The Caribbean: It’s one of the most popular cruise destinations in the world. And when it comes to telling apart each sunny locale—all of them marked by clear, colorful waters, picture-perfect beaches and plenty to do, from shopping to eating to venturing out into the wild—it can be a challenge to keep it all straight.
We turned to Sydney Brown, an AquaTheater acrobat for Royal Caribbean who is also one of the cruise line’s official crew ambassadors, to tell us about her favorite shore excursions in some of the Caribbean’s top ports. Here they are, along with tips that may help you with your vacation plans.
Cozumel is one of my favorite ports in the Caribbean. I highly recommend scuba diving or snorkeling there—the water is extremely blue, with incredible visibility and tons of marine life. Another thing I love to do is rent a jeep for the day. You have the freedom to drive around, stopping wherever you want along the way. The drive is beautiful, and the beaches on the other side of the island are quiet and secluded.
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
If you’re looking for a beach closer to the port you’re visiting, check out Emerald Beach in Charlotte Amalie. It’s beautiful, and there are restaurants right on the water. You also can take the gondola up to Paradise Point, which sits high up on a hilltop with a restaurant that overlooks the island. I recommend ordering a “Bushwacker,” a famous local cocktail on the island of St. Thomas that’s like an adult milkshake, made with rum, vodka, Baileys Irish Cream, Kahlua, amaretto liqueur, chocolate-flavored liqueur, and crème de coconut.
My favorite thing to do in Falmouth is taking a bamboo raft down the Martha Brae River; a guide will navigate as you float on your own raft. It’s very peaceful and relaxing, and you can even steer yourself, if you’d like. It’s not too far away from the port, either, which is a plus.
Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s private island, is great because you step off the ship and you’re there. If you’re feeling adventurous, you should try the world’s longest zip line over water. Starting at the top of the mountain 500 feet high, you will descend and reach speeds of 40 to 50 miles per hour before safely landing on the beach. If you prefer something more relaxing, every time I’m in Labadee, I grab a floating mat and just relax on the water. It’s always sunny, and the perfect port for working on your tan.
If you’ve never been to Atlantis on Nassau, the aquarium is my favorite and fun for all ages. It has one of the biggest marine exhibits in the world, with more than 50,000 aquatic animals. You also can swim with dolphins, relax on the white sand beach and even ride waterslides.
Philipsburg, St. Maarten
My favorite place in St. Maarten is Maho beach! It’s a small beach with an airport that sits right behind it. It’s an experience unlike any other. Standing on the beach as a 747 flies right over you is one of the craziest feelings.
I also love to rent ATVs on this island. It’s very easy to navigate your way around. I’ve even showed up to several gorgeous sandy beaches and been the only one there! Check out Long Bay, Cupecoy Bay and Baie Rouge when you go.
Sydney Brown is an AquaTheater acrobat and official crew ambassador for Royal Caribbean. Follow her adventures at sea on Instagram at @sydneybrown_xo. Photos above are courtesy of Sydney.