Central America is home to some of the world’s most beautiful cruise ship destinations. The lure of the Caribbean Sea and its coastline is irresistible to many. Here is a list of the best ports to visit on your next cruise vacation…
Belize City, Belize
Generally, we don’t ever recommend going to Belize City—there are far more pleasant places to stay in Belize. But if you’re ship-bound, you have no choice but to dock in Belize City. Luckily, there are some things to see and do nearby…
Belize is sheltered by a 150-mile barrier reef that is the second longest in the world and offers superb diving and snorkeling. Or grab your hiking boots and explore ancient Mayan ruins, such as the Altun Ha ruins about an hour from the cruise terminal.
The Honduras cruise terminal opened in 2014 on what is known as the Banana Coast. The town has grown up around the spot where Christopher Columbus first landed in the Americas and there is plenty of Spanish Colonial architecture to see, including the castle, Fortaleza de Santa Barbara. The town also has a nearby beach that’s easy to access.
British or European-based cruise lines will soon have to share this destination with U.S. cruise companies in this previously embargoed capital.
As well as Spanish Colonial architecture to admire, Cuba is known for its art deco and art nouveau buildings, and Old Havana’s baroque and neoclassical cathedrals and squares are UNESCO registered.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
This Dominican Republic port is the New World’s oldest Colonial settlement and is home to both the oldest castle and cathedral in the country: Fortaleza Ozama and Catedral Primada de America. The Museo de las Casas Reales has artifacts from Columbus’s voyages and Museo Alcazar de Colon is the Mudejar-style home of his son Diego. The country also claims to have Columbus’s ashes (as does Seville back in Spain).
Puerto Limon, Costa Rica
Costa Rica, while not one of our favorite retirement havens, is gaining a reputation for eco-tourism with several national parks—making it a bird watcher’s paradise. You won’t find much in the way of Spanish Colonial history here, but there are plenty of beaches to choose from and a lush tropical rain forest to hike through.
You can enjoy the abundant beaches and the rustic wooden buildings of Nicaragua’s largest pacific port, which is on an island and connected to the mainland by bridges. Most cruise passengers opt for an excursion to nearby León, the second largest city, which has superb Spanish Colonial buildings. Or you can take a trip to a dormant volcano, about 18 miles north of the port.