Why go to Barbados?
Between its friendly locals and general affordability, it's easy to explore Barbados independently
Beware of the toxic Manchineel trees found on most Barbados beaches
This cruise port showcases its culture well, amid all the trappings of a modern Caribbean destination
Barbados Cruise Port Facilities?
The cruise terminal has the usual duty-free shopping options, complete with jewelry, clothing, souvenirs and crafts. There's also a tourist information desk and a telecommunications center with phone, Internet and postal services.
About two blocks down the road are the bright pink shops of Pelican Village (Princess Alice Highway), housing artisan boutiques, a working cigar factory and a few restaurants. It's closed on Sundays.
The Bridgetown Public Fish Market is just across the street. No, you'll not be buying fish to bring back to the ship, but it's an energetic place to watch while local chefs and heads of household haggle and bargain over the freshest catch.
The route from the cruise terminal into downtown traverses through a lovely park with a stone seawall, a great place to just relax and get some fresh air off the boat without getting into the commotion of downtown.
Good to Know?
Manchineel trees, found on many Barbados beaches, are beautiful and leafy green, appearing to be a great place to escape from the sun or the occasional rain shower. Don't do it. The leaves and fruit are both toxic and can create a serious rash on your skin. Most of the trees in public areas are marked with warning signs or red X's painted on the trunks.
Also, note that, in Barbados, honking car horns do not convey a negative message as they do in many parts of the world. The Bajuns tap their horns dozens of times a day in greeting to other drivers, whether or not they are acquainted. It's just the friendly way of life there.
On Foot: The capital city of Bridgetown is a one-mile stroll from the cruise port, and its downtown area is pedestrian-friendly.
By Taxi: Cabs line up outside the port terminal. You can arrange informal driving tours of the island with a cab driver, giving you a local's insight without having to do your own driving. Negotiate the rate before you start, and be sure you know which currency is being quoted.
By Rental Car: Stoutes Car Rental (246-416-4456) offers free drop-off and pick-up from the cruise terminal. Remember that Bajans, like the Brits, drive on the left. If you choose to rent a vehicle, consider the fun Kia Mini Moke found all over the island. Note that these have no doors and a small trunk, but they're a lot of fun for a day.
By Bus: The bus terminal is about two blocks from the cruise terminal, just behind the Pelican Village. From there you can hop a bus to Holetown, Bathsheba, St. Lawrence Gap and elsewhere on the island all for the same price. Note that you must have exact change or purchase tokens in advance at the terminal. Barbados has two bus systems -- the blue government-owned and -operated buses and the bright yellow "reggae" buses, which are known for playing loud music and not always paying attention to maximum capacity signs. The good news is that both systems are known to run on time.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
The currency is the Barbadian dollar. Check the most current exchange rates at www.xe.com or www.oanda.com. American bills (but not coins) are commonly accepted, though you may get change in local currency. ATM's are plentiful in Bridgetown, the capital city, and in other smaller towns throughout the island.
English is the official language of Barbados, and everyone speaks it. The locals have their own dialect, but you'll have no trouble understanding conversations.