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The Caribbean is the most popular cruise destination in the world. The location is the most sought-after with the year-long warm weather, breathtaking beaches, laid-back vibes, and the perfect relaxing vacation spot. The Caribbean is also easily accessible when traveling from the US, with cruise ships departing from Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral, Miami, and more.
But did you know that the Caribbean is not just one destination? It is home to dozens of islands. The coastal nation has its uniqueness with all the cultures and attractions. The country is divided into three sub-regions - East, West, and the South. However, Eastern Caribbean and the Western Caribbean are the popular contenders. Read on to find out the best Caribbean cruises and where you can travel this year.
Island hopping, tropical drinks, sightseeing, pristine beaches, shopping, and a lot of relaxing - this is the Eastern Caribbean for you. Easter Caribbean is the image that comes to mind when people think about the Caribbean islands being the beach lover’s paradise. St. Thomas is the perfect place to score some fantastic deals on the best designer brands.
So, if your idea of an ideal vacation is relaxing, sipping your favorite drinks, and shopping, then the Eastern Caribbean is the place to be.
Common port calls on the route to the Easter Caribbean are the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Grand Trunk, and other islands of varying sizes. Eastern Caribbean is great for people who desire island-hopping as well.
Western Caribbean islands are the perfect blend of adventure, sun, and history. From exploring the historical Mayan ruins to interacting with the stingrays or spending the entire day sunbathing and swimming on the beaches, you can do all this and more in the Western Caribbean.
Western Caribbean is known for its water sports and activities like snorkeling and diving. There are also coral reefs that can be explored in the clear and calm sea waters. And when you are tired of water sports, you can try zip-lining through the rainforest and explore wildlife in the natural reserves. The western Caribbean does not have much to offer for shopaholics, apart from tequila, silver, and exotic spices like cinnamon and vanilla.
Common Port Calls on your route to the Western Caribbean are Mexico, Belize, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Key West, and Honduras. Typically, cruises to the Western Caribbean are longer sailing times with more days spent at sea.
Prices for Eastern Caribbean
Eastern cruise ships have comparable pricing compared to the Western Caribbean prices, especially during the off-season. During peak season, it is the Easter Caribbean cruises that will charge you extra fare.
Eastern Caribbean has more port stops on the way, which increases the overall charges of your cruise. There are also a few options that sail to the Eastern Caribbean from the US.
Best Caribbean cruises - Eastern Caribbean
Find the best deals to Eastern Caribbean this year on the best Caribbean cruises:
1. 7-Nights Eastern Caribbean (Port Canaveral Roundtrip) on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line - $544
2. 5-Nights Eastern Caribbean (Port Canaveral) on Carnival Cruises - $219
3. 7-Day Norwegian Escape Cruise to Eastern Caribbean (Port Canaveral) on Norwegian Cruise Line - $ 599
4. 7-Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise from Port Canaveral on Disney Cruise Line - $1,767
Prices for the Western Caribbean
Western Caribbean is home to a plethora of ports, from Florida to Texas. Cozumel is the most included port and is often considered the gem of the Western Caribbean. There is no surprise that there are many incredible sailing options to this destination.
Most of the cruises to the Western Caribbean have one less port day than the Eastern Caribbean cruise option. This makes the overall cost of cruising less expensive in comparison to the Eastern counterpart.
The Western Caribbean cruises offer more “sea days,” cutting down the overall fare, and it’s a favorite among people who love exploring the best Caribbean cruises.
Best Caribbean cruises - Western Caribbean
Find the best deals to the Western Caribbean on the best Caribbean cruises:
1. 7-Days Western Caribbean From Galveston, TX on Carnival Cruise Line - $ 519
2. 7-Days Western Caribbean with Mexico (Ft. Lauderdale Roundtrip) on Princess Cruise Line - $664
3. 4-Nights Western Caribbean Cruise from Tampa, Florida on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line - $226
4. 5-Days Western Caribbean Cruise from Orlando (Port Canaveral) on Norwegian Escape - $399
Year-round cruises that average around 5-7 nights are typical for Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises. However, some cruises can also be just 2-days short and can go on up to 21 nights.
Eastern Caribbean cruises depart from Florida, New York, New Jersey, Charleston, Mobile, Norfolk, Baltimore, and New Orleans. Some routes can also start from San Juan, Bridgetown, Phillipsburg, Dominican Republic, and Guadeloupe. Easter Caribbean cruises on these routes depict everything you wish to see from an ideal Caribbean vacation, with the best beaches, island hopping, shopping experiences, and delicious meals.
Eastern Caribbean cruises typically include port stops in Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Grand Trunk, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Kitts, US Virgin Islands, and the British Virgin Islands.
The itineraries on Eastern Caribbean cruise routes also stop at some private islands like:
1. CocoCay for Royal Caribbean cruise line
2. Half Moon Cay and Princess Cay for Carnival, Princess and Holland America cruise lines
3. Ocean Cay for MSC Cruise line
4. Castaway Cay for Disney Cruise line
If you prefer visiting and exploring as many ports as possible, choose Eastern Caribbean sails that depart from the Caribbean ports. You will be compensated for the total time you take to reach Florida by stopping in at least four different islands on a typical 7-nights cruise.
