Cruising with a film buff?
Here’s a look at cinematic cruise ports across the Caribbean and the Mexican Riviera that have famously welcomed celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Pierce Brosnan and Anthony Hopkins to their sunny shores.
The fortress of El Castillo San Felipe del Morro (or El Morro), which dates back to the 16th century, is considered a must-see for cruisers to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Passengers docking at the western edge of the island might recognize El Morro from the 1997 Steven Spielberg movie Amistad, starring Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, Djimon Hounsou and Matthew McConaughey. The film chronicles the 1839 mutiny aboard the schooner La Amistad by Africans who had been sold into slavery; the fortress was used as the filming location for the African slave fort from which they set sail. El Morro and its surrounding areas comprise the San Juan National Historic Site, and is open daily.
The Arecibo Observatory houses the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope and is famously used to search outer space for extraterrestrial signals. In the 1997 movie Contact, filmed at the observatory, art imitates life as Jodie Foster plays a young scientist searching the skies for alien life.
The observatory and its giant telescope also served as the movie location for the final fight scene in the 1995 spy thriller GoldenEye. Pierce Brosnan stars in his debut as James Bond, and he and his sexy nemesis, Natalya Simonova, battle along the rim of the dish, eventually tumbling to the bottom in the film’s finale. While cruisers are discouraged from literally following in Brosnan’s footsteps, they are able to tour the grounds and observatory.
Island in the Sun
The 1957 classic Island in the Sun, starring Harry Belafonte, James Mason, Joan Collins and Dorothy Dandridge, was partly shot in Barbados. Filming took place at the historic Farley Hill Mansion, built in 1818 as a place to entertain visiting royals. In 1966, the same year Barbados gained independence, Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the 17-acre property as a national park. Luckily for cruisers, the site remains a major tourist attraction, conveniently located approximately 30 minutes by car from the Bridgetown Cruise Terminal.
Picturesque Marigot Bay, located on the western coast of St. Lucia, famously welcomed a giant pink snail to its warm waters during the filming of the 1967 version of Dr. Dolittle. At the time of filming, the local children were suffering from a gastrointestinal illness caused by freshwater snails, so the locals did not welcome the giant snail prop with open arms. Cruisers wishing to explore the original movie location today will stumble upon the Marigot Bay Hotel, built where the large snails once stood, and its Pink Snail Bar adorned with pictures from the film.
Pirates of the Caribbean
St Lucia’s soaring Piton Mountains can be seen in the first installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise. Johnny Depp often returned to vacation with his family in Marigot Bay.
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Cruisers to Guatemala love Tikal National Park, partly for the all-encompassing views of the ancient Mayan ruins from the top of Temple IV, but Star Wars fans from around the globe flock to the temple for a different reason. Tikal appears in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope as a rebel base for Han Solo’s spacecraft landing on the rebel moon named Yavin 4.
Director George Lucas chose Tikal after he saw a poster for it in a travel agency. While filming in 1977, the crew positioned lights and heavy camera gear atop the 210-foot-high Temple IV using pulley gear. They hired local guards to protect the equipment and are said to have paid them in six-packs of beer.
Tikal can also be seen in the 1979 James Bond film Moonraker, starring Roger Moore. The park was used as the exterior of Bond adversary Sir Hugo Drax’s headquarters.
Cabo San Lucas
The epic film Troy, starring Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom, was filmed on the beaches of Cabo Falso near Cabo San Lucas. The great wall and gates of Troy were constructed on-site, and many of the area residents were employed as extras in the battle scenes. Not much of the set remains though, because soon after most filming was completed in 2003 Hurricane Marty blew in and destroyed it.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, starring Blake Lively, Amber Tamblyn and America Ferrera, was partly filmed just north of Cabo. Lively’s character attended a fictional summer camp in the area, and her onscreen time featured sweeping views of the nearby town of Todos Santos, the Pacific Ocean and the rugged mountainside. Travelers passing through Cabo San Lucas in search of transformative trousers can look elsewhere for magic, like the naturally abundant wildlife, sprawling beaches and breathtaking scenery.