Cruise ports where you should get a resort day pass: Nassau, Bahamas
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Caribbean Cruise Ports Where a Resort Day Pass Could Be Your Best Bet

March 28, 2024

If you’re a frequent cruiser, chances are you’re going to visit a few cruise ports in the Caribbean more than once. And even if it’s a new-to-you port of call, the town may not offer much to see or do, and the cruise line’s shore excursions on offer may be pricey or uninspiring, especially if you’re not into snorkeling, ATV rides, or bus tours. 

Another concern you might have: the recent rise in crime in some ports in the Caribbean. If you typically prefer to wander off the ship on your own, you might want to rethink how to spend your day, for safety’s sake. 

You can always choose to stay on the ship during port days (after all, that’ll give you a chance to enjoy what’s on board with less competition), but there is another option to consider: Purchase a day pass at a resort. 

A day pass lets you relax by the beach or a hotel pool—no tour bus involved. Some properties give day visitors discounts on dining and drinks, and some resorts have their own water parks to keep the kids occupied. 

You can find day passes for purchase at websites like ResortPass and Resort for a Day. Some properties sell day passes directly on their own sites, too. Make sure you compare prices before buying. 

Here are 10 ports of call where going the resort pass route makes the most sense.

Pictured above: Nassau, Bahamas

Best resort day passes at Caribbean cruise ports: Atlantis Paradise Island Bahamas
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Nassau, Bahamas

Nassau is a port of call on nearly every Eastern Caribbean and Bahamas cruise, so it can get very crowded—and the port area is very touristy. Many regular cruisers don’t even want to get off the ship here since the street vendors are notorious for their aggressive sales tactics. 

Nassau is also one of the destinations recently cited for an uptick in crime. If you still want to go ashore without a ship-sponsored excursion, consider purchasing a day pass to visit one of the nearby resorts for the day.

Margaritaville Beach Resort Nassau is a popular option. It’s convenient to access—the resort is so close to the cruise port that you might even be able to see your ship while you meander down the lazy river. The proximity to port is a plus if you’re not comfortable walking around town. Day passes start at $100 per adult and $50 for children, including all-day fun at the Fins Up Water Park, complete with waterslides, a climbing wall, a FlowRider wave simulator, an oceanfront pool, and other amenities. 

You can book a day pass to see the world-famous Atlantis Paradise Island resort as well, though you’ll need to take a 15-minute ferry ride to reach the island, followed by a 10-minute walk to Marina Village and the entrance to Atlantis. Prices are in splurge territory ($255 per person 13 years and older, $140 for children ages 4 to 12), but may be worth it to experience the 141-acre, one-of-a-kind Aquaventure Water Park (pictured above), with its over-the-top waterslides, 11 pools, and other attractions. 

Best Caribbean ports for getting a resort day pass: Basseterre, St. Kitts
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Basseterre, St. Kitts

Basseterre is a port of call on many Southern Caribbean itineraries. If you haven’t been to St. Kitts before, you may want to tour the island, but the beaches are among the top draws here, so you’re not missing the best stuff at a beach resort. 

When you disembark the ship in Port Zante, you’ll pass through a huge, touristy shopping center, with many vendors trying to sell you goods and activities. Keep walking past the commotion to find a cab that can transport you to your resort for the day.

The St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino sits along a private stretch of Frigate Bay beach, about a 10-minute taxi ride from the port. Resort for a Day’s passes are priced at $59 per person and cover beach access with lounge chairs, umbrellas, and cabanas; you can also take dips in three resort pools and a whirlpool, and enjoy free Wi-Fi as well as discounts on food, beverages, and spa treatments. 

The beautiful Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbour affords incredible views of St. Kitts’s laid-back sister island, Nevis, and the Caribbean Sea. A pass from Resort for a Day or ResortPass ($100 per adult, $25 for children) comes with access to those beach views, as well as complimentary lounge chairs and umbrellas, adults-only and family-friendly pools, and discounts on food and beverages at the resort’s dining venues, which are some of the best on the island. The resort is located about 25 minutes from the port by taxi. 

