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8 unusual things to do on Caribbean cruises from stewed iguana to sugarcane trains

Caribbean cruise vacations are what we’re all lusting after this winter, Well, shiver (me timbers) no more, P&O Cruises’ new ship Ariva will be sailing the region from 2023 – here’s what you can look forward to.

Caribbean cruises conjure up images of white sandy beaches, rustling palm trees, azure blue waters and rum… lots and lots of rum.

But there’s actually much more to the region than sunbathing and drinking (although both very much encouraged!). Next year P&O Cruises ship Arvia – the latest vessel to join the fleet – will be offering a variety of Caribbean cruises 2023 to help you get your fix of sunshine.

The sailings range from seven to 22 nights so travellers can get a true taster of the Caribbean good life or take the time to really immerse themselves (read: more rum).

The P&O Cruises Caribbean itineraries have been carefully created so vacationers can explore eight of the region’s most idyllic islands: Antigua, Barbados, Curaçao, Dominican Republic (a maiden call), Martinique, St Kitts, St Lucia and St. Maarten. Plus, all the Arvia cruises include overnights and late calls at some of the region’s most exciting ports of call. Hooray!

We’ve taken a look at the more unusual activities cruisers can enjoy on P&O Cruises Caribbean sailings 2023 in-between sun-worshipping and cocktail-downing. Reading with a glass of rum in one hand optional.



Cricket and hot sauce! OK, not together – although the spiciness might make you run faster – but these are two things Antiguans absolutely love. You can get a taster of both, no pun intended, during Caribbean cruises to Antigua.

To gobble up some culture head to the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda where West Indies cricket legend Viv Richards’ treasured cricket bat can be found. To hoover up some, well, hot stuff, simply visit a local eatery to sample Susie’s Hot Sauce; bottles of the fiery condiment adorn most restaurant tables and roadside food shacks. Word of warning: this spicy treat has a kick that’s not for the fainthearted!

For more traditional Caribbean pursuits, Antigua also boasts 365 beaches, vibrant coral reefs, historical forts, fun-loving locals and tasty barbecue joints.


Yes, you can immerse yourself in luxury in Barbados and laze on immaculate white beaches but you can also get active and take your vacation to new heights. Literally.

Skim through the rainforest canopy on a thrilling zip-wire ride to get your adrenalin soaring or, if you prefer to stay on terra firma, trek with an expert guide and get up close to indigenous wildlife, from green monkeys to diminutive hummingbirds.

Other get-your-heart-pumping options include mountain bike rides, ATV experiences and island safari jeep tours.

Elsewhere in Barbados are lush plantations and flower-filled gardens, rum distilleries, museums, plantation houses, colonial architecture and colorful local communities. Don’t miss the Bajan nightlife either during your overnight cruise call here! Yeah, go on, have a rum.

Barbados rainforest monkey p&o cruises caribbean
Willemstad Curaçao


Caribbean cuisine is globally recognized as being bloody tasty (official terminology) so you won’t go hungry during your P&O Cruises in the Caribbean. UNESCO-protected Willemstad is divided into historic quarters with Downtown’s Punda and Otrobanda on either side of Queen Emma Bridge.

In Punda, seek out such local market delicacies as artisan fudge made with coconut, cashew and peanut. Feeling brave? Try tryuana (stewed iguana) and kadushi (cactus soup) – perfect for bragging rights when you get home (and a talking point during I’m A Celebrity episodes).

There’s also plenty of Dutch colonial architecture to admire in historic Otrobanda, while The Kura Hulanda Museum and The Maritime Museum are good for visitors looking to take a cultural deep dive. Oh, and there are plenty of beaches and diving opportunities, complete with wrecked aircraft to swim amongst.

Dominican Republic

Crystal waters, palm-fringed beaches, coastal cocktail bars… so far so Caribbean, but what about a visit to the world’s biggest handmade cigar factory during your Caribbean cruise port of call in the Dominican Republic?

Tabacalera de Garcia in La Romana, where Arvia stops, boasts an outstanding selection of brands and produces many award-winning Dominican cigars. The cigar industry’s most experienced craftsmen and women work here – more than 5,000 of them! Fun fact, the Dominican Republic is the number premium cigar manufacturing country in the world thanks to the fertile soil and perfect weather for cultivating high-quality tobacco.

