Charming Cartagena is one of the most fascinating towns in South America. The old city, almost completely surrounded by lagoons, bays and the Caribbean Sea, is still girded by its 17th-century fortifications. Once these guarded the gold and treasures of the New World, bound for Spain; now they shelter ornate churches and convents, the dramatic Palace of the Inquisition, and other historic gems.
The tiny island of Aruba is the smallest of the ABC Islands, which include Barbados and Curacao. Aruba lies about 15 miles north of Venezuela and has limited vegetation. The landscape consists of cacti and the curiously wind-bent divi divi trees. You may also be interested in climbing atop some of the huge boulders and exploring some of its caves. Of course, the main attractions to this island are its magnificent beaches against the turquoise waters full of spectacular marine life, which lure scores of sunbathers, snorkelers, and divers each year to the island.
Though small, Aruba has room for some luxury as well. If you travel along Palm Beach, you will find the several miles of this white sand lined with a string of hotels with glitzy casinos, restaurants and exotic boutiques. The crystal-clear waters of this beach are ideal for swimming and all kinds of watersports. However, if you prefer to stay dry, you are more than welcome to enjoy Aruba''s exotic underwater world from the glass bottom boats or on a submarine excursion.
The ship passes through a channel in the reef, into a broad, perfectly protected natural harbor. This is Willemstad, where Dutch gingerbread houses, superb shopping, excellent restaurants and bustling casinos abound. Nature buffs will love the exotic plants and tropical birdlife of Christoffel National Park. And don''t forget to sample the famous Curaï¿½ao liqueur, still made here.
Just recently, St. Lucia, and Castries in particular, has become one of the most popular regions for tourists. The accommodations and facilities are top of the line, and the restaurants and activities fabulous. The majority of travelers reside between Castries, which is the capital of St. Lucia, and the northern end of the island. The entire north side of the island is comprised of white-sand beaches to dazzle even the most seasoned and experienced traveler.
The fortress of El Morro guards the harbor against long-gone Sir Francis Drake and his British privateers. The colorful streets of Old San Juan retain the Latin flavor of its seafaring past, when this was the heart of the Spanish Main. Sample the fiery rum made here, or indulge in an icy treat made from fresh tropical fruit and enjoy the Caribbean atmosphere.
A place of ultimate relaxation, Great Stirrup Cay (pronounced "key") was the very first private island bought for exclusive use by a cruise line, and as such it maintains its status at the forefront of secluded areas. It is located 65 miles north of Nassau and is one of the 700 islands in the Bahamas. On this island there are 2400 acres of uninhabited land that erupts with natural beauty; the lush wooded land provides an ecological refuge for plants and wildlife. Even with the other passengers, there are a wealth of opportunities for privacy, whether taking an unguided hike to the historic lighthouse, sipping drinks under coconut palms in the hammocks, or finding your own untouched piece of paradise. This cay is a true rest and relaxation destination.
Discover the cosmopolitan beauty of Miami along Florida's fabled Gold Coast. Stroll through carefully preserved Art Deco neighborhoods and witness the trendy lifestyle that is South Beach. Enjoy open-air shopping in the Bayside Marketplace and shop for a bite to eat in Coconut Grove, with its harborside cafes and quaint, artistic settings.