Celebrity Blog

  • Special Occasions
  • Choosing a Cruise
  • Planning / Booking A Cruise
  • Preparing For Your Cruise
  • What To Expect On A Cruise
  • Australia, New Zealand & the Pacific
  • Central America
  • East Coast & Bermuda
  • Mexican Riviera
  • South America & Antarctica
  • Destinations

Eastern Caribbean vs. Western Caribbean: Which Should You Cruise To?

By Sue Bryant

Last updated: May 31st, 2024

Eastern Caribbean vs Western Caribbean - Grenada

  • Find a Cruise

While it’s easy to imagine the Caribbean islands as one big paradise of sandy beaches, reggae, and rum punch, there’s an enormous diversity of culture, cuisine, language, and landscapes in the Eastern Caribbean vs. the Western Caribbean. You’ll find coral islands, volcanoes and limestone caves. You’ll hear French, Dutch, and Spanish, as well as Creole and local dialects.

Caribbean cruise itineraries often feature either Eastern or Western Caribbean destinations. Which route you choose will depend on the time you have available and your interests, whether that means scuba diving or volcano hikes, reggaeton or bomba, and even whether you’re a rum punch lover or a Margarita aficionado.

While you may be weighing up the pros and cons of the Eastern Caribbean vs. the Western Caribbean, the reality is, you’ll have a wonderful time whichever you choose. Here are a few thoughts to bear in mind.

Turquoise waters of Grand Case Beach, St. Maarten

Grand Case Beach, St. Maarten

Whether you choose an Eastern or Western Caribbean cruise , you’ll have an easy journey from the southern United States. Your adventure could start in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Tampa, Port Canaveral, or even San Juan, Puerto Rico. Some itineraries include a day at sea to relax in the tropical sunshine before you start island-hopping.

Generally speaking, Western Caribbean itineraries feature the Greater Antilles—islands such as Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Grand Cayman, as well as exciting destinations in Central America and Mexico, from Cozumel and Costa Maya to Belize, famed for its spectacular reefs.

Aerial view of Playa Mia, Cozumel

Playa Mia, Cozumel

Short on time? Western Caribbean cruises can be as brief as four nights, although you’ll feel as though you’ve been away for much longer after two blissful days at sea and a full day to explore Cozumel .

Eastern Caribbean cruises take you to the Lesser Antilles, which include St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Antigua, the Virgin Islands, Barbados, and St. Lucia, among others. If you’re looking for a longer cruise, this may be the answer, as many Eastern Caribbean voyages are 10 nights or more.

Eastern Caribbean vs Western Caribbean - Barbados

The Caribbean lies in the tropics and enjoys warm weather year-round. The busiest season is December to March, when the skies are generally clear and the heat a little less intense. The seasons change in April and May, with June to November considered storm season with high levels of humidity.

There are nuances to this, though, depending on where you sail. In the west, Jamaica is relatively dry in July, but has its heaviest rainfall in June and October. In Barbados, the easternmost island of the Caribbean, September to November is the rainiest period, but hurricanes are rare as the island lies outside the main Caribbean basin.

Wherever you choose to cruise, there are some points to remember. First, if a hurricane is forecast (and forecasting is extremely sophisticated nowadays), a ship can change its course to avoid the worst weather.

Second, even during the rainy season, it’s rare to get endless days of gray sky in the Caribbean. You will almost always have a few hours of sunshine during the day, clouds gathering as the humidity rises, and then a short, sharp storm in the early evening.

Read: Cruising During Hurricane Season: Everything You Need To Know

Mayan ruins of Tulum, Mexico

Tulum, Mexico

The whole of the Caribbean is rich in history spanning an array of eras. If you’re choosing between Eastern Caribbean vs. Western Caribbean itineraries and enjoy sightseeing, consider your interests.

Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, for example, is famed for its spectacular Maya cities, some buried deep in the rainforest, others, like Tulum, on the coast.

Visit Chichen Itza for that iconic view of El Castillo, the enormous pyramid at the heart of the site, which was built in 1200 AD. Or Chacchoben, a prestigious center of ceremonies as early as 360 AD, concealed for centuries by the rainforest.

Historic site of Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua

Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua

The Eastern Caribbean is peppered with fascinating remnants from the age of European discovery and beyond. In Antigua , head for Nelson’s Dockyard to admire the beautifully preserved 18th-century buildings originally constructed for the British Navy in sheltered English Harbour.

On St. Kitts, Brimstone Hill Fortress is a fine example of 17th and 18th-century military architecture. On Grenada, meanwhile, the 18th-century Fort Frederick guards the harbor of St. George’s from its lofty perch 800 feet above sea level.

Puerto Rico arguably has the most impressive fortifications of all. Atmospheric Old San Juan is overlooked by the 16th-century San Felipe del Morro and Castillo San Cristobal, built a century later.

Colorful buildings within Charlotte Amalie Historic District, St. Thomas

Charlotte Amalie Historic District, St. Thomas

On St. Thomas, the Charlotte Amalie Historic District is packed with interest, from the 17th-century Blackbeard’s Castle to Main Street, lined with shops housed in beautifully kept 18th-century buildings. Take a walking tour here to admire the colorful architecture.

Natural Wonders

Eastern Caribbean vs Western Caribbean - St Lucia

The whole of the Caribbean, east and west, is blessed with spectacular natural wonders. It’s all a matter of taste. On Western Caribbean cruises, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to climb Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica, picking your way up a series of travertine ledges as the cooling water of the river cascades over you on its way to the sea.

If your journey takes you to Costa Maya , you’ll have the opportunity to swim in cenotes, natural sinkholes in the limestone, which are often overhung by jungly greenery. Take a trip to the Bacalar Lagoon where the water segues from turquoise to green to indigo due to the varying depths.

The Eastern Caribbean is no less magnificent. Lush St. Lucia is defined by the jagged twin peaks of the Pitons mountains, two ancient volcanic plugs draped in rainforest. Join a guided hike to reach the summit of Gros Piton, a dizzying 2,619 feet above sea level, with views as far as neighboring St. Vincent across the sapphire Caribbean.

Lush landscape of Morne Trois Pitons National Park, Dominica

Morne Trois Pitons National Park, Dominica

Dominica, famed for its wild beauty, is another spot for adventurers. The Morne Trois Pitons National Park is at its heart, the towering Devil’s Peak volcano its star attraction. You’ll find it all here, from hot springs to volcanic lakes, steaming fumaroles, and deep ravines.

Another natural wonder in the Eastern Caribbean is The Baths on sleepy Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands , an easy day trip from Road Town, the capital. The Baths is a series of giant tumbled boulders on the water’s edge. Pick your way from one end to the other via short ladders, rope holds, shaded lagoons, and caves, stopping to snorkel in the aquamarine water along the way.

Eastern Caribbean vs Western Caribbean - Jamaica

Bamboo Beach, Jamaica

One of the great joys of traveling in the Caribbean is that it’s such a cultural melting pot. In Mexico , for example, there are communities speaking ancient Maya dialects and shamans offering traditional treatments and blessings. You’ll find a completely different cultural calendar in Mexico from the rest of the Caribbean, with many events celebrating Maya traditions.

Jamaica, of course, is rich in musical culture as the home of reggae; there’s nothing like the strains of Bob Marley on a tropical breeze to get you into a state of deep vacation relaxation. Learn about the history of the genre here and visit the national hero’s mausoleum in the hills above Ocho Rios.

