12 IDEAL Eastern Caribbean Cruise Ports You Should Visit

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Going on an Eastern Caribbean cruise and wondering what each port of call has to offer? Or perhaps you’re booking a cruise vacation from Tampa, Miami, or Fort Lauderdale cruise ports and don’t know which cruise itinerary will suit you best. We’re here to help by giving you insight into the most ideal Eastern Caribbean ports of call (in our opinion!).

Eastern Caribbean cruises typically visit ports of call on the beautiful islands of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, the Greater Antilles, the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, St Maarten, and St Kitts. The best time to visit these cool ports of call is in the winter season, from December to April.

Here’s our essential cruise guide covering these popular ports of call. We include terminal and pier info, which ports have tenders, popular attractions, and things to see and do independently if you don’t want to join an official cruise shore excursion.

Ready to set sail? Here we go!

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Historic San Juan is the capital of the island of Puerto Rico and one of the busiest cruise ports in the Eastern Caribbean. As well as being a port of embarkation and disembarkation, many cruises include San Juan as a port of call. 

Located in the heart of Old San Juan, the port has two cruise terminals. It is just a short stroll from the shops, cafes and historic fort in Old San Juan.

Cruise Ships Docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Photo Credit: NAPA / Shutterstock

Once ashore, explore the narrow streets and colonial architecture. Within the historic walled city, the 16th-century El Morro military fort presides over the town and can be visited independently or as part of a City Walking Tour with a local guide.

If you want to visit the Bacardi Rum Factory, take the ferry from Pier 2 to Catano, then catch the bus for the 10-minute ride to the factory. Upgrade to a mixologist course and create your own cocktail! Nature lovers can head inland on a tour to El Yunque and enjoy an amazing tropical rainforest experience.

Cruise lines visiting San Juan in 2024-25 include:

  • Princess Cruises
  • MSC Cruises
  • Carnival Cruise Line
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Holland America
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Viking Cruises
  • Seabourn
  • Azamara
  • Oceania Cruises
  • Disney Cruise Line
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Crystal Cruises
  • Virgin Voyages
  • Windstar Cruises

Philipsburg, St. Maarten

The Caribbean island of St. Maarten/St. Martin is divided between the two nations of France and the Netherlands. It provides the best of both cultures with French food and fashion in the north, and the quaint architecture and Dutch influences in the south. 

The cruise port is in Philipsburg, capital of the Dutch area. Cruise ships typically dock at the A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo Facility, which acts as the cruise terminal. The dock can accommodate several ships at once, including the largest and newest cruise vessels.

When is the best time to cruise the Caribbean
Cruise Ships Docked in St. Maarten, in the Caribbean. Photo Credit: Dennis MacDonald)

There is a shopping village right at the cruise terminal area with duty-free shopping, restaurants, bars and souvenir stalls. There are also restrooms, WiFi, and an island information center. The main town of Philipsburg is a 20-minute walk from the pier. Buses run regularly to and from the cruise ships, and taxis are cheap and plentiful.

Visit the waterfront market and white-sand beaches around Philipsburg, browse the shops, relax at a beachfront café or visit the Sint Maarten Museum. 

Cruise lines visiting Philipsburg in 2024-25 include:

  • Princess Cruises
  • Carnival Cruise Line
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Holland America
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • P&O Cruises
  • Viking Cruises
  • Azamara
  • Oceania Cruises
  • Windstar Cruises

Amber Cove / Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Amber Cove cruise port is located on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, which is on the east side of the island of Hispaniola. It can accommodate up to two ships at a time. Ships dock directly at the L-shaped pier, allowing visitors to walk straight off the ship.

Developed by Carnival Corporation, the port Cruise Center has a currency exchange, Wi-Fi, restrooms and an information desk. There are several shops, restaurants, and modern facilities, along with a variety of craft stalls selling local jewelry and souvenirs. The Aqua Zone next to the Cruise Center is crammed with fun activities.

Carnival Cruise Ship at Amber Cove
Carnival Cruise Ship at Amber Cove (Photo Credit: Melissa Mayntz)

Amber Cove is on the Bay of Maimon, close to the town of Puerto Plata, which also features its own cruise port. Puerto Plata caters to non-Carnival vessels, such as those from Norwegian Cruise Line and Virgin Voyages.