Western Caribbean cruises depart from Miami, Tampa, Port Canaveral, Galveston, New Orleans, Mobile, and Puerto Rico. Some routes leading to the Western Caribbean take you on an island-hopping journey with various stops across Mexico and Central America. These destinations take longer to sail through, which offers you more days at sea. So, you get plenty of time to explore and indulge in the cruise ship.
There are many ports leading to the Western Caribbean that are frequently visited, like Mexico, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Key West, Honduras, and the Bahamas. Mexico is the most common stop on these itineraries, with ports like Costa Maya, Cozumel, and Progreso. Other frequently visited destinations along the Western Caribbean itinerary include Falmouth and Ocho Rios in Jamaica.
Private island destinations along the way are in Labadee, Haiti, for the Royal Caribbean cruise line.
Western Caribbean cruises hardly stop at more than four ports on their way to the final destination since it takes longer to travel from one port to another. This ends up increasing the overall time spent at sea for these cruises.
No matter where you choose to go, East or West, you will find abundantly breathtaking views on some of the best beaches in the world. If you love sunbathing on the beach sand with your favorite cocktail, you will not be disappointed!
Beaches in Eastern Caribbean
The picturesque views and the allure of the Eastern Caribbean beaches are something that draws everyone here. Trunk Bay, St. John in the US Virgin Islands, and Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands draws the most crowd for their white-sand beaches. Other sought-after coastlines in the East are those of Iles Des Saintes, Anguilla, and St. Barts.
You can also spend your day along crystal-clear seas at the Great Bay beach in St. Maarten or Cockleshell Beach in St. Kitts.
Beaches in the Western Caribbean
When you are aboard the best Caribbean cruises and headed to the Western parts of the island nation, you will be welcomed by some of the most amazing beaches. Beaches of Jamaica, Mexico, Grand Cayman, Honduras, and Belize are going to leave you mesmerized. You can enjoy tons of activities like swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling on these beaches.
The most famous beach stops along the Western Caribbean coast are Montego Bay in Jamaica, and Cozumel, Mexico. Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman is another incredible beach to look out for.
Eastern Caribbean offers you more than just sunbathing and shopping. The itineraries might seem restrictive, but there are so many things to do in the Caribbean for everyone. You can:
1. Go ziplining in St. Maarten
2. Kayak off the Tortola coast
3. Explore the colonial fortress in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
4. Explore the cobblestone streets in Puerto Rico
5. Explore and shop around the Central Market in St. Lucia
6. Learn more about Danish colonial history in St. Croix
While most of your days will be spent at sea with cruises taking you to the Western Caribbean, there are still plenty of activities that you can indulge in. Destinations like Mexico and Grand Cayman offer you a chance to do many things. You can:
1. Explore the living history of Mexico
2. Swim through underwater caves
3. Do scuba diving on the Grand Cayman shore
4. Try horseback riding in Jamaica
5. Swim through the Grand Cayman with stingrays
6. Visit Iguana farms in Roatan, Honduras
7. Ride a mountain bike
8. Visit the historical Mayan ruins
9. Check out the wildlife around Belize City
Expert Tip: Opt for the Western Caribbean cruises for family-friendly activities that are also a hit with the kids. You can explore water parks, historical ruins, go on various outdoor adventures, explore breathtaking beaches, and do so much more! Western Caribbean will not disappoint you or your kids. However, if you just want to explore the beaches and relax while sipping your mimosas, pick the Eastern Caribbean cruise itineraries. Your vacation will be laid-back and calm, just the way you want it to be.
Things To Know
The Grand Cayman stop along the Western Caribbean route might not be available to explore at times. Tours to this stop can be canceled sometimes because of heavy winds and surfs. While in Jamaica, you might find yourself surrounded by vendors with pretty aggressive and persuasive selling techniques. Be wary of the “extra” shopping you do.
While St. Thomas and St. Maarten on the Easter Caribbean routes can sometimes be extra-crowded with a footfall of over 10,000 passengers at a time, this can cause traffic jams in and around the island.
No matter where you aim to go, when you travel on the best Caribbean cruises, you will only find crystal-clear waters, impeccable delicacies, and beautiful beaches. The tropical climate and the warm weather all around the year also make for the perfect winter vacation spot. The laid-back environment offers you time to relax and unwind from your daily hustle and bustle.
While the Eastern Caribbean offers more relaxation and calm, the Western Caribbean offers various things to do, both at best and around the island. Western Caribbean cruises would take you on a fun-filled, adventurous vacation. The Eastern Cruise will take you to some of the gorgeous beaches on the planet! It is finally your decision where you go. But whatever you do, choose our above-mentioned best Caribbean cruises for the best vacation.
Happy Cruising to you!
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