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CARIBBEAN

EASTERN, WESTERN & SOUTHERN CARIBBEAN CRUISES

Music and dance as colorful as the reefs, tranquil waters just a shade deeper than the sky, and a rich history as diverse as the breathtaking landscapes, make Caribbean cruises one of the most popular vacations, blending discovery with relaxation. The stories of the Caribbean are captivating, the beaches mesmerizing and the carefree charm intoxicating.

Visitors near and far flock to the Caribbean for the perfect tropical escape.  Many guests to these islands arrive by cruise ships departing from the U.S. or San Juan with smaller vessels originating in Barbados or Antigua. Because cruises are the major source of tourism, the Caribbean is divided geographically by the cruise lines into Eastern Caribbean Cruises, Western Caribbean Cruises and Southern Caribbean Cruises. Most Eastern and Western itineraries begin in the continental U.S. with most Southern Caribbean departures from San Juan. The islands are so numerous and unique that it would be difficult to offer a preference or to comment on each. Though there are cruises that are shorter than 7 nights in length, a 7 night cruise is a must to fully explore the islands in each region.

EASTERN CARIBBEAN CRUISES

Breathtaking natural beauty combined with old-world charm defines the magical allure of the Eastern Caribbean. With a distinctive fusion of European, African and Latin American influences, this region boasts quaint towns alive with diverse cultures amongst a breathtaking backdrop of swaying palm trees, velveteen sands and turquoise waters accented with rainbow fish. The locals are friendly, the duty-free shops bustling and the cultures fascinating. Soak up the sun, adopt its laid-back island mindset and explore coral reefs teeming with marine life.

Eastern Caribbean encompasses the British and American Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the two -nation/one-island St. Maarten and St. Martin. Of all the destinations in all the world, the Eastern Caribbean offers the most choice for cruising. Nearly every cruise line, both large and small, offers an itinerary that either concentrates on the region or at least touches the region at one or two ports of call.

Destination Highlights:
■ Dive or snorkel your way to brightly colored corals and gaze upon exotic fish
■ Soak in the sun on Magens Bay winning praise as one of the Caribbean’s top beaches
■ Visit Old San Juan’s most historic monuments or explore the El Yunque rain forest in Puerto Rico.
■ Take a jaunt to Marigot, the capital of French St. Martin which is filled with designer boutiques and fabulous restaurants, bistros and cafes
■ Spend a full day frolicking on a private island playground
■ Shop local crafts at the famous straw market in Nassau

Cruise Tips:
■ The season is year round with winter being peak (December through March).
■ Late summer and early fall (when kids are back in school) are most economical for groups
■ The primary destinations in the Eastern Caribbean are Nassau, San Juan, St. Martin and St. Thomas and more recently, the Turks & Caicos, Dominican Republic and Cuba.
■ Luxury cruise lines tend to avoid the high traffic ports and include more exclusive ports of call.
■ Majority of Eastern Caribbean sailing include several days at sea to conduct meetings
■ Guests originating from the west coast are encouraged to arrive the night prior to avoid missing the ship’s departure.

WESTERN CARIBBEAN CRUISES

The Western Caribbean has long been a magnet for travelers interested in a unique blend of sun and surf, the history of ancient civilizations and eco-oriented adventures. Beyond its beautiful beaches and deep within the tropical jungle, you’ll find jaw-dropping ruins left behind by the ancient Maya that rival those of the ancient Romans and Egyptians.

Named one of the top travel destinations in 2012 by USA TODAY, intriguing discoveries await in gems like Belize City, Costa Maya, and the Island of Cozumel. Experience the mystery and intrigue of the once mighty Mayan civilization beyond the palm-covered shores of the Western Caribbean.

Destination Highlights:
■ Explore Mayan Ruins in Cozumel
■ Get up close and personal with stingrays in Grand Cayman
■ Partake in world-class diving in Belize’s 185-mile Barrier Reef
■ Hike 600 feet up Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho, Rios, Jamaica surrounded by lush foliage and witness water crashing down onto a sandy beach.

Cruise Tips:
■ The Season is year round with winter months (December through March) being peak.
■ The primary destinations in the Western Caribbean are Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Jamaica and Key West.  Belize, Costa Maya & Progresso, Mexico, Roaten and Puerto Limon, Costa Rica are also included in several Western Caribbean itineraries.
■ Main departure ports are from Florida (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Port Canaveral),  Texas (Galveston and Houston) and New Orleans, Louisiana.
■ Cruises from Galveston, New Orleans and Tampa are primarily 4 & 5 day to Mexico or 7 day cruises to the Greater Western Caribbean ports of call.
■ Most Western Caribbean itineraries include at least 2 days at sea which are great for meetings.
■ Guests originating from the west coast and departing out of Florida are encouraged to arrive the night prior to avoid missing the ship’s departure.

SOUTHERN CARIBBEAN CRUISES

Travel deeper into the Caribbean on the road less traveled to discover exotic landscapes brimming with natural, unspoiled beauty and unique plant and animal species native to the region. Here you’ll venture further into the Caribbean to more remote islands like Dominica, teeming with lush rainforests, waterfalls, rare birds and wildlife as well as the spice island of Grenada, one of the world’s major producers of nutmeg, mace, clove, cinnamon and cocoa.

Imagine aquamarine seas ablaze with brightly colored coral reefs and schools of technicolor fish, breathtaking national parks, botanical gardens and world-renowned beaches in places like Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. A  Southern Caribbean cruise offers a rich and unique port variety balanced by peaceful, relaxing days at sea.

CANADA-NEW ENGLAND

EUROPE

Destination Highlights:
■ Climb to the 492-foot summit of Shirley Heights, Antigua for a panoramic view that includes Guadeloupe’s active Monserrat volcano
■ Relax on the soft, white sand of Eagle Beach, Aruba
■ Take a stroll through the historic four quarters or Curacao’s capital city of Willemstad with all its candy-colored Dutch colonial buildings.
■ Shop for French luxury goods (perfume, scarves, crystal) as well as traditional island handcrafts in Martinique.
■ Hike up cascading waterfalls in Dominca and Granada

Cruise Tips:
■ The Season is year round with the greatest number of departures during winter months.
■ The majority of Southern Caribbean cruises originate in San Juan. The primary ports of call are St Kitts, Martinique, Barbados, Aruba, St Lucia and Antigua with smaller vessels stopping in St. Bart’s, St. Vincent, Grenada and Trinidad.
■ Ports of call are more exotic than their Eastern and Western Caribbean counterparts and much less traveled perfect for the more seasoned cruiser.
■ Larger ships include well-developed islands that offer a variety of excursion opportunities.
■ Luxury lines tend to balance the voyage between “great hits” and more exclusive islands.
■ Ships departing from San Juan normally depart at 10:00 PM or later, SO unlike departures to the Eastern or Western Caribbean, west coast passengers can secure flights to meet the departure times without incurring the expense of a hotel night.
■ Restaurants often add a 10 or 15 percent surcharge to the bill

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