The Hundred Mile Horizon
Over 7000 Caribbean islands, reefs and cays (‘the West Indies’) are bounded on the east by the Bahamas and island arcs of the Antilles, to the south by the Netherlands Antilles, and to the west by Mexico and Belize. They encompass the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Jamaica and Caymans. Many ships cruise year-round from mainland USA ports, as well as from some Caribbean island ports. They are joined in the northern Winter by ships relocating from the Mediterranean. Attractions range from relaxing at all-inclusive resorts
owned by cruise lines, to authentic small-ship explorations of lesser known islands with their histories and cultures. Duration may be from three days to visit a port or two, and up to fourteen days to span the East and West Caribbean.
Allow two weeks if your Caribbean venture is part of a trans-Atlantic voyage. As this region is one of the busiest in the world, you have a choice of vessels from 9000 GT to 220,000 GT, from most any cruise line. Miami is the busiest cruise embarkation port in the world, and Nassau the top port of call. Is your destination the ship, the resorts, the West Indian ports, or Caribbean luxury travel? Do you want only Caribbean islands, or perhaps in addition Panama, Mexican Riviera, the Inca coast of South America, the Amazon, or an Atlantic crossing? Embark from the US mainland, Puerto Rico or Barbados.
Large ship cruises abound. Twenty Carnival, six Celebrity, two Costa, eleven HAL, one MSC, nine NCL, ten Princess and sixteen RCI ships offer 3 to 14 night cruises round the year. Many ships return to Europe in the northern summer, with cheap trans-Atlantic fares. HAL vessels and Coral Princess cross Panama between the Caribbean and Mexican Riviera. For boasting rights, sail Allure of the Seas or Oasis of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise liners at 220,000 GT, ex Fort Lauderdale. Here are some luxury opportunities out of Southampton (UK). PandO’s Oceania sails a 35 night round trip to the Caribbean in December 2012. Cunard’s Queen Victoria sails for 23-nights in October and Queen Mary 2 for 26-nights in December 2012. For superb personal attention and visits to smaller uncrowded and exotic ports, cruise with Seven Seas Navigator, Azamara Journey, Seabourn Spirit or a Silversea ship.