The Southern Caribbean is a diverse region with islands stretched over a wide swath of the sea, from the arid, southernmost islands of the Caribbean, Aruba, and Curacao, up to Guadeloupe and Dominica near Nevis and St. Kitts.
Most people who choose a Southern Caribbean cruise do so for the great beaches, European flavor, and the quiet, as these ports are smaller and less visited than those of Eastern and Western Caribbean routes. Southern Caribbean cruises feel more exotic, but you’ll have to travel farther to get there, as many sailings depart from San Juan, St. Thomas, and Barbados. Weeklong Southern Caribbean itineraries aren’t as uniform as the Eastern and Western routes; most include some combination of the ABC islands — Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao — St. Lucia, Barbados, Grenada, and the Grenadines.
A Southern Caribbean cruise is definitely the one to try if you’re looking for something different among the Caribbean’s 40 main islands. Curacao’s pretty 17th- and 18th-century gabled buildings lining the harbor are a pastel version of Amsterdam, while Aruba lures visitors with its rock formations, caves, and white sand beaches that seem to stretch forever.
Grenada is another natural beauty, with waterfalls and rain forests to explore, plus the soft, appealing sands of Grand Anse Beach. Munch on baguettes in Les Saintes and revel in the solitude of tiny green Bequia, with its intimate arcs of golden beach shaded by cedar and almond trees.
In the tiny Tobago Cays, powdery white sand meets lagoons full of colorful coral, tropical fish, and sea turtles. St. Lucia’s draw is the beauty of its twin peaks and extinct volcanoes, mineral baths, and sulfur springs near La Soufrière. Barbados stands out for its British accents, pink sand beaches, and pretty back roads dotted with old churches.