Some of the smallest islands of the Caribbean are home to some pretty incredible sights. That's definitely the case with Montserrat, one of the Leeward Islands in the British West Indies. It's just 35 miles southwest of Antigua in the Lesser Antilles, but few cruise lines have called here in recent years -- volcanic activity rendered the southern part of the island off-limits to residents and tourists alike in the mid-1990s. Today, the Soufriere Hills volcano has quieted, and a government-mandated exclusion zone monitored by the Montserrat Volcano Observatory keeps islanders and guests out of harm's way.
Just 10 miles long and seven miles wide, Montserrat is often referred to as the "Emerald Isle of the Caribbean" because of its uncanny resemblance to coastal Ireland and the Irish ancestry of many of the islanders. Today it's a British Overseas Territory, and the island has attracted many famous Brits over the years, including Beatles producer Sir George Martin, who owned the recording studio AIR Montserrat until it was destroyed by Hurricane Hugo in 1989. That storm damaged 90 percent of the island's buildings; six years later, a volcanic eruption buried the capital of Plymouth.
This is definitely one of the Caribbean's lesser-known ports of call, but lines like Windstar Cruises, Voyages of Discovery and SeaDream Yacht Club stop at this off-the-beaten-path island.