Which Cruise Ship Should You Choose for Your Caribbean Cruise?

Are you planning a winter getaway this year? If so, there is no greater vacation than a Caribbean cruise. Each winter there are usually a dozen or more cruise ships sailing in the Caribbean. These ships sail to dozens of different exotic ports. Which ship should you choose for your vacation?

First off, how long to you have? The majority of Caribbean cruises are for seven nights. These normally sail on a Saturday or Sunday. Usually you can board the ship around noontime and the ship sails in the late afternoon. You will then return the following Saturday or Sunday and be required to disembark the ship by about 9 am.

There are longer cruises, too. Some are 10 days, two weeks or longer. Obviously the longer you sail the more ports you will visit and the more expensive your cruise will be.

Another option if you want a longer cruise is to book back-to-back cruises on the same ship. Many ships have two itineraries; week 1 they travel the Western Caribbean and week 2 they travel the Eastern Caribbean. Booking back-to-back cruises allows you to stay on the same ship, usually in the same stateroom, and visit all the ports on both itineraries. It’s a wonderful vacation!

Cruises of seven days normally visit three or four islands. If you choose a western Caribbean itinerary, you may visit ports such as Key West, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Belize, Roatan (Honduras) and Ocho Rios (Jamaica). Eastern itineraries may include St Thomas, St Johns, St Maarten, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and other islands.

You can also choose a southern Caribbean itinerary. These normally include islands like Aruba, Curacao, Trinidad, Barbados, St Lucia and other islands. If you leave from the mainland U.S. and want to visit the Southern Caribbean, however, you will probably have to take at least a 10 day cruise. Another option is to leave from San Juan, Puerto Rico, which normally does have seven day cruises to the southern islands.

Which brings up the question: Which port should you sail from? The majority of Caribbean cruises depart from either Miami or Fort Lauderdale. Most years there are also sailings from Tampa, Cape Canaveral, Galveston and New Orleans. You may also be able to get cruises from cities like New York or Baltimore, but seven day cruises from these cities generally only go to the Bahamas or Bermuda. You also spend more time cruising and less time in port.

Size is also a consideration when choosing your cruise ship. You have a wide range of sizes: from about 70,000 tons to 160,000 tons! The larger ships have more amenities — and more people. Remember that the biggest ships are the length of three to four football fields! That means longer walks each time you leave your cabin.

We love ships that are between 90,000 and 100,000 tons. They offer plenty of things to see and do, yet feel more intimate than the big behemoths. Still, it is a matter of personal preference.

Are you ready to take off on your first Caribbean cruise? If so, then we hope these tips on choosing the right cruise ship have been helpful to you.