Cruise ships go everywhere. You can visit the farthest ends of the earth. You can arrive in a European capital, bringing your own hotel with you. Yet the Caribbean has been an enduringly popular cruise destination. Why?
- It’s easy to reach from the US. Cruises in the Mediterranean are magical, but you’ve got to get to Europe first, unless you cruise across the Atlantic for several days. Since cruises depart from port cities, there may be a second flight or long connection to reach the ship.
Caribbean cruises: They depart from several US cities on the East Coast and Gulf coast of the US. Getting to your ship shouldn’t require more than one flight. You might even drive.
- Great for people not into “days at sea”. I personally love days at sea. The ship is the destination. You might be someone who sees the ship as the vehicle moving you from island to island.
Caribbean cruises: You can find cruises that almost visit a port a day, giving you lots of opportunities to get off and explore.
- It’s warm in the winter. Many people like winter on a conceptual level. Seeing trees covered in ice droplets, looking like diamonds. The deer walk across the snow leaving tracks. The reality of winter is often multiple snowstorms, lots of shoveling and cold weather.
Caribbean cruises: You fly to Florida. It’s warmer there. You board a ship, enjoy warm weather and bright sunlight. You stand on your balcony, enjoying the moment. You forget about winter back home.
- Islanders speak English. As Americans, we often expect people to cater to us when we travel. American tourists spend a lot. We expect local residents to be fluent in English. This can be a challenge when you get into a taxi in France or Spain.
Caribbean cruises: There shouldn’t be a language barrier in most Caribbean countries. The people you interact with in restaurants and shops should speak English.
- Understanding tourism is important. When you travel to London or Paris, you are in an international financial or national capital. They understand tourism is important, but so are lots of other things.
Caribbean cruises: Tourism is often the driving factor for most Caribbean countries. They might export food products or other raw materials, but tourism provides major employment through hotels, casinos and restaurants. They should make tourists feel welcome.
- European colonial heritage. The majority of Caribbean islands are independent countries, but the British, French, Dutch and others had a big influence on their laws, culture and architecture.
Caribbean cruises: You will find European influenced foods and products on islands with a European connection.
- James Bond goes there. If you are a James Bond fan, you know a few of the many firms were shot on location in the Caribbean. Nassau, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Cuba
Caribbean cruises: Haven’t you wanted to walk in the footsteps of James Bond?
- Fresh fish and produce. You can get fine fish and produce where you live, but it’s often traveled a long way to get there. The Caribbean is a bit different.
Caribbean cruises: There is a unique and wonderful flavor when dining on fish that was caught the same day. You are visiting islands. The fish served is likely local. Ditto the fruits and vegetables.
- It’s the same and yet it’s changed. Many people moan about overdevelopment back home. They go on vacation and complain too. There is an upside.
Caribbean cruises: There may always be development taking place, yet your favorite islands can still retain their charm. The new areas give you something to explore.
- Dollars are accepted. Although different islands have different currencies (since they are countries) the US dollar is usually widely accepted. The same goes for your credit cards.
Caribbean cruises: The need to carry local currency shouldn’t be a problem in many places.
- It’s the best hotel in town. This is the best advantage! When your ship arrives, it’s also bringing a major hotel with multiple dining rooms and a great wine list.
Caribbean cruises: You can explore the island for a bit, then return to the comfort of your ship, where you have already unpacked.
There are many reasons for the enduring popularity of the Caribbean as a cruising destination.
Cover photo: Curacao: Willemstad’s Punda waterfront pastel Dutch architecture