The Caribbean is an area dotted with islands, located south of the Gulf of Mexico off the southwestern coast of the United States. From Cuba in the west all the way to Barbados in the east, you could spend weeks on a Caribbean vacation discovering all its charms. Start with a leisurely cruise from Miami, Florida and make your way south to experience the Latin Americas of the seas.
Cuba is the largest yet least developed place in the Caribbean Islands. If you enjoy going off the beaten path and exploring then Cuba is a great way to begin any Caribbean adventure. Havana 's crumbling edifices and antique cars give this city a distinct historical charm. With Havana being a port city for cruise Caribbean, cruise in with some of the popular Caribbean cruise ships like Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Holland Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Windstar.
South of Cuba lies the island of Jamaica. The port of Kingston is must on your Caribbean cruise holiday. From the Botanical Gardens to the Friday Night Jam, there is just an abundance of things to see and do in Kingston. Scuba diving is often overlooked, due to the rich cultural offerings, but a great variety of diving sites exist here, from wrecks to reefs. Most Jamaicans are very friendly and welcome an opportunity to tell you more about their Island. Their heavy accent is not that hard to understand and the locals like it when you try to learn the Jamaican Patois that they speak.
Hispanola is the name given to the Island that is now home to Haiti on the west and the Dominican Republic in the east. The hues of the deep green palm trees set against a deep blue sky make this island is a feast for the senses which is quickly developing into a respected and delightful vacation site. There are nearly 1000 miles of impeccable beaches, which provide miles and hours of tropical diversions for swimmers and sun worshippers that come here on their cruise vacation Caribbean.
The Taino Indians shared a similar fate as their cousins further west in Puerto Rico after Columbus arrived here in 1492, suffering from disease and persecution. But today the ethnic mix of African, Indian, and Spanish adds to the vibrant culture that has evolved in the Dominican Republic.
Further to the east lies Puerto Rico, whose names means rich port in Spanish. There are actually three Islands that make up Puerto Rico. There are two small islands of its Eastern Coast named Culebra, which means snake in Spanish, and Vieques.
San Juan is the capitol of the Northern coast, and it is where many ships stop on their cruise Caribbean. Whether you like to stroll casually through narrow cobbled lanes or you prefer enjoy a spicy dinner with Salsa Dancing afterwards, San Juan can suit your interests.
If you enjoy nature you can book a tour to Indian Ceremonial sites or El Yunque rainforest. Learn about the history of Puerto Rico and witness amazing vistas of Sam Juan Bay from El Morro, a forbidding six-story fort that was begun in 1539 to protect Old San Juan from the countless attacks it suffered.
From Anguilla to Grenada stretch a chain of smaller, but equally impressive islands. The three islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John make up the US Virgin Islands.
No passport or Visa is needed here. Here you can find the only underwater US National Monument - the Buck Island Reef on St. Croix. St. Thomas boasts one of the most popular Caribbean cruise ships port destinations - Port Charlotte Amalie. Here, the pastel hues of the houses contrast sharply against the bright green foliage. There is a relaxed feeling here yet there is always something to do - you can wander down one of the shaded alleyways and discover various types of duty-free shopping in tastefully converted old Dutch warehouses.
Whether you go to Junkanoo in Grand Bahamas Island, Carnival in Martinique, or continue further south to the lush water filled paradise of Grenada, with its sulfur springs and its natural abundance of rivers and waterfalls, you will never cease to be amazed when you cruise Caribbean.
Top image: Danny Lehman