Island destinations making the most of homeport opportunities

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Boating on the Martha Brae River in Jamaica, a popular Montego Bay excursion.
Boating on the Martha Brae River in Jamaica, a popular Montego Bay excursion.

The CDC's continued ban on cruising from U.S. waters has given ports just outside our borders the opportunity this summer to serve as cruise ship homeports for the first time or to host their largest ships to date.

Among the destinations homeporting ships this summer are Antigua, the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Dominican Republican, Jamaica and St. Maarten.

As is true of any cruise ship homeport, these islands hope to capitalize on pre- and post-cruise stays.

Bermuda

One of the islands making the biggest push for that business is Bermuda, which will homeport its first cruise ships ever with Royal Caribbean International's Vision of the Seas and Viking's Viking Orion both launching from the island in June.

Hoping to attract at least some of those cruisers to extend their vacations on land, the British overseas territory recently launched an islandwide Sea More & Stay program, which offers passengers on both ships up to 30% savings on local hotels. 

More than 10 properties are participating in the cruiser-only promotion, including the Grotto Bay Beach Resort, Rosewood Bermuda and the island's newest hotel, the Azura. 

Doreen Williams-James of Bermuda's Wild Herbs and Plants takes guests on foraging tours that teach them about the island's flora and fauna, with a focus on edible plants.
Doreen Williams-James of Bermuda's Wild Herbs and Plants takes guests on foraging tours that teach them about the island's flora and fauna, with a focus on edible plants. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Bermuda Tourism Authority

Bermuda is also promoting several island tours and excursions to those on pre- and post-cruise stays to see more than just the island's famous beaches. 

Wild Herbs and Plants, a company founded by vegan chef Doreen Williams-James, takes guests on foraging tours that teach them about Bermuda's flora and fauna with a focus on edible plants. Williams-James caps the tour with a tasting she prepares featuring plants found on island. 

Bermuda's African American Diaspora Heritage Trail puts participants in the footsteps of famous Bermudians of African descent and includes stops at a memorial for enslaved individuals lost at sea and the Bermuda Heritage Museum.

Tours of Nonsuch Island, which is home to rare wildlife, offer possible encounters with the Bermuda skink or the national bird, the cahow, which was rediscovered after being thought extinct for 300 years.

Bermuda's Railway Trail, which runs 18 miles from end to end of the island, follows an abandoned railbed that can be explored by foot or bike only.
Bermuda's Railway Trail, which runs 18 miles from end to end of the island, follows an abandoned railbed that can be explored by foot or bike only. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Bermuda Tourism Authority

And Bermuda's Railway Trail, which runs 18 miles from end to end of the island, follows an abandoned railbed that can be explored by foot or bike only.

For Royal Caribbean guests who prefer to stay close to the ship, Bermuda also has a full page of ideas for exploring the Royal Naval Dockyard, the 150-year-old fort that is now a cruise port for the island's largest ships and whose stone buildings, ramparts and wharves are now art galleries, shops, museums and restaurants.

    Baha Mar, which is currently offering a "stay three nights get the fourth night free and a $100 resort credit" to cruise passengers.
    Baha Mar, which is currently offering a "stay three nights get the fourth night free and a $100 resort credit" to cruise passengers.

    Bahamas and Jamaica

    The Bahamas and Jamaica have long been home to several of the region's most popular ports of call but normally are not cruise ship homeports.  

    Starting June 12, Royal Caribbean International's Adventure of the Seas will launch cruises from Nassau, and the Crystal Serenity will offer Bahamas-only itineraries from Nassau beginning July 3.

    Nassau's Paradise Island, home to some of the Bahamas' largest resorts, has a program to entice passengers to "spend extra time in Paradise" before and after their cruise, which offers deals at resorts including Atlantis Paradise Island and Baha Mar, which is currently offering a "stay three nights, get the fourth night free and a $100 resort credit" to cruisers. 

    Properties in downtown Nassau, including the Graycliff Hotel, also offer pre- and post-cruise promotions, such as 25% off. 

    Nassau is also encouraging cruisers to check out some local attractions even if they aren't spending extra nights, noting the many restaurants and attractions "just steps from the ship," like the Nassau Straw Market, John Watling's Distillery for a tour and rum tasting and the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, which showcases established and up-and-coming Caribbean talent.

    The Norwegian Joy will offer weeklong cruises from Montego Bay, Jamaica, starting Aug. 7. Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is offering a discounted three-night hotel stay at the AC Hotel Kingston as part its Buy One, Get One Free  airfare deal that gives a second guest free airfare if the first guest's air is booked through NCL. 

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