On an Eastern Caribbean cruise , you’ll find everything from Dutch to French, Spanish, British, and even Danish influences. St. Maarten, or St. Martin on the French side, is a classic case; it’s split between The Netherlands and France, with defined cultural differences.

For a tiny taste of Paris in the tropics, head to Marigot on the French side, where you’ll find baguettes warm from the oven, flaky croissants, and some of the finest French-Caribbean cuisine in the region.

Eastern Caribbean vs Western Caribbean - San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s Spanish influences are clear in the colorful architecture, imposing forts, and general joyful spirit of Old San Juan. Here, it’s salsa, not reggae that you’ll hear on the streets. You could even join a salsa class on the beach to hone your technique.

The Dominican Republic , too, has strong Spanish influences. The language spoken here is Spanish, and an entire 60 blocks in the center of Puerto Plata, packed with stately buildings dating from the 16th to 19th centuries, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Eastern Caribbean vs Western Caribbean - Antigua

Beach in Antigua

The main reason many people head to the Caribbean, east or west, is the glorious beaches . Wherever you choose, you won’t be disappointed.

There are legendary beaches all over the region. In Grand Cayman, the famed Seven Mile Beach is a sun-worshiper’s dream, with miles of soft sand, warm water, and activities from sea kayaking and paddleboarding to lounging in cool beach bars.

Beaches on the Mexican island of Cozumel are soft coral sand, with clear water and superb snorkeling. Playa El Cielo is one of the best, where you can spot stingrays on the shallow sandbar.

Eastern Caribbean vs Western Caribbean - Grand Anse, Grenada

Grand Anse, Grenada

The Eastern Caribbean answers this with its own array of gorgeous sands. Antigua is encircled by 365 beaches, so there’s no shortage; Dickenson Bay is one of the most popular. Grand Anse on Grenada is as perfect as beaches come, where two miles of glittering white sand are backed by sea grapes and palm trees.

Airplane flying over Maho Beach, St. Maarten

Maho Beach, St. Maarten

On St. Maarten , head to Maho Beach at the end of the runway of the international airport. There’s a festival vibe here all day long, with people gathering in the shallows and performing Mexican waves as vast jets roar overhead, almost in touching distance.

Barbados has two contrasting coasts, the limpid waters of the Caribbean on the western shore and the wild Atlantic to the east. While rock-strewn Bathsheba Beach in the east is more suitable for surfers than swimmers, it has a wild beauty— huge Atlantic rollers crash on the shore, the scent of the sea in the air.

Adventurous Activities

Man ziplining in Belize

Ziplining in Belize

Across the region, you’ll find thrilling adventures away from the beaches. Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, for example, is a playground for all ages. Xel-Ha is a vast lagoon accessible by boat from Cozumel and a paradise of ziplining, caving, snorkeling, and shady mangroves through which you can drift in an inner tube.

Belize, too, is packed with jungly adventures; in a single day, you can zipline over the forest canopy and inner tube through a cave system.

In Jamaica, gliding along the Martha Brae River on a bamboo raft is one of the best things to do on a hot day. For even more thrills, go inner tubing down the White River.

People river tubing in Hibiscus Eco-Village, Dominica

Hibiscus Eco-Village, Dominica

The Eastern Caribbean won’t disappoint thrill-seekers. As it’s so wild and untamed, Dominica has some great activities inland. Spend a blissed-out couple of hours inner tubing from the Hibiscus Eco-Village, the last territory in the world of the Kalinago people. No effort is required here; just lie back in your tube, gaze up at the forest canopy, and enjoy the acceleration over the gentle rapids.

Or admire the view from above. One of the best ziplines in the Eastern Caribbean is at St. Lucia’s Morne Coubaril Estate, where you’ll zipline over the rainforest with the dramatic Pitons as a backdrop. Or head to Wingfield Estate on St. Kitts, where you can fly down five ziplines with views of Mount Liamuiga, the volcano that dominates the landscape.

Food & Drink

Caribbean food on a plate

Caribbean food

Caribbean food has been influenced by cuisines ranging from Indian to African, French, Cajun, Spanish, and more, so it’s no surprise that you can expect an explosion of color and flavor in whichever region you visit.

In Antigua, fungee is the national dish, a polenta-like patty served with a rich pepperpot stew. Flying fish and the porridge-like cou cou is the thing to try in Barbados , while in San Juan, Puerto Rico, you can join a cooking class to make mofongo, unripened plantains that are cooked, mashed into a ball, spiced up with sausage, and served in a salty broth.

Jerk chicken on a platter

Jerk chicken

In the west, meanwhile, you can’t leave Jamaica without trying jerk chicken, the meat rubbed with spices and hot chilis and slow-cooked over an open fire. Or rice ‘n’ peas, spiced up with garlic and peppers.

Mexico, of course, has its own cuisine, like crunchy tacos, chicken tamales, and dishes cooked with mole, a bitter chocolate sauce. Look out for ceviche, the thinly sliced fish “cooked” in citrus juices, and empanadas, served warm and filled with meat or vegetables.

Eastern Caribbean vs Western Caribbean - Grenada

Beach in Grenada

Have you made your choice between an Eastern or Western Caribbean cruise? Either way, you can only win as both are deeply rewarding and packed with fantastic experiences. Browse our Caribbean cruises and find your dream tropical vacation.

Sue has been writing about cruising for 20 years and is lucky enough to have sailed all seven continents. She lives in London, where she is cruise editor of The Times and The Sunday Times newspapers, as well as a freelance contributor to magazines and websites worldwide.

Related Itineraries

Nassau Getaway

  • 3 nights ON CELEBRITY REFLECTION
  • DEPARTING FROM FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA

Bahamas & Perfect Day

  • 4 nights ON CELEBRITY REFLECTION
  • 5 nights ON CELEBRITY REFLECTION

Bahamas, Mexico & Cayman

  • 6 nights ON CELEBRITY BEYOND

Aruba, Bonaire & Curacao

  • 8 nights ON CELEBRITY BEYOND

Related Articles

What Is Mexico Known For?

18 Best Caribbean Islands to Visit

When Is the Best Time to Visit Cozumel?

11 Best Beaches in St. Thomas

16 Best Things to Do in Ocho Rios

37 of the Best Beaches in the Caribbean

14 Best Things to Do in Bali

7 Best Beaches in & Around Nassau, The Bahamas

16 Best Beaches in Vietnam

What Is Seattle Known For?

11 Best Places to Visit in Ireland

Why a Cruise Is the Best Way to See the Greek Islands

Free Vacation Planning Services

Icon of a phone handset

CALL US 888-751-7804

Sign Up for Special Offers

I would like to receive electronic Promotional messages from Celebrity Cruises Inc. You can unsubscribe at anytime. Please view our Privacy Policy .

  • First Name *
  • Last Name *
  • Email Address *
  • Country * Country Afghanistan Albania Algeria American Samoa Andorra Angola Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Brazil Brunei Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Colombia Comoros Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Costa Rica Côte d'Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic East Timor Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Polynesia Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Greece Greenland Grenada Guam Guatemala Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Honduras Hong Kong Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati North Korea South Korea Kosovo Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Laos Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macedonia Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Marshall Islands Mauritania Mauritius Mexico Micronesia Moldova Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Northern Mariana Islands Norway Oman Pakistan Palau Palestine, State of Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Poland Portugal Puerto Rico Qatar Romania Russia Rwanda Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Sudan, South Suriname Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syria Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania Thailand Togo Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Vatican City Venezuela Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, U.S. Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe

eastern versus western caribbean cruise

STAY IN THE KNOW

Thank you for subscribing.

