The Caribbean region is comprised of more than 700 islands bordered by the Caribbean Sea, North Atlantic Ocean and surrounding coasts of mainland South America. The Caribbean was one of the pioneering cruise ship destinations for visitors from the USA, and it remains a must-see destination for people from all around the world.
Caribbean culture is unique and incredibly diverse with some island nations forging their own identity and others displaying an indigenous and international mix. Visitors to the Caribbean are treated to spectacular island getaways, ancient monuments of lost civilisations and a festive welcome that is truly Caribbean style. Deciding to visit the Caribbean is a no brainer but choosing the right cruise can be mind boggling. Here are a few sample destinations to help make your cruise dream a reality.
Labadee is a snapshot of much of the Caribbean: undulating coastline, lagoons surrounded by coral reef and a backdrop of lush rainforest. Royal Caribbean International has lease rights on the island until 2050 and they have turned it into a sustainable example or cruise tourism. Marvel at the white sands, dive and snorkel, or even speed down the world’s longest over-water zipline.
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
An unincorporated territory of the United States, St. Thomas is the cosmopolitan capital of the US Virgin Island Chain. The gorgeous harbour is home to deep waters, while hilltop outlooks provide views of the city and beyond. Duty-free shopping holds magnetic charm in St. Thomas where you can purchase tasty jams and hot sauces or splurge on fine crystal, china or jewellery.
Located approximately 250 kilometres to the east of Puerto Rico, St. Maarten retains a rich Dutch and French personality courtesy of adventurous settlers. The island was settled in 1631 by the Dutch and evidence of the style remains today, especially in the town of Philipsburg, where gorgeous homes, hotels and shops dot the shoreline. A visit to the Caribbean is a real cultural eye opener.
Coco Cay, Bahamas
Located approximately 75 kilometres north of Nassau, Coco Cay in an exclusive cruise destination. Although only one kilometre long and 183 m wide, Coco Cay is jam packed with Caribbean style. Reef lovers enjoy exploring the beach and coral basin where it’s not uncommon to see manatee, rays and large tropical fish. Surrounding islands are conveniently accessed by wave runner and it’s a postcard destination just right for sampling the local Coco Loco slushy blend.
Sunshine is a major calling card of the Caribbean and Barbados is a place for appreciating the idyllic weather. Safe waters for snorkelling, scuba diving, white sandy beaches and a Reggae vibe all combine to form the laid-back Barbados lifestyle. US citizens have been visiting Barbados for decades and the numbers keep increasing. It’s hard to keep the Caribbean a secret for long.
For many people, it’s difficult to picture a tropical beach paradise and ancient relics side by side – that’s what a visit to Cozumel is for. Cruising the Caribbean is more than just cocktails and sunsets (although that’s just fine too), and Cozumel, just off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula is both an education and an escape. Mayan relics and historical sites abound, and the beach is another Caribbean dream come true.
What is the best rated Caribbean cruise line?
The Caribbean has everything cruisers are looking for: sandy beaches, welcoming people, aquamarine waters, coral reefs and adventure at every turn. Cruise ships traverse the region year round and passengers invariably fall in love with the place. Every cruise company has its own identity and faithful cruisers tend to stick with what works for them. From boutique, high-end sailings to family-friendly cruising and mega-ships resembling floating theme parks, there are options for everyone.
It’s not really about choosing the best Caribbean cruise line, but rather choosing the one that is just right for you. Here are the best rated Caribbean cruise lines according to the U.S. News Caribbean 2017 report:
- Disney Cruise Line: Sailing to Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, Disney Cruise Line is a family favourite with a focus on children’s entertainment and activities.
- Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity itineraries are a real attraction with vessels visiting Aruba, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Bahamas and many more exciting and attractive destinations.
- Crystal Cruises: A small fleet for boutique excursions to the Caribbean. Elegant design, uncrowded vessels and personalised service attract cultural voyagers who might enjoy a painting lesson by a famous Dominican artist as part of their voyage of discovery.
- Royal Caribbean International: Variety is the spice of life and with 25 ships in the fleet, Royal Caribbean International caters to every cruise style. Ships visit Barbados, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and even some Royal Caribbean private resort islands, sustainably developed and designed for adventure and fun.
Other notable mentions include Carnival Cruise Lines with its ‘Fun Ships’ reputation, Norwegian Cruise Line offering horseback riding and surfing lessons, and Holland America Line with expertise in historical excursions and local Caribbean cuisines.
How much is a cruise in the Caribbean?
This is where the good news gets even better. The cruise industry is extremely competitive and value for money is often the first consideration for prospective passengers. Many voyages are all-inclusive (excluding tips) and can be fully paid prior to departure, meaning there are no nasty surprises. Optional add-ons include some island tours, meal upgrades and paid onboard activities, so most passengers factor in the additional spending to their holiday budget. Example cruise costs in U.S dollars include:
Norwegian Cruise Line – 7 night Eastern Caribbean cruise from Miami – $599
Carnival Cruise Line – 7-night Western Caribbean cruise from Miami – $379
Royal Caribbean International – 7 night Caribbean cruise from Port Canaveral – $838
Research of Caribbean cruise options should include seasonal price fluctuations, onboard amenities, ports of call, size of the vessel and the cruising style of individual cruise companies. Then it’s just a matter of enjoying the cruise vacation your way and at your pace.
Flights from Australia to Miami depend on the season but you can calculate with an price of $1,500 – 2,000 per adult.
Have you experienced a Caribbean cruise? How did you fly there? Which cruise line was it? Let us know in the comments!