Bridgetown, Barbados | Cruise port of call | CruiseBe
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Bridgetown, Barbados

Bridgetown is the capital and largest city of Barbados. Formerly The Town of Saint Michael, the Greater Bridgetown area is located within the parish of Saint Michael. Bridgetown is sometimes locally referred to as "The City", but the most common reference is simply "Town".
The Bridgetown port, found along Carlisle Bay lies on the southwestern coast of the island. Parts of the Greater Bridgetown area (as roughly defined by the Ring Road Bypass or more commonly known as the ABC Highway), sit close to the borders of the neighbouring parishes Christ Church and St. James. The Grantley Adams International Airport for Barbados, is located 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) southeast of Bridgetown city center, and has daily flights to major cities in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and the Caribbean.... Read more

Bridgetown, Barbados


Bridgetown is the capital and largest city of Barbados. Formerly The Town of Saint Michael, the Greater Bridgetown area is located within the parish of Saint Michael. Bridgetown is sometimes locally referred to as "The City", but the most common reference is simply "Town".
The Bridgetown port, found along Carlisle Bay lies on the southwestern coast of the island. Parts of the Greater Bridgetown area (as roughly defined by the Ring Road Bypass or more commonly known as the ABC Highway), sit close to the borders of the neighbouring parishes Christ Church and St. James. The Grantley Adams International Airport for Barbados, is located 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) southeast of Bridgetown city center, and has daily flights to major cities in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and the Caribbean. While there is no longer local municipal government, it is governed as a political constituency within the national Parliament. During the short-lived 1950s-1960s Federation of the British West Indian Territories, Bridgetown was one of three capital cities within the region being considered to be the Federal capital of region.

The present day location of the city was established by English settlers in 1628 following a prior settlement under the authority of Sir William Courten at St. James Town. Bridgetown is a major West Indies tourist destination, and the city acts as an important financial, informatics, convention center, and cruise ship port of call in the Caribbean region. On 25 June 2011, Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison were added as a World Heritage Site of UNESCO.


Although the island was totally abandoned or uninhabited when the British landed there, one of the few traces of indigenous pre-existence on the island was a primitive bridge constructed over the Careenage area's swamp at the cenrte of Bridgetown. It was thought that this bridge was created by a people indigenous to the Caribbean known as the Tainos. Upon finding the structure, the British settlers began to call what is now the Bridgetown area Indian Bridge. Scholars widely believe that the Tianos were driven from Barbados to the neighbouring island of Saint Lucia, during an invasion by the Kalinagos, another indigenous people of the region. Eventually after 1654 when a new bridge was constructed over the Careenage by the British, the area became known as The Town of Saint Michael and later as Bridgetown.

Bridgetown is the only city outside the present United States that George Washington visited. (George Washington House, the house where he stayed, is included within the boundaries of the Garrison Historic Area.) Two of Washington's ancestors, Jonathon and Gerrard Hawtaine, were early planters on the island. Their grandmother was Mary Washington of Sulgrave, Northamptonshire, England. In 2011, historic buildings in Bridgetown were designated as a protected area


The Bridgetown Port (or "Deep Water Harbour" as it is also known) is the major port of entry for cruise and cargo ships docking in Barbados. The Deep Water Harbour lies a short distance across Carlisle Bay northwest of the Careenage Canal. Found along the Princess Alice Highway, and west of the city's centre around Fontabelle.

The Harbour port acts as one of the major shipping and transhipment hubs from international locations for the entire Eastern Caribbean. Recently, the Bridgetown Port was dredged to allow safe access and berthing for the new league of "super cruise ships". The dredging project was completed in 2002 and the city can now host many of the largest cruise ships in the world.

The port of Bridgetown also handles goods for the domestic needs of the island. The island's main exports of mainly agricultural products also make use of the harbour facilities.
Bridgetown also has a smaller canal in the centre of the city, named the Careenage, a.k.a. "Constitution River". The Constitution River should not be confused with the Deep Water Harbour. The smaller Constitution River feeding into the west coast lies about a half kilometre south of the large harbour. The Careenage is just large enough for pleasure craft or fishing boats and has two main bridges near the city center which span the shallow Careenage.



