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The Most Popular Cruise Ship Destinations

Where would you like to cruise next?

Whether it’s your first cruise or you have been on many, cruising is very popular not just with older couples, but younger people and families are enjoying the many benefits cruising has to offer.   Usually, the only problem you’ll have is where to cruise next.  Choosing what ports you want to see can often be a challenge especially if you both have different tastes.

Cruise destinations allow you to visit many countries in a short period of time all while giving you the opportunity to challenge yourself to take that daring adventure tour or fully immerse in the local culture.

Below I’ve outlined the typical places people cruise as well as places to tweak your interests for your next cruise.

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The Most Popular Cruise Ship Destinations

The Eastern Caribbean involves islands of Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, St. Kitts, Antigua, Dominican Republic, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados & Dominica.  You can also have short sailings of as little as 2 days or enjoy as many as 7 on many different ships.  On these types of cruises, you will find more island shopping opportunities.

Royal Caribbean offers lots of onboard activities for families & kids.  We recently toured the Allure of the Seas when it was docked in Fort Lauderdale.  The award-winning Adventure Oceans offers kids plenty to do making a cruise just as much fun as a land vacation.

Cruise lines such as Disney, Princess, Holland America, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean now have their own private islands in the Bahamas.  This makes for a fun filled day for families who like the beach, water activities, and crystal clear water.

The Western Caribbean involves islands of Honduras, Belize, Mexico, Jamaica & Cayman Islands.  You can enjoy as little as 5 days to 7 or 8 days depending on your preference.  These cruises are wonderful if you love the water, history of the islands and active shore excursions.

The Southern Caribbean involves islands of Curacao, Aruba, Netherlands.  Cruise for 7 or 14 days at your leisure.  Southern cruises can be more port intensive meaning you will have more stops sometimes daily.  This is perfect for people who love exploring different countries and not spend so much time on the ship.  Explore by day and dine in luxury by evening.

A newly added itinerary is a Panama Canal cruise with Costa Rica and the Caribbean for 10 days leaving from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. You’ll visit the Cayman Islands, Columbia, Panama, Costa Rica, and Jamaica. for 10 days.  The Panama Canal has been operating since 1914 with many ships passing through in a day.

Perhaps you’re looking for a little adventure or history?  Then Costa Rica or Columbia would make a great stop for a shore excursion.  Jamaica’s all about the rum and jerk chicken.  Yum!  Trying the local food is always a highlight of any cruise.  It also gives you an idea if you would like to go back to that country and explore more perhaps on a land vacation.

Traveling further to Southern America will surely bring a smile to your face with the gorgeous landscapes of the Chilean Fjords or ancient history at Machu Picchu in Peru.  Mixing a little cultural enlightening experience with some of the best wineries in Chile or learning to tango in Buenos Aires is sure to be a highlight of your cruise destinations.

North America winters offer the perfect opportunity to cruise to the Southern American continent.

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Chile in South America

European Cruises are another amazing destination, usually, you will need to pick which ports you really want to see as you can’t do the entire region in one cruise.  You may find that a river cruise is the best option to bring you in close to those historical cities.

european river cruising

European River Cruising

Choosing your ship

Larger cruise ships hold over 2,000 passengers and have over 100 daily activities on board.  There are more shore excursions to choose from on these ships making them appealing to lots of people.  The ships have great entertainment on board,  pools, spas, and many other activities to fill up your day.  Think of these ships as your hotel, entertainment, and restaurant so you really don’t need to leave the ship if you don’t want to.  These large ships are also friendly for those with disabilities.

Luxury cruise ships hold between 200-2,000 passengers but may include packages with more amenities such as drinks and gratuities.  Keep in mind you will pay a higher upfront cost.

River cruising is becoming more and more popular as these small ships can fit into smaller ports.  These ships hold 100-200 passengers.  You will also have less variety of activities while on board, but you will be closer to many cities larger ships can’t visit.

Sailing ships hold between 148-310 passengers and sail with very unique itineraries.  These high-end ships are more for adventuresome clients.  Sails are wide open on the open waters just like sailboats.

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[Photo credit Laurie Johnson] Cruise ships docked in Costa Rica

Choosing a stateroom

Rooms will vary in size on ships from approximately 190 sq ft. for a standard stateroom to over 1,000 sq ft for a top of the line suite.  Most people are a little concerned about the small size but unlike hotels, you really don’t spend a lot of your time in your room.  There are so many onboard activities to keep you busy.  The inside cabins do not have windows and might look into the ship, while outside cabins can have portholes or a balcony.

Choosing the right cabin or stateroom location is very important especially if you have mobility issues.  On each cruise ship, there are designated cabins located close to the elevators.  Since there is less available they will sell out quickly so it’s advisable to not wait till the last minute.

Cabins in the middle of the ship will offer a smoother ride in rough seas.  They also go very quickly and generally cost more.    Cabins in their same category can cost more depending on the location.  If you’ve booked a less expensive cabin odds are you are in a less desirable location, like under the gym or theatre.

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Photo Credit [Princess Cruises]

There really is no right or wrong cruise destination it all depends on personal preferences however the weather can certainly play a huge role if you’re traveling during hurricane season.  Ships may have to change destinations to avert the storm so you may lose out on a country that really interested you most.  All things to consider before booking your next cruise.

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About the Author:

Laurie Johnson is travel writer, agent, and founder of Pura Vida Vacations. She finds her inspirations from travelling of the beaten path, meeting the locals, and sharing her travel stories, reviews, and tips with her readers.

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