Caribbean Island Cruise

Royal Caribbean Navigator of the SeasLush islands surrounded by clear turquoise seas, hammocks swinging lazily from shady coconut palms while puffy white clouds drift slowly by as the breeze carries strains of calypso music;  pure relaxation.  This is the image conjured up in most of our minds when we hear the word Caribbean.  There is a reason that the Caribbean is one of the world’s most popular cruise destinations.   From the 1690’s until the 1720’s was a very successful time for pirates in the Caribbean Sea but these days that is only for the movies and you can enjoy all the amazing wonders that this region
has to offer without worrying about being pilfered or plundered.

The Caribbean is a region consisting of the Caribbean Sea, its islands also known as the West Indies (most of which are enclosed by the sea), and the surrounding coasts.  Most cruise lines offer a variety of cruises to this area and a number of them have their own private islands. 

Bahamas 

The Bahamas are located in the northernmost portion of the Caribbean Sea closest to Cuba and Florida.  Included are 29 islands and over 600 cays.  This is the area where the cruise lines private islands are located.

Private island resorts owned by cruise lines: 

  • Coco Cay,  (Royal Caribbean) – enjoy aquatic facilities, nature trails or just relax on a hammock on the beach with an umbrella drink in your hand and enjoy they beach BBQ
  • Castaway Cay (Disney Cruise Lines) – offering both a family beach and an adults only beach with furnished cabanas, at Castaway Cay you can relax with an ocean view massage or join a dance party with Lilo and Stitch
  • Great Stirrup Cay (Norwegian Cruise Lines) – if you enjoy swimming and snorkeling, Great Stirrup Cay is the place for you, magnificent white sand beaches complete with majestic palms and surrounded by calm, pristine waters where a large variety of colorful tropical marine life  inhabit the coral reefs
  • Half Moon Cay (Carnival, Holland America) – a gorgeous shallow turquoise bay surrounded by rich tropical greenery with beaches of white ‘sugar sand’, Half Moon Cay is paradise
  • Princess Cay, (Princess Cruise Lines) – take out a clear hull kayak, swim in the crystal clear water of lagoons or rent aqua bikes; snorkeling, scuba diving, glass bottom boat tours and deep sea fishing are all available here

Popular Bahamian Ports of Call:

  • Nassau – the capital of the Commonwealth of the  Bahamas and its largest city, its tropical climate and natural beauty make it a popular destination, it offers a large variety of activities for daytime including the mini SUB adventure (personal submarine) and swimming with dolphins and has a thriving night life scene, the city is rich with history which is evident in its beautiful Victorian architecture and historic forts
  • Freeport – the water temperature here ranges between 72 and 78 degrees and locals enjoy warm moderate weather all year round, enjoy native shows, sightseeing tours, jeep safaris as well as a large variety of other activities here
  • Rum Cay –  believed to have acquired its modern name from a shipwrecked cargo of rum, this would be the perfect island from which to hop on a “booze cruise” or enjoy a fresh pineapple rum drink complete with a tiny umbrella

Western Caribbean 

The Western Caribbean consists of islands south and west of the U.S. mainland, such as Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Jamaica, and destinations along the Eastern Coast of Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula, such as Costa Maya.  The Western Caribbean is famous for outdoor and underwater adventures. 

Typical Ports of Call:

  • Key West – once home to Ernest Hemingway, colorful Key West and it’s casual laid-back attitude is a magnet for artists and poets and those looking for an adventure;  pristine coral reefs, coconut palms and bright blue waters make you never want to leave
  • Cozumel – a popular place to shop for silver and gold jewelry as well as one of the best places to snorkel in the whole world
  • Cancun – offering a large variety of shopping, eating, drinking, tours and other fun things to do, Cancun is fun for everyone
  • Belize City, Belize – home to the “Great Blue Hole” and the longest barrier reef in this hemisphere, ancient Mayan sites, lush tropical rain forests, here you can go on a cave tubing expedition in this unspoiled natural paradise
  • Grand Cayman – take a catamaran or sandbar excursion and swim with the sting rays in stingray city, take an eco-tour or charter a private sailboat to enjoy the tropical beauty of Grand Cayman
  • Ocho Rios, Jamaica – climb 183 meters up Jamaica’s most spectacular and famous waterfall, Dunns River Falls, surrounded by lush gardens and a small golden sand beach or go horseback riding in the depths of the Cascade Rain forest
  • Labadee, Haiti (Royal Caribbean Private Resort) – a private paradise for Royal Caribbean guests with gorgeous natural beauty and plenty of native charm, Labadee features an Aqua Park for kids as well as many other spectacular water activities
  • Falmouth, Jamaica –  visitors to Falmouth will feel like they stepped back in time and will enjoy 19th-century Georgian architecture, Falmouth is the  gateway to the north coast of Jamaica and is centrally located to offer visitors a variety of the  best tour experiences
  • Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras – Roatan is not as touristy as many of the Caribbean islands which is probably appealing to some yet you will find plenty of activities and things to see and plenty of opportunity to learn about the island and Honduran culture
  • Costa Maya, Mexico – learn about Mayan culture and Caribbean Mexican heritage, Costa Maya has rich a historical and cultural tapestry highlighted by acres of unspoiled coastal beaches and vast natural resources, enjoy a zip-line adventure here