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Bridgetown, Barbados: Port Information

Cruise ships dock at the Bridgetown Port. From the port, you can take a cab to the city center (5 min) or a shuttle bus. Also, you can walk along the boardwalk (10-15 min).
There's plenty of duty-free shops, tourist information desk, and telecommunication centers with phone, Internet, and postal services.

Get around Bridgetown, Barbados

Most of the Bridgetown sites are in an easy walking distance of city center. City buses run to many of the outlying sights, such as the Savanna Green. For sights off the main roads, such as the Malibu Rum Factory, a taxi or private car is your best option. See the Getting Around section of Barbados for more about transportation options.

Driving is on the left. The bus system is extensive, cheap and fast if you are headed to somewhere on the main route, but a car (or mini-moke) is the only way to see many of the out-of-the-way sights. Many drivers will hold a bus for you if they see you are from out of town, reflecting the typical welcoming spirit. Buses are run by the Barbados Transport Board (blue) and are quiet. Private operators include the yellow buses, which play very loud music, and private mini-vans (white), which are usually cramped and crowded. The two privately run means of transport are often driven very fast and recklessly. All charge the same fare. Yellow buses and minivans offer change and even accept US dollars.
BTB buses accept Barbados dollars and do not give change.

There are also more than enough taxis to take you wherever you need to go on the island for reasonable prices. They do not use meters, and it is best to negotiate the price before you get in. However, most taxi drivers are honest, and you are unlikely to be overcharged. Be sure to ask the management of the hotel or the friendly locals what the going rate is for a cab ride to your destination.

Renting a car is expensive. If you are driving, be aware that the roads on the island are quite narrow, with the exception of the ABC highway, which also has several long sections towards the west coast that is under large-scale construction to expand the road to accommodate additional lanes. It is advisable to be extra cautious as many roads on the island have sharp turns, steep inclines, and are quite bumpy, although most are paved.

Many of these "highways" do not have sidewalks, so there can be pedestrians on the street sharing the road. Many bus stops are also on the side of roads where there are no sidewalks. Additionally, beware of impromptu passing lanes as slow drivers are often passed by others behind them when on two-lane roads. Road signs can be fairly confusing (they often indicate the nearest two towns/villages in opposite order - I.e., furthest listed first), so be prepared to get lost: ask the way as people are always eager to help.

At most all of the local car rental agencies, a full collision damage waiver policy is automatically included with the rental, except for any damage incurred to the car tires, a testament to the poor condition of the smaller roads and tendency of foreign drivers to miscalculate driving lanes and hit curbs.

Mopeds and bikes can also be rented to explore sites not easily reached by cars. This is not recommended however due to the poor condition of many of the secondary and residential roads. Except for the main highway, all the other roads provide a hazardous journey to the moped or bike rider due to the lack of sidewalks, frequent pot holes, sharp corners and speeding local buses.

Another fun way to get around is to rent a moke (open top car/buggy) available from any number of local car rental agencies.

What to see in Bridgetown, Barbados

The west coast holds numerous deluxe resorts, and it and the interior highlands have several historical sites with picturesque views. Numerous websites offer details.

  • Botanical Garden

    . In the interior, there is a beautiful Botanical Garden with more fauna information than most similar places across the planet.
  • Cricket, Kensington Oval, Bridgetown. Check for if there's a game to experience west indies cricket.
  • Mount Gay Rum Distillery Ltd., Spring Garden Highway, Bridgetown, Saint Michael, ☎ +1 246 425-8757. The tour takes about 45 minutes and includes a rum tasting. There is a bar in a veranda. There are more expensive lunch tours which include transportation as well as food. 
  • National Heroes Square (formerly Trafalgar Square) and Fountain Garden
  • Independence Square and The Independence Arch
  • The Montefiore Fountain
  • Parliament Buildings of Barbados
  • The Cathedral Church of Saint Michael and All Angels
  • The St. Mary's Anglican Church
  • The St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Cathedral
  • The Jewish Synagogue
  • The Pelican Village and Craft Centre
  • Queen's Park
  • The Lord Nelson Statue
  • The Barbados Museum
  • Kensington Oval (site of the 2007 Cricket World Cup final)
  • Carlisle Bay Beach
  • Cheapside market
  • The Tom Adams Financial Complex
  • The Frank Collymore Hall of the Performing Arts
  • The Cathedral Plaza
  • The Cave Shepherd Department Store (No.10 Broad Street)
  • The Mutual Building (lower Broad Street)
  • The Cheapside Gardens
  • Sagicor Plaza
  • The Garrison Savannah and National Historic Area
  • The Hilton Hotel
  • Martineau House
  • Pierhead Development Complex

What to do in Bridgetown, Barbados

World class watersports including surfing at Soup Bowl on the east coast and various breaks along the west when the swell is up. The south coast has great surf and a spot on the world windsurfing tour at Silver Sands.
Travel inland to various plantation houses which put on meals and exhibitions. Visit the animal flower cave or Barbados wildlife reserve.