The coast is known for its beautiful sandy beaches, lush greenery, and tasty cuisine. Other popular activities for cruisers include visiting local rum distilleries, taking hikes as part of an eco-adventure in the rainforest, relaxing on the beach, swimming with dolphins, water sports, riding the cable car or walking along the promenade.  

Cruise lines visiting Amber Cove/ Puerto Plata in 2024-25 include:

  • Princess Cruises
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Carnival Cruise Line
  • Holland America
  • Costa Cruises

La Romana, Dominican Republic

Located on the southeastern side of the Dominican Republic, the port of La Romana is close to the town of the same name.

The dock is at the mouth of the Rio Dulco River, and two cruise ships can berth simultaneously, one on each side of the river. Larger cruise ships use the eastern quay, which has a pier for cruise ships up to 350m in length. The western quay accommodates smaller cruise ships up to 250m in length.

La Romana Cruise Port Area
La Romana Cruise Port Area (Photo Credit: KaSiontour1217)

The open-air terminal is known as Sugar Breeze Cruise Terminal, and it has a few buildings and facilities that are just a short walk from the ship’s gangway. The port has fairly basic facilities, including restrooms, a bar, a coffee shop, taxis, a pharmacy, handicraft stalls, and information desks. There is a ChuChu train to downtown and a shuttle bus to Altos de Chavon.

La Romana is a popular cruise destination with beautiful beaches, clear Caribbean waters, watersports, local shops, bars and attractions.

Excursions from the port include attractions such as the 16th-century village of Altos de Chavin, snorkeling in the turquoise waters, scuba diving, river kayaking, ziplining, and trips to the paradise islands of Catalina and Saona. 

Cruise lines visiting La Romana in 2024-25 include:

  • Carnival Cruise Line
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Costa Cruises
  • Windstar Cruises

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

Known as the Gateway to the US Virgin Islands, Charlotte Amalie Cruise Port is on the south side of the island of St. Thomas. Unusually, the port has two cruise ports.

Havensight Cruise Port has three docks east of the town of Charlotte Amalie. Crown Bay is two miles west of Charlotte Amalie and has one pier with two further docks. 

Havensight cruise terminal consists of a one-km-long pier located a 20-minute walk or short taxi ride from the town. However, you might just want to stay at the terminal, which is a shopper’s paradise! It has a vast open-air mall with duty-free shops, jewelry shops, bars, and places to eat. Tour buses and taxis pick up passengers outside the terminal gates.

Cruise Ships in the US Virgin Islands
Cruise Ships in the US Virgin Islands (Photo Credit: Victor Maschek)

If your cruise ship docks in Crown Bay, the walk is difficult, and a taxi or shuttle bus (if available) is recommended. Onsight, the pier gates lead into a modern cruise terminal with excellent amenities.

Look out for the Windmill building that houses the Information Center! The Crown Bay Center is a large shopping mall just outside the pier gates with lots of duty-free shops, restrooms, ATMs, free Wi-Fi, restaurants, craft stalls, and souvenir shops.

Read Also: St. Thomas Cruise Port – Piers, Overview and What to Do

Beyond the port, attractions on St. Thomas include the famous Skyride to Paradise Point, beautiful Magens Bay Beach, and a Butterfly Farm. Boat charters, catamaran trips, and lagoon kayaking trips can all be booked from your cruise excursion desk as part of your Eastern Caribbean cruise.

Cruise lines visiting St. Thomas in 2024-25 include: 

  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Azamara
  • SeaDream
  • Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

Cruise ships visit the beautiful Saint Croix dock at the newly renovated waterfront in Frederiksted. The 500m-long pier can accommodate two cruise ships simultaneously.

An electric trolley transports cruisers along the lengthy dock. There’s an information kiosk, restrooms and local shops. It’s easy to walk ashore and explore this quaint town with many historic buildings, including Fort Frederik.

