Sheltered harbors, verdant vistas
As you arrive on an MSC Caribbean and Antilles cruise in Tortola, the largest of the British Virgin Islands, it’s easy to see why pirates took refuge here among the hidden coves and sheltered bays, lush green mountains and powder-white sandy beaches.
Today, its beauty continues to draw attention; Road Town, BVI’s capital, is a haven for yacht chartering, upscale tourism and offshore finance. You recognize Dutch and English colonial influences from a bygone era dominated by large sugarcane plantations built on the backs of enslaved African labor. Main Street, Road Town's main shopping district, features several historical landmarks including the Post Office, built in the mid-1800s, St. George's Anglican Church, Britannic Hall and the Virgin Islands Folk Museum. Despite being a British protectorate, the U.S. dollar is used as Tortola’s main currency.
The best way to discover Tortola is on an MSC excursion. Take a panoramic island bus tour through Road Town and the charming districts of Long Trench and Fahie Hill. Then drive along the dramatic north shoreline to beautiful Cane Garden Bay, where you can take a dip in the inviting, clear water and gaze at the anchored boats that prize this placid bay. Along the way, get your fill of Instagram-worthy vistas of the surrounding islands.
Feeling more adventurous? Book a 4x4 island tour on a safari-style Land Rover to experience the island's verdant terrain and magnificent views that are well off the beaten track. Enjoy a snorkeling trip on the southern tip of the BVI archipelago at nearby Norman Island, said to have been the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic “Treasure Island” novel. Or let an MSC excursion take you on a pleasant boat ride to the nearby island of Virgin Gorda to visit the stunning beach area known as The Baths, one of the BVI’s most popular sights. Amid the natural beauty, swim, snorkel and see colorful fish, or simply explore the unusual geological formations comprising huge, sea-sculpted granite boulders that line the beach and form tidal pools, tunnels, caves, arches and scenic grottoes.