  • Scuba diving. There are also many diving tour operators for every level of experience to explore coral reefs as well as sunken ships. The waters around Barbados are some of the most transparent in the Caribbean.
  • Nightclubbing at beach bars such as the Harbour Lights and the boatyard and the St. Lawrence Gap (a strip of bars, restaurants, and hotels). The two most notable nightclubs on the island are Priva, located in Holetown, and Sugar Ultra Lounge, the largest nightclub in St. Lawrence Gap.
  • Catamaran Cruises, ☎ +1 246-429-8967, fax: +1 246-418-0002, e-mail: daily. A catamaran cruise with opportunities to snorkel with sea turtles and snorkel above shipwrecks. The tour includes transportation to and from the harbor as well as all drinks (alcohol included) and a buffet lunch. A cheaper version of the tour is offered that skips the buffet lunch. Turtle-snorkeling-only cruises are offered as well. B$150 per adult, credit cards accepted with 4% charge.
  • Atlantis Submarine Tours, ☎ +1 246-4368929. Dive down nearly 50m below sea level in a real submarine. For people who dare not dive, this is a convenient way to get close to marine life, corals and sunken ships. Morning tours are recommended since later tours may be canceled due to rough surface conditions. Minibusses from the center also pass nearby but leave only from the northern (market) bus terminal. Thus a cab might make more sense.
  • 1 Mount Gay Rum Distillery Tour, Spring Garden Highway, Brandons, St. Michael Parish, ☎ +1 246-425-8757, fax: +1 246-425-8770, e-mail: M-F 9:30-15:30, Sa 10AM-4PM. Sugarcane, the primary agricultural crop of Barbados, is "rum in the first phase," and you can see how sugarcane is made into the final product at the Mount Gay Rum Distillery. Three tours types are offered: Standard tour (US $8, B$16) approximately 45 minutes long, starting every hour, kids free; Cocktail tour(US $40, B$80) approximately 2 hours long, starting at 14:00 Wednesday, includes a cocktail-making contest at the end of the tour, where the tour participants make their cocktails with Mount Gay Rum and other ingredients, and compete for the best cocktail; Lunch tour (US $60, B$120) approximately 2 hours, by reservation only. Includes an outdoor Bajan lunch, along with the omnipresent rum punch. Note that the distillery's flash website is so overwrought and confusing as to be not worth your while—give them a call directly to set something up. US $8-60.
  • The Dive Shop (Scuba Dive), Ameys Alley, Upper Bay St, St. Michael, ☎ +1 246-426-9947. A one tank dive is the US $60, and a 2-tank dive is the US $100. Resort-class and dive are the US $85. Multi-dive packages also exist, such as a 3-dive (1-day) package. Snorkeling is also offered for the US $25 US $60-100.
  • Watch Cricket. Kensington Oval is like the Lord's of the West Indies. If you're lucky enough, try to catch a one day international or a test match at the oval, and you'll get a sense for the fun and excitement that goes with West Indies cricket.
  • A day at the races. Barbados has an active horse racing calendar centered around the Barbados Derby Day and the Barbados Gold Cup Day. Rub shoulders with the cream of Barbados society as well as with the serious punters at the race course in Garrison.