See you on board soon.

Frommer's - Home

Which cruise should I take: Western or Eastern Caribbean?

By Heidi Sarna

Cruiseline.com

Itineraries 

Seven-night, year-round cruises are the most common option in both regions. Eastern routes sail from ports in Florida or from ports along the East Coast. Western itineraries sail from Florida or Texas, and sometimes New Orleans.

If you prefer visiting as many ports as possible, go for Eastern Caribbean sailings that depart from San Juan or St. Thomas — the time you would have spent sailing from Florida is made up by stopping at five or six islands. Western Caribbean routes, on the other hand, rarely stop at more than four ports.

Our Pick:  Draw. Different strokes for different folks. Western routes are best for history and nature, and Eastern ones rank high for beach hopping.

You’ll find good shores on both routes: Jamaica’s Negril and Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach in the West, and too many to count in the Eastern Caribbean’s British and U.S. Virgin Islands, especially the perfect strips of white sand on Jost Van Dyke and St. John. The East’s tiny islands of St. Barts, Les Saintes, and Anguilla are also home to drop-dead gorgeous coastlines.

Our Pick:  Eastern. This is a close one, but we’re going with the Eastern Caribbean due to its quantity of gorgeous strands.

If you need more than sunbathing, shopping, and bar hopping, then the Eastern Caribbean itineraries might seem limiting to you. Yes, you can work up a sweat ziplining in St. Martin or kayaking off the coast of Tortola, but generally speaking, Eastern routes offer less to do beyond beaches and water sports.

Western Caribbean cruises are well rounded: In Mexico you can explore pre-Columbian temples or tube through underwater caves. Scuba dive off the shore of Grand Cayman where dramatic underwater cliffs attract abundant sea life, or try horseback riding through the surf in Jamaica, an island with a tradition of horse racing.

Our Pick:  Western. You can crawl around ancient ruins, go bobsledding, and tour coffee plantations — all on a one-week cruise. 

Most children love anything to do with beaches — playing in the sand, riding waves, and taking banana boat rides.  Both Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries offer great coastlines.

The Western Caribbean, though, has more than great beaches: Mexico’s Mayan ruins, snorkeling and diving along the coast of Belize, and climbing near natural features like Jamaica’s Dunn’s River Falls. The Eastern Caribbean boasts a few outliers, including the awesome El Morro fortress in Old San Juan , but otherwise, the region is mostly about sand and shopping.

Our Pick:  Western. Among the water parks, rivers, and coral reef, these ports are ideal, especially for families traveling with active kids.

Both regions have downsides: The Western’s Grand Cayman can be a dud, as the port is canceled fairly frequently due to heavy winds and surf (ships anchor and shuttle passengers ashore via tender boats), and Jamaica is notorious for vendors with aggressive sales tactics. Meanwhile, St. Thomas and St. Martin on Eastern routes can see more than 10,000 cruise passengers in town at the same time, causing epic traffic jams.

Our Pick:  Western. The Western Caribbean is more of a smorgasbord than the Eastern, so our vote goes for variety.

Get inspired banner image

  • All Regions
  • Australia & South Pacific
  • Caribbean & Atlantic
  • Central & South America
  • Middle East & Africa
  • North America
  • Washington, D.C.
  • San Francisco
  • New York City
  • Los Angeles
  • Arts & Culture
  • Beach & Water Sports
  • Local Experiences
  • Food & Drink
  • Outdoor & Adventure
  • National Parks
  • Winter Sports
  • Travelers with Disabilities
  • Family & Kids
  • All Slideshows
  • Hotel Deals
  • Car Rentals
  • Flight Alerts
  • Credit Cards & Loyalty Points
  • Cruise News
  • Entry Requirements & Customs
  • Car, Bus, Rail News
  • Money & Fees
  • Health, Insurance, Security
  • Packing & Luggage
  • -Arthur Frommer Online
  • -Passportable
  • Road Trip Guides
  • Alaska Made Easy
  • Great Vacation Ideas in the U.S.A.
  • Best of the Caribbean
  • Best of Mexico
  • Cruise Inspiration
  • Best Places to Go 2024
  • Discover Exclusive and Special deals on MSC Kids Sail Free
  • MSC Cruises June Deals & Add Drink & Wifi to Save More
  • Get exclusive cruise deals on MSC Poesia Mediterranean Cruises for 2024
  • Get exclusive cruise deals on MSC Sailings from New York
  • Get exclusive cruise deals on MSC Euribia Northern Europe Cruises for 2024
  • Get exclusive cruise deals on MSC Cruises from Miami and Port Canaveral
  • Discover Exclusive Offers and Special Deals on MSC Cruise Deals
  • +1 (866) 622-3344

successmsg

  • Top Cruise Destinations
  • All Cruise Destinations
  • Top Departure Ports
  • All Departure Ports
  •  Ocean Cruises
  •  River Cruises
  •  Cruise Length
  •  2 to 3 nights
  •  4 to 6 nights
  •  7 to 9 nights
  •  10 to 13 nights
  •  14 and more nights
  • All Cruise Lines
  • Cruise Booking
  • Cruise Articles

Is the Eastern or Western Caribbean cruise better?

Discover the charm of the Eastern-Western Caribbean's beautiful beaches and vibrant culture by visiting this region.

Book Caribbean Cruises

Travelers frequently have to make the pleasant decision between the Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries while taking a Caribbean cruise. Making a choice is a question of personal preference because each provides a distinctive fusion of tropical splendor, culture, and adventure. To assist you in choosing which one best matches your holiday style, we'll compare the Eastern Caribbean or Western Caribbean cruises in this article across a variety of factors.

Western Caribbean vs Eastern Caribbean Cruises

1. locational overview:.

There are many different islands in the Caribbean , and each has a certain charm of its own. Eastern Caribbean Cruises and Western Caribbean Cruises visit various regions of this breathtaking region. To establish the scene, below is a basic geographical breakdown:

2. Caribbean Eastern:

  • Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and the Bahamas are all well-liked ports.
  • Clean beaches, clean seas, water sports, and shopping are the main draws.
  • A fusion of Caribbean, European, and African cultural elements.

3. Occidental Caribbean:

  • Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, and Belize are all well-liked ports.
  • The Mayan ruins, luxuriant jungles, snorkeling, and varied food are the main draws.
  • Mayan, Spanish, African, and Caribbean traditions are all cultural influences.
  • Let's now examine these two cruise routes' differences in more detail:

4. Natural Beauty:

Cruises to the Eastern Caribbean are well known for their stunning beaches, which have pristine white sand and clear seas. In locations like St. Maarten, the British Virgin Islands, and the Turks and Caicos, you may enjoy beautiful scenery. The Eastern Caribbean is your nirvana if you enjoy basking in the sun and picture-perfect tranquility.

The Western Caribbean, on the other hand, provides a more untamed and daring scenery. For those who love the outdoors and history, this route is ideal, taking them from the luxuriant rainforests of Belize to the magnificent Mayan ruins in Mexico.

5. Excursions and Activities:

Most Eastern Caribbean cruises have a variety of water sports, including sailing, scuba diving, and snorkeling. The duty-free havens of St. Thomas and St. Maarten are shopper's paradises if you enjoy shopping.