Cruise Ships Docked in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
Photo Courtesy: Virgin Islands Port Authority

St. Croix is a luxury playground with beautiful beaches, historic towns and duty-free shopping (up to $1600 allowed for US citizens). Local vendors line the waterfront with stalls selling crafts, jewelry, T-shirts and souvenirs.

Visit Whim Plantation, the Cruzan Rum Factory, St Geoge Botanical Gardens or explore part of the 72-mile Heritage Trail. A taxi can take you to the historic harbor town of Christiansted, with its quaint Danish architecture.

Cruise lines visiting St Croix in 2024-25 include:

  • Carnival Cruise Line
  • SeaDream
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Holland America
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Virgin Voyages
  • Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

St. John, US Virgin Islands

St. John is one of three main islands making up the US Virgin Islands, along with Saint Croix and St. Thomas. The main port is Cruz Bay, which has basic facilities. It is on the west side of the island and is mainly visited by smaller luxury cruise lines. Cruise ships have to anchor offshore and tender cruisers ashore.

St. John USVI
St. John USVI (Photo Credit: Ramunas Bruzas)

Much of this tiny 50km² island is protected by the Virgin Islands National Park, which extends to include the coral reefs and shoreline. Beaches, watersports, and island hopping are the main attractions for cruisers. 

Cruise lines visiting St John in 2024-25 include:

  • Azamara
  • SeaDream
  • Windstar Cruises

Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Part of the British Virgin Islands, Tortola is a British Overseas Territory which consists of four islands: Tortola, Andgada, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke. Most larger cruise ships dock at Road Harbour in a sheltered bay on the south coast of Tortola.

The 400m-long pier is large enough to handle two smaller cruise ships (up to 180,000 GRT) at once, but not the larger vessels such as RCI Oasis class.

Cruise Ships Docked in Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Cruise Ships Docked in Tortola, British Virgin Islands (Photo Credit: Khairil Azhar Junos)

The cruise terminal is right next to Tortola Pier Park, an 80,000 sq. ft—area with 50 shops and restaurants. From the terminal, you can rent bicycles to explore the island or book a taxi and head to one of the beautiful white sandy beaches. The closest beach is Cane Garden Bay, about five miles from the cruise port. 

Luxury cruise lines and smaller ships may dock at the neighboring island of Jost Van Dyke. The New Horizon Fast Ferry transports travelers to Tortola in around 20 minutes. One must-do is sampling the Rum Cake that Tortola is famous for.

Cruise lines visiting Tortola in 2024-25 include:

  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Princess Cruises
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Virgin Voyages
  • Seabourn Cruise Line
  • Crystal Cruises
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Carnival Cruise Line
  • Windstar Cruises
  • Star Clippers

Labadee, Haiti

Labadee is the exclusive private resort developed and managed by Royal Caribbean for its cruise ships and those belonging to the sister cruise company Celebrity Cruises.

It is a gated enclave located on a peninsula on the north coast of the island of Haiti. The entire resort is no more than 800 meters long and 4000 meters wide.

Labadee has a 400-meter-long pier extending south into Buccaneer’s Bay. It can only accommodate one ship at a time. There is no terminal as such.

Royal Caribbean's Labadee, Haiti
Royal Caribbean’s Labadee, Haiti (Photo Credit: fitzcrittle / Shutterstock)

Cruisers walk from the ship to the gated entrance to this private resort where there are private cabanas, restaurants, bars, waterslides, dining options and amenities that outshine even the best onboard activities.

Visit the Trading Post stalls, ride the awesome Dragons Breath Zip Line or book tours to go parasailing, jet skiing, deep-sea fishing, kayaking, snorkeling and sailing. 

There is a free tender that takes passengers from the cruise dock to Columbus Cove, the farthest beach in Labadee, for a relaxing beach experience. There is also a free tram connecting the resort entrance with Columbus Cove Tram Station, stopping at Barefoot Tram Station and the Town Square along the way. Those with mobility issues can use beach wheelchairs provided by the resort. 

Cruise lines visiting Labadee in 2024-25 include (note that the cruise lines have temporarily halted calls to the destination due to local unrest):

  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Celebrity Cruises

Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos

Grand Turk is a 10-km-long island that is part of the Turks and Caicos. Although it is just 2km wide, it has plenty of attractions and things to do.