What to eat and drink in Bridgetown, Barbados


  • Flying fish, the icon of the islands is found on coins, bills, and menus. Flying fish is usually served lightly breaded and fried, with a yellow sauce. Be warned that this yellow sauce consists of very hot Scotch Bonnet peppers with onions in a mustard sauce.
  • Coo-Coo and Flying Fish - is often considered to be the national dish. Coo-coo (or Cou-cou) is a polenta-like cornmeal and okra porridge, coo-coo pairs perfectly with flying fish, which is either steamed with lime juice, spices, and vegetables or fried and served with a spicy sauce. The Flying Fish restaurant overlooking St. Lawrence Bay claims to be the Barbadian national dish’s home.
  • Pepperpot, a must, a dish of long tradition and great pride among the Bajans, a pork stew in a spicy dark brown sauce.
  • Try cutters, a local sandwich made using Salt Bread (not regular sandwich bread). Varieties include flying fish cutters, ham cutters and the popular bread and two.
  • Visitors seeking fast food will probably be disappointed; the burger chains of the US failed miserably upon introduction to Barbados (Bajans eat nearly no beef). However, chicken and fish sandwiches are wildly popular, so KFC and Chefette are ubiquitous.
  • Bajan cuisine is a strange mix of spicy, flavorful treats along with traditional English fayre. So be prepared for meals where fiery stews sit side-by-side with beans on toast.
  • Every Friday night the place to be is the town of Oistins (on the south coast) for the "fish fry". This is a market where you can buy fresh fish cooked according to local recipes. Locals stay there late and dance until the early hours of the morning. This is now the second most popular tourist attraction on the island, after Harrison's Cave.
  • There are many fine restaurants on the island with the top two being The Cliff (on the west coast) and The Restaurant at South Sea (on the south coast). Both are quite expensive, but serve beautiful food and a wonderful dining experience, overlooking the sea. Still, you can find many hidden gems if you look hard enough.
  • Fish cakes, BBQ pig tails, fresh coconut, and roasted peanuts are offered by the many street vendors.
  • Sandy Lane, a luxury hotel on the west coast, serves an extensive Mediterranean-style buffet for dinner.


Barbados has some of the purest water in the world that can be drunk straight from the tap. Cruise ships are often seen stocking up on their water supplies while docked at the island.
Rum and rum drinks are featured at every bar. Perhaps the most famous domestic brand offered is Mount Gay Rum, which is very delicious. Modest cost tours of the distillery 2 are available on weekdays. They offer samples of all their rums, also sold at attractive prices.
Small establishments called rum shops can be found all over Barbados. They are where local citizens (95% men) meet to catch up on the local news. Drop in, and you can easily have a conversation with a real Barbadian.
Beer and wine are easy to find as well. Banks beer 3 is Barbados' beer and very good. Tours of the Banks brewery are also available. While the tour itself is very hot and only moderately interesting an unlimited amount of beer is provided to those waiting for the tour to begin. Try to show up a few hours early and take advantage of a very good deal.there are also tours of the three rum refineries which are informative.
10 Saints are the first craft beer to be brewed in Barbados. This unique lager is aged for 90 days in Mount Gay 'Special Reserve' Rum casks, combining the rum heritage of the island with a refreshing lager to produce a truly 'Bajan' beer. It is available in bars and shops, throughout the island.

Shopping in Bridgetown, Barbados

  • Several vendors sell tourist kitsch (sea shells, beads) on the Careenage at the Southern end of the Constitution Bridge (next to the Independence Arch).
  • There are numerous stores (including Cave Shepherd, the Macy's of Barbados) on Broad Street..., especially for jewelry. Most of these specialize in duty-free shopping for citizens of the UK, Canada, U.S., and others.
  • Swan Street, a pedestrian-only mall, has stores selling cheap clothes.
  • The Number One Music Shop at the corner of Fairchild Street and Bay Street near the Careenage has a wonderful selection of Soca, Reggae, Calypso and other Caribbean music including local Bajan bands. Also, a good place to pick up tickets for concerts.

The local currency is the Bajan dollar, but US dollars are accepted in almost all shops and restaurants. The exchange rate is fixed at 2 Bajan dollars to the US dollar. Keep in mind that exchangers in hotels may insist on taking an additional percentage of the exchange (typically 5%).
Many "duty-free" shops cater to visitors. Bridgetown's main street hosts numerous jewelers, e.g., Colombian Emeralds and Diamonds International. Cave Shepherd department store offers a wide range of mercantile, while Harrison's offers premium gifts, leathers, and cosmetics. The island also has fairly large super-markets outside Bridgetown. Smaller stores offer virtually everything a visitor or resident might need. A small mall at the harbor also offers decent prices and selection (for rum and UK liquors), but goods produced in Barbados may be slightly more expensive there than elsewhere on the island.
Barbados has a well-deserved reputation for producing excellent rum, e.g., Mount Gay. Rum distilleries are usually open for tours, and typically offer samples and product for sale at prices often equal to the best found anywhere else.
Barbados has a great variety of street vendors. Haggle aggressively. Don't stop until you are at about a third of the original price.
The fine arts flourish in Barbados, and many galleries and studios have shows on all year round which change every few weeks. Details of monthly arts happenings may be viewed.


