16 Jul A Guide to Choosing a Caribbean Cruise
Picture yourself drinking cocktails on a Caribbean island but don’t know which one to choose? It’s certainly no easy feat. While crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches are almost guaranteed, not all Caribbean islands are the same. They all have different languages, landscapes and highlights to discover.
A Caribbean cruise is a great way to see several islands all in one trip. But with so many different cruise lines and itineraries on offer, it can be just as difficult to choose a cruise.
To help, I’ve put together a guide of things to take into account when choosing the right cruise.
When to Go
While the Caribbean experiences warm temperatures all year round, the most popular time to book a cruise is during the winter months from December-May. This is mainly because tourists leave behind the cold and snow of Europe looking for warm tropical sunshine.
This is also the time of year when you’ll have the widest choice of cruise ships, and the weather is much more predictable, with plenty of sunshine and little rainfall.
While there’s no obvious “rainy season” in the Caribbean, the summer months between June-November tend to be wetter, and hurricanes can occur. This is when you are more likely to find a cheap cruise deal.
If you want to take a transatlantic journey to the Caribbean, the best time for doing so is in spring or fall, when the ships reposition between the Caribbean and Europe.
When booking a Caribbean cruise you need to think about where you want to start and end up.
The most popular embarkation point in the United States is Florida- particularly Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. Alternatively if you don’t want to spend a few days cruising from the mainland, you could fly to meet your cruise in the Caribbean for a shorter journey.
You could also take a transatlantic journey when the ships finish their seasons in the Caribbean or Europe and cross the vast Atlantic Ocean. Either way, it’s worth spending a few days in your embarkation city before your trip, so think about what destination you would most like to explore.
Ports of Call & Itineraries
The next thing to consider is what ports of call you would like to stop at. Cruise lines tend to divide their cruises into Eastern, Western and Southern Caribbean cruises. Ships on Western Caribbean Cruises stop at ports of call such as Cuba, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Eastern Caribbean cruises feature islands like Turks and Caicos Islands, the US Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands and St. Martin. Southern Caribbean cruises call in at St. Lucia, Barbados, Grenada, Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles. There are also some cruises that just specifically tour the Bahamas.
Also something to keep in mind is the length of your journey. Cruises tend to start at 3 days, with the most popular lengths being 7 or 10 days, although you can also find longer itineraries.
Choosing your ship
Choosing the right ship is a vital factor in choosing your Caribbean cruise. Different cruise ships cater for different types of people with different interests. A lot will depend on what is in your price range, but you might also like to think about the size of ship you want to cruise on. Small and mid-size ships can dock at smaller islands and less-visited ports, but they won’t offer the grand entertainment options that the megaships offer.
photo by nydiscovery7 on flickr