Caribbean Cruises: Let Your Worries Drift away in this Tropical Paradise
By Ryan Staskel
If you picture a cruise to the Caribbean as just sand and shore, then you are correct. But there are some big differences between the Western, Eastern and Southern Caribbean. All offer miles of sun and shore, but there's much more to each of the regions.While there is some overlap of the countries you can cruise in the Western, Eastern and Southern Caribbean, each region is very distinct.
If you are not sure what there is to see in the Western Caribbean, check out some of its largest cities: Havana, Santo Domingo, Port-au-Prince and San Juan. Sound familiar? This region is located north of South America, southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and east of Central America. The area offers 7,000 islands, islets, reefs and cays. Some call it the West Indies, but it actually includes the larger Greater Antilles, Lesser Antilles, Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, Honduras, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos Islands and Puerto Rico.
The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States includes Antigua, Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. As these islands are fairly close to the United States, this has proven to be one of the most popular routes for cruise ships.
Located close to the equator, the Southern Caribbean enjoys tropical weather throughout the year. This region includes Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, St Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Netherlands Antilles, Aruba and Grenada.
The best way to see any or all of the Caribbean is probably aboard a ship. You can spends years cruising the Western, Eastern and Southern Caribbean and still not seen it all. Check out these popular itineraries:
Spend six days and five nights aboard the Celebrity Century. Prices start at $299 a person, based on adult, double occupancy. Get on board in Miami, Florida, and see Honduras on day three, Cozumel, Mexico, on day four and return to Miami on day six.
While at sea for two days, you can enjoy a host of activities. For entertainment, choose full-stage shows at the two-story Celebrity Theatre, cabaret and comedians at the Rendez-Vous Square, dancing at The Crystal Room, piano music and disco dancing in the Hemisphere Lounge and blackjack, roulette, craps, Caribbean stud poker or the slots at Fortunes Casino.
If you're looking for more onboard activities, consider duty-free shops on The Boulevard, two outdoor swimming pools, decks sports like the Golf Simulator, shuffleboard and jogging, and full-service treatments in the beauty salon, sauna, steam room and fitness center. If you have kids with you, check out the Youth Counselors, Children's Program and Cyberspace Video Game Room.
Get on board in Miami and spend eight days and seven nights on the Norwegian Pearl at prices starting at $449 a person, based on adult, double occupancy. You will visit ports of call in Samana, Dominican Republic; St. Thomas; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; and Great Stirrup Cay, the private island purchased by the cruise line in the Bahamas.
The Norwegian Pearl is a new ship that offers 12 eateries, 11 bars and lounges like the new Bliss Ultra Lounge with a bowling alley, sports bar and night club.
If you are looking for new dining experiences, check out the Lotus Garden for Asian dishes, tapas at Mambos, a nice cut of beef at Cagney's and French cuisine at Le Bistro. If you are concerned with your accommodations, take a look at some of the special spaces aboard the Norwegian Pearl - the Courtyard Villas on Deck 14. They feature a private-access courtyard with a pool, hot tub, exercise room, sundeck and cabanas. There are also Garden Villas, each offering 5,000 square feet of space with three bedrooms, a private garden, hot tub and access to a private pool.
At prices starting at $524 a person, based on adult, double occupancy, you can spend seven days and six nights aboard the Caribbean Princess. Leaving from San Juan, Puerto Rico, you will visit Aruba on day three, Bonaire on day four, Grenada on day five, Dominca on day six and St. Thomas on day seven. The Caribbean Princess is one of the biggest ships of the Princess fleet, with almost 900 cabins with balconies so you can enjoy the seaside view. For entertainment, you can view Movies Under the Stars with a giant, poolside video screen.
It also offers you a flexible dining style. You can select specialty dining, traditional dining, anytime dining or casual dining. You can dine at the Sterling Steakhouse, Sabatini's Italian Trattoria, Themed Cafe Caribe - as well as a variety of bars and lounges. When planning your trip, remember that prices do not include the airfare to meet the ship, the taxes and tips, or fees for special excursions. Whether it's your first time visiting the Caribbean or you're a seasoned veteran, a quick search on the web is sure to yield the cruise package you've been dreaming of.
Ryan taskel is a freelance writer who writes about travel and leisure topics and options such as Caribbean cruises .
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.