Western Caribbean cruises provide options for zip-lining, cave exploring, and stingray swimming, catering to thrill-seekers. The historical landmarks in this area, including the Great Blue Hole in Belize or the Tulum Ruins in Mexico, provide enlightening and breathtaking trips.

6. Cuisine:

A variety of gastronomic experiences, influenced by both European and Caribbean tastes, are available in the Eastern Caribbean. You may enjoy local specialties, foreign cuisine, and fresh seafood. You may sample a blend of Mayan, Spanish, African, and Caribbean flavours on the Western Caribbean cruise. Don't pass up the chance to sample Jamaican jerk chicken or Cozumel's authentic Mexican cuisine.

7. Culture:

Both routes have a diverse cultural landscape. African, European, and Caribbean influences coexist throughout the Eastern Caribbean, resulting in rich music, dance, and visual arts.

On the other hand, the Western Caribbean combines Mayan, Spanish, African, and Caribbean traditions, giving the cultural experiences a special richness.

8. Weather:

The weather should be taken into account while arranging your voyage. The Eastern Caribbean is a great option for a year-round vacation because of its drier climate and less storm risk. Although the Western Caribbean is normally warm, there is a greater chance of hurricane activity in some months.

Also Read:  Is there a reason why Caribbean cruises are so popular?

Your interests and the type of experience you're looking for ultimately determine whether you should take an Eastern Caribbean or Western Caribbean cruise. The Eastern Caribbean can be your best option if you like quiet beaches, water sports, and shopping. On the other side, the Western Caribbean could be the best option if you're an explorer looking for history, beautiful scenery, and a variety of gastronomic delights.

In the end, each path has its own distinct charm and offers memorable experiences. Whatever you decide, you'll certainly make lifelong memories in the stunning Caribbean.

Caribbean Cruises

How much does it cost to go on the Viking Sea?

Book Viking Ocean Cruises Do you fantasize about sailing across the world's most beautiful destinations onboard the Viking Sea? Viking Ocean Cruises provides a unique and enriching travel [...]

October 31, 2023

Caribbean Cruises

Why are Caribbean Cruises so Popular?

Book Caribbean Cruises The Caribbean Cruises is at the top when it comes to which cruise to board. These cruises are among the popular vacation options with the turquoise waters, rich history, [...]

Cruise to Tahiti

How much does it cost to take a cruise to Tahiti?

Book a Cruise to Hawaii Tahiti's allure has made it a dream destination for many travelers, with its crystal-clear oceans, gorgeous landscapes, and vibrant Polynesian culture. A cruise is one [...]

October 27, 2023

Celebrity Cruise

What are the loyalty levels on Celebrity Cruise?

Book Celebrity Cruises Starting a cruise is a luxury, leisure, and entertainment experience. Celebrity Cruises, known for its luxury products, has created a loyalty program that enhances the [...]

Cruise Inquiry

Our cruise experts will help you to plan your perfect cruise vacation!

* I consent to receive communications by email or phone. I understand I may opt out at any time using the unsubscribe link provided in all communications. Please proceed to the Privacy Policy page or read our Terms & Conditions to understand how your data might be used.

eastern versus western caribbean cruise

We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Privacy Policies

CruiseGalore Logo

Eastern vs. Western Caribbean Cruises: Which One is Better?

Adam Stewart

  • January 4, 2024
  • Cruise Planning

Cruise Ship Docked in Labadee

When planning a Caribbean cruise, a key choice you’ll have to make is deciding between the Eastern and Western Caribbean. For those new to cruising, this decision can be challenging, as each region has its own pros and cons to consider. This article will guide you through the key differences to help you make the right choice for your next vacation. 

Eastern Caribbean Cruise Highlights

Trunk Bay in St. John

An Eastern Caribbean cruise is a great way to explore some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and vibrant cultures. From the soothing sands of Trunk Bay in St. John to the spectacular Pitons of St. Lucia, each island has its own unique charm. Don’t forget to check out the historical sites too, like the stunning fortresses of El Morro and San Cristóbal in Puerto Rico, to uncover the region’s fascinating past.

Eastern Caribbean cruises aren’t just about relaxation and culture; they’re also filled with adventure. You can go zip-lining in St. Lucia, swim with turtles in Barbados, or try various water sports like sailing and windsurfing. The great thing about an Eastern Caribbean cruise is the variety—one day you could be shopping for local crafts in a bustling market, and the next, you could be relaxing at a peaceful spa retreat. Plus, the chance to hop from one island to another means you’ll get a wide range of experiences in one trip.

Western Caribbean Cruise Highlights

Chichen Itza, Yucatan

Western Caribbean cruises are an adventure-packed way to discover a mix of natural beauty, Mayan history, and vibrant culture. Imagine yourself exploring ancient Mayan ruins in Mexico, snorkeling in the breathtaking coral reefs off the coast of Belize, or relaxing on Isla Pasion in Cozumel.

Cruises to the Western Caribbean take you to diverse destinations, each with their own distinct flavor. You can marvel at the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in Yucatan, immerse yourself in the lively Jamaican music scene, or relax on the stunning beaches of Grand Cayman .

It’s not just about the sights, Western Caribbean cruises also offer a wide range of activities. Thrill-seekers can go zip-lining through the rainforests in Honduras or cave tubing in Belize’s mystical caves.

If you’re looking to relax after a long cruise, there’s plenty of opportunities to unwind on picturesque beaches or indulge in local cuisines. And if you’re a fan of water sports, the crystal clear waters of the Western Caribbean are perfect for scuba diving, especially in Cozumel, known for its rich marine life. With each stop offering something new and exciting, a Western Caribbean cruise simply cannot be missed.

Eastern vs. Western Caribbean Cruises : Itineraries

Cruise Ship in Miami

Both Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises commonly last for seven nights and are available year-round. However, some cruises can be as short as three days or as long as twelve days.

Cruises heading to both regions of the Caribbean typically depart from ports in Florida, including Miami, Port Canaveral, Tampa, and Fort Lauderdale. Eastern Caribbean cruises may also depart further east in cities such as New York, New Jersey, and Baltimore, as well as ports in the Caribbean like San Juan and Bridgetown. Meanwhile, Western Caribbean itineraries sometimes embark from ports further west, in cities such as Galveston, Mobile, and New Orleans.

Cruise Ship Docked

If you’re cruising to the Western Caribbean , prepare for a diverse mix of island and mainland destinations. This includes countries like Mexico, Belize, and Honduras, along with islands such as Cozumel, Roatan , Jamaica, and Grand Cayman. Additionally, Western Caribbean cruises may have more days at sea, owing to the greater distances between ports of call. On the other hand, the Eastern Caribbean is ideal for cruisers who enjoy island-hopping, as it has a greater number of islands located quite close to each other.

Labadee, Haiti

Whether you choose a Western or Eastern Caribbean cruise, you’ll have the opportunity to visit exclusive private destinations. These destinations are typically owned by the cruise lines themselves. For instance, Royal Caribbean cruises include stops at Perfect Day at CocoCay, a private island offered on both their Western and Eastern Caribbean itineraries. Similarly, Disney Cruise Line features Castaway Cay as its exclusive private island for guests to enjoy.

Additionally, other unique private locations, such as Labadee in Haiti, which is not an island but a private coastal resort, are also frequented by both Western and Eastern Caribbean cruises. These exclusive stops add a unique flavor to the cruising experience, blending private luxury with the natural beauty of the Caribbean.

