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Caribbean

Home > Cruise Destinations > Caribbean

Destination Overview

Without a doubt, the Caribbean is one of the most popular cruise destinations. Because of this, there are more cruise ships in this destination than anywhere else in the world. A major factor that makes the Caribbean a often visited vacation destination, by Americans in particular, is the fact that many US ports are used as embarkation ports by cruise lines. In fact Miami, Florida is considered by many to be the cruising capital of the world. Other US ports that are often used as cruise departure ports are: Baltimore, MD; Bayonne, NJ; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Caribbean Cruises Galveston, TX; Mobile, AL; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Port Canaveral, FL; and Tampa, FL.

The cruising season for the Caribbean is year-round, with better pricing typically available from September through May (excluding holiday sailings, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and Spring Break).

The duration of a Caribbean cruise is usually anywhere from 4- to 14-nights in length, with the most frequently featured cruises being 4-, 5- and 7-nights long.

There's a seemingly endless list of activities to participate in and places to see while in the Caribbean. Among the most popular things to do are: going to the many beautiful beaches (such as Magens Bay in St. Thomas and Mallards Beach in Jamaica), bar hopping, duty-free shopping (on islands such as Grand Cayman and St. Maarten), fishing, wildlife experiences (i.e. Stingray City in Grand Cayman), city/island tours, dining and taking part in a variety of water sports.

Typically, in the cruising world, the Caribbean ports are divided up into 3 main sections:

Eastern Caribbean

On an Eastern Caribbean cruise you may visit ports of call in Antigua, the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Tortola, and Turks & Caicos

Western Caribbean
On a Western Caribbean cruise you may visit ports of call in Belize, Columbia, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Honduras, Key West Caribbean Cruises(Florida), Grand Cayman, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, and Panama

Southern Caribbean

On a Southern Caribbean cruise you may visit ports of call in Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, Columbia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominica, Grenada, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, St. Barts, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, and St. Maarten


Cruise Lines in the Caribbean
Being one of the world's most popular cruise destinations, there are a ton of cruise lines that offer Caribbean cruises. Among those that will be featuring the most cruise ships in the Caribbean during 2009 are Carnival Cruise Lines (17 ships) and Royal Caribbean (11 ships), both which feature a few ships year-round in the Caribbean. Other cruise lines that annually feature a nice selection of Caribbean cruises are (in alphabetical order) Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) and Princess Cruises.

Popular Ports of Call
Of the many Caribbean islands, some of the most popular ports of call among cruise lines are Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, St. Lucia and St. Thomas. Although they are not actually a part of the Caribbean, ports of call in the Bahamas (i.e. Nassau and Freeport), Mexico (i.e. Cozumel and Costa Maya) and United States (Key West, Florida) are also featured on select Caribbean itineraries.

When's the Best Time To Go?
It depends on what your priorities are. If you're a price-driven consumer, then the best time for you to go would usually be late-January, late-February, April, May and September through mid-December (excluding Thanksgiving week). This is Caribbean Cruisesbecause these times of the year are considered "off peak," as children are not off from school (which limits many families from traveling). As a result of these factors, cruise lines typically offer their best Caribbean cruise prices during these months. The most expensive time of year to take a Caribbean cruise is typically from late-June through mid-August, which is considered to the "peak" travel time for Caribbean cruising.

As far as the weather in the Caribbean goes, the temperature there is always pretty warm. Typical daily highs in the Caribbean during the winter (i.e. January) are in the low 80's (°F), while those in the summer (i.e. July) are in the low 90's (°F). Hurricane season, a common concern of travelers, takes place during a much broader range of time than typically assumed. It is considered to be from June through November, making avoiding hurricane season impossible for some. During that period of time, August through October is usually the most active (as far as hurricanes go).

Popular departure ports for Caribbean cruises:
Baltimore (Maryland), Bridgetown (Barbados), Cape Liberty/Bayonne (New Jersey), Charleston (South Carolina), Colon (Panama), Fort Lauderdale (Florida), Galveston (Texas), Miami (Florida), Mobile (Alabama), Montego Bay (Jamaica), New Orleans (Louisiana), New York, Norfolk (Virginia), Port Canaveral (Florida), San Juan (Puerto Rico), Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), St. Thomas, Tampa (Florida)
 

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