What Royal Caribbean cruise in the Caribbean should I book? Eastern Caribbean? Southern Caribbean? Western Caribbean?

Categories Royal Caribbean Cruises, Uncategorized

Royal Caribbean is a major player in the Caribbean cruising market – true to its name. While offering cruise vacations globally, the Caribbean accounts currently for 52% of its capacity.  Passengers can choose from cruise vacations lasting from three to 12 nights and leaving from nine different ports. Almost 20 Royal Caribbean ships will be offering cruise vacations in the Caribbean in 2018 and 2019 under the Royal Caribbean flag. Those include the Majesty of the Seas – one of its oldest ships – as well as the Symphony of the Seas – its newest ships. The Majesty of the Seas was built in 1992; Royal Caribbean took ownership of the Symphony in early 2018. Majesty of the Seas will be used for sailings to Cuba from Tampa and Symphony will be relocating from the Mediterranean offering Caribbean sailings out of Miami from November 2018. Its Symphony of the Seas is currently the largest cruise ship in the world. It is hard to imagine that the Majesty of the Seas held the same title back in the early 90s, as the Symphony is three times as large as the Majesty.

Royal Caribbean distinguishes between Eastern Caribbean, Southern Caribbean and Western Caribbean cruises.

Eastern Caribbean Cruises:

  • Eastern Caribbean cruises may visit any of the following islands and ports:
    • The following islands and ports are part of the Greater Antilles – a group of larger islands that constitute 90% of the land mass of the Caribbean as well as 90% of its population:
      • San Juan (Puerto Rico) – Old San Juan is one of the most popular cruise destinations in the Caribbean: rich history, a five century old fort, romantic ambiance, old world elegance, exquisite food and festive atmosphere
      • Labadee (privately owned island in Haiti) – pristine beaches, coral reefs, lagoon-like bays surrounded by forested mountains, water sports and activities, including a zip-line
    • The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands form the Lucayan Archipelago:
      • CocoCay ( privately-owned island in the Bahamas) – snorkeling, kayaking, jet-ski rentals, an aqua-park, nature walks, beaches, plenty of sport to relax and recharge
      • Nassau (the capital of the Bahamas) – Shop, dine or sight-see especially along buys Bay Street and admire a colorful blend of old world and colonial architecture
    • The following islands are the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles – a group of islands of which form a long, partly volcanic island arc between the Greater Antilles to the north-west and the continent of South America:
      • Saint Martin – Two distinct cultures, Dutch and French, share space on this small but lively island
      • St. Thomas – known for its beaches and snorkeling spots as well as a duty-free shopping scene
      • St. Kitts – wonderful beaches, lava formations, tropical forests and lagoons
      • St. Croix – white sand beaches and lush rain forests; great diving
      • Antigua – hundreds of beaches, from the secluded cove to the tourist magnet
  • Eastern Caribbean cruises leave from:
    • Fort Lauderdale
    • Miami
    • Orlando
    • San Juan
  • Royal Caribbean also visits the Eastern Caribbean
    • on a 9-night cruise that starts and ends in Cape Liberty, New Jersey
    • and on a 12-night cruise from Baltimore, which also visit the Southern Caribbean

Southern Caribbean Cruises:

  • Southern Caribbean cruises may visit any of the following islands:
    • The following islands are the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles – a group of islands that form a long, partly volcanic island arc between the Greater Antilles to the north-west and the continent of South America
      • Barbados – a lush island with calm waters to the West and massive, competition-caliber waves to the East
      • Grenada – fishing, sailing, hiking, biking through lush, mountainous interior, diving or relaxing on fabulous beaches
      • Dominica – an unspoiled island with mountains covered by tropical rain-forest, endless hiking trails, numerous dive sites and black-sand beaches
      • St. Lucia – a mix of rugged coastal coves and mountainous peaks; explore the island’s volcanic area around Soufriere
      • Martinique – the most French island of the Caribbean; beautiful beaches and sites to visit in the South and a lush, mountainous scenery in the North
    • The following are the Leeward Antilles of the Lesser Antilles along the southeastern fringe of the Caribbean Sea, just north of the Venezuelan coast of the South American mainland
      • Aruba – Arid and nearly featureless, all sun and sea and stretches of powdery white sand
      • Curacao – sugar-fine sand and calm water; Willemstad, Cauracao’s capital, has a rich history and beautiful pastel buildings – it is recognized as a UNESCO Heritage City
      • Bonaire – you’ll see plenty of Caribbean flamingos on Bonaire, which is the Island’s national bird; the coast is lined with reefs – perfect for divers
  • Most Southern Caribbean cruises includes ports of calls that are also included in Eastern Caribbean Cruises
  • Southern Caribbean cruises leave from
    • San Juan
    • Fort Lauderdale
    • Miami
    • Orlando
  • Royal Caribbean also visits the Southern Caribbean
    • On a 12-night cruise from Baltimore, which also visit the Eastern Caribbean

Western Caribbean Cruises:

