East, West or Southern Caribbean Cruise Routes

East, West or Southern Caribbean Cruise Routes

Planning a Caribbean Cruise?

When it comes to cruising the Caribbean, you may find yourself asking which route would be best for you? East, West or Southern?

A cruise to the Caribbean is the perfect way to see multiple islands in one trip, and you’ll only have to unpack once! The Caribbean Sea is also a great destination for first-time cruisers.

If you aren’t sure whether or not cruising is your thing, choose a short Caribbean cruise itinerary that will give you just a taste of what cruising is all about!  

Caribbean Cruise Tips

Book a Balcony Stateroom 

Sometimes all you want is some quiet time to soak in the warm sun. The best place to relax in that scenario is on your own balcony, far from the busy outdoor lounge spaces and crowded poolside areas of the ship. It’s also an amazing experience to watch the sunset or sunrise alone in the peace and quiet of your own space.

Book Your Dining Reservations Early

Specialty restaurants fill up quickly so make sure to book your reservations in advance for any available entertainment and eateries. Make reservations early for meals because popular dinner times and many specialty restaurants book up quickly.

Venture Away From The Beaches

Relaxing on beaches is essential during any Caribbean cruise but make sure to also set aside some time to go on incredible excursions and explore other parts of the islands.

From hitting the hiking trails in search of amazing panoramic views, to swimming in waterfalls, to kayaking in lagoons and ziplining through jungles, there’s so much to experience while on a Caribbean cruise. 

Pack Reef-Safe Sunscreen 

Certain sunscreen chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate, especially in tourist hotspots like the Caribbean, might damage coral reefs. Avoid using products that contain such chemicals while you are in the water to help conserve the fragile reefs. Use sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide instead, which are thought to be safe around coral reefs.


Cruise Route Options

One of the first topics we like to address when clients are beginning to plan a cruise to the Caribbean is choosing between regions: Eastern, Western or Southern Caribbean. Each region definitely has its own draw, and some longer cruises allow for a blend of destinations.

However, for this blog, we are going to focus on the highlights and benefits of each option.

If you are traveling from Canada to Florida to depart for your cruise, we suggest that you pick an itinerary length of at least 7-10 days. As Canadians, we do travel a fair distance to get to Florida, and the shorter 3-4 length itineraries can sometimes feel very rushed and like a bit of a ‘whirl·wind’ by the time you get back home.

In saying that, there are lots of destinations that cruisers can fit into a spacious ten-day itinerary.

Eastern Caribbean Cruise Routes

Eastern Caribbean cruises can include:

  • Turks and Caicos
  • Bahamas
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • The British Virgin Islands
  • St. Kitts and Nevis
  • St. Lucia
  • Puerto Rico
  • Dominican Republic
  • Grand Turk

In the East, you will find a perfect blend of old and new world comforts. With influences from Europe, Latin America and Africa, these islands are alive with culture and traditions.

You will be in awe of the jaw-dropping beautiful white sandy beaches and turquoise waters that surround most of the islands with pristine coral reefs ready for snorkelers and divers alike.

Shopping is also a big draw in the East, with bustling ports such as St. Thomas, which has now become the unofficial ‘capital of duty-free shopping.

Most cruise lines offer multiple itineraries that focus solely on the Eastern Caribbean. Because of this, the islands are very equipt for tourism and activities.

Western Caribbean Cruise Routes

Western Caribbean cruises can include:

  • Jamaica
  • Grand Cayman
  • Cuba
  • Belize
  • Cozumel
  • Cayman Islands
  • Honduras

Western Caribbean itineraries are amazing options if you are interested in Mayan Culture. Spend the morning exploring Mayan ruins tucked away deep within the jungle and later the same day snorkel and explore colorful reefs and delicious island cuisine!

Within the Western Caribbean are destinations such as Jamaica and Cozumel which are equipped with a wide range of eco-adventure activities. Inland activities such as hiking in the jungle and zip trekking are popular choices. Also plentiful are marine activity options, including Stingray City on Grand Cayman and the Blue Hole in Belize.