Eastern vs. Western Caribbean Cruises : Beaches

Cozumel beach

You’ll find gorgeous white-sand beaches in both the Eastern and Western Caribbean. In the Western Caribbean, some of the best beaches include Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman, Doctor’s Cave Beach in Jamaica, Mahogany Beach in Roatán , and Playa El Cielo in Cozumel. Equally impressive are the beaches in the Eastern Caribbean, such as Anse Chastanet Beach in St. Lucia, Pigeon Point in Tobago, Shoal Bay in Anguilla, and Grace Bay Beach in Turks and Caicos .

However, in the Western Caribbean, destinations like Cozumel and Grand Cayman require a bit of travel from the port to access these beautiful beaches , due to the rocky shorelines near the ports. In Coxen Hole, Roatán, there are no beaches in town, which could be a letdown for some visitors. Additionally, at Mahogany Bay—a popular Roatán port—the beaches are man-made, which may not suit the taste of all cruisers.

Shoal Bay, Anguilla

Conversely, the Eastern Caribbean offers a beach to suit every preference. You can find peaceful, untouched beaches like Shoal Bay in Anguilla or beaches with stunning views like Anse Chastanet in St. Lucia, overlooking the famous Pitons. Not to mention the unique experiences offered by places like The Baths in the British Virgin Islands , known for its giant granite boulders and clear water pools, and Crane Beach in Barbados, famous for its pink sand and turquoise waves. This variety makes the Eastern Caribbean a special place for beach lovers.

Eastern vs. Western Caribbean Cruises : Shore Excursions

Pitons in St. Lucia

Both regions of the Caribbean offer plenty of shore excursions that are sure to keep you entertained while in port. In the Eastern Caribbean, you can admire the breathtaking Pitons in St. Lucia, wander through the charming cobblestone streets of Old San Juan, go on a kayaking adventure off the shores of Tortola, or explore the magnificent gardens at Jardin de Balata in Martinique. 

However, the Eastern Caribbean’s main draw isn’t its shore excursions but its magnificent white-sand beaches. To be clear, there are still plenty of things to do in the Eastern Caribbean, but it just doesn’t offer the same variety found in the Western Caribbean. 

Tulum, Yucatan

In the Western Caribbean, you can explore the historic Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá, Tulum, and El Meco in Yucatan. If you’re cruising to Jamaica, immerse yourself in history by visiting the ancient plantation houses of Rose Hall and Greenwood Great House. For those passionate about wildlife, don’t miss the chance to swim with stingrays in Grand Cayman or have close encounters with free-roaming animals at Gumbalimba Park in Roatán.

Stingray City Grand Cayman Island

If that’s not enough, the Western Caribbean is often regarded as a snorkeler’s paradise as it’s surrounded by the Mesoamerican Reef, the second-largest reef on the planet. Exceptional snorkeling locations include the vibrant reefs surrounding Cozumel and Roatan, along with distinctive sites in Grand Cayman such as the submerged wreck of the U.S.S. Kittiwake and Starfish Point.

Eastern vs. Western Caribbean Cruises : Shopping

Harbour Drive, Grand Cayman

Both the Western and Eastern Caribbean offer a wide range of shopping opportunities. You’ll find plenty of shops right by the port, selling everything from luxury items to traditional souvenirs. 

The Western Caribbean is renowned for its shopping hotspots. Grand Cayman, for example, is a haven for duty-free shopping, offering everything from local crafts at the Cayman Craft Market to high-end products in Bayshore Mall. Cozumel is known for its lively shopping scene, where you’ll find everything from traditional Mexican handicrafts to luxury jewelry and designer goods. 

Plaza Las Américas in San Juan

On the other side, the Eastern Caribbean boasts its own shopping charms. The Nassau Straw Market is a bustling hub of artisanal crafts and Bahamian culture. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico boasts the largest mall in the Caribbean, Plaza Las Américas. This extensive shopping center houses an array of stores, encompassing international and local retailers, chic fashion boutiques, comprehensive department stores, and over 50 restaurants.

Eastern vs. Western Caribbean Cruises : Weather

Caribbean Weather

If you’re cruising to either the Western or Eastern Caribbean, you can expect warm tropical weather as both regions are near the equator. The Western Caribbean tends to be a bit warmer and more humid, with temperatures often approaching 90°F (32°C). Keep in mind that both regions are affected by the hurricane season, lasting from August to mid-October. The best time for a Caribbean cruise is during the dry season, which lasts from December to May.

Eastern vs. Western Caribbean Cruises : Prices

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

Typically, the cost of cruising to both the Western and Eastern Caribbean is comparable across various seasons. In the high season, Eastern Caribbean cruises can be somewhat pricier, but this increase is often subtle and depends on the cruise’s popularity and the number of destinations included. 

It’s important to note that some Eastern Caribbean cruises start directly from Caribbean ports, potentially increasing overall costs. If you’re not already in the Caribbean, you may need to budget for additional expenses like flights to these islands. Therefore, even if the cruise fares are comparable, the total cost of an Eastern Caribbean cruise could be higher when considering these extra travel expenses.

To Conclude

Hopefully this guide has helped you decide whether you will cruise to the Eastern or Western Caribbean. Don’t rush if you’re not sure yet; take your time to think about what you’d like to do.

If your ideal vacation includes gorgeous beaches, excellent shopping, and relaxation, consider embarking on an Eastern Caribbean cruise. On the other hand, if you’re enthusiastic about snorkeling, Mayan culture, and thrilling adventures, then a Western Caribbean cruise might be the ideal choice.

Regardless of your decision, rest assured that a Caribbean cruise will not disappoint, and will offer unforgettable experiences that’ll create cherished memories for years to come.

Related articles:

  • Caribbean Weather by Month: The Best Time for a Caribbean Cruise
  • Cruise Ports in the Western Caribbean Islands You Should Visit
  • The Best Cruise Ports in the Eastern Caribbean

Adam Stewart

Adam Stewart

Adam Stewart is the founder of Cruise Galore. He is a passionate traveler who loves cruising. Adam's goal is to enhance your cruising adventures with practical tips and insightful advice, making each of your journeys unforgettable.

Leave a Reply Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Name  *

Email  *

Add Comment  *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Post Comment

eastern versus western caribbean cruise

Eastern vs Western Caribbean Cruises: What’s Best For You?

by Judith Eve | Feb 26, 2024 | Cruise Planning & Cruiser Lifestyle

cruise ship, nature, royal caribbean

Deciding between an Eastern and Western Caribbean cruise is like choosing between a thrilling novel and a captivating movie; both promise adventure but deliver it in unique ways. The Caribbean, with its sun-kissed beaches and crystal-clear waters, beckons travelers from around the globe, offering a slice of paradise whichever direction you sail.

Eastern Caribbean cruises allure with their exotic landscapes, historical sites, and vibrant marine life, making them perfect for nature lovers and history buffs alike. On the flip side, Western Caribbean itineraries are a magnet for thrill-seekers and culture enthusiasts, offering everything from ancient ruins to heart-pumping water sports. Each route has its charm, setting the stage for an unforgettable journey on the high seas.

Eastern Caribbean Destinations

The Eastern Caribbean is a tapestry of lush landscapes, pristine beaches, and turquoise waters that beckon travelers seeking a more tranquil journey. Among the top destinations, St. Thomas , St. Maarten , and The Bahamas stand out for their unique charm and attractions.

