Caribbean cruises are the most popular of all cruises, accounting for nearly 50 percent of cruise ship capacity placement. The extensive region, which is bounded by the South American coast, Central America, Mexico and North America, is made up of many nationalities, typically characterized by a laid-back, no-worries attitude.
Cruises in the Caribbean often visit three to six ports on a weeklong itinerary. Eastern Caribbean itineraries depart South Florida for visits that may include the Bahamas, St. Thomas and St. John. A Western Caribbean cruise vacation typically visits Key West, Mexico and either the Cayman Islands or Jamaica. Deep or Southern Caribbean cruises may start in San Juan, Barbados, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and ports in New York and Florida, charting a course for the Leeward Islands and beyond.
Southern Caribbean cruises visit the idyllic and diminutive islands from Antigua south to Trinidad, and along the northeastern coast of South America. These voyages offer cruisers port-intensive itineraries that take in some of the Caribbean’s lesser-known and most pristine islands.
Cruise lines generally offer two types of itineraries: one for those who enjoy the resort-type experience and another for those who love ports of call. Hence, some cruises offer sailings with at least a few days at sea. These are for people who like to plop themselves in a lounge chair in the sun, pull out a good book and relax. These cruises often depart South Florida.
Those who want to set foot ashore more often may find destination-intensive itineraries more satisfying. These typically depart from San Juan or the Southern Caribbean and take in a port a day so that you get a taste of the Caribbean.
Peak season in the Caribbean usually falls between January through March. Ships tend to fill faster during these months. Hurricane season is from June through November. Ships, however, can steer clear of these storms. The calmest months to cruise the Caribbean: April and May.