk away from a few of the locals because it was borderline harassment how they were acting. then we took a taxi to port lucaya and it got worse! my husband was bombarded with locals trying to sell him DRUGS of all kinds, like these people were following him saying they had "party favors" for sale, he said no numerous times and they would ask me well why not?!? like seriously? because we don't want to buy drugs in a different country....we don't want to buy drugs in general! leave us alone! we bought a few shirts and necklaces for our kids back home and the next guy started yelling at us because we "bought crap and what he was selling was good quality" when it all looked like the same cheap "made in China" souvenirs, we ended up going to the beach and were offered drugs again numerous times (I think because we are a young couple)” - MarButler89
Redeeming Reviews: “People say there's nothing here, but I found the little colorful shop huts right at the port to be delightful, and we enjoyed looking around and buying things. It was a charming little area, with lots of shopping for souvenirs. No one was pestering us for taxis or excursions there too!” - cathyrose
“Freeport has a beautiful little diamond hidden on this tiny island! When you get off the ship, hop a taxi and take a cruise across the island to Port Lucaya! There is lots of shopping to be done and the beaches are beautiful! It isn't a well know destination so it's secluded and not too heavily populated by tourists.” - KarlsenKruisers
Avg. Rating: 3.29 / 5
The Gist: La Romana is one of the larger cities in the Dominican Republic, with over 130,000 people living within the city limits. The cruise port is not located near the city center, so cruisers will often spend their day at a resort or doing an excursion. Complaints often focus around the usual lack of things to do, pushy vendors, and a general feeling of unsafety.
Common Complaints: “No excursion because of the lack of choices. The port is extremely industrial with nothing to do within walking distance.” - Sherryandclyde
“Either book an excursion or stay aboard. We went into town and turned around and left within minutes. The people are aggressive and continually hound you for money. It was non stop. The bus drops you in a park full of vendors. It's like walking through a gauntlet of aggressive beggars. Worst port I ever visited.” - kenlmhc
“This should not even be a port to visit. We took carnival train and had to be escorted by police the entire ride right be our ship. Frightening to think just taking a walk off the ship by ourselves could have been like.” - clydeloreng
“Next time I will book an excursion. Decided to walk the port which was not much & paid to go downtown that was a NIGHTMARE. I paid $10.00 roundtrip & I was there 10 minutes if that & came back to ship. Carnival has this as an excursion for $40. I think you guys need to remove this excursion. It only aggravated me as the locals harass the tourist not fun at all.” - ValerieHerrera
Worst Reviews: “Police officer actually pulled me aside and told me to hide my jewelry.” - duckie1210
“We tried to do an excursion ( off ship)and were given a price, paid and loaded in the van. We could not all fit ( 21 people) and then insisted we sit on laps and then tried to double the price. Words were exchanged and we were threatened. We got out and hung out at the port having $5 mojitos and had fun there instead. Complete downpour of rain all day anyway.” - kathy1870
Redeeming Reviews: “The people are friendly and very proud of their country (compared to what they think of Haiti). Explore the city. See the big "department" store on the main street (left from the port) to pick up stuff you missed. Walk up the hill to the big Catholic church and there are lots of vendors.” - FLCardsFan
“Get off the boat and take a taxi to the beach. Absolutely beautiful crystal clear water. We paid the taxi driver extra to take us on a tour around the town. Had an amazing time!” - Cruisegirls
Avg. Rating: 3.31 / 5
The Gist: It’s hard to read through our member reviews of Fort-de-France without feeling like the natives don’t really want American cruisers in their city. While we didn’t see too many reviewers who were afraid for their safety, we did see plenty of complaints about unfriendly locals who don’t speak English and businesses that refused to take American currency.