Eastern Caribbean 

The Eastern Caribbean includes the islands east of Puerto Rico which are also commonly known as the Leeward Islands.  There are fewer ports of call in the Eastern Caribbean, so for those that want more time at sea to relax and spend time on the ship this is perfect.   Generally, cruise fares are less as there are fewer port charges and taxes.

Common Eastern Caribbean islands:

  • Saint Maarten (Phillipsburg), Netherlands Antilles – a cosmopolitan atmosphere with a Caribbean twist, if you appreciate happening nightlife, gourmet food, world class shopping (duty-free!), pristine beaches, and a year-round warm climate, this is the place for you
  • Saint Thomas, US Virgin Islands – jump in an island taxi for a guided tour of the island or visit Coral World Ocean Park for an up close interaction and observation of various marine life
  • Antigua, Antigua and Barbuda – Antigua is the sunniest of the Eastern Caribbean islands, visit the fascinating little island of Barbuda, once a scavenger’s paradise because so many ships wrecked on its reefs, it is now home to one of the region’s most significant bird sanctuaries
  • Tortola, British Virgin Islands – explore ancient ruins or relax on white sand beaches, enjoy delectable local cuisine
  • Saint Croix, US Virgin Islands – home to Buck Island Reef, the only United States National Monument that is underwater, visit the Cruzan Rum distillery
  • Saint Johns, Antigua and Barbuda – enjoy golfing, off road jeep tours, hiking and bird watching as well as plenty of water activities
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico – glitzy resort and casinos are plentiful in this big city with a back drop of Puerto Rican landscapes that include rain forest, white sand beaches, underground caves and coral reefs
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis (Basse Terre) – a quarter of this islands land is set aside as a National Park, plentiful wildlife and a growing rain forest, take the Mt. Liamuiga Volcano Crater Hike where the view from the edge of this giant volcano crater, which is one thousand feet deep and almost a mile in diameter, will leave you truly awed, often called the “Giants Salad Bowl” with lushly forested steep sides, and far below, the crater floor  has steaming sulfur vents surrounded by a lush rain forest with a shallow freshwater lake in the middle

Southern Caribbean 

Southern Caribbean generally refers to those islands north of Venezuela. Cruises originating from San Juan Puerto Rico, Barbados and other ports requiring flights from the continental US usually have low cruise fares to compensate for the flight costs.

Typical Ports of Call: 

  • San Juan Puerto Rico – Puerto Rico’s capital is the second oldest European-established city in the Americas, founded by Spanish colonists in 1521
  • Barbados – swim with the turtles or enjoy a Jammin’ Catamaran Cruise, or choose from a Shipwreck Adventure tour, Jeep Safari tour or an Atlantis Submarine Expedition
  • Saint Lucia – rich history, culture and heritage as well as stunning beaches with clear water, a truly romantic get-away
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis (Saint Kitts) – breathtaking natural beauty
  • Dominica – if you are up for a 13 km hike you can visit the astonishing Boiling Lake, it is filled with bubbling grayish-blue water that is usually enveloped in a cloud of vapor and has a temperature of nearly 100 degrees on the edges and is the second largest natural hot spring in the world
  • Curacao, Netherlands Antilles – featuring sugar sand beaches and the Mushroom Forest, an underwater jungle of 10-foot, mushroom-shaped star coral
  • Grenada and the Grenadines – a diving and snorkeling paradise and home to The Bianca C, known locally as the ‘Titanic of the Caribbean’, due to her sheer size and presence, she sank in 1961 and is 600’ long and sits upright in 165’ of water, she has very few rivals in the realm of warm water wreck diving, Bianca C is commonly listed as one of the ‘top ten’ wreck dive sites in the world that divers should visit

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