Why A Western Caribbean Cruise Itinerary?
The Best Western Caribbean Cruise Guide – If you’re looking for adventure, the Western Caribbean should be your choice. Visit ancient ruins near Cozumel and Progreso in Mexico, snorkel around the reefs in Belize or Roatan, Honduras; or simply soak up the sun in the Cayman Islands and Jamaica. Some new cruisers say a Western Caribbean feels exotic. The exotic part of the Western Caribbean includes the eastern coast of Central American countries Belize, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Costa Rica. Other standard Western Caribbean destinations are Jamaica, Grand Cayman and eastern Mexico. You can learn The Best Cruise Vacation Tips here, or visit us on Pinterest.
If you love to snorkel, Belize tops the list of ports. Divers will also want to include Belize as a port of call, but Roatan and the other Bay Islands of Honduras are world-class dive sites as well. Belize, Honduras and Guatemala are the best locations for the ruins of the Classic Mayan civilization. Most notable is Guatemala’s Tikal and Honduras’s Copan. Tikal is offered by some ships as a shore excursion from Belize City. Nicaragua and Costa Rica are meccas for ecotourists who love rain forests, volcanoes, white water rivers and wildlife (monkeys and parrots and crocodiles). A Western Caribbean Cruise Itinerary offers so much diversity for the cruiser.
When is the Best Time to Take a Western Caribbean Cruise?
There are ships sailing the Western Caribbean year round, but summer is the least favorable time to sail. Summer and early fall are within hurricane season, and when hurricanes do hit the eastern edge of Central America they tend to be major storms. Summer is also the rainy season — not only in the Caribbean, but anywhere in the tropics.
And then there’s the heat. Though Panama is uniformly, brutally hot and steamy throughout the year, the farther north you go in Central America, the more seasonal differences are noticed. Since most visit Central America for ecotourism, soft adventure and exploration of Mayan architectural sites, choosing winter to travel will make your hiking, paddling or climbing more enjoyable.
Western Caribbean Cruise Itineraries
Cruise ships sailing to the western Caribbean usually embark from Florida, New Orleans or Texas. Ports of call on a Western Caribbean itinerary often include Cozumel or Playa del Carmen, Mexico; Grand Cayman; Key West; the Dominican Republic; Jamaica; Belize; Costa Rica; or Roatan. The ports of call on a Western Caribbean cruise are further apart, which means more time at sea is usually involved on a western Caribbean cruise. So, you may have more time on the cruise ship and less time in port or on the beach.
The ports of call in the western Caribbean are sometimes on Mexico, Belize, or Costa Rica; and sometimes at larger islands including Jamaica, or the Dominican Republic. The shore excursion options are more varied since the islands and mainland are more diverse. You can explore ancient Mayan ruins, hike the rain forests, or go snorkeling or scuba diving in some unforgettable locations.
Most of the Western Caribbean’s exotic ports that include the Banana Coast (Trujillo, Honduras), can be reached on cruises departing from any home port in North America. They also make up a large portion of Panama Canal itineraries. The only determining factor is the length of the cruise, which dictates the number of port calls possible, and the home port you will leave out of.
10 Best Western Caribbean Cruise Ports
The island of Cozumel is perfect for enjoying beach, catamaran or sail-and-snorkel tours. Self-drive jungle jeeps, ATVs and dune buggy tours are a fun way to explore the island with a stop for tequila tasting and time relaxing at the beach. Shore excursions also visit Chankanaab National Park with the chance to enjoy a dolphin encounter. Longer guided tours take in the archaeological Mayan Ruins at Tulum by ferry and minibus.
The gorgeous island of Grand Cayman offers some unique cruise shore excursions including snorkeling and diving over a sunken WW2 wreck or swimming with stingrays. Turtle Farm Tours present butterflies, sharks and other native wildlife and visitors get to handle newly hatched turtles. There are many boat trips available in Grand Cayman including catamarans, glass bottom boats and sailboat tours or book a place on the Trolley Roger Train for a scenic tour of Georgetown.
Puerto Costa Maya, Mexico
Shore excursions in Costa Maya are mainly focused on sandy beaches and water sports in the clear blue Caribbean Sea. Go snorkeling, swim with dolphins or enjoy sailing on a private catamaran tour. Get to know more about the area with a City Walking Tour or opt for a Culinary Tour which explores Mexican history and cuisine with tastings! The Chaccoben Mayan Ruins and the amazing Lake of Seven Colors are well worth visiting as part of a cruise shore excursion.
