Dreaming of taking a Caribbean cruise and exploring romantic ports of call? A cruise to the islands of the Caribbean is the top vacation choice for many couples.
If you are novice travelers or first-time cruisers, taking a Caribbean cruise can be the best way to first experience this type of vacation. That's because you won't sail very far from home, English is spoken in just about every port of call, and you can commit to a cruise of a short duration.
Although ships sail to the Caribbean from many different United States cruise ports, you will find the greatest selection — in terms of schedule, itinerary, and length of cruise — is available from those that depart from Florida ports. Not only is southern weather the most conducive to year-round travel; many major cruise lines maintain a home port in Miami or Fort Lauderdale, which are geographically the closest U.S. port cities to the Caribbean.
Where to Cruise in the CaribbeanAs you begin to research cruises to the Caribbean, you'll see that itineraries fall into three different geographic areas: Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean, and Southern Caribbean. The following can help you decide which ports of call to set sail on your Caribbean cruise:
Located just 50 miles from the Florida coastline, the Bahamas comprises some 700 islands. Close and convenient, it’s an ideal destination for those who want to take a short three or four-day cruise. The ports of Nassau and Freeport display the Bahamas’ British heritage in a tropical climate. In port, golfers have a choice of resort courses where they can play. And shoppers can find everything from Colombian emeralds to English bone china in Nassau and Freeport shops. The U.S. and British Virgin Islands, St. Maarten, and St. Barts are also places of rare beauty and serenity in the eastern Caribbean.
Sailing westward-bound into the Florida sunset, these ships call at ports in Mexico, Belize, and on Caribbean islands including Grand Cayman and Jamaica. They're extremely popular with snorkelers and scuba divers as the waters around Cancún, Cozumel, and Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman harbor exotic, colorful fish and vegetation.
Puerto Rico’s natural treasures, 500-year history, casinos, and lively nightlife make it an appealing starting point for a Southern Caribbean cruise as well as an exciting destination in itself. Ships bound for this destination also may call at the Dominican Republic, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Barbados, the ABC (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao) islands and destinations such as Martinique, St. Lucia, and Grenada in the Windward Islands. Ports in Panama and Colombia expose travelers to less-familiar Latin American destinations. Some Southern Caribbean journeys sail as far southeast as Margarita Island, just off the Venezuelan coast.
The Private Caribbean
Several cruise lines maintain their own private island in the Caribbean so that passengers can have a beach day. These private places, most of which are tiny Bahamian out islands, range from informal spots to well-organized destinations that offer restaurants, shops, and a variety of land and water activities in addition to sunning and swimming.