Caribbean cruises are a fun and broad spectrum way to enjoy more than one destination at a time while staying in a mobile hotel on the sea. There is a ton of options out there in terms of cruise lines in addition to where you will be sailing and how long your voyage will last. Booking a cruise can quickly turn into a confusing mix of decisions if you're not careful. With this and many more things to consider, here's our list of things you should know about and look into to get your cruise experience right the first time.
What Cruise Line To Pick
There are several different cruise lines that take passengers to the Caribbean. If you want to pick the right one, you might have to do some digging on review sites and travel agencies. Royal Caribbean, Princess, Norwegian and Carnival are the most talked about, but there are many others like Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruise Lines. -and these are just some of the ones that depart out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the main port of call for Caribbean cruises.
Where to Go and For How Long?
Most Caribbean cruises are split up into cruises done by region with there being three to choose from for most cruise durations except the shorter ones. You can even stretch your journey by departing from a port farther away from your destination. Usually, this is done from Texas or New York ports, but again, it really depends on the cruise line you choose. The three regions the Caribbean is broken into are listed below.
- Eastern Caribbean: Cruise lines typically sail to ports in the Turks & Caicos, the Dominican Republic, St. Maarten, and the US Virgin Islands.
- Western Caribbean: Most cruise lines visit ports in Mexico, the Cayman Islands, Honduras, the Bahamas and Jamaica.
- Southern Caribbean: Southern Caribbean cruises take people to ports like Grenada, Caribbean Netherlands, Aruba, Curacao, Antigua and St. Kitts.
You can also book longer cruises that mix together certain ports from each region to create a medley of sorts. These cruises are typically longer than 7 days and quite often run at double the cost, but that also depends on the cruise line. It's difficult because you will want to go to many places when the truth is that most 7 day cruises only visit three ports at most during their sailings. Try not to be tempted to cram an enormous list of ports into one cruise. You could find yourself spending a maximum of a few hours at each, and that's just not enough time to enjoy your surroundings.
Where to Depart From
There are only so many places to depart from on a cruise to the Caribbean and they're all in the eastern, southern, and southeastern United States (except Puerto Rico). However, not every port of departure is used for all cruises. That's right, only certain ports travel to certain destinations. Most people will travel down to Fort Lauderdale, Florida and embark on their cruise there because ships leaving from that port seem to go to all destinations in the Caribbean. You can also catch your boat in Texas or New York. Sailing out of closer ports like those just mentioned could translate into a higher rate for your cruise and a longer trip.
Finally Getting to the Port of Departure
Now that you have all of the big stuff figured out, it's time to look at airfare and accommodation to and at your cruise's port of call. It's vital to make reservations with the airline and get all of your travel documents in order way before your departure date. If not, you may find yourself on standby or missing your cruise because you were bumped from a flight that was overbooked. You will also need to consider travel insurance for your flight so you can be reimbursed if you do somehow miss your cruise. Accommodation is your final step, and you can go as big or small as you like with this decision since you should only be staying in a hotel for a day or two before you embark on your sea-swept journey. Try to pick a hotel that's closer to the port so you can get there quickly on your departure date. Just attempt to leave a two-day cushion so you have a little leeway for delays.