Cruise ships arriving at Grand Turk dock at the end of the pier, right next to a beautiful sandy beach on the southernmost tip of the island. The pier accommodates a maximum of two ships at one time.

Carnival Magic at Grand Turk
Carnival Magic at Grand Turk (Photo Copyright: Cruise Hive)

The open-air terminal has tour booths, a Margaritaville Bar, a restaurant, a pool, and Trading Post shops at the Cruise Center. The Flow Rider surfing attraction is a popular shore excursion booked through your cruise line. 

Activities on Grand Turk include adrenaline-pumping activities such as 4×4 safaris, Dune Buggy Rides, horseback riding and catamaran cruises.

Cultural tours visit historic homes, the Old Town, the Lighthouse and the interesting National Museum. The island has many beaches close to the pier, or a short taxi ride away if you want to escape the crowds.

Cruise lines visiting Grand Turk in 2024-25 include:

  • Princess Cruises
  • Carnival Cruise Line
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Holland America
  • Costa Cruises
  • Virgin Voyages

St. John’s, Antigua

Not to be confused with the tiny island of St. John, USVI, St. John’s is the largest town and main port on the larger island of Antigua. The cruise port is located on the northwest coast of the island. Cruise ships dock at Heritage Quay in the heart of this delightful town.

It can accommodate up to four cruise ships at a time, including larger Oasis-class cruise ships. Some cruise ships may dock at the adjacent Redcliffe Quay where old Georgian buildings house cafes and boutiques.

Antigua Cruise Port
Antigua Cruise Port

Larger ships may dock at the Deepwater Harbour Terminal, about 1.5km from St. John’s. Smaller vessels may use English Harbour on the south side of the island.

Most attractions are an easy walk from Heritage Quay and Redcliffe Quay. Explore the magnificent St. John’s Cathedral and UNESCO-listed Nelson’s Dockyard or take a taxi to one of the 365 beaches on the island.

There are two indoor/outdoor malls for duty-free shopping just steps from the dock. Heritage Quay Mall is a shopper’s paradise on two floors. The weekend Farmer’s Market is a highlight on Fridays and Saturdays.

Cruise lines visiting St. John’s, Antigua in 2024-25 include:

  • Princess Cruises
  • MSC Cruises
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Holland America
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Viking Cruises
  • Seabourn
  • Cunard Line
  • Costa Cruises
  • Oceania Cruises
  • Virgin Voyages

Port Zante, Basseterre, St. Kitts

Basseterre is on the island of St. Kitts in the West Indies. It has two different piers to accommodate up to four large cruise ships at once, with additional ships docking at the cargo port or tendering passengers ashore in peak winter months. You can read our full guide on the St. Kitts cruise port here.

Located on the southeast coast of the island, the terminal area is known as Port Zante. It is the site of a welcome center, duty-free shopping, and a colorful produce market. The terminal also has restaurants, shops, and cafes where cruisers can step ashore and stretch their legs.

Cruise Ships Docked in St. Kitts
Cruise Ships Docked in St. Kitts (Photo Credit: Anthony Giarrusso)

Colorful red and yellow wooden fishing boats bob alongside the pier, making a great photo op! The waterfront Treasury Building harks back to the days when the island was an important sugar colony.

Downtown Basseterre is a 10-minute walk from the port. It is known locally as “The Circus”. It’s a lovely town to explore on foot as the streets are laid out in a grid. 

The St. Kitts Scenic Railway is a great way to explore the island on a 3-hour sightseeing tour. Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site worth visiting by taxi or tour. The sister island of Nevis is a 45-minute ferry ride away. 

Cruise lines visiting St. Kitts in 2024-25 include:

  • Princess Cruises
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Holland America
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Viking Cruises
  • Seabourn
  • Cunard Line
  • Crystal Cruises
  • Star Clippers
  • Windstar Cruises

We’ll See You on an Eastern Caribbean Cruise!

Armed with all this information, it’s easy to book your next cruise based on these ideal ports of call across the Eastern Caribbean. You can also check ports that you might visit while sailing in the Western Caribbean!

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