The ABC islands are the nursery rhyme moniker given to three Caribbean islands located in the southeast portion of the Southern Caribbean. Those islands are Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. These islands are known for sunshine, sandy coastline, and an interesting culture shaped by a Dutch influence and the nearby northeast South America. An ABC island cruise itinerary takes you right into the southern Caribbean with fun-filled stops at exotic and exciting ports of call along the way.
Guests looking to cruise to the ABC islands will typically do so as part of a 7-night or longer Caribbean southern itinerary, departing from either San Juan, Puerto Rico or Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Given the secluded nature of these islands from U.S. departure ports, longer Caribbean itineraries departing from Ft. Lauderdale allow for more time to relax and recharge, while 7-night Caribbean cruises departing from San Juan will get you there faster, leaving more time for shore-side adventure.
The ABC islands encompass the beauty, culture, and activities of three different islands. These islands may share similar geographical characteristics, but each has its own unique vibe. An ABC islands cruise will let you effortlessly visit this intriguing area of the Caribbean and see its top highlights.
When it comes to sunny days, the ABC islands have a higher percentage each year than most other islands in the Caribbean, making it a great destination to plan some beach time. The beaches you’ll find on an ABC islands cruise range from long and sandy to secluded with wild waves.
You’ll love the colorful buildings in pastel shades of pink, yellow, and blue waiting to greet you when you cruise to the ABC islands. In Curacao’s port city of Willemstad, you’ll also find a historic area that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its Dutch influenced colonial-style architecture and layout.
When you cruise to the ABC islands you’ll be right next to exotic coral reefs that are home to colorful plants, tropical fish, and larger animals like sea turtles, reef sharks, and stingrays. Bonaire is even home to the National Marine Park that is considered to be one of the best scuba destinations in the world.
When you cruise to the ABC islands you’ll visit up to three ports on the islands that make up this region of the Caribbean: Oranjestad, Aruba; Kralendijk, Bonaire; and Willemstad, Curacao. ABC islands cruise itineraries also visit other destinations in the eastern, western, and southern Caribbean such as Key West, Grand Cayman, and St. Kitts & Nevis. Some itineraries even visit the South American port of Cartagena, Colombia.
The best shore excursions to experience when you cruise to the ABC islands include ones that showcase the islands’ exquisite natural beauty and surrounding turquoise waters.
Explore the world beneath the sea on a shore excursion that takes you right into the Caribbean. When you cruise to the ABC islands you can go snorkeling, walk along the ocean floor as you breathe comfortably in a custom helmet, scuba dive whether you’re advanced or a beginner, or stay dry in air-conditioned comfort enjoying life below the surface through viewing windows.
From caravan-style range rovers and mini-jeeps to UTVs and ATVs to trolleys and the colorful Kukoo Kunuku bus, there’s no shortage of fun ways to explore Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. Choose a shore excursion that transports you around the islands or one that puts you in the driver’s seat!
Visit the Hato Caves in Curacao, the Ayo and Casibari rock formations of Aruba, or the mangrove canopies in Bonaire. You can also take shore excursions to one of many gorgeous national parks on the islands for some hiking or scenic drives.
Sail around the beautiful ABC islands for a different perspective of the coastline on a catamaran cruise. Time your shore excursion for sunset and enjoy the soothing colors of the sunset over the sea as you sip Champagne and marvel at the beautiful view.
Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao are often lumped together since they lie the farthest to the west within the Caribbean Sea’s Leeward Antilles. They have further ties as well as all three are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The islands do differ in how they fall under the jurisdiction of the Netherlands, though. Bonaire is directly under the administration of the Netherlands as an autonomous special municipality, while Aruba and Curacao are autonomous territories of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. This background gives the ABC islands a distinct culture that blends both Dutch and Caribbean traditions with influences from nearby Colombia and Venezuela. For travelers wondering what this means once shore-side, the U.S. dollar is a widely accepted form of currency in the region.
The languages widely spoken on the ABC islands are Dutch and Papiamento, the latter of which is a Creole language that draws from Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch. Along with Dutch, Papiamento is even an official language of Aruba and Curacao. English is also spoken by many of the locals.
Pack for hot, sunny weather when heading off on an ABC islands cruise, and don’t give much thought to rain. The climate on the ABC islands is generally much more arid compared to the rest of the Caribbean and it is extremely rare for the islands to be in the path of hurricanes, meaning less rain and more fun!