Common Complaints: “If we ever go back I will stay on the ship, waste of money, time and everything else.” - jslane080694
“Very unfriendly locals. It was our 2nd time there and if we go again, we'll stay on the ship!” - rtr365
“We chose not to do an excursion and instead explore the downtown area of Martinique. It was a [waste] of time. The town was filthy and the shops were not very good.” - jayhook28
“This island should never be a port of call. If you don't have Euros, forget about seeing any of the museums.” - tsmcgee1
“If you don't speak French you may as well not get off the ship...hard to find places that took US dollars too..could do without going there again” - CoralS2
“Rude people, no good beach near port, taxis would not try to communicate. Took a ferry over to a beach that was two small coves with $25 pp to rent a chair & umbrella. Ate lunch and it was poor and expensive. Should have stayed on the ship!” - adow2
“Worst experience ever. Everyone was rude, nothing was in English, and the people tried to rip us off all the time. Nothing was a fair price. Would never go back” - hunterrhayden
“MISERABLE! This port was added to replace one that was damaged in the hurricane last Sept. A total waste of time. The French are snotty, nothing was in English, stores were closed, city smelled like raw sewage!!” - bblonde722
Worst Review: “..while there are some lovely resorts and upscale mountainside homes, the houses of the average folks are mostly ramshackle hovels made of concrete blocks and metal roofs that are in a terrible state of repair. Because of the humid climate, the walls of homes and public buildings are covered with mold. The old capital - St. Pierre - is a mess. The French government should be embarrassed and ashamed.” - historymann49
Redeeming Review: “We loved this island. The tour of the rum distillery, north beach, ruins, and rain forest was unmissable. Beautiful waterfalls.” - MNRN
Avg. Rating: 3.45 / 5
The Gist: Most Americans seem to have a romanticized notion of Jamaica that doesn't line up with reality. Being offered marijuana in the birthplace of reggae music might not sound like the craziest thing, but plenty of reviewers found themselves constantly propositioned for drugs during their time ashore. Notoriously reckless drivers and sketchy vendors also led to many cruisers vowing to never step foot in Montego Bay again.
Common Complaints: “One of our least favorite ports. The vendors are very aggressive and most of the people we encountered were not particularly friendly. LOTS of drug dealers, and the place was very dirty. We have avoided booking cruises with this stop on the itinerary.” - jonrob01
“I have nothing good to say about this port. We did the hop-on-hop-off bus tour and it was awful. Firstly they drive like maniacs and I literally feared for my life. Plus everywhere you went people were high pressuring you to buy things and I'm not talking about like in Cozumel where it's a friendly little barter thing I literally felt uncomfortable and almost scared not to buy anything. If I ever take this Cruise again I will not get off the ship in this port.” - fergie64
“Sadly did not enjoy this stop, not the cleanest place, was propositioned for weed about 20 times, no exaggeration, even from my tour bus driver when I was last on the bus lol, I'm 6'3 240 not little by any means and I didn't feel safe walking from the shops to the port... Next time I will either stay on the ship or plan better and pick a better place there to explore....” - tfeldt
“This is not an enjoyable port and should not be visited. I could not get off the ship without being attacked by people trying to sell me things or take me somewhere. Our excursion was disorganized and dirty. They charged us for every little thing, like the chairs we were sitting in. I was waiting for them to charge me for breathing. I absolutely would discontinue sending people here.” - awolffe
Worst Review: “I’ll never visit Jamaica again. Couldn’t walk five feet without someone either begging for money or asking me to buy weed. It was VERY dirty & had needles laying around as we exiting the ship. There was no entertainment. Our taxi forced us to pay for round trip & said they’d be back to get us, but did not return, so we paid for a round trip, plus paid for another taxi to bring us back to ship.” - YaYa28
Redeeming Review: “I heard a lot of negative things about Jamaica from anyone who had ever been before. "It's beautiful, BUT..." So I was very cautious and aware of our surroundings. We did the Martha Brae bamboo raft tour. It was absolutely beautiful. It took my breath away. We saw some pushy salespeople who waded out into the river to try to sell us trinkets, but it wasn't anything too intrusive. I never felt uncomfortable. Our raft captain Clive was very informative and showed us things in nature that I had never seen before. Afterwards they dropped us off for a very quick stop at a shopping area, and we bought a Red Stripe and a meat pie that was knock-your-socks-off good. Back at the port we did some shopping, which was very relaxed and felt safe. I hated to leave. I'd like to come back here and spend a week.” - andreaahlers
Join the discussion
Which ports do you avoid at all costs?