weeklong cruise allows vacationers to sample these
varied cultures, history and peoples at four or five
different ports. Each port call opens the door to a new
slice of paradise, where you might discover traces of
France or Britain or the Netherlands or Spain woven into
the distinctive pace and style of the regions many
year-round cruise destination the strong appeal of the
Caribbean and The Bahamas for family cruise vacations
make school holiday periods among the busiest times of
year. Those looking for the best values in a cruise to
the Caribbean and The Bahamas should check sailing dates
in January, late spring or September through early
popular cruising grounds in the world lie from the
Bahamas just off the South Florida coast and the islands
defining the border between the Caribbean Sea and the
Atlantic Ocean. Legendary playgrounds of royalty and
celebrities; places rich in historic importance and
cultural traditions; world-class shops, entertainment
and recreational opportunities; and exotic natural
wonderlands make Eastern Caribbean and Bahamas cruises
appealing to vacationers of virtually every age and
from yacht-like luxury vessels to the largest floating
resorts sail to the Bahamas and Eastern Caribbean
year-round from the popular Florida ports of Miami, Fort
Lauderdale and Port Canaveral, as well as San Juan,
Puerto Rico, and seasonally from eastern U.S. ports as
far north as New York.
Ports of Call
provides an almost endless variety of ports for cruise
ships to visit, including exclusive private islands in
some cases, but among the most popular ports of call
Freeport are the primary ports of call in The Bahamas,
but several cruise lines also visit their own private
islands in this chain. Popular shore attractions in the
particular, is famous as a shopper's paradise offering
everything from designer fashions and jewelry at
duty-free prices to locally produced arts and crafts.
Water Sports -
clear waters and soft sand make The Bahamas a great
place to spend a day at the beach or take a snorkeling
or diving excursion.
Some of the
best golf courses in the Caribbean region are featured
in golf excursions available on cruises calling at
enjoy nightlife running the gamut from party boats to
spectacular live shows and world-class casinos during
their Bahamas port calls.
Puerto Rico -
dock within easy walking distance of the heart of San
Juan. From there, cruise vacationers can enjoy a wide
range of shore activities, including:
rain forests and rugged mountains to spectacular
beaches, the island of Puerto Rico provides a rich
variety of places to see and visit.
Sporting Fun -
excursions available to cruise travelers include golf at
one of the island's many outstanding courses, mountain
biking or hiking, deep-sea fishing, river kayaking and
nearly every kind of water sports activity imaginable.
A tour of San
Juan, the second oldest European settlement in the
Western Hemisphere, will satisfy history lovers with
visits to historic sites and museums throughout the
city. Those with a taste for the arts and music will
want to be sure to visit San Juan's art galleries and
many entertainment venues.
Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands -
With one of
the most scenic harbors in the Caribbean, Charlotte
Amalie is a perennial favorite among cruise vacationers.
Here and on the nearby islands of St. John and St.
Croix, travelers can enjoy a selection of shore
experiences that includes:
Amalie is a "must visit" port for shoppers, with one of
the biggest selections of duty-free stores in the
Caribbean, even including a shopping mall adjacent to
the cruise ship pier.
Most of the
island of St. John comprises a vast national forest,
making it an ideal environment for hiking, kayaking or
touring by land or water. There's plenty to see and do
underwater, too, on snorkeling and Scuba diving
Day at the
St. Thomas is
home to the world-renowned beach at Magen's Bay, widely
touted as one of the most beautiful stretches of white
sand in the world.
St. Maarten -
has two identities and two distinct personalities. The
half of the island where most cruise ships call at
Philipsburg is Dutch and goes by the name St. Maarten;
the other half, only by a short cab ride away, is
decidedly French and carries the name St. Martin. Among
the shore excursions available for cruise visitors are:
Some of the
most popular shore excursions here aren't on shore;
they're on sailboats. Cruise visitors can take a
leisurely sightseeing/beach trip around the island on a
catamaran or, for more thrills, take a ride on a genuine
America's Cup racing yacht.
Tours of the
island include the town of Marigot on the French (St.
Martin) side of the island. The cafes and shops along
the beach and streets of this very French town give it
the ambiance of the French Riviera.
waters and shallow water reefs around the island and
nearby deserted islets make snorkeling and scuba diving
excursions a popular choice for cruise vacationers
visiting St. Maarten.
of the Caribbean's most vibrant cultures, natural
wonders on land and in the sea, the rich historical
treasures of the Mayan Empire, and legendary resort
areas, the Western Caribbean ranks as one of the world's
great vacation spots and offers extraordinary variety as
a cruise destination.
depart for Western Caribbean sailings year-round from
all the major Florida ports, including Tampa, as well as
New Orleans, Mobile, Houston and Galveston on America's
Gulf Coast, and Cancun, Mexico.
Ports of Call
Key West -
southernmost point of land in the United States, the
"Conch Republic" of Key West also has a stellar history
as the favorite haunt of artists, celebrities,
presidents and literary giants such as Ernest Hemingway.
