Barbados is worth exploring, either in a rental car or with a taxi-driver guide. Unlike many Caribbean islands, Barbados has fair roads. They are, however, poorly signposted, and newcomers invariably get lost -- not once, but several times. If you lose your way, you can generally find people in the countryside helpful.
Luxury catamaran cruises are offered on five spacious and custom-built vessels owned by the Tiami Catamaran Fleet and operated by Tall Ships (tel. 246/430-0900; www.tallshipscruises.com), located at Shallow Draught near Bridgetown Harbour. A wide range of options is available, including both lunch and dinner cruises, sunset cocktail cruises, and even turtle snorkel cruises. The lunch cruises are the most popular, operated daily from 10am to 3pm, costing $85 per person. A starlight dinner cruise from 7 to 11pm is even cheaper, at $80 per person.
Part cruise ship, part nightclub, the MV Harbour Master Blockbuster (tel. 246/430-0900) is a 30m (98-ft.), three-story vessel with theme decks, a modern galley, and two bars. It has a dance floor and also offers formal buffets on its Calypso Deck. On the Harbour Master Deck, there's a bank of TVs for sports buffs. The showpiece of the vessel is an onboard semisubmersible, which is lowered hydraulically to 2m (6 1/2 ft.) beneath the ship. This is, in effect, a "boat in a boat," with 30 seats. Lunch and dinner cruises cost $68 and $80 per person; the semisubmersible experience costs another $20. This cruise is offered on Wednesday 11am to 4pm.
You no longer have to be an experienced diver to see what lives 45m (148 ft.) below the surface of the sea; you can simply sail aboard one of the vessels operated by Atlantis Submarines, Shallow Draught, Bridgetown (tel. 246/436-8929; www.atlantisadventures.com). The air-conditioned sightseeing submarines seat 28 to 48 passengers and make several dives daily from 9am to 1pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; and 9am to 4pm on Wednesday. Passengers are transported aboard a ferryboat from the Carenage in downtown Bridgetown to the submarine site, about 2km (1 1/4 miles) from the west coast of Barbados. The ride offers a view of the west coast of the island. The submarine, Atlantic III, features viewing ports that allow you to see a rainbow of colors, tropical fish, plants, and even a shipwreck that lies upright and intact below the surface. The cost is $102 for adults, $47 for children 17 and under.
The Great Tour
From mid-January through the first week of April, you can tour a different great house every Wednesday afternoon from 2:30 to 5:30pm, many rarely seen by the public. You'll see a great array of plantation antiques and get a feeling for the elegant colonial lifestyle once commonplace on Barbados. For more information, call tel. 246/426-2421.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.