Statistics show that the annual cruise industry revenue is $37.8 billion for the US economy. In 2010, 10.2 million cruise passengers originated from North America with an average length of cruise of 7.2 days. Of the millions that were surveyed, 43% preferred to cruise in the Caribbean compared to Alaska, Mexico, Europe, Bermuda and Mediterranean. (Source: Statistic Brain)
Have you cruised and how do you choose a perfect Caribbean cruise? Before we answer the question let’s look at the Caribbean and which is the best port to depart for your cruise.
The most popular cruise ports are in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, California, New York and Washington. No matter where you live in the United States, you may have to fly or drive to the cruise port before you join a cruise.
Florida has the most cruises leaving to the Caribbean each year. Florida has five ports and you can read all about it in Handy Guide To The Five Cruise Ports in Florida.
The Caribbean is divided into three regions by the cruise industry. They are Eastern, Western and Southern Caribbean. Examples of Eastern Caribbean are St. Maarten, U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Cancun and Cozumel in Mexico. Western Caribbean usually includes Belize, Honduras, Cayman Island and Jamaica. Southern Caribbean may include Barbados, Curacao, Aruba, St. Lucia and St. Kitts.
Which part of the Caribbean would you like to cruise to?
Here are four tips to help you choose your perfect Caribbean cruise:
One: Your travel style and budget
What is your travel style and travel budget? Do you prefer formal, casual, educational, family-friendly or luxurious?
If affordability is your concern, Carnival Cruise Line may be the perfect cruise line.
Carnival is having a groundbreaking Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement and upgrading its ships. Those who are taking advantage of the changes may be in for a great treat this cruising season. The price is competitive and the upgrades including bar, entertainment and dining may transform the way you experience your cruise despite recent bad news.
If you prefer luxury and money is not an issue choose Seabourn departing from Fort Lauderdale Florida.
Fort Lauderdale is 27 miles north of Miami and the closest airports are Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Miami International Airport and Palm Beach International Airport. The closest airport is only five miles away but Miami has the most daily flights.
Two: Who are your traveling companions?
If you are traveling with school-aged children our recommendation is Disney Cruise Line. You need a ship that has plenty of kid-friendly activities, good childcare, clubs for various age groups, entertainment for kids and kid friendly water parks.
If you are on a honeymoon, Royal Caribbean has a honeymoon registry and special programs for honeymooners.
Three: Dining Plan
If you like the freedom to choose when, where and who to eat with, Norwegian Cruise Line Freestyle Cruising is the best. According to Norwegian, freestyle cruising offers a wide range of complimentary dining options where you can dress up or down and eat wherever and whenever you prefer. You can grab a hamburger off the grill or sit down to a four-course meal accompanied by a glass of fine wine.
If you want specialty dining, the cruise line offers a choice of Brazilian Churrascaria, sushi, French bistro, Italian trattoria or Chicago steakhouse. These fine dining places have a cover charge of $15 to $75. No other cruise line provides this flexibility like Norwegian Cruise Line.
Four: Ship size
A four thousand capacity ship will have a different feel compared to one with just 1,000 passengers. The size of the ship will also determine the type of ambience you get in the ship. If you like the coziness of a ship, a smaller ship may be the best option.
A bigger ship may have more amenities. But smaller ships may have more personal touches and better service. Generally smaller ships are more luxurious than the bigger ships.
Some of the advantages of bigger ships are the multiple swimming pools, a variety of activities and amenities just in case you get bored, bigger gyms and more bars and nightclubs. The disadvantages may be crowded swimming pool, buffet dining, bars and gym.
Are you getting away as the days are getting colder? The Caribbean has the best weather year round. For more information on whether you should drive or fly to your port of embarkation, check out Travelmath’s cost to drive calculator.