Montserrat Cruise Port
Port of Montserrat: An Overview
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.
While the black-sand beaches of Montserrat are beautiful, your priority should be a visit to the former capital city of Plymouth, which was buried in ash after the previously dormant Soufriere Hills volcano erupted beginning July 18, 1995. Pyroclastic flows and ash devastated the city, forced the evacuation of the capital and damaged most of the southern end of the island, leading to the creation of the exclusion zone that exists to this day. Lines like Windstar offer a tour with a designated guide that will take you close enough to the city to view what's left of it (very little) from a safe distance. You'll also make a stop at the nearby Montserrat Volcano Observatory.
--By Andrea M. Rotondo, Cruise Critic contributor
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
Montserrat's currency is the East Caribbean dollar. Be aware that few Montserratian businesses take credit cards. You can find two banks -- Bank of Montserrat and Royal Bank of Canada -- and their associated ATMs in the new capital of Brades, a 10-minute drive from the port of Little Bay. For current currency conversion figures, visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com.
English is the official language of Montserrat, but as you travel across the island you may also hear Spanish and Haitian Creole spoken by immigrants from Dominica, Guyana, the Dominican Republic and Haiti who moved to the island to help it rebuild after the volcanic activity settled down in 2010.
Montserrat: Star LegendRobert_fromthe_SouthFascinating but sobering experience ... Read more
Montserrat: Star Legendsu-arizonaMontserrat is a stunningly beautiful island. Over half the island has been decimated by volcanic eruptions. We booked a full day tour with Sun's Montserrat Tours and had a fabulous day touring the island including the Exclusion Zone and destroyed ... Read more
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