Since these ports are farther apart than those in Eastern Caribbean, you are typically at sea a few days longer, making the 7-10 day itineraries that much more appealing.

Most cruise lines offer Western-specific itineraries typically departing from Florida.

Southern Caribbean Cruise Routes

Southern Caribbean cruises routes can include:

  • St. Maarten
  • Antigua
  • Aruba
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Curacao
  • Martinique
  • Bonair

In the Southern Caribbean islands, you get a chance to experience remote beauty. Diving deeper into the Caribbean you are able to spot pristine, uncrowded beaches and lush landscapes. Enjoy multiple national parks and rainbow-like coral reefs brimming with buzzing marine life.

This is the road less traveled, and because of that, itineraries from Florida start at ten days and go up to 20 days.

Many cruisers have found the South to be an ideal destination in the Caribbean due to its remote, exotic vibe. Our very own travel consultant, Angela Brinkworth, suggests the Southern Medley from Princess Cruises as one of her all-time favorite routes.

Caribbean Festivals To Experience

Every year, almost every island holds a celebration of its culture through music, dancing, food, or sailing.

Here are some of the most popular that you could plan to experience on a Caribbean cruise: 

Trinidad and Tobago Carnival

With its spectacular floats and costumes, this is the oldest, largest, and most daring carnival in the Caribbean! The carnival takes place in February.

Cayman Pirate Week

 A fun-filled family celebration that features parades, pyrotechnics, street dancing, and costume competitions. You can experience pirate week in October.

Antigua Sailing Week

One of the most prestigious yacht racing competitions in the world is Antigua Sailing Week, which happens in late April.

Bahamas’ Junkanoo

Nassau hosts the Bahamas’ Junkanoo, a carnival-style event with parades and costumes. The festival is observed on Independence Day, every Saturday in August, and various other dates throughout the year in addition to the main event after Christmas which happens between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve.

Barbados’ Crop Over Festival

Barbados’ Crop Over Festival marks the conclusion of the sugarcane harvest with festivities, parades, live music, food trucks, and street vendors. You can experience the festival from July to August.

St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival

This event features jazz, R&B, and calypso music as well as local and international artists’ dance, theatre, and visual art, as well as daytime street festivities in the Carnival tradition. This festival happens in May.


Check Out These Fun Tours to do in the Caribbean

Best Caribbean Cruise Lines 

Travel on beautiful cruise ships that will take you to equally beautiful destinations on most major cruise lines. Here are some of the more affordable cruise lines that sail to the most popular cruise destinations!

Princess Cruises 

The sun-kissed shores of the Caribbean are calling. Relax on gorgeous white sand beaches surrounded by crystal clear waters, discover the ancient treasures of the Mayans, or let your cares melt away while relaxing to steel drum melodies. Find the best Caribbean cruise to suit your vacation desires with the perfect ports of call for your adventure.

A cruise with Princess isn’t just a chance to share memories with your favorite people in the world. It’s one of the best vacation values around. Exploring multiple destinations yet only unpacking once. Multicourse meals to remember. Broadway-style shows, comedy acts and bands. A comfortable stateroom perfect for unwinding. And much more is available on a Princess Cruise.

Contact us at the bottom of this blog for a quote and to explore itinerary options with this cruise line.

Princess has many ships that sail all over the Caribbean: 

  • Caribbean Princess
  • Sky Princess
  • Regal Princess
  • Ruby Princess
  • Enchanted Princess
  • Emerald Princess

Royal Caribbean

Cruise to the Caribbean and discover the cliff-diving, breeze-swaying, sand between your toes, no worries pace of island life. Sail to Royal Caribbean’s private island, CocoCay to conquer the tallest waterslide in North America and snap a shot from up to 450 feet up in a helium balloon. Grab a drink at the swim-up bar and soak up the scene in the largest freshwater pool in the Bahamas. Or get a taste of Bora Bora with your own Overwater Cabana. Discover the magic of Perfect Day at CocoCay — only onboard Royal Caribbean Cruises.

