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Cruising Article – 2012-03-05

Explore the tropical history of Tortola

Tortola, British Virgin Islands, Caribbean

The capital of the British Virgin Islands, Tortola is the largest island in the chain and boasts coral reefs rife with thousands of colorful fish and endless beaches where any Caribbean cruise passenger with Princess can find a secluded spot to relax. From its world-class sailing to the gently sloping green hills, visitors can find outdoor and culinary adventures for the duration of their stay.

The British Virgin Islands are home to less than 30,000 people, making the beaches at Tortola and the surrounding islands rarely crowded. At Cane Garden Bay, visitors on a Caribbean cruise vacation line can find a perfect spot beneath a shady palm tree where they can take a nap or read a book between snorkeling excursions. Smugglers Cove, located on the western end of Tortola, is a favorite among the locals who swim through the waters that are teeming with the otherwise rare parrot fish and brain corals.

For more of a historical adventure, passengers on Caribbean cruises can visit the British Virgin Islands' Folk Museum, which contains pottery and stone tools from the Arawak and Carib peoples that first inhabited the Caribbean. Further along the rugged coastline, visitors on a cruise to the Caribbean can walk through the Mt. Healthy Windmill, which is one of the few remaining relics from Tortola's windmill-powered sugar mill. Built from rock, coral and red bricks, the windmill relied on steady tradewinds to propel the machinery that processed sugarcane.

While on a Caribbean shore excursion, Princess passengers can treat themselves to the quaint, open-air village at Pusser's Landing. Featuring colorful architecture typical of the West Indies, the village is full of small shops and boutiques selling handmade goods.

Located at the end of a back road in Cane Garden Bay, the Callwood Rum distillery has been in operation for more than 400 years. In an attempt to preserve the history of the British Virgin Islands, the traditional rum distillery practices have been passed down for generations and the factory is currently operated by Michael Callwood. The building where the rum is manufactured is more than 200 years old and still retains most of its original stonework. With the abundance of sugar cane in the islands, it is no surprise that distilling rum is a part of Tortola's culture. Cruise passengers who want to taste truly unique and sweet rums should make the trip to this eclectic factory.