It can be difficult to decide what you’re going to do when planning a vacation. After all, many of us only take one or two vacations a year. We all have limited vacation budgets, even when those budgets are on the larger side. There are typically two different types of vacations: action-packed vacations filled with non-stop activities and sightseeing, and relaxing vacations that are more focused on taking a break during your time off from work. Everyone wants to get the most out of their vacation time. Deciding which route to take can be challenging, especially when multiple people are going on vacation together. Fortunately, there are options available that manage to mesh together both types of vacations, while at the same time getting the most bang for your buck. For many people, the best of those options is taking a Caribbean cruise vacation.
If you’re never been on a Caribbean cruise vacation before, booking your trip may be a little challenging at first. While a Caribbean cruise vacation sounds like an amazing adventure to many, the unknown can also cause some anxiety. But in fact, cruises are far more common than they once were, with 28.5 million people going cruising in 2018 alone. Therefore, it’s much easier to learn about Caribbean cruise vacations now, and what to expect from them, than it once was. Of course, you may be sold on the idea of going on a cruise in general. But why should you go on a Caribbean cruise vacation in particular? Whether you’re looking for things to do while at port or what you need to know about the practicalities of cruising, we’re here to help — and hopefully put your mind at ease. A Caribbean cruise vacation represents an amazing opportunity. After you go on your first one, you may find yourself among the many people who are now “addicted” to cruising and can’t imagine taking a vacation in any other way! Without further ado, let’s jump in and start demystifying Caribbean cruise vacations.
Before we look into why a Caribbean cruise vacation is the right type of cruise option for you, let’s look into why so many people take up cruising in general. Cruises are essentially several different vacations packed into one. A cruise offers the opportunity for tons of fun: most cruises have multiple pools on different decks, parties every night (including dance clubs for adults, with plenty of alcohol flowing), games, and some truly off the wall experiences. Cruise lines have become increasingly competitive with each other, which means that some now offer everything from virtual bungee jumping to live musical entertainment on the cruises. You can also opt in to add-ons, like yoga classes or special maid services, and really turn the cruise into what you want it to be. Cruises even offer high-end shopping aboard, should you be looking to have something of a mall experience while you’re cruising. This doesn’t even take into account the stops at port, where you can go sightseeing, shopping, all while enjoying a cultural experience different from your own.
On the other hand, if relaxation is more your speed, cruises are all about that as well. Most cruises will have spa services aboard, as well as other activities focused on stress relief, like yoga and meditation rooms. Furthermore, if you just want to lie and tan while the boat is motion, you can do that too! If you go on a Caribbean cruise vacation in particular, you’ll be able to hit up the beach when you’re at port, and really take advantage of the island lifestyle.
Of course, there are practical advantages to cruising as well. Cruises are all inclusive, which means that when you book your cruise, you’re also booking your food and beverages. Different packages will offer you different options — but many people love that once they’ve booked their drink packages, they can drink freely and have fun, often ultimately saving a lot of money. Cruise ships have different suite styles for guests with differing budgets, allowing you to pick what works for you in particular. You won’t have to worry about cleaning a room or washing your towels — there is a staff aboard, and their priority is to give you the best possible vacation. Furthermore, if you’re traveling with kids, most cruise ships also offer on-board childcare. That way, you can have your fun while your kids have theirs!
There are many different types of cruises available to book — from Alaska cruises to European cruises, and even Asian cruises. So why should you book a Caribbean cruise vacation in particular? For one thing, if you’re new to cruising, a Caribbean cruise vacation can be considered something of a good beginner’s cruise. It’s the most classic type of cruise on the market, and the one that will offer you the most broadly appealing cruise possible. Of course, different cruise lines offer different types of itineraries and services, but you can expect a few basic things from a typical Caribbean cruise vacation. They are usually offered in itineraries that last anywhere from a long weekend to two weeks, and will embark from the same general ports, with the same islands hit over time. Usually, Caribbean cruises will depart from Florida, New Orleans, and Texas — though these may be more of a trek for some people, these ports are spread out enough to be accessible.
