For me, I start with warm weather! My favorite cruise destination in the world is the Caribbean. And I love visiting this part of the world after the hurricane season and when the weather starts cooling considerably in the Northern Hemisphere but remains warm in the Caribbean. The Caribbean contains 13 different countries encompassing some 30 unique political entities and the region is home to approximately 700 islands.
The Caribbean is one of the few island destinations in the world where visitors on cruise ships can easily and quickly be exposed to a variety of cultures and languages during a short time.
Most of the countries are located within 60 to 100 miles from each other – many not serviced by boat but rather by plane. As a result visiting multiple countries in the Caribbean can be somewhat expensive and time intensive to do as an independent traveler.
Cruising the Caribbean can be an extremely affordable way to see some of the countries in the region and certainly eliminates the logistical difficulties of planning an independent trip to multiple Caribbean countries. One has peace of mind knowing that the logistics of getting from point A to point B are already taken care of, IE, no hassles of dealing with public transportation or renting a vehicle.
While its easy to get off board at any of a number of cruise stops – the immediate surroundings cater to the cruise community and are not necessarily indicative of the rest of the country. I recommend signing up for an on shore excursion – cruise companies typically hire local guides; this is an easy and quick way to get a feel for one of the island countries.
Someone who has not been to the Caribbean may make the mistake in thinking that all the countries in this region are the same. That is far from the truth – sure a number of countries are what travelers think of in regards to white sand beaches, aqua marine waters, palm trees and plenty of alcohol. But the region offers much more then that – colonial history, historical architecture, picturesque mountains on islands that aren’t known for white sand beaches, volcanoes, gorgeous waterfalls, rainforest and plenty of outdoor activities including hiking.
A couple of my favorite Caribbean cruise destinations are: Aruba, Bahamas, Curacao, Dominica and St. Barths.
– the “quiet island” – with no major roads or resorts despite the fact this island is mere minutes by ferry from one of the Caribbean’s busiest destinations, St. Martin. And Aruba is one of the Caribbean’s best culinary destinations – with often off the beaten path local restaurants serving culinary diversity – mainly focusing on fresh seafood.
features white sand beaches and gorgeous water. This is one of the closest Caribbean countries to Florida and can make an ideal cruise stop, especially for those short on time. I visited the Bahamas on a large cruise ship – we docked on a sizable private island so we had the white sand beaches all to ourselves. Paradise!
– feels European including the colorful buildings in the capital Willemstad. Also has the highest bridge in all of the Caribbean. Not as quiet as neighboring Bonaire but certainly not as busy or resort driven as neighboring Aruba. The perfect vibe.
– is distinctly different then the rest of the Caribbean islands. The Kalinago peoples still live in the highlands of the country – the last remaining indigenous peoples (who lived in the Caribbean prior to European settlement). And Dominica is well deserving of its ‘nature island’ description. With plenty of waterfalls, rivers, mountains and still intact rain forest – this island nation is a paradise for those who love the outdoors.
– luxurious with both picturesque mountains and white sand beaches, St Barths is one of the top destinations in the world for a luxury cruise. Also features one of the world’s shortest runways with planes approaching a steep mountain and then dropping down quickly to the runway on the other side.
For those who have put off cruising for whatever reason – I urge you to reconsider. And put the Caribbean on top of your next cruise destination bucket list!