Caribbean cruise ports where you should get a resort day pass: Samaná, Dominican Republic
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Samaná, Dominican Republic

If your ship is tendering in Samaná and you don’t have an excursion booked to see Los Haitises National Park, El Limón waterfall, or Cayo Levantado (aka Bacardi Island), you should definitely either stay on the ship or purchase a day pass at a resort. 

Otherwise, you’re liable to walk to the end of the pier, look around, and turn right back to the ship. You can take a cab into town, but most passengers who do say there’s simply not much to see and, besides, you might not feel entirely safe. 

A good way to salvage the day: spend some time on one of the area’s stunning beaches.

The adults-only, all-inclusive Bahia Principe Grand Samana offers day passes through Caribbean Day Pass starting at $110 per person. For that amount cruisers get an all-inclusive beach stay crammed into just a few hours, with unlimited food and beverages, including frozen drinks and cocktails. You’ll also have access to the sand, pools, hot tub, and nonmotorized sports like snorkeling and kayaking. The resort is about a 15-minute ride from the port; be sure to agree on a price with your taxi diver before hopping into the car.

Caribbean cruise ports where you should get a resort day pass: Falmouth, Jamaica
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Falmouth, Jamaica

Falmouth is another Caribbean port where travelers often mention safety concerns. The U.S. State Department has issued a Level 3 travel advisory—“Reconsider travel”—for all of Jamaica due to crime and lack of medical services. 

At Falmouth, cruise passengers are likely to be approached by people selling all sorts of things—including drugs—and these entrepreneurs tend to persist even after getting a no. Solo travelers may feel especially unsafe, and all visitors should beware cab drivers trying to take advantage.

Wandering off on your own probably isn’t the best idea. If you’re active, you’ll want to check out Dunn’s River Falls on a ship-sponsored excursion. Otherwise, consider booking a day pass at a nearby resort to experience some of the prettiest beaches in the Caribbean.

The beachfront Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa is an all-inclusive property that gets good reviews from guests—and, best of all, your day pass comes with round-trip transportation, so you won’t have to worry about catching a taxi from the port. You’ll have access to a private beach, pools, and a water park with a tube slide and a lazy river for the kids. Pass prices at Resort for a Day start at $159 for adults ($99 for children) and include unlimited lunch, snacks, and beverages, as well as access to nonmotorized sports and other amenities. 

Caribbean cruise ports where you should get a resort day pass: Costa Maya, Mexico
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Costa Maya, Mexico

Costa Maya on Mexico’s Caribbean coast is a busy port for the large cruise lines. As many as four ships may be docked here at once, so the place can get packed with cruisers. That can make for a way-too-crowded feeling ashore, especially considering the small size of the port area. The hordes of cruisers and the limited number of things to see and do—including on excursions booked through cruise lines—account for the destination’s mixed reviews. 

When you disembark the ship, you’ll walk through a touristy shopping area that also has a beach, a dolphin encounter, tiki bars, restaurants, and a pool. It’s fun to watch the ancient Mesoamerican ceremony performed by the Papantla Flyers, where five performers gradually descend a 100-foot pole by ropes. But if you want to escape the crowds, grab a taxi and go to a resort.

Resort for a Day sells passes to the Nacional Beach Club, with prices for adults starting at $85 and $55 for children. The pass covers taxi fare for the short ride from the port, too. The highly rated beachfront property has an all-you-can-eat menu with lobster (when in season, July through February), unlimited drinks with top-shelf labels, an ocean-facing plunge pool, and other attractive amenities.

Best Caribbean cruise ports for resort day passes: La Romana, Dominican Republic
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La Romana, Dominican Republic

If you start to walk beyond the cruise port in La Romana, local police, who are stationed in the area when a ship is in port, may stop you and advise that you not make the trek into town for your own safety. If you stay at the cruise terminal, there’s a pool and lounge chairs with a view of your massive ship, and a market sells handicrafts like paintings, jewelry, and brightly colored parrots and flamingos. But is that really how you want to spend your day? 

Beautiful beaches are one of the reasons the Dominican Republic is a top vacation destination, so hit the sand instead with a day pass. All-inclusive resorts are comparatively affordable in the D.R., with prices for day passes at Viva Dominicus Beach by Wyndham starting at $65 for adults and $45 for children. Your pass includes access to four freshwater pools, a seawater infinity pool, the beach, unlimited food and drinks, a kids club, beach volleyball and other sports, catamaran rides, and more. 

