Monday, September 24, 2007

Choosing a Caribbean Cruise Vacation

Though cruises are increasing in popularity all over world, the Caribbean cruise vacation remains one of the most popular.

The islands are known for their white sandy beaches, clear turquoise waters, warm weather, lush gardens, swaying palm trees, and just about anything else that comes to mind when you think of the tropics.

And what better way to see the gorgeous Caribbean islands than by ship?

Instead of flying to one specific island and spending your whole time there, a cruise gives you the opportunity to see several islands in one trip. And, of course, the cruise itself is half the fun. (Okay, maybe more than half. Today’s mainstream ships feature everything from rock climbing walls, to comedy routines, to wine tasting classes, to beer gardens, to skating rinks. And, of course, there’s the pool, lots of lounge chairs, and endless yummy things to eat.)

There are several types of Caribbean cruise vacations to choose from. Most cruises leave from Florida, but it’s also possible to find ships departing from Galveston, Texas, and ports on the east coast.

Short excursions of three or four days, typically wrapped around a long weekend, are popular with those who live in or close to Florida. For those of us who have to fly to a cruise port, the one-week trip usually makes more sense.

You can choose to cruise to the eastern Caribbean, the western Caribbean, or the southern Caribbean. Any of these areas makes for a wonderful vacation.

The eastern Caribbean frequently features stops at the Bahamas, Grand Turk, Puerto Rico, San Juan, the Virgin Islands, and the Dominican Republic. The islands here are relatively close together, so this can be a great cruise vacation for you if you prefer less time at sea and more time on the beach (or shopping and seeing the sites on the islands).

A western Caribbean cruise vacation may visit Mexico, Cozumel, the Yucatan, Jamaica, Roatan Island, Honduras, and the Cayman Islands. Here, the ports of call are father apart, which translates to more sailing time. But since you often hit the Mexican mainland, too, the shore excursions tend to be more varied with visits to Mayan ruins and hikes in rainforests typical.

A southern Caribbean cruise often means taking more than a week for a vacation or flying to an island for departure (as opposed to taking off from Florida or another U.S. State). This part of the Caribbean tends to be less crowded, so if you’re looking to visit some more out-of-the-way spots, the southern islands may be an ideal vacation for you. Typical ports of call are Barbados, Antigua, Tortola, Puerto Rico, and the Grenadines.

No matter which Caribbean cruise vacation you choose (eastern, western, or southern), you’ll most likely have a lovely time and enjoy the beautiful seas, the diverse sites, and of course the delicious tropical climate.

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