Imagine cruising through the sun-soaked islands of the Caribbean, where the spectacular beauty of St. Barts, the pristine beaches of Aruba, and the French colonial charm of Martinique never fail to enchant. Experience the thrill of landing your first catch, deep-sea fishing the turquoise waters of the Mexican Riviera. Follow in hushed awe as a local guide uncovers hidden paths in the rain forest leading to a postcard perfect waterfall, or to a promontory overlooking the steaming rim of one of the Caribbean's many dormant volcanoes. Explore the 17th century plantations of St. Kitts, the beautiful churches of St. George's, the colorful marketplaces at Soufriere and the Spanish tiled courtyards of San Juan. Walk the parapets of a 16th century fort, ancient cannons intact and seeming still to be poised to defend against marauding pirates. Or wander cobblestone streets with names from the "old countries," all the while keenly aware of the pervasive fragrance of tropical blossoms.
Note About Caribbean Destinations: You will notice that in the Destination Menu there are three additional Caribbean options (East, West and South). Some cruise lines identify their itineraries with specific areas of the Caribbean while some cruise lines simply refer to the generic "Caribbean" as a destination. This page contains all itineraries and cruise lines regardless of the region of the Caribbean.
A visit to the Caribbean today offers far more than the world's best beaches. As the islands have grown into international travel destinations, their individual features and strengths have emerged. Many traditional cultures have been preserved, and the astonishing ecological treasures of the islands are now among their most celebrated features. The region's rich history is also gaining a more appreciative audience among vacationers. Today, the Caribbean offers a more diverse and vibrant travel experience than ever before.
The Caribbean is fairly easy to get to by air from the United States and the weather there is warm and sunny year-round. These factors make the Caribbean the most popular cruise destination. You can choose from a cruise to the Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean, Southern Caribbean or a combination of these destinations. Since so many ships sail to the Caribbean, with dozens staying there full time and with cruise lines deploying even bigger new ships there, some of the islands tend to get very crowded when several ships are in port at the same time. However, several of the islands have upgraded their terminal facilities recognizing how lucrative cruise ship arrivals can be.
Hurricane season in the Caribbean is officially from June 1 to November 30 but rarely are cruisers bothered by this except for maybe a little rain and some choppy seas. We have cruised in the Caribbean many times during hurricane season and never experienced anything more than occasional rain. Today's weather forecasting and ship's instruments make the chance of getting caught in a major storm very slight. Ships are fast enough that the Captain can change course quickly enough to avoid any trouble. You should always be aware, however, that the cruise line always has the option of skipping a particular port if weather or sea conditions make tendering or docking hazardous. This possibility does increase during hurricane season.
In general, high season in the Caribbean is from mid-December to mid-April which coincides with the time when Northerners want to flee the cold weather for warmer climates. The Christmas holidays, New Year's, and Easter are generally the busiest times. Avoid cruising during Spring Break if you don't enjoy rowdy partying teenagers. The summer months of June, July and August tend to see a lot of families onboard the ships since school is out. Temperatures are generally hotter during these summer months, but less windy as a rule. September, October and early November are considered low season when fewer people travel.
The Caribbean ports have steadily increased the activities available in the way of shore excursions. More adventure-type activities are now offered such as riding ATVs, zip-lining, explorations using four-wheel drive vehicles, canoeing, wave runners, parasailing and horseback riding on the beach. Of course, water-related activities are still the main draw here including swimming, sailing, fishing, scuba diving and beach visits. Some Caribbean islands are known for the shopping; others for their natural beauty. Big ships tend to visit the larger, more commercialized islands while the smaller ships will take in some of the less populated and more intriguing little islands.