Another, more upscale all-inclusive option is the nearby Dreams Dominicus La Romana. Day passes at this resort are priced at $80 for adults and $43 for children. Here, you’ll have at your disposal three outdoor pools, two hot tubs, unlimited food and drinks, activities and entertainment, nonmotorized sports, and other amenities.

Caribbean cruise ports where you should get a resort day pass: Fort-de-France, Martinique
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Fort-de-France, Martinique

The port area of Fort-de-France is also a cargo terminal, which gives the area an industrial feel that doesn’t exactly inspire an urge to explore. Plus, walking to town will take about a quarter of an hour and most residents only speak French. And on Sundays most businesses are closed. 

You can take a ship-sponsored tour of a rum distillery or the gorgeous Balata Garden, or you can go snorkeling, hiking, or kayaking. But if you want a relaxing day along the beach—without your fellow cruisers—purchase a day pass to Club Med’s Buccaneer’s Creek, an all-inclusive property set on a lovely stretch of white sand. Contact the resort directly to check availability and pricing.

Caribbean cruise ports where it's worth getting a resort day pass: Roseau, Dominica
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Roseau, Dominica

Mountainous and green, Dominica is bursting with eco-adventures. Cruise lines arrange visits to Trafalgar Falls, rainforest tours, tubing down the Layou River, and lunch overlooking volcanic peaks. If you’re not the active type, you can still get a taste of Dominica’s natural bounty by spending the day at one of the island’s cool eco-resorts. 

Day passes at the Rosalie Bay Eco-Resort & Spa start at $78 for adults and $39 for children. The property, situated in the foothills of the Morne Trois Pitons, has a protected black sand beach where you may spot one of three endangered sea turtle species nesting or hatching between March and October. Passes include a three-course lunch, three complimentary drinks (including alcoholic selections), access to the pool and lounge chairs, free Wi-Fi, and even a 30-minute customized massage.

Caribbean cruise ports where you should purchase a resort day pass: Belize City, Belize
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Belize City, Belize

Cruise ships visiting Belize use tenders to transfer passengers ashore to the Fort Street Tourism Village, an area designed specifically for cruisers. At the village, you’ll find typical souvenirs and you can grab a local beer; you might not feel comfortable venturing on your own into Belize City, where the crime rate is extremely high.

For safe ways to see the area, there are ship-sponsored excursions to nearby Mayan ruins or along the Belize River, where you may spot manatees and crocodiles. If you’re not into guided tours, the town of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye is reachable by the Belize Express Water Taxi, which you can board after a short walk or taxi ride (a safer option) from the port. 

Several beachfront resorts in San Pedro offer day passes through ResortPass, including the top-rated Alaia Belize, an Autograph Collection property. Day passes for both adults and children start at $65 and include access to the resort’s amenities and beach. There’s also an adults-only rooftop pool. Food and beverages cost extra unless you purchase the all-inclusive pass at $150 for adults and $75 for children.

Best resort day passes at cruise ports: the Sagamore Hotel South Beach in Miami
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Since Miami is a popular port for disembarkation, we’re throwing in that South Florida metropolis, too. If you’ve booked a late flight back home after your cruise, you’ll need a place to hang out and store your luggage until you head to the airport. Why not spend the last day of your vacation sipping mojitos poolside?

The trendy SLS Brickell features a rooftop pool overlooking downtown Brickell, and it’s just a short taxi or Uber ride from PortMiami. Day passes for the hotel start at $50 for adults and $15 for children. You’ll get access to the outdoor pool, hot and cold plunge pools, lounge chairs, towel service, complimentary Wi-Fi, and poolside food-and-beverage service. 

Alternatively, the Sagamore Hotel South Beach is the perfect place to while away the day before a late flight out of town. The iconic hotel in Miami’s Art Deco Historic District sits along the beach, so you’ll want to purchase a day pass with access to both the pool and the sand, along with lounge chairs and food-and-beverage service. Prices start at $50 per person for adults and $40 for children through ResortPass. A short taxi or Uber ride will get you there from the port.