The Eastern Caribbean is one of the most beautiful and popular cruise destinations in the world. There are so many reasons why people are attracted to the Eastern Caribbean islands. Other than the obvious outstanding natural beauty of the area, many people like that there are so many destinations to choose from and you can see so much in just a short amount of time.
East or West?
The first decision you will usually have to make when booking a Caribbean cruise is whether you want to visit the Eastern or Western Caribbean. They are both beautiful areas, yet offer very different experiences. The islands of the Eastern Caribbean are much closer together than in the west. This is a great option for those who want to enjoy the benefits of sailing but at the same time maximize on-land time. This gives you a chance to go shopping and experience the stunning white beaches that the islands of the Eastern Caribbean can offer you.
The length of the cruise will largely effect what islands you will visit on your itinerary. Most people opt for 7 day cruises, and these will usually include 4 or 5 of the most popular destinations. However, there are so many cruises to choose from that they can be pretty much tailor-made to your preferences.
The most popular Eastern Caribbean cruise destinations, and the ones we shall look at today are: the Bahamas, St. Thomas, St. John, Puerto Rico, and St. Maarten/St. Martin.
The Bahamas are some of the best known islands in the Caribbean and one of the most visited. Most cruises pull either into the port of Nassau or Freeport, and as most cruises depart from southern Florida the Bahamas are usually the first port of call as they are only 50 nautical miles from the U.S. mainland. The Bahamas has a very British colonial feel to it, and there is plenty to see and do. The islands have a lot of history and you will definitely feel a long way from home – even though you have hardly gone very far at all!
St. Thomas Island
The island of St. Thomas is one of the Virgin Islands and a popular stop-off destination for many Eastern Caribbean cruises. Visitors love the natural beauty of the island and it also boasts the best climate in the Caribbean all year round with lower humidity and a pleasant warm temperature. For those who feel a bit uneasy visiting foreign countries, St. Thomas is a fantastic option as it is still part of the USA so you can experience the comforts of home including the same currency, similar fast-food restaurants and English-speaking residents whilst enjoying the excitement of visiting somewhere new. The water and beaches around St. Thomas are unrivalled and it is easy to see why it is one of the most popular islands to visit in the Eastern Caribbean.
St. John Island
St. John is also situated in the U.S. Virgin Islands but it much less commercialized and more serene. It has a much quieter and rural lifestyle that is a complete contrast to that of the neighboring St. Thomas. Two-thirds of the island is protected as a national park and it is a great place for a peaceful break whilst on your cruise.
Puerto Rico is more than just the birthplace of Ricky Martin, it is one of the largest islands in the Caribbean and has a lot to offer every type of traveler. It is a popular destination for those who love the great outdoors and there are many beautiful hiking trails that include waterfalls, beaches and more. One of the most popular destinations on Puerto Rico is the Caribbean National Forest. Although it is not a particularly large national forest in U.S. standards, it is the USA’s only national tropical rainforest. Most cruise ships pull into the capital of San Juan, and the city is very exciting and bustling with things to do both day and night.
St. Maarten/St. Martin
The final Eastern Caribbean Cruise destination we shall look at today is the island of St. Maarten/St. Martin. The island has two names as it is half owned by the Dutch (St. Maarten) and half by the French (St. Martin). A large number of cruise ships pull into the capital of the Dutch side of the island – Phillipsburg. Shopping in the capital is exciting and you will find most of the popular Caribbean shops amongst others. The capital of the French side – Marigot – is much smaller and most cruise ships can not stop at the port here as it can only accommodation one medium-sized cruise ship at a time. However if you do have time to visit this beautiful city then it will be worth your while. You can experience French-style boutiques and a French colonial atmosphere including morning markets each day.