St. Thomas dazzles with its vibrant bazaars and stunning panoramic views from Mountain Top. The island's Magens Bay Beach is often listed among the world’s best beaches, offering a serene escape with its heart-shaped shoreline and crystal-clear waters.

St. Maarten , with its dual Dutch and French cultural influence, presents a fascinating experience. The island is renowned for Maho Beach where aircraft fly remarkably low over sunbathers, offering an unforgettable sight. Beyond the beach, Philipsburg captivates with its colonial architecture, bustling Front Street shops, and the lively Boardwalk.

The Bahamas serve as a gateway to incredible underwater adventures and serene white sandy beaches. Nassau, the capital, is a hub of activity where travelers can explore the historic charm of colonial forts, shop at luxury boutiques, or dive into the aquatic wonders at Atlantis Paradise Island.

Each destination within the Eastern Caribbean circuit offers a range of activities for nature lovers and history enthusiasts. From snorkeling in the clear waters of St. Thomas to exploring the vibrant markets of Nassau, there's no shortage of experiences that blend natural beauty with rich history.

  • St. Thomas is perfect for beach lovers and history buffs.
  • St. Maarten offers a unique blend of cultural experiences and exciting aviation sightings.
  • The Bahamas are ideal for those seeking underwater adventures and luxurious amenities.

In choosing an Eastern Caribbean cruise, travelers are not just selecting a route; they’re embarking on a journey that promises relaxation, discovery, and awe-inspiring scenery. The islands' combination of natural wonders, historical landmarks, and serene beaches provides a backdrop for an array of activities suited to every kind of adventurer. Whether it's delving into the warm waters to explore coral reefs or strolling through bustling markets, the Eastern Caribbean delivers an unforgettable voyage that speaks to the soul of every traveler.

Western Caribbean Destinations

eastern versus western caribbean cruise

When travelers turn their gaze towards the Western Caribbean, they’re introduced to a tapestry of vivid cultures, ancient civilizations, and thrilling natural landscapes. Unlike their Eastern counterparts, Western Caribbean voyages bring guests face-to-face with the Mayan ruins of Mexico, the lush jungles of Belize, and the unparalleled diving sites in Honduras. Each destination offers a unique slice of paradise that promises excitement and discovery at every turn.

In Mexico, places like Cozumel and Cancun serve as gateways to exploring ancient Mayan ruins such as Tulum and Chichen Itza. These sites not only offer a glimpse into a civilization that thrived thousands of years ago but also provide stunning backdrops for unforgettable vacation photos. Meanwhile, Belize invites adventurers into its verdant jungles and towards the second-largest barrier reef in the world, a dream for snorkelers and divers seeking the thrill of underwater exploration. Roatan, an island belonging to Honduras, stands out with its beautiful sandy beaches, clear blue waters, and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, appealing to those who long to dive into the depths of marine diversity.

Here's a quick breakdown of what travelers can expect:

The Western Caribbean also offers a wealth of cultural experiences that immerse visitors in the local way of life. In Jamaica, guests can sway to the rhythms of reggae music, taste the spicy flavors of jerk cuisine, and hike up the famous Dunn's River Falls. The Cayman Islands, known for their upscale shopping and dining, also boast Stingray City where visitors can interact closely with friendly stingrays in their natural habitat.

For those drawn to the allure of the ocean, the Western Caribbean delivers unparalleled opportunities for water sports. Kayaking through mangroves, windsurfing on crystal-clear waters, and deep-sea fishing are just a few of the activities that await eager explorers. With such a diverse array of destinations and experiences, it’s no wonder the Western Caribbean continues to captivate the hearts of travelers around the world.

Diving into the western waters reveals a world where adventure and relaxation merge seamlessly, offering moments of awe and wonder that define the essence of a true Caribbean vacation.

Activities on Eastern Caribbean Cruises

Eastern Caribbean cruises are synonymous with Picture-Perfect Beaches , clear azure waters, and an endless array of activities that cater to travelers seeking both relaxation and adventure. These islands, with their unique blend of cultural influences, offer a different vibe from their Western counterparts, providing a blend of leisure and exploration that's hard to resist.

One notable highlight is the Virgin Islands , where one can find some of the world's most stunning beaches. Here, visitors can indulge in Sunbathing, Snorkeling, and Scuba Diving, immersing themselves in the tranquil beauty of the underwater world. The waters are teeming with colorful marine life, making it a paradise for divers and snorkelers alike.

Meanwhile, the Bahamas is renowned for its Exquisite Sandy Beaches and the famous swimming pigs of Exuma. This unique attraction draws travelers who are eager to swim alongside these friendly creatures in crystal-clear waters. Beyond the beaches, the Bahamas offers an array of activities from Jet Skiing to Parasailing, catering to thrill-seekers looking for an adrenaline rush.

For those interested in history and culture, San Juan, Puerto Rico , stands out with its Rich Historical Heritage. Visitors can explore Old San Juan, a UNESCO World Heritage site, with its cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and historic forts. The city's vibrant culture and lively music scene offer a captivating experience that blends the old with the new.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to love about St. Maarten/St. Martin , an island shared by two nations, offering a unique mix of Dutch and French cultures. Here, adventurers can hike to the summit of Pic Paradis for breathtaking views of the island or zip-line through the lush tree canopies. The island's diverse culinary scene, blending Caribbean, French, and Dutch flavors, is a delight for foodies looking to sample local and international cuisines.

Moreover, Eastern Caribbean cruises often include stops at Private Islands owned by the cruise lines, offering exclusive beach days where travelers can relax in a secluded paradise or enjoy water sports without the crowds.

  • St. Kitts and Nevis beckon with their own set of unique attractions, from the historic Brimstone Hill Fortress, a World Heritage site, to the Scenic Railway that offers panoramic views of the islands' stunning landscapes and sugar cane fields.

Activities on Western Caribbean Cruises

Western Caribbean cruises offer travelers an incredible range of activities that are both thrilling and culturally immersive. Unlike their Eastern Caribbean counterparts, Western Caribbean itineraries often include destinations known for their ancient ruins, lush rainforests, and a diverse mix of cultures.

One can't talk about the Western Caribbean without mentioning the spectacular Mayan ruins found in places like Cozumel and Belize. These historical sites provide a glimpse into the ancient Mayan civilization, with structures that have withstood the test of time. Visitors often find themselves in awe as they explore the ruins of Tulum perched above turquoise waters or the majestic pyramid of Chichen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

For those who seek adventure, the Western Caribbean does not disappoint. Activities like zip-lining through the dense rainforests of Roatan or cave tubing through the mystical caves of Belize offer heart-pounding excitement. The crystal-clear waters surrounding these islands are perfect for snorkeling and diving, where one can discover vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life.

The region's diverse ecosystems also provide unique opportunities for eco-tourism. Nature enthusiasts will cherish the chance to visit nature reserves like the Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve in Belize, home to a plethora of wildlife and stunning natural scenery. Meanwhile, Jamaica's famous Dunn's River Falls offers an exhilarating climb up flowing waterfalls, blending a natural adventure with refreshing relaxation.

For those looking to mix relaxation with exploration, the Western Caribbean’s beautiful beaches are ideal for a day of sunbathing or taking a leisurely swim in tranquil waters. Destinations like Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman boast some of the most pristine sands and clearest waters in the Caribbean.