Stores selling to visitors can honestly claim they offer duty-free pricing. They, in fact, pay duty on imported goods before offering them for sale. But as they sell anything to you as a visitor, they will ask you to sign a form that allows them to get a refund of the duty paid. The government is working on a law that allows vendors to obtain goods that are intended for visitors without paying duty.
Business hours: In times past, most everything shut down on weekends, and visitors had to plan especially if self-catering. This is no longer the case. Clothing and gift stores open until 4PM or so (Sheraton Mall shops until 9PM) on Saturdays; very few are open on Sunday. Many supermarkets island-wide are open on Saturday and Sunday.
Bank holidays (such as Christmas, New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday) would find most if not all stores and banks and business houses closed. But stores attached to gas stations will have limited availability of basic items, and shops at the deep water harbor will be open if cruise ships are visiting. There are a few small family run groceries across the island that will open on bank holidays (or have a side door open) to serve their community.

Safety in Bridgetown, Barbados

Although it is a safe place to travel, there has been an increase in crime. Tourists should avoid certain high-risk activities, e.g., walking on secluded beaches day or night, walking in unfamiliar residential neighborhoods or secluded areas away from main roads. Tourists, particularly women, should always stay in groups.
The most common kinds of crimes against tourists include taxi fraud, robbery, and shortchanging; however, rape and assaults are becoming more common. Most Bajans are by nature-friendly, especially in the earlier part of the tourist season (November and December).
A special area of concern for visitors to Barbados is drugs. The country's strict anti-drug policy is made apparent to visitors coming through Customs. In practice, however, Europeans and Americans in Barbados are offered marijuana or even cocaine frequently. Sellers will often roam the beaches selling aloe vera or other such innocuous goods as a pretense to begin a conversation about "ganja," "smoke" or "bad habits." As a result, many hotels and resorts now ban the use of aloe vera under the pretense that it "stains the towels."
Regardless of one's inclination to use drugs, it is not advisable to accept these offers. Marijuana is considered bad and is not accepted by Bajan police. While Bajan police are not frequently encountered, they prosecute drug crimes easily.
Care should also be taken going into the sea. Many people underestimate the powerful currents and rip tides in many areas...especially on the east side of the island. They have claimed many lives over the years. Look for warning flags, and swim where you see other people...a fair indicator of safety. Do not go out deep (beyond your ability to touch the sea bed) unless you are a strong swimmer. The west coast has calmer waters than even the south coast of Christ Church, and beaches get progressively rougher as you go east of Oistins.
Homosexual acts between consenting adults are punishable by life imprisonment in Barbados.
Camouflage clothing is forbidden for non-military personnel in Barbados.

Beware of the sun, Barbados is only 13 degrees off of the equator, and you can get sun burned very easily. Drink plenty of water and bring an umbrella to shade yourself against the sun.
During nightfall, it is advisable to put on bug spray, as mosquitoes are often a nuisance to anyone staying outdoors for prolonged periods. This is also prevalent while eating at outdoor restaurants.

Language spoken in Bridgetown, Barbados

The official language in Barbados is English. Bajan (occasionally called Barbadian Creole or Barbadian Dialect), is an Irish/English-based creole language spoken by locals. Bajan uses a mixture of West African idioms and expressions, such as Igbo, along with British English & Irish to produce a unique Barbadian/West Indian vocabulary and speech pattern. There are a few African words interspersed with the dialect. Communication will not be a problem for any English speaker, and Barbados has one of the highest literacy rates in the Western Hemisphere.There was a large number of Irish prisoners of war sent to the island as indentured servants after the English Civil War (Oliver Cromwel). Some of the descendants of these can be found in St. John and St. Phillip and are known as Poor Whites or redlegs and another term that may be seen as racist.


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August 23, 2019


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