Caribbean warm seas wash the beaches of hundreds of beautiful vibrant islands and the cultural influences of Europe, Africa and Latin America. Almost guaranteed sunshine, a friendly welcome and proximity to US mainland ports make the Caribbean the world’s busiest and most popular cruise area. The scenery on offer ranges from lush, mountainous to flat arid islands and coral atolls. Bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west, the USA to the north and South America to the south, the area is full of historic sights from Mayan ruins to pirate lairs. Cruises depart from US ports like Houston, New Orleans and the world’s biggest cruise port – Miami. There are an increasing number of cruises from the more centrally located Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Barbados and Jamaica.
Eastern Caribbean cruises are typically 7 nights and will explore the miriad islands of the Bahamas and the West Indies, perhaps calling at one of the Bahamas Cays for a beach day, visiting Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and travelling as far south as St Kitts or Antigua in the Leeward Islands.
Seven night cruises in the Western Caribbean head for Mexico and the resorts and beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula, sometimes calling at Key West on the way. Belize and Panama are the newer destinations included on these cruises along with old favourites like Grand Cayman and Jamaica. Circling the Caribbean is also a popular itinerary on longer cruises taking in ports from both east and west.
Southern Caribbean cruises will be longer than 7 nights unless they depart from Barbados or Jamaica. Typically they will visit Windward Islands like Dominica, Martinique, St Lucia and the Grenadines before cruising the north coast of Venezuela and calling at Trinidad, Tobago or Dutch Aruba or Curacao.
WHEN TO CRUISE?
This is a year round destination with a warm tropical climate and temperatures ranging from 27C/80F to 38C/100F.
However, most cruises sail between November and April when the temperatures and humidity are lower and the hurricane season is over. Storms and choppy seas are more likely in the summer when cruises will be re-routed to avoid the worst of any really bad weather.