Because the Caribbean offers one of the warmest year around climates, some of the most spectacular marine life in the world, and stunning white sand beaches, Caribbean cruises are the most popular cruises on the market today. It is estimated that Caribbean cruises account for more than 60% of the North American cruise industry. In addition to offering access to sand, scenery, and endless amounts of sunshine, Caribbean cruises also offer more flexibility and options than any other type of cruise such as year around cruise destinations and a vast selection of cruise itineraries. Caribbean cruises also embark from more ports of call than any other type of cruise.
There are three common itineraries including: Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean and Southern Caribbean. Most Eastern Caribbean cruises embark from Florida and ports of call may include: St. Marteen, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, St. John and St. Thomas. Excursions are plentiful and passengers generally spend less time at sea and more time engaging in water activities such as snorkeling and scuba diving, exploring rain forests and relaxing on white-sand beaches. Eastern Caribbean cruises also offer plenty of opportunities to shop or dine at amazing restaurants where unique fusion foods and drinks are the norm.
Western Caribbean cruises may embark from New Orleans, Texas or Florida and ports of call include exotic places like: Belize, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Cozumel or Grand Cayman. Because WC ports of call are farther apart, passengers spend more time at sea, but there are still opportunities to hike through rainforests, explore Mayan ruins and amazing mountain waterfalls and engage in a variety of water activities.
Southern Caribbean cruises generally embark from San Juan and typical ports of call include: Antigua, British Virgin Islands, Martinique, St. Marteen and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Barbados, St. Kitts, Tortola, Dominica and St. Lucia are considered Deep Southern ports of call. Southern Caribbean destinations offer some of the most amazing snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities as well as lush rain forests and majestic waterfalls. Be prepared to take pictures of unique structures and cathedrals as well.
Pricing and Choosing a Cruise Line
Prices vary depending on vessel size, vacation length, cruise line or accommodation type, destinations, etc. Keep in mind that prices don’t necessarily depend on ports of call. Oftentimes, they depend heavily on the type of accommodations you choose, be it luxury or budget. As a general rule of thumb, most prices include: meals, ship transportation, accommodations, entertainment and most social activities. The price may not include: alcohol, dry cleaning, excursions, gratuities, port charges or gambling. Passengers may find some of the best values during January, late spring and September-December.
Vacation lengths may be short-term, 2-5 days or long-term, 7-10 days, with 7 days being the most popular. If time is limited, fly into San Juan instead of Miami. It generally takes two days to sail from Miami to San Juan, so the two days you save can be spent exploring the beautiful Caribbean.
A few of the more popular cruise lines serving the Caribbean include: Royal Caribbean International, Costa Cruise Lines, Carnival Cruise Lines, Regent Seven Seas, and Celebrity Cruises.