  • Western Caribbean cruises may visit any of the following islands and ports:
    • Royal Caribbean includes cruises to the mainland countries of Belize, Mexico and Honduras in its Caribbean offerings:
      • Cozumel (Mexico) – One of the top diving destination in the world; the island is also home to a variety of natural beaches with soft white sand
      • Puerto Costa Maya (Mexico) – a purpose-built village created for cruiser in mind near the Belize border: a village complex with a pier, a beachfront pedestrian path and beach club used for shore excursions
      • Yucatan (Mexico) – Serves as an access point for visiting the rich Mayan historical sites found in this part of the world with the main attraction being Chichen Itza, along with other less-crowded archaeological sites that include Uxmal, Mayapan and Dzibilchaltun
      • Belize City, (Belize) – Amazing coral reefs make for great snorkeling and scuba-diving; visit the best of Belize’s Mayan cultural sites on a day-trip; ships tender in
      • Banana Coast – Trujillo (Honduras) – This port is just beginning to welcome visitors showing off its Spanish and French colonial-era buildings; active cruisers can explore the interior on All Terrain Vehicles, snorkel on coral reefs, zip-line or go horseback riding on the beach
      • Roatan (Honduras) – 40 miles off the northern coast of Honduras, this island offers access to world-class diving and snorkeling sites as well as deep-sea fishing; other activities include water skiing, sailing and wake-boarding
    • The following islands and ports are part of the Greater Antilles – a group of larger islands that constitute 90% of the land mass of the Caribbean as well as 90% of its population
      • Georgetown (Grand Cayman Island) – One of the most popular cruise ship destinations in the Caribbean: year-round tropical weather, white sand beaches and clear blue waters; plenty of duty free shopping, restaurants and cafes
      • Labadee (privately-owned island in Haiti) – Royal Caribbean’s private breach resort features pristine beaches, coral fees and lagoon-like bays surrounded by forested mountains; cruise passengers are awaiting an array of water sports and activities, including a zip-line
      • Falmouth (Jamaica) – One of the Caribbean’s best-preserved Georgian towns, Falmouth is well positioned between the popular ports of Ocho Rios (60 miles west) and Montego Bay (18 miles east); the Historic Falmouth Cruise Port was opened in 2011 and can accommodate the largest cruise ships in the world
    • The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands form the Lucayan Archipelago
      • CocoCay (privately-owned island in the Bahamas) – Snorkeling, kayaking, jet-ski rentals, an aqua-park, nature walks, beaches, plenty of sport to relax and recharge
      • Nassau (the capital of the Bahamas) – Shop, dine or sight-see especially along busy Bay Street and admire a colorful blend of old world and colonial architecture; visit the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island
      • Key West, Florida – As part of the Florida Keys archipelago, it Florida’s southernmost point; it is known more for its coral reefs that are destinations for diving and snorkeling that for its beaches
  • Western Caribbean cruises leave from:
    • Galveston (Texas) – exclusively Western Caribbean cruises
    • New Orleans (Louisiana) – exclusively Western Caribbean cruises
    • Fort Lauderdale
    • Miami
    • Orlando

Cruises to Cuba:

  • Cruises to Cuba may visit any of the following ports:
    • Cuba
      • Havana (Cuba) – Brightly painted houses and vintage cars; The Malecon – Cuba’s most famous seaside Avenue; one-of-a-kind, cultural open-air markets; one of the world’s most vibrant Salsa destinations
      • Santiago de Cuba (Cuba) – Cuba’s second largest city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site; Cuba’s cultural capital
      • Cienfuegos (Cuba) – Located on the south-side of Cuba just like Santiago de Cuba, it is dubbed the Pearl of the South; “if Cuba has a Paris, this is most definitely it”
      • Key West (U.S.) – As part of the Florida Keys archipelago, it is Florida’s southernmost point; it is known more for its coral reefs that are destinations for diving and snorkeling than for its beaches
    • The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands form the Lucayan Archipelago
      • Nassau (Bahamas) – Shop, dine or sight-see especially along busy Bay Street and admire a colorful blend of old world and colonial architecture; visit the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island
      • CocoCay (privately-owned island in the Bahamas) –  Snorkeling, kayaking, jet-ski rentals, an aqua-park, nature walks, beaches, plenty of sport to relax and recharge
    • Royal Caribbean includes cruises to the mainland countries of Belize, Mexico and Honduras in its Caribbean offerings:
      • Cozumel (Mexico) – One of the top diving destination in the world; the island is also home to a variety of natural beaches with soft white sand
      • Yucatan (Mexico) – Serves as an access point for visiting the rich Mayan historical sites found in this part of the world with the main attraction being Chichen Itza, along with other less-crowded archaeological sites that include Uxmal, Mayapan and Dzibilchaltun
      • Puerto Costa Maya (Mexico) – a purpose-built village created for cruisers in mind near the Belize border: a village complex with a pier, a beachfront pedestrian path and beach club used for shore excursions
    • The following islands and ports are part of the Greater Antilles – a group of larger islands that constitute 90% of the land mass of the Caribbean as well as 90% of its population
      • Labadee (privately-owned island in Haiti) – Royal Caribbean’s private breach resort features pristine beaches, coral fees and lagoon-like bays surrounded by forested mountains; cruise passengers are awaiting an array of water sports and activities, including a zip-line
      • Georgetown (Grand Cayman) – One of the most popular cruise ship destinations in the Caribbean: year-round tropical weather, white sand beaches and clear blue waters; plenty of duty free shopping, restaurants and cafes
  • Cruises to Cuba leave from:
    • Tampa
    • Miami
    • Fort Lauderdale
  • Overnight stays in Havana are offered on select sailings

 

Climate:

  • 7000 islands that are surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico form the area that is generally referred to as the Caribbean.
  • It’s climate is tropical
    • Temperatures are typically in the 80s and seldom drop below 60 or rise above 100
    • May to October is the Caribbean’s rainy season
      • The rest of the year is more dry
    • Hurricane season is between June and November

Our takeaway:

  • Exploring the Caribbean on a cruise ship is much more cost-effective than island-hopping by plane or ferry
    • Inter-island flights are expensive and one cannot visit every island by ferry
  • A Caribbean cruise vacation has something for everyone:
    • Relaxing on a beach
    • Water sports and excursions
    • Exploring the colonial history of the region with its British, Hispanic, Gallic and Dutch cultures and influences
    • Exploring the different cuisines of the region

 

 

 

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