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Caribbean Cruises and Cruise Lines

Caribbean Cruises and Cruise Lines

Since the dawn of the industry, the Caribbean has remained one of cruising's most quintessential destinations. Popular with travellers in both winter and summer, there’s no shortage of ships – or itineraries – in this relatively small geographic area. Far and away the most popular way to see the Caribbean is by sailing onboard some of the biggest, newest and most feature-laden cruise ships out there. What's more, there's good reason to want to join the masses.

Large cruise ships and megaships like Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas obviously offer the most in the way of onboard entertainment and activities and are a great choice for those who crave the latest and greatest. They're also excellent choices for multi-generational families looking to sail together during the popular winter and summer months. One key advantage that big megaships have over smaller vessels lies in their diverse amount of onboard amenities. Big ships can offer multiple pools, waterslides, hot tubs, decks featuring real lawns, private cabanas, sprawling spa areas, and even more extreme features like zip lines and surfing simulators.

They also offer diversions that are designed to cater to adults and kids alike, including adults who might normally pick smaller ships for their own sailings sans family. The big ships' onboard kid and teen programs are better than those found in many land-based establishments, and entertainment onboard can range from family friendly Broadway productions to risqué midnight comedy hours just for adults.

Half Moon Cay - Holland America Line's private island Big-ship cruise lines do their best to arrange schedules to provide a mix of popular ports with calls on their own private islands or smaller, off-the-beaten path ports like Costa Maya, Mexico. Big ship cruising in the Caribbean is just plain fun — for everyone.

The experience aboard a smaller ship presents a world of difference. For starters, many smaller vessels are ultra-luxury ships, expedition vessels, or yachts that recall the glory days of sail, but in a modern way. Not only do they ensure a top-notch onboard experience, but their relatively small size also allows them to call on ports that are simply unavailable to the big megaships.

Many luxury lines and small-ship operators offer voyages departing from non-US ports like Bridgetown, Barbados and Philipsburg, St. Maarten. In fact, the sleek sailing yachts of Windstar Cruises do not sail roundtrip from any U.S. port. By starting their voyages at alternate ports, these smaller ships are able to spend less time traversing the Caribbean Sea and more time allowing their passengers to bask in it.

If you've never been to the Caribbean before, you might want to partake in the megaship experience that calls at popular ports like St. Thomas and Philipsburg in the Eastern Caribbean, or Cozumel and Belize City in the Western Caribbean to start with. Then, once you're ready for the full immersion experience, seek out the smaller ships operating diverse Eastern, Western and Southern Caribbean itineraries.

How Many Days?

Caribbean cruises come in three lengths. Short cruises of 3 to 5 days to the Bahamas, weeklong cruises to the "Eastern" or "Western" Caribbean, and cruises longer than 10 days, covering more Caribbean ports. Weeklong cruises are by far the most popular Caribbean cruises.

Eastern, Western or Southern Caribbean?
Cruises in the Caribbean usually visit three to four ports on a weeklong itinerary. Eastern Caribbean itineraries depart South Florida or the U.S. East Coast for visits that may include the Bahamas, St Thomas, St Maarten and Tortola. A Western Caribbean cruise vacation departs South Florida or ports around the Gulf of Mexico, and typically visits places such as Key West, Cozumel, Belize, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica.

Southern Caribbean cruises may start in San Juan if weeklong, or ports in New York and Florida if longer than 10 days. Southern Caribbean cruises visit the idyllic small Windward Islands from Antigua south to Barbados, or Curacao and Aruba along the north 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.

Big Ship or Giant Ship?
The major cruise lines that have been unveiling and sailing larger and larger cruise ships for the past decade take pride in offering so many choices that, for instance, on some it takes a week to visit every restaurant or dining room for dinner.

Superliners from Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean and others provide a cruise vacation that can be wild and wooly one minute and cool, calm and collected the next. The facilities on these floating resorts, which all deserve the state-of-the-art label, will satisfy everyone from the health nut who wants to stay fit to the party animal who wants to dance all night.

It’s the big ships that feature the headline-grabbing innovations like surfing simulators, rock-climbing walls, ice skating rinks and wave pools, but because they are newer, they also feature some of the neatest twists on cruise-ship staples such as health spas, libraries and game rooms.

Mix in a few days visiting appealing ports, and a week on a big ship will seem to fly by. What may be most impressive, though, is how these ships can accommodate up to 6,000 people while not seeming crowded. More than anything, that’s a testament to all the different choices everyone is making every day.

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Best Caribbean Luxury and Deluxe Cruise Deals

some of the most popular caribbean cruise lines

luxury and deluxe cruise lines

Caribbean cruises on Oceania

Best in class cuisine and great value define Oceania Cruises

The onboard atmosphere is relaxed and reminiscent of the casual elegance of a country club. Oceania Cruises strives to create a sense of warm luxury and intimacy.