Over 7000 Caribbean islands, reefs and cays (‘the West Indies’) are bounded on the east by the Bahamas and island arcs of the Antilles, to the south by the Netherlands Antilles, and to the west by Mexico and Belize. They encompass the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Jamaica and Caymans. Many ships cruise year-round from mainland USA ports, as well as from some Caribbean island ports. They are joined in the northern Winter by ships relocating from the Mediterranean.
Attractions range from relaxing at all-inclusive resorts owned by cruise lines, to authentic small-ship explorations of lesser-known islands with their histories and cultures. Duration may be from three days to visit a port or two, and up to fourteen days to span the East and West Caribbean. Allow two weeks if your Caribbean venture is part of a trans-Atlantic voyage.