Enchanting Antigua has a forested, mountainous interior, popular with trekking enthusiasts. Hundreds of bays are nestled into its craggy coastline. These strips of coconut-white sand are lapped by cerulean waters and fringed with palm trees. With so many to choose from, it’s easy to find your own private paradise.
Should you succeed in tearing yourself away from the beach, you’ll see that an Antigua cruise has a lot to offer. You’ll find traces of the island’s colonial past in the forts and historic buildings in the larger cities, as well as in the islanders’ British accents. There’s a distinctly Caribbean flavour here too, apparent in the brightly-coloured fishing villages dotting the coast.
Popular Ports in Antigua
Most Antigua cruises make a stop in St John’s, the island’s lively capital city. You’ll see the influence of the British in some of the buildings, including the baroque cathedral. But the streets of brightly painted houses in the downtown area are decidedly Caribbean, as is the brilliant sunshine.
St John’s is a top shopping destination. You won’t need to stray far from the harbour to find Heritage Quay, packed with shops selling designer goods, fine cigars and jewellery. There’s also an arts and crafts market where local artisans sell natural soaps and art made from seashells.
Several ships pull up at Falmouth Harbour, a stunning horseshoe bay surrounded by hills, where white yachts bob in the serene waters. Once you tire of strolling the glamorous marina, walk a short distance around the headland to Pigeon Point Beach, a quiet sandy bay where you can enjoy a dip.
English Harbour is also within walking distance. Like Falmouth Harbour, it exudes maritime glamour. It also houses Nelson’s Dockyard National Park, a well-preserved Georgian marina. This UNESCO world heritage site is still in operation today, with restaurants and boutique hotels occupying its beautifully restored buildings.
Several cruise ships stop off at Barbuda, Antigua’s tiny sister island. A cruise to Barbuda really is all about the beaches. You’ll be tendered ashore and disembark onto Pink Sand Beach, a stunning beach which stretches on for miles. The sand glows a pale pink colour, thanks to the coral particles in it, and the topaz waters are perfect for snorkelling. The sands are miraculously free of people, although there are a couple of restaurants where you can grab drinks and lunch.
What are the best cruise ships for an Antigua cruise?
Antigua’s a popular cruise destination, so make sure you choose your ship carefully. These two choices strike the perfect balance between extravagance and affordability.
Marella Explorer 2
Enjoy a child-free cruise on the brand new Marella Explorer 2, the first ship in the Marella fleet that’s exclusively for adults. This sleek ship exudes glamour and sophistication. The Champneys Spa will wow you with its wide range of treatments, and you’ll love sunbathing on The Veranda, an outdoor deck with chic Balinese daybeds. There are eight fantastic restaurants to choose from, offering everything from tapas to aromatic curries. And when it comes to having a drink, Marella Explorer 2 really pushes the boat out. She boasts 10 bars, from the kinetic Indigo Club to the laidback British pub, Squid & Anchor.
There’s never a dull moment onboard the chic Marella Celebration. Fill your days swimming in the pool, taking a dance class at Liberties Lounge or having a flutter at the casino. Of course, there’s also a sun deck and a spa if you feel like relaxing. Children will love the activities available at the Kids’ Club, and there’s a stage school they can sign up for. There’s a wide range of food available, from themed buffets at the laidback Lido to a 5* fine dining experience at Mistrals.
Shore Excursion Ideas
Make the most of your Antigua cruise on a shore excursion. These fantastic excursions, leaving from St John’s, will allow you to explore the best the island has to offer.
Catamaran cruise and lobster lunch
Infuse your Antigua cruise with some glamour and sophistication on this catamaran cruise. You’ll glide along the coast to Deep Bay Beach, a spectacular stretch of pure white sand. Stop for a spot of swimming and sunning before sailing onto the equally beautiful Morris Bay.
You’ll stay here until lunchtime – a fantastic buffet of succulent grilled lobster, washed down with sparkling wine. On the way home you’ll be treated to an open bar, so you’ll get back on-board your cruise ship feeling relaxed yet ready for the evening.
Horseback beach trekking
If you want a beach trip with a difference, then this is the excursion for you. Don’t worry if you’ve never ridden before – an experienced guide will show you what to do. Set off across the pristine sands of Fort James Beach. You’ll stop to see the impressive Fort James, and continue on up a track past St John’s Harbour and on to another beach.
Here you’ll stop to swim in the sea. You’ll even be able to head into the ocean on horseback if conditions are good. Once you’re done, refresh yourself with a snack or drink at the beachfront café.
Swim with stingrays
If you’re travelling with children, this family-friendly shore excursion comes highly recommended. Head off to Stingray City Antigua, perched just off the coast of Seaton’s Village. It’s home to more than 30 stingrays.
After a safety briefing, you’ll get the chance to swim with these graceful fish. They’re used to visitors, so you can even pet and feed them.
Top ports of call in this destination
- St John’s