It's easy to spend a day in Key West just soaking in the
ambiance, but there are lots of other things to enjoy,
visitors can easily spend a day touring the island's
famous places, including the homes of Ernest Hemingway
and Tennessee Williams, Harry Truman's "Little White
House" and the legendary Sloppy Joe's Tavern.
find anything from funky crafts to fine arts, along with
specialties like Key Lime treats along Duval Street and
makes Key West a perfect starting point for a day of
fishing in the Gulf Stream, where anglers have an
opportunity to hook a really big catch.
popular of the cruise ports on the Caribbean's second
largest island serves as an entry point to many of
Jamaica's most famous and appealing attractions.
Favorite shore excursions for cruise vacationers calling
to Ocho Rios includes spectacular Dunn's River Falls,
and a chance to climb up the waterfall, in their
itinerary. Natural wonders abound in Jamaica, and a
cruise visit offers ample opportunities to sample them.
music to fine art, the cultural heritage and life of
Jamaica ranks among the richest anywhere. Many cruises
offer shore excursions that focus on the arts, usually
including visits to museums, galleries such as Harmony
Hall and tours of Noel Coward's beautiful retreat,
vacationers can go river rafting, mountain biking,
horseback riding, golfing or any from an almost endless
selection of active pursuits during a day at Ocho Rios.
Grand Cayman -
among divers and once a favorite haunt of pirates, the
Cayman Islands have become one of the most popular ports
of call on Western Caribbean itineraries. Among the
reasons are the many distinctive experiences available
visitors miss the chance to visit the famous Stingray
City and swim and snorkel among these strange and fierce
looking creatures, who are actually quite docile and
rate the spectacular coral reefs and clear waters
teeming with marine life in the Cayman Islands among the
world's best spots, and most cruises that call here
offer excursions for certified divers.
For those who
don't want to go in the water, Grand Cayman Island is
home to the world's first sea turtle farm, the
spectacular limestone and coral formations known as Hell
and the popular Seven Mile Beach. There's also golf,
bicycling and horseback riding.
seeking a unique experience apart from the crowds will
find their dream vacation on a cruise in the Southern
Caribbean. Defined by a string of lovely small islands
from Antigua south to Trinidad and the northeastern
coast of South America, this region also enjoys the
Caribbean's sunniest climate.
Puerto Rico, ranks as the most popular departure point
for Southern Caribbean itineraries, but some ships sail
from other islands, such as Barbados. Most cruises from
San Juan include stops at Eastern Caribbean islands,
such as St. Thomas, before sailing down to the Southern
Ports of Call
Ports of call
in the lower reaches of the Caribbean Sea also include:
for the twin peaks of the Pitons rising from its
shoreline, this island offers visitors a scenic
wonderland and a sportsman's paradise. Among the
favorite things for cruise vacationers who call here to
Scenic Tours -
take visitors to mountainous areas, lush rain forests,
banana plantations, volcanic craters, fine beaches and
beautiful waterfalls on this remarkably diverse tropical
A port call at
St. Lucia can include a day of horseback riding,
mountain biking, hiking or other active adventures in
the island's spectacularly rugged terrain.
find several outstanding courses on St. Lucia available
to them through programs offered on a cruise.
Georgetown, Barbados - Very British Barbados lies at the
eastern edge of the Caribbean. The quiet civility of the
people matches the softly rolling landscape of this
historic island. Among the most popular Barbados
excursions for cruise passengers are:
widely known for its rum, and tours of the local
factories that produce this popular liquor and essential
ingredient for Pina Coladas are a notable attraction for
4X4, bicycle, horse or kayak, visitors can explore the
countryside of Barbados off the beaten path on
excursions offered by most cruise ships visiting the
combination of tropical climate and British tradition
make Barbados a garden spot. Among the top attractions
for flower lovers are The Flower Forest with its varied
gardens on 50 acres of land and Orchid World, which
features dozens of exotic varieties of this tropical
island of the Netherlands Antilles, Curacao has an
unmistakable Dutch heritage. In fact, the first
impression cruise vacationers visiting the island's
capital of Willemstad have is the Dutch style
architecture of this picturesque city. During a port
call at Curacao, cruisers can enjoy a variety of shore
experiences, such as:
City Tour -
size and appealing ambiance of the Old City make it
well-suited to a leisurely walk to see its architectural
highlights, historical sites and, of course, shops and
markets. For those who want to rest their feet, trolley
train tours provide an easy alternative.
Sea Life -
A visit to
Curacao's vast underwater park provides opportunities
for snorkeling and diving and up-close encounters with
the sea life there. The park also features an excellent
Seaquarium housing hundreds of varieties of marine
species found in the waters around the island.
Ostrich Farm -
for something completely different can take a tour to
Curacao's Ostrich Farm to see and learn more about these
unusual flightless birds. Most tours also include the
nearby Curacao Herb Gardens.