Various cruise lines excel in certain cruising regions; a look at the better Caribbean cruise lines.
Norwegian Cruise Lines: The third major player in the Caribbean differentiates itself with what it calls "Free-style Cruising." This is a trademarked phrase to describe the onboard style of NCL ships. While they still offer a dining room where people can eat all meals included in the cruise fare, the free-style ships also feature as many as ten additional restaurants of all kinds. Other options include Japanese to Mexican, steakhouse, Italian, Chinese, Continental cuisine, sushi-bar, Bistro, Deli, the Lido buffet and others which carry variable service charges from small to premium. Free-style also means there is no pre-set dining time or table assignment in any restaurant.
NCL ships are sleek enough to appeal to a younger clientele. Their nightclubs, such as "Bliss" are decadent with queen-size bed style loungers covered in crushed velvet in hidden alcoves. The room even has four bowling lanes, the only bowling at sea.
NCL often has low cruise fares, but one should remember all those tantalizing specialty restaurants you will want to try. The cabins have extensive bathrooms and coffee makers.
The ships' suites are among the roomiest and most well appointed at sea.
Princess Cruise Lines, Holland America Line and Others: While Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Carnival Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Lines are the companies that made their fame and fortune by offering great Caribbean cruises, the other cruise lines you know and love also cruise in the Caribbean regularly.
Princess offers both megaships and smaller ships. The difference is the megaships offer seven-day cruises but the smaller ships offer even longer and more exotic voyages. Princess excels at 10, 12 and 14-day Caribbean escapes to the deep Southern Caribbean such as the ABC Islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, or Barbados, partial transits of the Panama Canal and the San Blas islands.
Holland America has wonderful 10-day voyages from Florida to the deep Caribbean with varying itineraries to Martinique, Grenada, St Lucia and Dominique or to the ABC islands. Holland America ships tend to be smaller and more sophisticated than Princess, especially the bigger Princess ships.
Costa and MSC Cruises both offer bargains to the Caribbean in the winter at bargain prices. The reason they are cheaper is frankly because the crew and staff onboard are used to European passengers and sometimes the chemistry with American cruisers just doesn't gel. You will find real bargains on these ships, but we sometimes see them rated as disappointments by experienced cruisers. If you know what to expect then you are adequately prepared, but many reports mention stoic and slow dining room service and a general inability to resolve problems quickly.
Summing Up Caribbean Cruise Lines The Caribbean is certainly a beautiful place to cruise with sparkling beaches and warm weather guaranteed. In the Caribbean, the choice of ship is as important as the itinerary because the islands all offer similar experiences, while the variety of ships in the Caribbean is the greatest in cruising.
Enjoy your Caribbean cruise -- often a starter cruise for most people, and then be sure to try a cruise in Mexico, Alaska, Europe, South America, Tahiti and Asia!
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