The Caribbean is a vacation oasis. With unique islands, exciting activities, delightful cuisines, stunning beaches, beautiful jungles, blue seas and amazing history, there is something for everyone.
With so much to offer, getting the most of these incredible islands might seem daunting. However, there is an easy solution. A great cruise itinerary will take you from one destination to the next, making sure you get to visit and experience the best of the Caribbean in a convenient and comfortable manner. Plus, a cruise ship is the perfect place to relax, dine and recharge in between islands.
Here are the top reasons why a Caribbean cruise should be your next vacation.
The beauty of the Caribbean touches every part of the experience. It’s simply inseparable.
Lovers of the outdoors will appreciate hiking to stunning mountain views, animal lovers can get up close and personal with eye-popping tropical fish and their coral reef homes and beachgoers can relax on white-sand beaches and shimmering blue waters. Whatever you do, it’s sure to be enhanced by the surrounding beaty.
At the center of international trade, cultural exchange, and yes, even pirates, for hundreds of years, you are bound to find fascinating relics, stories and heritage of the civilizations of old.
The roots of the Dutch, British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, African and Indigenous peoples are all here. You can visit UNESCO World Heritage sites, ancient forts, museums and churches throughout the Caribbean.
The Caribbean is a haven for foodies. The warm climates mean that fresh, tropical and exotic fruits are available year-round and are only a quick stop at a local fruit stand away. You may have tried coconut, pineapple, mangoes, guava or papaya at home, but you haven’t had the full experience until you have eaten the sweetest, locally sourced versions.
Legendary dishes like jerk chicken and Caribbean-style curries are also available in their most traditional forms. Foodies will love a trip to a rum distillery, cocoa farm or local coffee tasting. Not only will you get to see where these iconic Caribbean tastes come from, but you will get an experience that you won’t soon forget.
And as you might expect, the Caribbean’s seafood and shellfish is unmatched. Just one taste of steamed snapper, shrimp or fried fish will have you rethinking your favorite seafood meals back home. Adventurous eaters will have access to eats you can only find on the islands like conch or even shark!
Each destination, with its unique histories, culture, and plant life, will have its own specialty dish. Try creative versions of mahi-mahi, lionfish or grouper dishes in Aruba. Dutch flavors are infused here too, as seen in keshi yena, a ball of warm, steamed or fried cheese stuffed with meat. In Belize, savor grilled lobster or any number of dishes served with rice and beans. Try French favorites with a Caribbean twist on the French side of St. Marteen island.
A cruise that takes you from island to island makes sure that each of these dishes are on the menu.
Each Caribbean destination is a world of unique cultures and experiences. None of the over 80 islands are exactly alike.
- Antigua – Most will stop at St. John’s, Antigua. Whether you are a history buff or looking to relax beachside, this is the place for you. Visit Fort James or St. John’s Cathedral and walk in the footsteps of British and Caribbean history. There are plenty of beaches to choose from. In fact, you could visit a new one every day for a year and never repeat!
- Aruba – A top destination for visitors, this island’s motto of “One Happy Island” reflects in the crystal blue waters and every attraction. Visitors will love simply enjoying cocktails on the world-ranking Eagle Beach or heading on an adventure in nature. Climb to the top of the Hooiberg volcanic formation for sweeping tropical views. Or, get a glimpse into the life of indigenous islanders long before Europeans arrived at the National Archeological Museum.
- Belize – A paradise for travelers seeking truly unique experiences, visitors to Belize will be surrounded by fascinating marine life and lush jungles filled with ancient Mayan ruins. Check out the ruins of Xunatunich and step back in time through 25 temples to a 3,000-year-old Mayan civilization. Try snorkeling and diving at Hol Chan Marine Reserve to swim with colorful tropical fish. Nature lovers will bite at the bit to tube and kayak through ancient caves on the Caves Branch River.
- Grand Cayman – Understand the history of this popular Caribbean destination by checking out the Pedro St. James Castle. This oceanfront mansion and historic site is known as the birthplace of Cayman Islands democracy. On Grand Cayman, the beaches are both beautiful and are littered with starfish. Head inland for a walk through Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park or a guided tour of the underground Crystal Caves.
