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The Caribbean: Tips for a Caribbean Cruise

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The Caribbean has always been a tempting cruise destination for many Americans because of its availability of the short cruises and the proximity to reach the debarkation ports. Most Caribbean cruises depart out of Miami or Fort Lauderdale, Florida, New Orleans, Louisiana, or Galveston, Texas. From each of these you can reach the Caribbean islands and just a day or so. Caribbean cruises appeal the first time cruisers and those who want to enjoy the tropics without the hassle of the Intercontinental plane flights.

Choose a Suitable Route

Many Caribbean cruises follow one of the three basic arcs through the Western Caribbean, the Eastern Caribbean or the southern Caribbean. The Western Caribbean route works for travelers you want to visit numerous ports of call and experience fun activities such as scuba diving. The typical destinations may include Jamaica, Key West, Cozumel and the Cayman Islands. The Eastern Caribbean involves more time at sea therefore it makes a better choice for travelers who want to enjoy the cruise ship itself. Those typical ports include Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. Martin. Trips to the southern Caribbean include ports of call to Grenada, Barbados, St. Thomas and Antigua. Southern Caribbean roots last longer usually 10 to 12 nights as opposed to seven days or a week and other parts of the Caribbean. Some cruise lines even offer short three day cruises to nearby ports such as San Juan or Bermuda.

Prepare for Tropical Weather

The tropical weather of the Caribbean is part of the appeal on a cruise but it's not always fun in the sun. Temperatures are nice and warm all year averaging in the 70s and the winner and edge up to the high 80s and low 90s in July. Caribbean islands however tend to receive a lot of rain which ranges between 21 and 55 inches per year depending on the location. Humidity levels are also quite high which means your skincare and hair care products react differently than at home. Pack raingear and be prepared to do something different if things get too wet. Hurricane season in the Caribbean runs from June to November and the cruise lines will also offer a safe port rather than risk a disaster at sea. If you choose to take a cruise on the Caribbean during hurricane season, purchased travel insurance, which allows you to refund or reschedule in case of a hurricane.

Use Etiquette

The temperament of Caribbean locals varies from island to island but some people you meet on shore are apt to be nicer than others. In referencing Timothy O'Keefe's "guide to the Caribbean vacations" Caribbean islanders are polite and courteous and they expect those they interact with to do the same. Smile and say hello even if you're passing others on the street. Caribbean people also expect you to initiate conversation as a guest. Don't simply stand around waiting for assistance in a shop walk up to the salesperson, and begin the polite greeting. Islanders tend to be more open and friendly if you don't have a camera with you, as they are uncomfortable having their pictures taken. They will usually agree if you approach them politely and ask before taking out your camera. If the person you wish to photograph operates a business or a roadside stand always purchase something before making the request and you'll find them to be much more accommodating.