When you take a cruise that’s really special there’s no reason you can’t or shouldn’t book the same cruise again. Maybe it was the ship that was special. Possibly it was the staff that impressed you so much. For most people who cruise, it’s the itinerary they found to be exceptional. Whatever the reason, here are some of the best cruises seniors will want to book over and over.
Hands down, the most popular cruise destination in the world is the Caribbean Sea. How can you not love the brilliant sunshine, powdery white sand, and shimmering water in a host of blue/green shades?
As a rule, the majority of these three routes are seven days in duration. If you happen to be trying a cruise vacation for the first time, seven days is the perfect amount of time to determine if a cruising vacation is all you thought it would be.
There are also three and four-day cruises, but it’s really not enough time to come to any sort of decision about cruising in general. With seven days, you might get to stop at as many as five of six islands and you will get to know what each has to offer. It also gives you time to adjust to life onboard a state-of-the-art cruise ship.
It’s important to keep in mind that a three or four-day cruise is normally a higher cost per day than a seven-day cruise. Also, they might only have two or three islands on their itinerary so you don’t really get to see too much of the amazing Caribbean Islands.
Some cruises are longer than a week. There are 10-day cruises, 14-day cruises, and even some Caribbean cruises that might be as long as three weeks. If you are new to cruising, 10 days or more might be too long. When you are on the ship you are pretty much committed to seeing the entire itinerary through.
It’s unlikely, but what happens if you discover you don’t really like cruising after four or five days and you booked a 14-day cruise? So really, the first cruise of about a week is perfect.
Most Caribbean cruises follow three main routes. You can choose the Western Caribbean, Eastern Caribbean, or the Southern Caribbean.
EASTERN CARIBBEAN CRUISES
Most Eastern Caribbean cruises will leave from ports in Florida. Some of the most common embarkation ports in Florida are Jacksonville, Port Canaveral, Miami, and Tampa. You might also find Eastern Caribbean cruises that leave from Charleston, SC or New York City.
Many of the cruise lines sailing the Eastern Caribbean will stop in the Bahamas. The most common island in the Bahamas is Nassau, but several cruise lines have their own private islands that can be truly spectacular. A couple of examples are Disney Cruises’ Castaway Cay or Holland America Line’s Half Moon Cay.
Most private islands will offer guests an opportunity to enjoy a host of land and water sports in a spectacular setting.
Ports-of-Call you might expect to visit on an Eastern Caribbean cruise will include Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Martin, St. John. These islands are close together and most of the shore excursions are centered around beach and water activities, shopping, and simply snorkeling or sun-tanning on an amazing beach.
WESTERN CARIBBEAN CRUISES
If you are cruising the western Caribbean, chances are you will be leaving from Florida, New Orleans, or Texas.
Normally your Ports-of-Call will include Mexico. For instance, you might stop at Cozumel or Playa Del Carmen. Key West is another popular stop, as is the Grand Cayman Islands.
There are also several mainland Ports-or-Call that might be on a Western Caribbean itinerary. These might include Mexico, Belize or Costa Rica. Chances are you might stop at one of the larger islands like Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.
One thing to be aware of is that the islands are much further apart in the Western Caribbean, so you may not have as many Ports-of-Call as compared to the East. That being said, there are some very spectacular and varied shore excursions in the West. For example, no trip to the Grand Cayman Islands is complete without a visit to Stingray City.
Cozumel will offer you the opportunity to swim with the dolphins and this is one of the most popular shore excursions offered on Western Caribbean cruises. If Dolphins aren’t your thing, you might enjoy cave tubing in Belize, exploring Mayan ruins, or hiking through a rain forest.
I personally cruised both the Eastern and Western Caribbean several times. One year I decided to do both. The cruise line I booked with would do the Western Caribbean one week and then the Eastern Caribbean the next week, and alternate between the two for the entire season. I decided to do both. I kept my same cabin and just stayed on the ship when everyone else disembarked.
The beauty of this is that I got to cruise with a whole new set of passengers. Not only that, I had the opportunity to visit about nine ports-of-call. My thinking was that the second week was a bargain because I flew from Calgary, Canada to Miami, Florida.
One of the biggest expenses associated with cruising for many people is flying to and from the embarkation/disembarkation city. Since I was already there, I only paid for the flight once to basically go on two different cruises.
I had been on many cruises, so I had no reason to hesitate when it came to going on what amounted to a 14-day cruise. There was no doubt in my mind that I would enjoy it.
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SOUTHERN CARIBBEAN CRUISES
I have to say my best cruise ever was a 10-day cruise on the Carnival Jubilee. It has been out of service now for a few decades. It was a smaller ship compared to the line of sister ships that followed.
Those ships included the Fascination, Sensation, Ecstasy, inspiration, Elation, and Paradise. Over the years I sailed on four of these ships as well.
The Jubilee was on one of its last voyages before being taken out of service. This was a one-time cruise itinerary that I was fortunate enough to stumble onto.
We set sail out of Miami and headed South. In those ten days, we stopped at nine islands. It’s not often you will ever find a cruise like this. We started out in the US Virgin Islands. Of course, we went to St. Thomas, the duty-free shopping capital of the Caribbean.
We also made stops in St. Martin, St. John, and St. Barts(Bartholomew). There were two ports-of-call that I was lucky enough to visit as I would never manage to find a cruise ship after that with the same islands on their itinerary. It was the spice islands of Grenada and Guadeloupe.
I still remember stepping onto the island of Guadeloupe and the aroma of fresh pepper, cinnamon, vanilla, and all the other spices wafting in the warm Caribbean air from the open-air Saint-Antoine market in Pointe-à-Pitre.
The stall owners all wore ample dresses and madras headscarves. They spoke nothing but French, but also spoke the international language of smiles and laughter and were a treat to bargain with even though we never understood each other.
I regret never getting to see the Guadeloupe Carnival. One year I plan on going for a land stay for a few weeks during carnival.
From Pointe-à-Pitre to Basse-Terre to Grand-Bourg de Marie-Galante, numerous parades with shimmering costumes and exuberant masks will entrance the entire crowd big, and small! Especially since they all are lulled by the rhythm of drums, percussions and songs.
But wait, we had some other amazing Southern Caribbean Islands to visit. We stopped at the ABC islands Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. They were all stunningly beautiful. Eventually, I would go back to St. Thomas and St. Martin four times and Aruba five times. I have to say that next to Guadeloupe, Aruba was my favorite island.
How can you not love the snow-white sand of Palm Beach? When you walked across the sand it would come up to your ankles and be like a fine powder.
WHERE WILL YOUR NEXT CRUISE TAKE YOU?
So where are you planning to go for your next cruise? The Caribbean, Alaska, Mexican Riviera, Panama Canal, Hawaii, Europe, Tahiti or Cuba?
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The options are endless and an argument can be made for any of these cruise ship destinations. If you have never been on a cruise, you don’t know what you’re missing.
The Caribbean is a great place to start and to visit over and over again. It doesn’t even have to be overly expensive if you plan your cruise out of peak season. Better still, there are many cruise ship bargains available if you are patient and are flexible in your travel arrangements.
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