- St. Marteen – With both a French and Dutch sides of the island, St. Marteen offers plenty of diversity within the confines of the island itself. Visit the remains of Fort Amsterdam to both take in the history and take in a beautiful sunset evening. For a bit of French flair, head to Marigot to check out the marina, cafes, restaurants, shops and Marigot Market for shopping.
- U.S. Virgin Islands – It’s often said that the best of the Caribbean is found on the islands of St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas. Relax, swim and snorkel at the renowned beaches. Shoppers will find not just a tropical paradise but a paradise of boutiques, souvenirs shops, and vendors of local products of all sorts. Get away from the bustling beach towns into natural and secluded beauty on an island tour by boat. Walk in the steps of the world’s most famous real-life pirate by visiting Blackbeard’s Castle in Charlotte Amalie and climb the 99 Steps to see St. Thomas from above.
- Costa Rica – Costa Rican jungles are known throughout the globe for their lush rainforest habitats and their iconic sloth inhabitants. The value of wellness and “pura vida” lifestyle permeates through the island’s yoga culture, spas, secluded natural attractions and peaceful beaches. Thrill-seekers will love exploring natural caves and ziplining through the rainforest canopy. The capital, San Jose, is worth a stop for its picturesque location amongst towering mountains. Visit coffee farms and taste the best of one of Costa Rica’s top export.
- Tortola, British Virgin Islands – Nature lovers will be at home on a stop to Tortola. Immerse yourself in the island’s tropical habitat and take in the island’s beauty from above on a hike along the Sage Mountain National Park. Venture under the sea with a snorkel in tow and encounter colorful marine life as you have only seen in the movies.
- Bridgetown, Barbados – This island has it all: historic sites, beautiful island waters and local dishes like coucou ( a savory porridge similar to grits or polenta) and macaroni pie.
- Florida – Many Caribbean vacations, cruise or not, will begin in Florida. Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Tampa Bay are all top departure ports with their own destination-worthy attractions, like Everglades tours and restaurants specializing in Cuban cuisine.
With so many options, planning a way to make the most of it can be daunting. A cruise takes away that hassle. Cruise itineraries are expertly designed to take you to the best of each part of the Caribbean. There is no shortage of cruise itineraries to choose from, so you are sure to find one that will deliver the kind of experience you are after.
Choose a regional Caribbean cruise like a Southern, Western or Eastern Caribbean cruise to travel from island to island and destination to destination, making sure you conveniently get as many different tastes of the region as possible. Or, dig your toes in the sands and focus on the specific islands you are most interested in on a more destination-specific cruise.
Cruises drop you off in popular port cities, usually bustling with restaurants, beaches, shops and tours, and have transportation to the rest of the island for more off-the-beaten-path adventures.
Plus, a cruise will have excursions tailored to each port stop ready for you to embark on, so you can focus on enjoying your vacation rather than, finding, booking and traveling to your adventure.
Your Cruise Ship, Your Home Base
Having a consistent place to return to, relax and recharge while on vacation is a necessity. Cruise ships fill this role perfectly for Caribbean adventures.
With so many sights to see, beaches to relax on, foods and cocktails to try, and sometimes strenuous outdoor activities to do, it is a relief to know that a comfortable bed in a well-appointed room is waiting for you. Since most Caribbean vacations involve hopping from island to island, a cruise is the only way to get to visit several destinations while maintaining the same lodging.
Plus, this means you won’t have to pack you and your family’s bags over and over to be able to go to your next destination.
After an especially exhausting day, getting pampered without having to leave the friendly confines of your ship might be exactly what you need. To do so, check out an onboard spa, a common amenity aboard most cruise ships.
Much More Than a Flight
When the Caribbean is your destination, a cruise ship offers so much more to the journey than a flight.
Most cruise ships are overflowing with amenities and activities, meaning that your travels between ports are an attraction themselves.
Onboard features, restaurants and entertainment only add to your vacation experience.
Ready to set sail? Contact a AAA travel advisor and start planning your Caribbean cruise today.