There’s lots more culture to be found in the DR while cruising the Caribbean; it was the first European settlement of the New World after Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ the island in 1492. The capital, Santo Domingo, is brimming with architectural wonders.

In the UNESCO Colonial Zone, there’s the New World’s first castle, first monastery, first university and the Americas’ oldest cathedral, 16th-century Santa Maria le Menor which has an amazing art collection.

Dominican Republic Columbus statue
Martinique volcano


Martinique, meanwhile, has been a French outpost since 1635, so, unsurprisingly, more intriguing history and culture can be delved into on P&O Caribbean cruises here.

Capital Fort-de-France, snaked with colorful streets, is home to the Bibliothèque Schoelcher featuring a blend of Romano-Byzantine, Art Nouveau and neo-Egyptian influences. It was named after Frenchman Victor Schoelcher, the Under Secretary of State for the Navy who supported the abolition of slavery and advocated for access to culture for all, donating 10,000 books to Martinique. In short, one of the good guys.

Impress your travel companions with your insight – the library was built in Paris in 1889 and shipped over brick by brick. That’s some serious commitment to reading.

Also keep an eye out for St Louis Cathedral and the Fort St-Louis – the 17th-century fortress gave the Martinique city its name. The Caribbean island also boasts Mont Pelée, a still-active volcano whose slopes make for scenic hiking, and rum. Never forget about the rum.

St Kitts

St Kitts has divine beaches, charming villages and historic sites, but, for something a little different, jump on the St Kitts Railway to see the island in style.

The railway was constructed between 1912 and 1926 and originally delivered sugarcane from the fields to the island’s capital, Basseterre. Thanks to an open-air observation deck you can take in the gorgeous sights of rural St Kitts, from delightful coastlines and villages to farms and sugarcane fields.

For more panoramic vistas over the entire British Leeward Islands, take a hike up Mount Liamuiga, the highest point on St Kitts at 1,156m. If it’s dolce far niente you fancy, hit the beach – the clear waters are perfect for swimming, snorkelling and watersports (the sea temperature rarely dips below 26°C) or for simply lying next to, preferably with a cocktail.

st kitts p&o cruises caribbean
Castries St Lucia

St Lucia

You can’t come to the Caribbean and forget about pirates, me hearties. St Lucia is breathtakingly picturesque at every turn but there is a darker side.

Pigeon Island National Park in the north echoes with legends of St Lucia’s founding father, French pirate Francis Le Clerc. The island was used as a hideout by his famous pirate gang as they could see ships approaching from this vantage point.

Fearlessly aggressive, Le Clerc was the first pirate in the modern era to be dubbed ‘peg leg’ after he was left with a wooden limb following a brutal injury, resulting in the name ‘Le Captaine Jambe de Bois’. The park is also home to Carib caves and hilltop military ruins.

Another St Lucian highlight is Gros Islet’s renowned Friday night street-food market. If your P&O Cruises Caribbean vacations are timed right, you’ll be able join in the rowdy open-air celebration. Tuck into barbecued chicken and fish and wash the feast down with a Piton beer all to the soundtrack of reggae pumped from giant speakers.

St Maarten

There’s more delicious cuisine to be sampled over on half-French, half-Dutch island St Maarten while cruising the Caribbean.

Soak up the French Riviera vibe in the French capital Marigot; meander around Gallic-style markets, pop into parfumier boutiques, dine at quayside eateries serving creole dishes or try an open-kitchen lolo for grilled surf and turf treats.

Want to go Dutch, literally? Head to Dutch capital Philipsburg for quaint cobblestone streets, historic churches, splendid public buildings and leafy courtyard cafés paired with ritzy malls and top shopping.

Of course, you cannot miss the jaw-dropping plane-spotting experience St Maarten is so famous for. Although it’s not so much spotting as ducking out for the way – planes roar directly overhead Maho Beach so close you might almost feel you can reach out and touch them (please don’t). Maybe have some rum afterwards, you know, to help calm the nerves.

St Maarten beach plane p&o cruises caribbean

Set Sail

Caribbean with P&O Cruises

Duration: 14 nights

Where: Barbados | Curacao | Dominican Republic | St Kitts | Antigua | St Maarten | Martinique | St Lucia | Barbados | Barbados

Ship: Arvia

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Published 11.30.22