During the long, cold winter months, dreams of a sunny paradise may float through your mind. Instead of a wintery storm, wouldn’t it be nice to feel a warm breeze in the shade of palm trees? Instead of trudging through the snow and ice, you could be walking along a sandy beach. It may seem like you’re stuck in the winter until the season changes to spring, but you can get out of town quickly with last minute cruises.
The further away from the Equator you live, the more prone you are to extreme weather conditions. The Equatorial regions of the world are known for pleasant weather all year long. Located between Mexico, Belize, and Honduras, Guatemala is known as “The Land of Eternal Spring.” With rainforests and lush greenery that can be enjoyed at any time of the year, it’s an ideal stop on a cruise. You can spend your time visiting Mayan ruins, volcanoes, ecological parks, or simply lounge on the beach in the sun.
Where is the Caribbean?
While Mexico is technically part of the Caribbean, from a cruise perspective, “Western Caribbean” itineraries often make a stop in Cancun or Cozumel, and some also include Honduras or Belize. The most popular cruise destination is the Caribbean, which is a crescent-shaped group of islands between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. The islands stretch 1,700 miles southwest from Florida to the border of Venezuela. There are more than 7,000 islands, reefs, and cays in this island paradise. The region was called the West Indies by Christopher Columbus, when he believed he landed on the Indian subcontinent in 1492.
The Caribbean region is now known as the Antilles, which is divided into the Greater Antilles in the north, Lesser Antilles to the south and west, the Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The climate of the regions is tropical, with rainfall varying by elevation, island size, and the water currents. The area enjoys year-round sunshine, divided into wet and dry seasons. Warm tradewinds blow through from the east, creating both rainforests and semi-desert conditions on the more mountainous islands. The climate and location of the Caribbean region makes the islands prone to tropical storms and hurricanes.
The economy of the Caribbean cannot be generalized, but what is common to virtually all of the countries is a general lack of natural resource, such as oil, minerals, large farmlands, and large-scale fisheries. As a result, these nations rely heavily on international tourist dollars and have a well-developed infrastructure to serve visitors. In addition to beaches and islands, there are numerous resorts, diversity of dining and of course, a wealth of water-oriented sports from snorkeling and diving, to fishing, boating and other recreational activities. Competition for customers makes these a relative bargain compared to other tropical destinations, such as the South Pacific.
Ethnic Diversity of the Islands
The sovereignty of the nations of the Caribbean has changed hands many times through history, which adds to the diverse cultural landscape of the region. With influences from England, France, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Italy and Denmark, the languages, food, and customs of the area are vibrant and unique. Some countries, such as Jamaica, have claimed their full independence, while others remain colonies or dependent territories.
Spanish, English, French, Dutch, Haitian Creole, and Papiamento are the predominant official languages in the Caribbean region, with lots of Creole languages and dialects as well. The Caribbean countries are home to the musical genres of reggae, ska, rocksteady, and ragga, and are a popular destination in the urban recording industry.
Ecological Diversity of the Islands
The Caribbean islands have remarkable biodiversity. Animals, fungi, and plants thrive in this region which hosts combined land and marine ecosystems. Cloud forests, cactus scrublands, coral reefs and seagrass meadows exist alongside beaches and mountains.
The region has suffered from the tragic consequences of deforestation, pollution, and human inhabitation. Dozens of highly-threatened and endangered animal species are native to and only thrive in the Caribbean. Heavy rainfall supports prolific growth of bamboo and ferns, as well as hardwoods like mahogany and rosewood. When you go into the marketplaces of the Caribbean, you will find many souvenir items to bring home to remind you of the beautiful places you visited.
What To Do On A Cruise in the Caribbean
The wonderful thing about going on a cruise is that there is something for everyone. You can sign up for excursions at each port of call, such as exploring ancient ruins, snorkeling and hiking to beautiful waterfalls. You can walk around the cities and take advantage of the shopping and dining opportunities. Or you can relax on the beach and soak up the sun.
If sightseeing isn’t your thing, you can relax and enjoy your time on the ship. There are incredible dining options available 24 hours a day. Most ships have pools, dance clubs, rock climbing walls, casinos, and fitness centers. You can attend on-board wine tastings and audience participation events. You can visit the spa for a facial or massage. All the modern comforts of home, including wi-fi, are available for your cruise vacation.
When you think of a luxurious cruise liner, you probably don’t think you can afford to go on a budget. The truth is, cheap cruises are available all the time. With deep discounts offered when vacancies on the ships are high, you can score an amazing deal with little effort.
There are several places you can look online to find great cruise deals. Many people go straight to the website of the cruise line, such as Carnival or Royal Caribbean. While deals on last minute cruises are occasionally available, it’s a good idea to check out a site that specializes in helping you get the best price on your cruise. Also, when you contact a specific cruise line directly, they have no option but to sell you their cruise, regardless of whether it’s right for you or not.
Working with an online agency gives a broader selection and a much better chance of getting matched up with the itinerary, ship and cruise line that’s best suited to your needs. Successful agencies will often be able to sell at a lower price than the cruise line does, due to volume discounts they pass along. As an individual customer, you won’t be making a volume purchase and will end paying the cruise lines’ retail fares no matter what.
Some discount cruise websites charge an extra fee for personalized service, or even add a fee every time you call, so it’s important to find one that provides their services for free. Customers can speak with cruise experts who can offer advice to find a cruise package that is just right. If you are not interested in a cruise to the Caribbean, there are other lovely cruise destinations such as Hawaii, Mexico, Europe, South America and the South Pacific. No matter how you’d like to get away from the bitter cold of winter, you can find a last-minute cruise to meet your needs.