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Caribbean Cruises

The Caribbean is the most popular destination for cruising in the world, and it's easy to see why. With stunning beaches, exotic ports, and a huge range of itineraries available, you're guaranteed an incredible vacation.

Cruising is the best way to explore the Caribbean as you can sleep while you're traveling and awaken to a new and exciting destination every day.

The most popular time to cruise the Caribbean is November to May, although traveling in the low season can mean cheaper prices. June to November is hurricane season though, which means there may be sudden changes in your itinerary if there are any weather-related problems.

The hardest choice (other than which company to cruise with), is whether to cruise through the western, eastern, or southern Caribbean.

Eastern Caribbean

Most cruises sailing to the eastern Caribbean leave from Florida. The eastern Caribbean generally means everything east of Puerto Rico, which you can expect to visit, along with favorites like St. Maarten, San Juan, St. Kitts, Haiti, and St. Thomas.

The distance between the islands in the eastern Caribbean is smaller than that of the islands in the western Caribbean, which means you'll spend less time at sea and more time exploring the islands.

Excursions:

Some of the best shore excursions include ziplining through the St. Maarten forest canopy, kayaking through the Laguna Grande in Fajardo (the bay is full of bioluminescent organisms that light up as you paddle through them), diving in Grand Turk, taking in the view from Morne du Vitet in St. Barts, and swimming with the dolphins in St. Thomas.

Western Caribbean

While cruises in the western Caribbean may include more time at sea, you're also likely to find yourself in slightly more exotic destinations. Cruises depart from Fort Lauderdale, Miami, New Orleans, Houston, Tampa, Galveston and Port Canaveral to name a few, so there are more itinerary options for those who don't want to fly to Florida before the cruise departs.

Top ports of call on western Caribbean cruises include Belize, Mexico, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Florida, and Honduras. The western itineraries are brilliant for scuba divers and snorkelers, as well as those who want to experience some culture and history.

Excursions:

Popular excursions in the western Caribbean include cave tubing in Belize, snorkeling with friendly sting rays in Grand Cayman, exploring Mayan ruins in Costa Maya, and ATV riding in Cozumel.

Southern Caribbean

Southern Caribbean itineraries are ideal for those who have cruised in the Caribbean before, as the destinations are often less crowded and more "off the beaten track".

Some itineraries will depart from Barbados or Puerto Rico, as the destinations are too far south to depart from the United States. Expect to visit places like St. Vincent, Guadulupe, Grenada, Iles des Saintes, Mayreau Island, Bequila, Curacao, Tobago Cays and St Kitts.

The southern Caribbean is perfect for adventurers, and those who don't mind doing some island hopping. You won't find a Walmart or McDonalds at these ports, and because the islands are less accessible they'll be less crowded with tourists.

Don't expect to do much lying around on a southern Caribbean cruise as there generally isn't much time at sea, but if you're a thrill seeker this is the best itinerary for you.

Excursions:

Highlights include watching the sunset in Aruba, exploring the sulfur springs in St. Lucia, rain forest hiking in Grenada, and taking a scenic rail tour in St. Kitts.

Excursions

No one wants to spend the whole cruise on the ship, and there are tons of excursions available for those who want to explore the islands.

While it can sometimes be cheaper to book excursions locally, it's worth booking them through your cruise. This will ensure you go with a reputable company, and decreases the risk of you getting ripped off.

If you do choose to book locally, keep in mind that the ship won't wait for you if you're late back. If you're on an excursion organized by your cruise company, they'll be able to get in contact with the ship which will either wait, or arrange for you to get back onboard at the next stop.