Taste 5 of the Most Popular Caribbean Dishes on a Caribbean Cruise Line

Friends enjoying a local meal while in a Caribbean port.
Friends enjoying a local meal while in a Caribbean port.

When you travel aboard a Caribbean cruise line, you can expect to take a culinary journey as you dine on the ship and at each island port. When you think of Caribbean food, aromas of exotic spices and fresh seafood likely dance around your head. Caribbean cuisine can be sweet, spicy, and savory all rolled into one mouthwatering dish. Here are some of the dishes that might awaken your taste buds and turn you into a Caribbean food lover for life.

Spicy Jerk Chicken, Jamaica

A Caribbean cruise isn't complete without trying Jamaica's spicy Jerk-style chicken or pork when you stop in a Caribbean port. The name "jerk" likely derives from the Peruvian word charqui, which means "dried meat." Originally, jerk spice was created by Jamaica's Taino Indians and was a method of preserving meat in the hot, humid climate. The hot peppers, salt, allspice, onions, and thyme all helped in preserving the meat. When the seasoning is applied, the meat is traditionally smoked over charcoal in a modern oil or steel drum barbecue.

Sancocho, Dominican Republic

Sancocho is a dish enjoyed all over the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, but the Dominican version, which often contains up to seven kinds of meat, is the epitome of comfort food. Traditionally, Dominican families enjoy this hearty, slow-cooked treat on special occasions like baptisms, weddings, and quinceañeras. If you find this on the menu at a stop on your Caribbean cruise, make sure you try it! It's a delicious stew that's filled with the flavors and textures of yautia (a root vegetable), Caribbean pumpkin, cilantro, pork, beef, bacon, and garlic. All ingredients are cooked and combined in a huge pot to simmer, creating a spicy dish that will knock your socks off.

Cou Cou and Flying Fish, Barbados

Barbadians sometimes refer to their home as "the land of the flying fish," whose majestic image graces the island's one dollar coin. While flying fish don't actually fly (they burst through the water's surface, then use their winglike pectoral fins to glide over the water for a few seconds), they certainly are a sight to see — and a flavor to taste! As the national dish of Barbados, cou cou and flying fish is simple to make, but it serves up a lot of flavor! Okra, cornmeal, onion, butter, and salt are cooked and combined to create the grits-like side dish that perfectly complements a serving of fresh fish.

Conch Chowder, Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman's famous staple conch chowder has left many passing travelers craving for more. Creamy, thick, and full of spices and flavor, this chowder is to die for. The word "conch" commonly refers to a large sea snail. When Bahamians migrated to the Keys in the 1800s, conchs (pluralized this way when pronounced with a hard "c" sound) were their staple food. The word "conch" is still used as a nickname for folks from Key West.

Green Bananas and Saltfish, St. Lucia

The two most important components of this dish are the green, unripe bananas and salted fish (usually cod). Green bananas, which are often referred to as "figs" on the island, are Saint Lucia's chief export and a huge staple in their diet — like potatoes in the US. They actually taste a bit like potatoes, too. With supporting ingredients like hot peppers, onions, and tomatoes, this homey dish will both warm you up and warm your heart.

Interested in experiencing the flavors of the Caribbean? Booking a trip aboard a Caribbean cruise line is the perfect way to explore the many flavors of the islands.