Goes Ashore in the Caribbean
to see & things to do
it is a Florida city—America’s southernmost city, in
fact—but it has the look and playful feel of its Caribbean
neighbors. The end of the
line in the Florida Keys, Key West is becoming one of the favorite
port stops on western Caribbean itineraries and for good reason,
it’s historic and has plentiful sights and attractions to pack
into a half day visit.
ships dock alongside the piers adjacent to Mallory Square, the main
plaza, or at Outer Mall, from where they are shuttled via Conch
Train to Duval and Front streets. Everything
is close by—Key West is only 2 miles wide and 4 miles long.
around couldn’t be easier on the Conch Tour Train or Old Town
Trolley. Ship’s excursions
are a waste of money here. Catch
the Conch Tour Train in Mallory Square for a 90-minute narrated tour
up and down Key West’s most interesting streets.
It’s a great way to learn about the area and its famous
residents, but it doesn’t stop. The
Old Town Trolley is more flexible, allowing riders to get off and
explore on their own and then catch another trolley later.
Watch for the signs near the pier or throughout town to board
the trolley and hop off to see these sights...
House is a rather misleading name for this house on Greene
Street. While the famous
naturalist John James Audubon didn’t live here, it’s full of
his engravings and the lush tropical gardens are a must-see.
former vacation home of Harry S. Truman (the Little White House)
is a small house that takes less than an hour to see; however,
the lines can be lengthy for admission.
lines are also sometimes a problem at the Hemingway House, but
it’s worth the wait to tour Ernest Hemingway’s home and the
studio where he wrote some of his most famous works.
Descendants of his polydactl, or six-toed, cats still
live on the grounds.
Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society Museum displays an
extraordinary collection of salvaged Spanish doubloons and gold
and silver bullion. Treasure hunting diver Mel Fisher and his
associates brought up over $400 million worth of gold and silver
from shipwrecked Spanish galleons.
an offbeat experience, stroll through the Key West Cemetery where
you’ll see headstones with inscriptions such as, “I told you I
was sick” and “At least I know where he is sleeping tonight.”
most compelling activity in Key West is sunset watching when the
locals flock to Mallory Dock for a nightly celebration.
Unfortunately, most ships are required to leave before this
view cruise ship shoppers with a jaundiced eye and sell some of the
most outrageously tacky merchandise you’ll ever see.
Worth a stop is Key West Aloe for men and women’s
toiletries based on, what else—aloe.
Numerous galleries are well stocked with prints and
watercolors by local artists. Cigar
aficionados will appreciate hand rolled cigars made of leaves grown
from Cuban seed—available at a number of cigar shops scattered
shop in the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society Museum is the source
for Spanish doubloon pendants and jewelry.
pass up a frozen Key Lime Pie on a stick.
are almost an afterthought in Key West.
Most are manmade and not memorable.
The closest to the cruise ship docks is Fort Zachary Taylor
State Beach, accessible through the gates leading into the Truman
of the beach, head for another kind of watering hole.
Some of the funkiest are Sloppy Joe’s, Captain Tony’s
Saloon, Hog’s Breath Saloon, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, and
Schooner Wharf. Even if you
don’t drink, you can boast you “got wasted away…” in Key
Fodor's Caribbean Ports of Call 2013 is all you need
to plan your days ashore, PLUS a cruise primer section and cruise
line profiles by Cruise Diva, Linda Coffman
Back to Caribbean
Ports of Call