An explosion of colour, the Caribbean offers beautiful sights that you thought you could only dream of, fringed by beaches, crystal clear seas and gently swaying palms, rounded off with an added dose of rum. It’s certainly not hard to see why the Caribbean is one of the best-loved holiday destinations, with the biggest cruise market in the world. With over 700 stunning and diverse islands, though only 2% of these islands inhabited, there is always somewhere or something new and exciting to explore.
The Caribbean really is made for cruise holidays. From Barbados and Antigua to St. Lucia and Grenada, a wealth of hidden treasures, including historic harbours, lush tropical forests and character-laden towns await. The notorious laid-back lifestyle ensures locals are as welcoming as the Caribbean islands themselves. However, perhaps what makes the Caribbean so special, and so popular, is that it’s really a place of two extremes. The Caribbean is the perfect destination to unwind and chill out on the scenic and isolated beaches, but it’s also a place fuelled by adrenaline, with water sports, intense hiking trails, and dramatic off-road safaris.
The likes of Royal Caribbean, NCL, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises have their very own private piece of paradise in the Caribbean, with Half Moon Cay, Princess Cay, Labadee and Great Stirrup Cay exclusively reserved for their passengers. Although you won’t really get a sense of the rich Caribbean history and culture on these islands, what you will get is a unique opportunity to feel detached from big city life, on a remote, uninhabited desert island. Take a dip in the sea, soak up the rays, and simply enjoy the spectacular views across the Caribbean.
Visiting the busier and bustling areas of the Caribbean, however, isn’t any less enjoyable. With many of the islands having been European colonies (some have since become independent, whilst others remain as overseas territories), there is a real mix of language, ethnicity, culture, and beliefs across the Caribbean. The British Virgin Islands display their British influence in their cuisine with classic fish and chips sold in many beachfront cafes. Guadeloupe exhibits strong French ties in its language, with around 99 percent of residents speaking fluent French, and Curaçao, although now independent, retains the forward-thinking and open-mindedness of the Netherlands, being one of the first of the Caribbean islands to welcome and embrace gay travellers.
If it’s adventure you’re looking for, the Caribbean has it! If you enjoy activities that get your heart racing, then you’ll find plenty of opportunity in the Caribbean, just check out what excursions your chosen cruise line has to offer. St. Kitts boasts a 1400 feet zip line through its forests, St. Thomas offers paddle boarding along the tropical blue waters, and Jamaica is home to one of the only opportunities in the world to bobsled through lush rainforest.
Hungry or thirsty after all that exertion? No worries. Caribbean cuisine is hearty and filling, with plenty of spiced and marinated meats served with rice, beans, and plantains, and there’s always a glass of authentic Caribbean rum ready to help you relax after all the excitement.
The Caribbean cruise season runs all year round, and there’s no bad time to visit. The tropical climate brings warm, sunny days, with temperatures ranging between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius, even over the winter months. Storms and rainfall are rare, but when they do happen, they’re amazing to watch while taking shelter in one of the beachfront bars. Although hot, if your ship docks in port overnight, remember to take a jacket - the Caribbean islands lie right in the path of the trade winds, which can bring evening chills.
The vibrant towns, beautiful beaches, and blend of cultures makes the Caribbean one of the most diverse, and one of the most fascinating, in the world, and it’s a destination every traveller should add a Caribbean Cruises to their bucket list.