If you're looking to escape the cold winter of the UK, there are few more satisfying destinations than the Caribbean. Great weather, beautiful locations and the ultimate in relaxation. It really couldn't be further from home. Before you embark on your winter Caribbean cruise, there are a few things (besides your cocktail of choice) to decide.
WHY CRUISE THE CARIBBEAN IN THE WINTER?
To help answer this question, it's important to get a handle on the Caribbean's seasonal cycle. The Caribbean's best weather runs from Mid-December to April, with a cooler season running from June to November - which often leaves cruise-goers with a choice. During the height of their summer, cruising to the Caribbean is at its most popular, and is, therefore, the most expensive time to travel. Take an early winter cruise around November, and you'll find cheaper prices, but less impressive weather. Winter also means Christmas. Many cruises run right throughout the festive period, giving you the opportunity to escape the cold and celebrate the big day under the sun of the Caribbean.
WHERE TO CRUISE DURING WINTER IN THE CARIBBEAN
Winter Caribbean cruises can range from 4 to 14 days in length, and you'll find a variety of itineraries covering every corner of the region's beautiful islands. Cruises depart from many major US cities. Miami's close proximity makes it an ideal choice, but you can also find Caribbean cruises departing from New York, Orlando, and New Orleans. Alternatively, you can fly direct to Puerto Rico's Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport and depart from the heart of the region. Once you're away, you have a variety of options for Caribbean exploration. Western Caribbean: Often departing from Orlando or New Orleans, voyage along the Gulf of Mexico, taking in the likes of the Bahamas and Jamaica. As an additional treat, a Western Caribbean cruise will take in Mexico itself, stopping at ports such Costa Maya and Cozumel.
Southern Caribbean: For a true tour of some of the Caribbean's most iconic and unique countries, a southern Caribbean tour is an ideal choice. Stopping off at the likes of Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, and the US and the British Virgin Islands, you're unlikely to find such a breadth of cultural influences anywhere else. Taking in inspiration from France, the Netherlands, Spain and the US, the Southern Caribbean countries each offer a rich and varied cultural experience.
Eastern Caribbean: Similar in location to southern Caribbean cruises, eastern cruises will allow you to take in the likes of the US and British Virgin Islands, St Lucia and Barbados.
One country missing from these regional cruises, but still very much a part of the Caribbean experience is Cuba. Shorter, four-day cruises often revolve around the largest of the Caribbean countries – using the port of Havana to allow you to explore the capital.
WHAT TO PACK FOR A WINTER CARIBBEAN CRUISE
As we mentioned, the weather in the Caribbean is only ever going to be tropical, with temperatures getting hotter the further south you go. For the cruise itself, shorts, t-shirts and, flip-flops will leave you feeling comfortable throughout the day. For the evening, you might want to pack something fancy, allowing you to enjoy the onboard restaurants in style. If you do decide on a Caribbean cruise during the cooler season, it's best to pack a lightweight waterproof jacket - just in case you do get caught up in any rain or colder evenings. The only other thing to consider is the journey to and from your cruise. If you're coming from the UK, winter is a very different animal to that of the Caribbean. Don't leave yourself without appropriate clothing to battle the cold over here.
VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR YOUR CARIBBEAN CRUISE
Depending on which countries you’re visiting during your cruise, you could require any number of different visas or travel cards. Be sure to check the requirements of each country to ensure you’re able to enter a destination. Your cruise line will be aware of the visa requirements of each of your locations.
WINTER CARIBBEAN CRUISE TIPS
- Your body is going to be acclimatised to the cold winter air of the UK, and after a long flight across the Atlantic, it will take time to adjust to your new, warmer climate. To help you recover in time, try a couple of days on land (perhaps in Miami or Orlando) before your cruise departure.
- Plan ahead when it comes to excursions, particularly if you do decide to cruise during hurricane season. If the weather does take a turn for the worst where your excursion is taking place, it could be cancelled. Plus, some excursions may run less regularly during off-peak seasons - so be sure to have a Plan B in place.
- Most Caribbean islands will accept US dollars. To avoid ending up with small amounts of many different currencies, it's best to come armed with some denominations of US dollars.
Book the perfect warming winter getaway with NCL’s range of Caribbean cruises.