Royal Caribbean has won awards for everything from world-class dining and unforgettable entertainment, to record-setting onboard thrills and groundbreaking innovation. Whether you’re traveling solo or vacationing with the whole extended family, you’ll have all kinds of ahh-inducing cruise rooms to choose from.

Contact us at the bottom of this blog for a quote and to explore itinerary options with this cruise line.

It’s in their name so of course, Royal Caribbean has many ships that sail to the Caribbean:

  • Odyssey of the Seas
  • Symphony of the Seas
  • Harmony of the Seas
  • Oasis of the Seas
  • Allure of the Seas
  • Mariner of the Seas

Norwegian Cruise Line

Experience Caribbean Cruising With Norwegian! Cue the calypso music and cruise to The Caribbean, where crystal-clear waters and sunny skies await on your Caribbean cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line. Choose from ten convenient departure ports and itineraries that offer plenty of time in paradise to Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean, and Southern Caribbean cruise ports. Along the way, experience the freedom and flexibility that only Norwegian offers and enjoy a journey as exciting as the places you visit.

Imagine cruising just the way you want it: with no schedule to follow but your own. That is what Norwegian Freestyle Cruising provides for all ships and itineraries. Indulge your taste buds with a wide-ranging of dining options, or perhaps a dinner and a show? Relax at some of the most spacious and modern staterooms in the cruise industry before journeying out to experience the amazing shore excursion of your choice.

Contact us at the bottom of this blog for a quote and to explore itinerary options with this cruise line.

Norwegian has incredible ships that sail the Caribbean:

  • Norwegian Getaway
  • Norwegian Escape
  • Norwegian Bliss
  • Norwegian Encore
  • Norwegian Prima
  • Norwegian Viva

Holland America Line

Holland America Line holds true to the timeless elegance of ocean travel. From the moment you step aboard one of their spacious, mid-sized ships, you’ll feel the difference. With warm, hospitable service, exclusive onboard activities, immersive culinary journeys and more. Sailing to the Caribbean with Holland America is one you’ll never forget.

Whatever your vision of the perfect island getaway is, Holland America is certain to provide it in the Caribbean. Half Moon Cay, Holland America’s award-winning private island, is a stop on all of their Caribbean cruises. Along with the private island, Holland America can take you to other popular ports and exciting hidden gems.

Contact us at the bottom of this blog for a quote and to explore itinerary options with this cruise line.

Holland America has many ships that sail to the Caribbean:

  • Nieuw Rotterdam
  • Eurodam
  • Nieuw Amsterdam
  • Nieuw Statendam
  • Volendam
  • Zaandam

The Best Time To Go On A Caribbean Cruise

The best months for a Caribbean cruise are December through April when you get warm weather, and bright, clear skies. This is the peak season for cruising in the Caribbean so expect potentially busy ships. 

The Caribbean experiences hurricane season from June 1 to November 30. The entire region of the Caribbean is at risk during hurricane season, including popular embarkation ports like Fort Lauderdale and Port Canaveral.

Between mid-August and early November is when the hurricane season reaches its height, so stick to traveling to the Caribbean during high season if you’re worried about tropical storms. 

Which Caribbean Cruise Route is Calling to You?

Every traveler is unique, just like every island in the Caribbean. Cruising is not meant to be “one-size fits all”, which is why cruise lines offer so many varieties of itineraries.

If you can’t find a travel buddy, why not go solo? Check out our solo cruising travel guide here: Tips for Cruising Alone | 2022 Solo Travel Guide

If you need some assistance in choosing the perfect route for you and your travel companions, let our travel specialists guide you in the direction of your Caribbean dreams!

Or, contact us using the form below and we can assist you in finding your dream Caribbean cruise route!

We’ve got your back! When you’re ready to book your next getaway, contact one of our TierOne Travel agents. They have extensive knowledge of all current events in the travel industry and will be able to craft something incredible that is suited to your unique needs and will get you to your destination as stress-free as possible.

One call; endless experiences!

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” – Anonymous

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