In terms of itinerary, you’ll often see Caribbean cruises visit Mexico, often at Cozumel or Playa del Carmen, as well as Grand Cayman, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Belize, Costa Rica, and Roatan. The Florida keys can also be included, depending on the itinerary you select. What do these places have in common? Well, they tend to have great weather throughout the year. Though there are always cooler seasons, in general there is more availability for Caribbean cruise dates, because there is more opportunity to cruise over the seasons in the Caribbean. You’ll be able to go to the beach and enjoy wonderful weather on a Caribbean cruise, without worrying about a freak blizzard. Another benefit of these locations is that they are generally safe, and welcoming to tourists. Though you’ll be able to experience something of a different culture, you won’t have to worry about too much culture shock, and the language barrier won’t be insurmountable.
Of course, due to the locations that they visit and the ports they embark from, Caribbean cruises tend to be more cost-effective than the alternatives as well. You will typically have to fly to a European or Asian country to embark on a European or Asian cruise, and these areas tend to be more expensive to visit in general. Caribbean countries often have a more favorable exchange rate for Americans, and they’re less expensive for the cruise lines to book activities within. So, while you’ll always be able to get more value out of a cruise in general, you’ll be able to save more money when cruising to the Caribbean in particular.
Many people worry about being stuck at sea and falling sick, or becoming injured. No matter how secure a cruise seems to be, the fact is that you could always get sick, and for that matter a simple slip and fall accident can be quite hazardous for some. Firstly, cruise ship employees are trained in emergency care, so that if you are hurt you’ll be tended to immediately. However, cruises on the main cruise ship lines also will have at least one doctor and two nurses on board. This way, you’ll have expert wound care available, and someone to care for you until the cruise makes it to the nearest port, where you can receive more advanced care at a hospital. Minor illnesses — always a damper on a cruise — can also be treated by these same medical professionals, which will hopefully mean that you can get back to having fun as soon as possible!
Although cruises do have limitations regarding pregnant women — not allowing women to cruise beyond a certain point in their pregnancy, for example — they do try to be as accessible as possible for everyone. For this reason, most main cruise lines allow service animals aboard. No other live animals will be allowed on cruises outside of service animals, and you will likely be required to provide notice and documentation for the animal a certain point ahead of your cruise. Depending on where you are cruising, you may not be able to bring your service animal off the ship when you’re at port in a different country, so keep that in mind when making plans.
Is a Cruise Ship Secure?
Many people have anxieties regarding safety and security aboard a cruise ship. As cruises are often sailing on international waters, many have questions regarding how they can be kept safe aboard. Fortunately, cruise lines have taken steps to ensure that cruise ships are kept as safe as possible. Major cruise lines do have security departments, and each cruise ship will sail with a certain amount of security officers, who are available to act at a moment’s notice. Prior to you boarding the cruise, this same security department will ensure that you are not bringing any weapons or illegal substances aboard. Though your security checks may seem like a hassle initially, they’re done to ensure that everyone is as safe as possible. When you disembark at port, you will be expected to return to the ship at a certain time for these reasons. Other regulations aboard the cruises are enforced to further ensure the safety of everyone. For example — while you have every right to have fun and cut loose on your cruise, if your behavior gets out of hand you may find that your drinking privileges are suspended, or that you are “bounced” just like you would be at a club back home, out of areas that serve alcohol. The more you listen and pay attention while on your cruise, the more safe and secure your experience will be.
Of course, a lot of people can go on a cruise, and the cruise line can’t be expected to have eyes on every passenger at all times. However, they do employ the use of security cameras, which record in public spaces. This means that if anything untoward does happen, or if accusations are raised during the cruise, there will be security footage available to review. Each suite can be kept safe and locked up when the guests are away, and the cruise staff take care to look out for passengers, and report anything that they find suspicious. Essentially, when cruising you will be aboard what can be considered a small town — but with much better security, and stricter safety regulations. There is a lot to do on a cruise, and while there are always people aboard who might get rowdier than others, the point of a cruise is to offer something for everyone. Therefore, if you feel unsafe at any time, there are people ready to help you, and safe spaces for you to return to.
Ultimately, a Caribbean cruise vacation might not be the right vacation for every single person on earth — but it comes pretty close! Its broad appeal and comparative affordability and value means that this type of cruise is the perfect trip for those who want to try cruising for the first time. Yet you’ll often find that once you go on your first Caribbean cruise, it might be a good while before you want to try any other type of cruise! Caribbean cruises are classic for a reason. If you want to get the absolute most out of your vacation, it’s highly recommended that you give one a whirl!