Best Caribbean Cruises for Winter 2013

| 10.19.12

A comparison of the best of the best cruise ships from the top three cruise lines

The amazing architecture of Oasis of the Seas

Are you also ready for the frantic election and madness of the holiday season to be over? I am guessing that by the beginning of 2013 we will all be ready for a long vacation. So, I am about to present to you the best Caribbean cruise ships to cruise in the winter of 2013. I assume you will want a little quiet time before you have to pack for your cruise.

If you don't already know, the cruise industry's "wave season" starts in mid-January -- known as a peak cruise selling season because the holidays are over and the long cold winter has moved in.

Right now is a very good time to book a "wave season" cruise if you follow our "90-days out rule," which says that the best prices on any given cruise appear shortly after the day final payment is due for all the people with deposits; generally 90 days before the cruise sets sail. This is because many people change their minds and suddenly a number of cabins become available.

I am writing this article on October 19, 2012. So as I look at prices for seven-day Caribbean cruises sailing around January 19th I see a number of cruises under $500 per person, but I am going to give you MY recommendations based upon what I consider to be the best ships.

Now, when it comes to Caribbean cruises I consider the shipboard experience equally important to the destinations because Caribbean islands have a certain sameness. So, I just want to highlight what I consider the be the best cruise experiences currently available on the mainstream cruise lines. Also, I want to point out that most ships go to both the eastern and western Caribbean - alternating itineraries each week. So, what I have done is include the prices for the cheapest cruises these ships offer.

Remember that right now is the ideal time to book the first "wave-season" cruises - especially next week (Oct 22 - 29) when the cruise industry will be celebrating an annual ritual called "cruise week."

Have You Tried Any of these Ships? Tell us here: Best Cruise Ships for 2013

The Top Three Ships

All of these ships sail out of Southern Florida, either Ft. Lauderdale or Miami.

Norwegian Epic - this is currently the largest ship in the Norwegian fleet, and it has some unique features that are among the best in the cruise industry: Entertainment; this ship has Blue Man Group as its primary stage show, for which a ticket in New York in Vegas would cost you $99 per person - but there is no charge on the ship. Epic also has comedy by The Second City comedy troupe from Chicago, a great Las Vegas-based tribute show called "Legends at Sea" and a dedicated blues nightclub.

This is also the only cruise ship in the world (so far) with an area dedicated solely to solo cruisers where small staterooms come with no singles supplement charges, and a shared "living room" where you can meet up with other singles almost any time for meals, shows and shore excursions.

Prices: Staterooms are $479 inside (limited availability) and $719 balcony. Sails from Miami and the Eastern Caribbean itinerary is cheaper. See Norwegian Epic Prices.

Carnival Breeze - this is only a 6-night cruise but you can get aboard for just $379 (inside) or $659 (balcony). This is Carnival's newest ship and it has all of the entertainment concepts created for the new "FunShip 2.0" initiative. The idea of FunShip 2.0 is to create a shipboard environment based on neighborhoods and zones where guests can eat, drink and be entertained throughout the night.

Attractions include the Punchliner Comedy Club, the RedFrog Rum Bar, the BlueIguana Tequila Bar and Guy Fieri's Burger Joint (of the "Food Network" fame). For entertainment they offer new shows based on the Hasbro Family Games channel and new short and sassy musical selections based on Motown, the British Invasion, Divas and Latin Nights.

This is Carnival's most tasteful yet most fun-packed ship yet, and all the best personnel and plans have been poured into this vessel. By the way, the six day cruises alternate with eight-day cruises, but the latter cost almost twice as much. Sails from Miami and the 6-day Western Caribbean cruise is cheapest. See Carnival Breeze Prices.

Oasis of the Seas - this ship and its sister ship, Allure of the Seas, comprise the two largest cruise ships in the world by a large amount. But sheer size is not the attraction; it is what they have done with the size. The ships are technological wonders that any geek of any age will find them mesmerizing. In addition, the ships feature 3D movies from DreamWorks animation, Broadway book stage shows (Hairspray on Oasis and Chicago the Musical on Allure), amazing ice-skating shows with some of the best skaters in the world and AquaTheater shows featuring high dives and water acrobatics that will amaze.

For guests the ships have flo-Riders surf simulators, zip-lines, outdoor atriums with a real merry-go-round, cupcake shops, gourmet dining, ballroom dancing, comedy shows and on and on... Cruises start at $749 (inside) and $849 (Balcony) per person. Significantly, even after years of operation these ships have held up their premium pricing better than any other cruise ships ever built. They are older than Carnival Breeze, for example, but they fetch almost twice as much per day. Both ships sail out of Ft Lauderdale and the Eastern Caribbean is cheaper. See Oasis of the Seas prices.

The Best Ships

These are the best and, not coincidentally, the newest cruise ships form the three biggest mainstream cruise lines. Comparing the three, including the prices, I would have to say your choice depends on what is most important to you.

Norwegian Epic - if you love live entertainment, gambling, blues and rock music and are younger and less-experienced cruisers you will love this ship. Be prepared to make your show reservation before you get onboard, but the shows fill up quickly.

Carnival Breeze - this is a great ship for families, especially teens, because of their comprehensive programs for younger people. The ship is truly the most "fun" ship where the crew gets involved with the madness and makes sure you have a memorable cruise experience. Experienced cruisers may find it a bit too loud or crowded, but the staterooms are nice and the food is very decent for the price.

Oasis of the Seas - this is the most impressive ship of the three for its size and architecture with enough entertainment and culinary variety to keep you fully amused for the entire seven days. It is also the most expensive, but it is worth paying the difference to see the ultimate in cruise ship technology.

Whichever you pick, you will have a great cruise. Personally, I recommend that you try them all.

Have You Tried Any of these Ships? Tell us here: Best Cruise Ships for 2013

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