The food scene in the Western Caribbean also presents an exciting journey for the taste buds. The blend of Creole, Caribbean, and Latin flavors results in a culinary experience that’s as diverse as its cultures. From savory jerk chicken in Jamaica to fresh seafood ceviche in Cozumel, each dish tells a story of the region's rich heritage and vibrant local ingredients.

As travelers sail from one enchanting destination to the next, the Western Caribbean reveals its wonders, offering a perfect mix of relaxation, adventure, and cultural enrichment. With each stop, visitors uncover a new layer of the Caribbean's mesmerizing charm, creating memories that last a lifetime.

Making the Decision: Eastern vs Western Caribbean

eastern versus western caribbean cruise

When it comes to choosing between Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises, travelers often find themselves weighing their desires for adventure, relaxation, and cultural experiences. Both destinations offer unique attractions and experiences that cater to different interests and expectations.

Eastern Caribbean cruises typically promise an idyllic paradise for beach lovers, with crystal-clear waters and powdery white sands . Islands like St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and the Bahamas are famous for their stunning beaches that are perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling. These destinations also offer a taste of European culture, especially in places like St. Maarten, where Dutch and French influences blend seamlessly with Caribbean flavors. For those seeking luxury shopping experiences and a more laid-back vacation vibe, the Eastern Caribbean is an excellent choice.

On the flip side, the Western Caribbean is synonymous with adventure and culture . With destinations like Cozumel, Belize, and Roatan, travelers can immerse themselves in ancient Mayan history, thrilling outdoor activities, and rich biodiversity. The Western Caribbean also stands out for its diverse culinary scene , reflecting a mix of Creole, Caribbean, and Latin influences. Whether it's exploring the Mayan ruins in Belize, going cave tubing, or experiencing the vibrant local markets, the Western Caribbean promises a more dynamic and culturally enriching vacation.

For nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers, the Western Caribbean offers a wider variety of activities. Eco-tourism destinations such as Belize's Bacalar Chico National Park and Roatan's coral reefs provide unforgettable experiences for those looking to connect with nature and engage in conservation efforts.

Ultimately, the decision between an Eastern or Western Caribbean cruise comes down to personal preferences. Those yearning for a tranquil beach getaway might gravitate towards the Eastern islands, while adventurers and culture enthusiasts might find the Western Caribbean more appealing. It's essential to consider what type of vacation experience one is looking for, as both destinations offer their own set of unique attractions and activities that can cater to various tastes and interests.

Deciding between Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises boils down to what kind of vacation one's heart is set on. For those drawn to serene beaches and luxury shopping, the Eastern Caribbean is a paradise waiting to be explored. It's perfect for sunbathers and anyone looking to unwind in a picturesque setting. On the flip side, the Western Caribbean is a treasure trove of adventure and culture. It's the go-to for thrill-seekers and history buffs eager to dive into vibrant culinary scenes and ancient civilizations. Whether it's lounging on a sun-kissed beach or ziplining through lush forests, the Caribbean has something special for every traveler.

eastern versus western caribbean cruise

Judith Eve, loves to write riveting articles on crusingtonpost.com. She hails from the sun-kissed regions of South Florida, residing within a stone’s throw of the bustling Fort Lauderdale and Miami cruise ports. As a native Floridian, Judith’s love for the ocean and cruising extends as far back as her memory can recall.

Her lifelong passion for travel has taken her to countless destinations around the globe, but cruising, undeniably, holds a special place in her heart. Judith has embraced the elegance of luxury liners, relished the intimacy of boutique ships, and marveled at the innovation found on the newest megaships. This varied experience makes her a well-rounded and knowledgeable commentator on everything cruise-related.

Balancing her writing career and family life with effortless grace, Judith is happily married, mother to two wonderful children, and a doting grandmother to three grandkids. Much like Judith, her family shares her enthusiasm for the sea, often accompanying her on cruise adventures and enriching her articles with their unique perspectives.

Her work for crusingtonpost.com provides readers with insightful, engaging narratives of her travels, from vivid descriptions of the picturesque locales she visits to in-depth reviews of the cruise lines she travels with. Her writing is not only an exploration of travel and cruising; it is a testament to her zest for life, her commitment to family, and her love for the ocean.

Endearing herself to readers with her warm, personable writing style, Judith has become a trusted voice in the cruising community. She is the go-to source for tips, advice, and comprehensive information on cruising. As a tireless explorer and devoted family woman, Judith Eve embodies the essence of the adventurous spirit, inspiring readers to set sail and create their own sea stories.

Mediterranean Cruises with Best Wine Tasting Excursions: A Sip & Sail Guide

Mediterranean Cruises with Best Wine Tasting Excursions: A Sip & Sail Guide

Embarking on a Mediterranean cruise offers more than just a journey across the sea; it's a sensory exploration that...

Pros and Cons of River Cruises: An Insightful Guide for Waterway Wanderers

Pros and Cons of River Cruises: An Insightful Guide for Waterway Wanderers

River cruises offer a unique travel experience, mixing the luxury and comfort of cruising with the intimate connection...

Disney Cruises for Adults Without Kids: Serene Getaways Unveiled

Disney Cruises for Adults Without Kids: Serene Getaways Unveiled

Many tend to associate Disney Cruise Line with family voyages filled with character encounters and child-focused...

eastern versus western caribbean cruise

Don't Miss Out on Cruise info!

The latest Cruisington Post news delivered to your inbox.

Contact Us - Disclaimer - Curation Policy - Amazon Affiliate Disclosure - Terms and Conditions - Privacy Policy

menu

Share Facebook Twitter Google Plus Pinterest Email

Is an Eastern or Western Caribbean Cruise Better?

by The Cruise Web Team March 15, 2021, 1:42 pm

For a novice cruiser, Eastern vs. Western Caribbean cruises do not sound all too different. They are both the Caribbean, right? Well, yes. However, there are a few fundamental differences between the two itineraries that travelers should understand before booking their Caribbean getaway. The only thing that makes an Eastern Caribbean cruise better than a Western Caribbean cruise, and vice versa, is a traveler’s personal taste. Find out exactly what it is that makes each of these itineraries unique, and all that each route has to offer with The Cruise Web.

An Eastern Caribbean Cruise is Better if You…

  • …enjoy the beach and island hopping. The Eastern Caribbean is home to some of the most beautiful tropical beaches in the world, including the U.S. Virgin Islands, The British Virgin Islands, St. Maarten, and more.
  • …enjoy shopping and bar hopping. The island ports of the Eastern Caribbean are full of incredible duty-free clothing and jewelry shops, so you can shop ‘til you drop and save money while you do it.
  • …want to take a weeklong cruise. Eastern Caribbean itineraries are generally seven or more days long, as these islands usually require a further journey from your port of embarkation (if sailing from mainland United States).

A Western Caribbean Cruise is Better if You…

  • …are more interested in the history and nature of each port of call. Explore ancient ruins, go bobsledding, or tour coffee plantations on a Western Caribbean Itinerary . This side of the Caribbean is home to ports in Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Grand Cayman, Jamaica and more.
  • …want to take a shorter cruise. The Western Caribbean offers several 4- to 5-night itineraries in addition to their longer journeys, perfect for those looking for a short and sweet cultural experience.
  • …are sailing from Texas or Louisiana. Though you can sail to both the Eastern and Western Caribbean from Florida, the ports of Galveston, TX and New Orleans, LA service Western Caribbean itineraries.

