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Luxuriate on white sand beaches and clear turquoise waters no matter which islands a Caribbean cruise sails to. Whether visiting the region’s Eastern or Western sides - or both - there are destinations for everyone.
Weather-wise, December through to April are considered the best months to visit the Caribbean, since they are the driest. Likewise, a tropical climate means there’s a rainy season, which lasts from May to December.
The most popular months to visit are December and January, as well as March and April, when teenagers and young adults flood Caribbean cruises in large numbers, partying and enjoying the sunshine for Spring Break. June through to November are the cheapest times to book a cruise in the Caribbean, since many cruise lines offer hurricane season deals and discounts. Since there is no way to predict when a hurricane will hit, there’s always a slight risk of missing an island visit or two.
The most popular departure ports for Caribbean cruises are Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans, Baltimore and Galveston. Exciting itineraries visit the Western Caribbean, which can include stops at Cozumel, Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, and Belize. The Eastern Caribbean version visits St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Puerto Rico, Turks & Caicos, St. Thomas, and more. The Bahamas is one of the biggest single destinations, with dedicated routes.
Among the many cruise lines visiting the Caribbean are Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Princess. Notable ships include Carnival’s Dream, Freedom and Princess, Celebrity’s Silhouette and Equinox, and Royal Caribbean’s Jewel and Oasis of the Seas.
On board these cruise ships, a variety of activities keep guests busy, ranging from luxurious spas to organised adventures for children of all ages. During the day, passengers enjoy swimming pools, live music, sundecks and cocktails with ocean views. Nightly activities include large scale theatre productions, bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
At the various destinations, there’s plenty to do, including zip-lining through the forest, bird watching or go bottom fishing for snappers and king fish in Belize, snorkeling or kayaking through only living coral reef in the US in Key West. Adrenaline rush-inducing adventures in Cozumel include dive excursions and tours of ancient Mayan ruins.
In the Eastern Caribbean cruise, Nassau’s Straw Market is the perfect place to buy souvenirs and the area also boasts pristine beaches with snorkeling equipment for rent. Swim with dolphins on a shore excursion, try thrill-seeking water sports and explore 18th century colonial streets.
Princess Cays, in the Bahamas, is another popular port of call for souvenirs, with handmade, Bahamian crafts. Explore the island by dune buggy and go snorkeling from a sailboat. Aruba is known as the ‘happy island’ by locals and here cruise ship passengers relax on the white sand of Palm Beach and shop for fine Dutch-porcelain. St. Kitts blends waterfalls, rainforests and tropical weather, with beaches, cane fields and majestic plantation houses.
A cruise to St Maarten offers hiking through ruins of French and Dutch forts, duty free shopping along Philipsburg waterfront, jeep and speed boat adventures. To the beat of reggae tunes, Jamaica’s Montego Bay allows passengers to tour rum estates, get up close and personal with dolphins, shop and visit barefoot beach bars. A cruise to the Caribbean is the perfect way to soak up the sun, sand and sea on a tropical backdrop of natural beauty and built wonders.