For a winter cruise vacation, who can resist the warm breezes, soft sand and swaying palms of the Caribbean? The Caribbean lies close to North America, but offers a completely different world of tranquil lagoons, coral reefs alive with colorful sea life, festive music and spicy flavors. Now is the perfect time to explore your options for a winter Caribbean cruise getaway.
The Eastern Caribbean includes the American and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and St. Maarten/St. Martin. Many Eastern Caribbean cruises also include islands that technically lie north of the Caribbean, such as the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. This is a well-developed cruise region with lots of welcoming ports and activities for visitors, including beaches, watersports, boat tours, fishing, tours of historic sites, hiking and duty-free shopping. You can embark from home ports stretching from Miami to as far north as New York City; some cruises, especially those that include Southern Caribbean ports, depart from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The islands of the Southern Caribbean – including St. Lucia, Martinique, Barbados, Grenada and the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) – tend to be a bit quieter and even more culturally diverse then their Eastern Caribbean counterparts. Many of the islands retain a strong colonial; for example, French-speaking St. Barth’s is like a little bit of Paris dropped into the tropics (there are also interesting buildings left over from its time as a Swedish colony). These islands offer a stunning variety of landscapes, from the distinctive twin peaks (the Pitons) of St. Lucia to the cactus-dotted hills and flat volcanic plain of Aruba. While it’s possible to embark on Southern Caribbean cruises from northern homeports, more often they depart from Ft. Lauderdale, Miami or San Juan.
The Western Caribbean is a family cruise favorite, though it’s a lovely romantic and spring break destination, too. This region includes Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Cozumel and the Caribbean coastlines of Mexico and Belize. Mexico’s Costa Maya blends modern attractions – such as dolphin adventures, zip lines and ecoparks – with impressive historical sites, including the archeological sites in Tulum and Chichen Itza. There are white sand beaches separated by rocky headlands; just off the coast is the world’s second-longest barrier reef. This region is served by an array of convenient homeports along the Eastern and Gulf Coasts, including Houston and New Orleans.
To plan your winter getaway to the warmth and sun of the Caribbean, talk with your travel professional.