Caribbean Cruise Ports: Dock or Anchor?


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Where Cruise Ships Anchor or Dock

Naturally, it's up to out to make the decision of whether to choose a cruise where ships tie up at a dock or anchor offshore and tender passengers in. 

Having to tender once or twice on a long itinerary is a gamble. If tendering is the norm on a cruise, consider choosing a different one, especially if you have mobility problems.

During bad weather, tender ports are often bypassed for a day at sea. The risk of sending passengers ashore is just too great in rough seas.

Cruise ships dock at nearby St. Maarten. Take ferry from St. Martin, on the other side of St. Maarten.

Dock unless you're on a small ship that goes to Falmouth Bay.

Dock until too many cruise ships start showing up on the same day.

Bahamas, Nassau
Dock, made very easy with the port close to town.

Bahamas Freeport/Lucaya
Dock but a long way from anywhere.

Dock but quite a distance from Bridgetown.

Anchor only because of the shallow shore, with a 20-minute boat ride, minimum. Not a port for those with disabilities.

British Virgin Islands/Tortola
Anchor or dock depending on size of ship. Check ahead. Ships at Soper's Hole have to anchor.

British Virgin Islands/Virgin Gorda
Anchor only but close to shore.

Dock in one of several places.

Dock usually in the capital city of Roseau. Anchor at Portsmouth or Cabrits National Park.

Dominican Republic/La Romana
Dock, with the port near the Chavon River able to accommodate large ships.

Dominican Republic/Puerto Plata
Dock at Amber Cove.

Dominican Republic/Samana
Anchor with tenders to Cayo Levantado or Samana town.

Dominican Republic/Santo Domingo
Dock on either the Columbus Lighthouse side or near the old Colonial City. There is a 1- hour walk between the two docks.

Grand Cayman
Anchor only with as many as 9 or more ships in Georgetown the same day. The harbor is a zoo of tenders, traffic and passengers. And during high seas, ships often bypass the port.

Dock but the North Dock is a good walk from San Miguel

Mexico/Playa del Carmen
Anchor offshore or dock in Cozumel with passengers brought over by commercial ferry; or dock the small Puerto Calica Cruise Pier 8 miles from Playa del Carmen

Mexico/Costa Maya
Dock with a tram ride to shore on the long pier.

Grand Turk
Dock or drift since anchoring is not allowed to protect the coral. Check to see what priority your ship has.

Docking is available but check the arrangements for your ship. Some must anchor.

Dock unless crowding requires some ships to anchor.

Jamaica/Montego Bay
Dock at the newly enlarged cruise terminal.

Jamaica/Ocho Rios
Dock or anchor, though most dock. Check the arrangements for your ship.

Jamaica/Port Antonio
Dock at a small pier. Only small ships visit this port.

Dock either in downtown Fort-de-France or a 5-minute cab ride away.

Dock at Charlestown on a small ship; large ones anchor. More likely, your ship will dock in St. Kitts with optional travel to Nevis by ferry.

Puerto Rico
Dock usually in Old San Juan convenient to the main shopping areas and the historic sites.

St. Barts
Anchor with a tender ashore. No room yet (thankfully!) for cruise ships.

St. Kitts
Dock either at the main Port Zante terminal or two miles from downtown.

St. Lucia
Dock or anchor at Castries depending on the port capacity. Your cruise description should state which. Anchor for excursion pickups from Soufriere town.

St. Martin/Sint Maarten
Dock on the Dutch side with a short water taxi or walk to town.On the French side, vessels may dock near Marigot.

Virgin Islands/St. Thomas
Most ships dock at the Havensight Pier located about a 5-10 minute taxi ride from downtown Charlotte Amalie Charlotte Amalie. Some ships are exiled to the dock at the more distant Crown Point Marina. Some ships may have to anchor during peak periods.

U.S. Virgin Islands/St. John
Anchor only since there is no port large enough for a cruise ship to dock.

U.S. Virgin Islands/St. Croix
Dock at Frederiksted with a long bus ride to Christiansted.

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