Safely traveling in the Caribbean - An Overview
The islands of the Caribbean are very diverse, both in population and in politics. As such, their views on LGBT+ rights can vary widely from island to island. Often, the social beliefs and stigmas, may carry over from the former colonizer that controlled the island, or the laws from that country might apply on that island, but even this is not consistent. Put all this together and the Caribbean can be a minefield for an LGBT+ traveler. As such, the main thing to do is to consider where you might want to travel, and if there are any places that are best avoided.
Cruising in the Caribbean
While all the major cruise lines have a fairly good track record with LGBT+ guests, Celebrity Cruises is a bit of a standout. When considering a cruise in the Caribbean, the main thing to consider is where the ship is traveling. While the cruise itself may be welcoming, the ports might be less so. As such it's always important to consider the local policies of each island when you are cruising.
LGBT+ Friendly Islands
These are islands which have a positive track record with LGBT+ tourists. This list is just an overview of some of the most famously pro-LGBT+ locations in the Caribbean.
With protections for the LGBT+ community and marriage equality being allowed since 2015 when it was enacted in the US, Puerto Rico is a great place to visit as an LGBT+ traveler. It is often placed among the safest and most welcoming islands for LGBT+ visitors.
Marriage equality has been legal since 2015, but it is more lacking in anti-discrimination laws. However, like many other former Dutch colonies in the Caribbean, there is a fairly welcoming atmosphere for LGBT+ travelers, however sometimes be aware of deeply held religious beliefs can manifest among some parts of the population.
The ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao) are also former Dutch colonies. They have varying degrees of LGBT+ rights between them, with Curacao being the best. Curacao is one of the most outwardly gay-friendly island in the Caribbean, even hosting its own Pride Festival.
An island formerly part French and part Dutch, this island is one of the more expensive and luxurious places to visit in the Caribbean. Marriage equality and a number of well-known LGBT+ welcoming hotels and resorts make this island one of the best ones to visit in the Caribbean.
One of the more expensive and luxurious islands in the Caribbean, St. Barthélemy has had marriage equality and non-discrimination laws since 2013. Among one of the islands regularly considered to be most welcoming to LGBT+ visitors.
Islands to Avoid as an LGBT+ Traveler
These islands have laws, policies, or a history of being anti-LGBT+, and as such LGBT+ travelers might choose to avoid them. This does not mean that an LGBT+ traveler can’t enjoy these islands, but one should understand that it is not likely to be as welcoming as those listed above. While there are other islands with anti-LGBT+ policies, these are some of the more well-known ones. These islands have no anti-discrimination laws, no marriage equality, and sometimes have anti-sodomy laws. Some of the islands to avoid include: Jamaica, Antigua, Barbuda, Dominica, Barbados, and St. Kitts.
Remember, whenever you're traveling, either cruising or going to one of the many wonderful resorts that fill the caribbean to check with your travel agent on what islands are supportive, and which are not. Sometimes the resorts may be a welcoming oasis in a country where the residents’ rights to be who they are are repressed. If you have any concerns about where your vacation dollars are going, I always recommend checking with your travel agent on the individual country’s policies, and if they might be problematic.