White sandy beaches, cultural attractions and a warm welcome from locals make the island of Roatan a top choice for visitors on a Western Caribbean Cruise. Dive and snorkel in pristine waters on the world’s second longest barrier reef, swim with dolphins or take a tour of the local Iguana Farm, one of the top attractions in Roatan. Gumbalina Park packs in local wildlife, monkeys, birds, tropical gardens and a beach. Cultural tours include a scenic drive, boat trip through the mangroves and an ancestral dance performance by Native Black Carib Indians wearing colorful native costumes.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Jungle-clad mountains, rushing rivers and sugar plantations can all be experienced on shore excursions from Ocho Rios. One of the most popular organized tours is to Dunn’s River Falls, just a short drive from the port. Wear swimwear and scramble 600 feet up the rocks in the rushing waterfall. Or, stay dry and watch from the open viewing platforms! Jeep tours, river rafting, zip-lining, snorkeling, ATV riding and distillery tours can all be part of your fun Western Caribbean cruise to Jamaica. You’ll definitely hear the reggae beat and Bob Marley tunes everywhere.
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Jamaica is a sizeable island and the only way to get a real taste of it is on an Island Tour with a local guide. Shore excursions from your cruise include river rafting, climbing Dunn’s River Falls or a private Jeep Tour. Go snorkeling, zip-lining and horseback riding in this beautiful island. A fascinating Plantation Tour allows you to sample honey, fresh pineapple and raw sugarcane!
Beautiful beaches, Mayan ruins, wildlife safaris and swimming in clear cenotes (sinkholes) can all be enjoyed on shore excursions in Progreso, Mexico. Take a City Tour and learn the history of Progreso or visit the historic city of Merida with its 500-year-old cathedral and plenty of shops. History and culture combine on a tour to one of the Mayan archaeological sites including UNESCO-listed Chichen Itza with its Kukulkan Pyramid and Ball Court.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
In the heart of Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen is a superb port of call on Western Caribbean Cruises. Endless shore excursions include swimming, snorkeling, boat trips, catamaran tours etc. For something more unusual, take a trip to the caves at Rio Secreto with their amazing stalactites or take a guided tour to the Tulum Mayan Ruins overlooking the beach and blue Caribbean Sea.
Belize City, Belize
Belize combines epic jungle experiences with the second longest barrier reef in the world. Snorkeling, scuba diving and helicopter tours to the Blue Hole are a must for those who love water sports, and they are surprisingly affordable in Belize. Exciting inland tours include cave tubing, rafting down a jungle river or zip-lining high above the rain forest. Hidden in the jungle are many fantastic Mayan ruins and pyramids, the most popular sites being Altun Ha and Xunantunich.
Key West, Floorida
There’s so much to see and do in colorful Key West, so taking a shore excursion is the best way to see it all. Fishing charters, parasailing, snorkeling and diving trips are popular along with jet ski tours, bicycling, kayaking, glass bottom boats and tall ship cruises at sunset. Cruise shore excursions include Audubon House and Gardens, Hemingway Home, the Butterfly Conservatory, Truman’s Little White House and the amazing Mel Fisher Maritime Museum with its collection of shipwreck treasures.
5 Best Western Caribbean Cruise Ships
Set sail on Celebrity Infinity, the ship that will be turning heads. We’ll be adding new staterooms and The Retreat Sun Deck and The Retreat Lounge for our guests of The Retreat. Surrender your senses in the newly redesigned spa or shop in new retail boutiques. Whatever you choose, it’ll be the ultimate experience.
Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas
The amped up Mariner of the Seas® is packed with more ways to play on the most maxed-out short getaway ever. Launch yourself into a virtual world on a new bungee trampoline experience — Sky Pad®. Hang ten on the added FlowRider® surf simulator or race down The Perfect Storm℠ water slides. Bond over family-style Tuscan eats at Jamie’s Italian by Jamie Oliver, or kick off date night at The Bamboo Room. Ditch the road trip for an action-packed cruise ship, with quick cruises sailing from Orlando.
Get ready to be transported to a world of tropical beauty as you cruise south on the Norwegian Breakaway. Set sail from the birthplace of jazz to Harvest Caye in Southern Belize, The Caribbean’s premier island destination. Here you can enjoy an exclusive 7-acre beach and exciting shore excursions ranging from zip lining across the island to snorkeling the world’s second largest barrier reef. In Honduras, Roatán is a peaceful, eco-tourists dream. Experience the unique sights and turquoise waters of Tabyana Beach & interact with monkeys and macaws at Gumbalimba Park.
Let your imagination set sail. Be front-and-center at original Broadway-caliber live shows, dine on artfully prepared meals in wondrously themed restaurants and make a splash on the AquaDuck. Combining classic beauty and modern luxury with legendary Disney storytelling, the award-winning Disney Dream invites you to embark on an unforgettable voyage where dreams really do come true.
Cruises to the Western Caribbean on the Carnival Conquest are the very picture of paradise — the kind you see when you close your eyes and imagine a tropical nirvana. Everybody loves a good island, but that’s only half the vacation story… especially in the Western Caribbean. Sure, with a Western Caribbean cruise, you can start your daydream with offshore faves like Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Cozumel and Mahogany Bay, but you can also mix in mainland mainstays like Belize, Costa Maya and Progreso.