To book your Eastern OR Western Caribbean cruise today, call The Cruise Web at 1-800-377-9383 or visit us online at www.cruiseweb.com .

SUBSCRIBE TO EMAIL DEALS & NEWSLETTER

eastern versus western caribbean cruise

Home » Eastern vs Western Caribbean Cruises: Exploring Two Distinct Worlds

Eastern vs Western Caribbean Cruises: Exploring Two Distinct Worlds

Last updated on March 10th, 2024 at 08:49 pm

virgin islands

When it comes to cruising in the Caribbean, travelers are often presented with the choice between Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.

Both regions offer incredible experiences, but they differ in terms of popular ports, cuisine, culture, weather considerations, and cruise line options.

Let’s take a closer look at each region to help you make an informed decision for your next Caribbean adventure.

Table of Contents

Eastern Caribbean Cruises: Tropical Tranquility and Vibrant Culture

virgin islands

The Eastern Caribbean is known for its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a blend of cultures influenced by European, African, and indigenous traditions.

The region typically includes destinations such as the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the eastern coast of the Bahamas.

Popular Ports in the Eastern Caribbean

1. St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands : Known for its duty-free shopping and beautiful beaches like Magens Bay.

2. San Juan, Puerto Rico : Explore the historic streets of Old San Juan , visit the El Morro fortress, and savor authentic Puerto Rican cuisine.

3. St. Maarten : Experience the unique blend of Dutch and French cultures, enjoy fantastic shopping, and relax on the stunning beaches.

4. Tortola : Discover the natural beauty of the British Virgin Islands, with highlights including The Baths and Cane Garden Bay.

Many of the ports of call in cruising to the Eastern Caribbean depart from ports located in Florida, like Fort Lauderdale , Miami & Port Canaveral.

Eastern Caribbean Cuisine

Eastern Caribbean cuisine is a fusion of African, European, and indigenous flavors. The staple foods in the Eastern Caribbean include seafood, tropical fruits, root vegetables, rice and beans.

jerk chicken - jamaican food.

Dishes like jerk chicken, conch fritters, plantains and delicious tropical fruits are prevalent throughout the eastern Caribbean area.

Callaloo is a leafy green vegetable similar to spinach and callaloo is often used in soups and stews. Callaloo soup, made with callaloo, okra, and often crab or salted meat, is a popular dish.

A starchy fruit, breadfruit is used in a variety of ways, including boiled, roasted, or fried. It can be a substitute for potatoes and is often served as a side dish.

Green Fig and Saltfish is a traditional dish made with green bananas (figs) and salted codfish. The bananas are boiled and served with sautéed codfish, onions, peppers, and spices.

Another staple, Pepperpot, is a hearty stew made with various meats, such as beef, pork, or goat, and flavored with spices, cassareep (a thick sauce made from cassava root), and vegetables. It is often served with bread or rice.

Conkies are a popular dessert made from a mixture of grated pumpkin, cornmeal, coconut, spices, and raisins. The mixture is wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed.

Well-known signature Caribbean drink, rum punch is a fruity cocktail made with rum, fruit juices (such as pineapple and orange), and spices.

Each island in the eastern Caribbean has its own specialties, so be sure to sample the local delicacies.

Eastern Caribbean Culture

The Eastern Caribbean region is known for its rich and diverse cultural heritage, influenced by the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean , European colonial powers, and the African diaspora.

When cruising through the Eastern Caribbean, you can expect to encounter a blend of cultures, traditions, and customs.

African culture has had a significant influence on the Eastern Caribbean islands. You may experience vibrant music, such as reggae, calypso, and soca, which are often accompanied by energetic dance forms like the limbo or the wuk-up.

You may witness remnants of various European powers present in the colonial architecture, language, and cuisine.

For example, English is widely spoken, and British influences can be seen in the governance systems and driving on the left side of the road.

While English is widely spoken, each Eastern Caribbean island has its own unique blend of influences, giving rise to distinct Creole cultures. Creole languages, a mixture of African, European, and indigenous languages, may be spoken by the locals.

Weather Considerations and Best Time to Visit

The Eastern Caribbean boasts a warm tropical climate year-round, with temperatures ranging from 77°F to 85°F (25°C to 29°C). The peak season for Eastern Caribbean cruises is from December to April, offering dry and pleasant weather conditions.

Cruise Lines Offering Eastern Caribbean Itineraries

Popular cruise lines sailing the Eastern Caribbean include Royal Caribbean International, Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Princess Cruises.

Western Caribbean Cruises: Adventure and Natural Wonders

Aerial view of cruise ship port in Ocho Rios

The Western Caribbean presents a contrasting landscape, featuring lush rainforests, ancient ruins, and exotic wildlife. This region encompasses destinations such as Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Belize , Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands.

Popular Ports in the Western Caribbean

1. Cozumel, Mexico: Explore the world-famous Palancar Reef for snorkeling or scuba diving and visit the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum.

2. Grand Cayman: Experience the stunning Seven Mile Beach, swim with stingrays, or indulge in tax-free shopping.

3. Jamaica: Discover the reggae vibes of Montego Bay , climb the breathtaking Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios , or relax on the beaches of Negril.

4. Belize: Immerse yourself in the rich biodiversity of the Belize Barrier Reef, visit ancient Mayan ruins like Altun Ha, or go cave tubing in the lush rainforests.

Many Western Caribbean cruises start in popular ports like Fort Lauderdale , Tampa , Port Canaveral , New Orleans & Galveston .

Western Caribbean Cuisine

The Western Caribbean is another region that encompasses several countries and territories, including Jamaica, Cuba , the Cayman Islands , Haiti, and parts of Mexico and Central America.

The Western Caribbean’s cuisine is a tantalizing blend of indigenous, African, European, and Mayan influences.

Jamaican food is known for its bold and spicy flavors. Jerk seasoning, a combination of spices including allspice, Scotch bonnet peppers, and thyme, is a staple in Jamaican cuisine.

Popular dishes include jerk chicken, jerk pork, curried goat, rice and peas, ackee and saltfish (the national dish), and festivals (a type of fried dumpling).

The Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico is part of the Western Caribbean region and has its own distinct cuisine. Yucatecan dishes often feature Mayan influences and flavors.

Some popular dishes include cochinita pibil (marinated pork cooked in banana leaves), panuchos (tortillas filled with refried beans and topped with shredded chicken or turkey), sopa de lima (lime soup), and poc chuc (grilled marinated pork).

cochinita pibil tacos

The Cayman Islands have a diverse culinary scene, influenced by Caribbean, British, and international flavors.

Seafood is prominent, and dishes like conch stew, fish rundown, and turtle stew are popular. The islands also offer international cuisines due to their cosmopolitan nature.

Western Caribbean Culture

The Western Caribbean region offers a diverse cultural tapestry, shaped by the indigenous populations, European colonial influences, and the cultural contributions of African, Hispanic, and Mayan heritage.

Western Caribbean is home to ancient Mayan ruins and archaeological sites, such as Chichen Itza in Mexico, Belize’s Xunantunich, or Honduras’ Copan.

mayan ruins

Many countries in the Western Caribbean, including Mexico, Belize , Honduras , and parts of Central America , have a strong Hispanic and Latin American cultural influence.

This can be seen in their language, music, dance, and cuisine. Expect to encounter lively rhythms like salsa, merengue, bachata, and mariachi music.

A significant Afro-Caribbean population has contributed to the region’s vibrant music, dance, and religious practices.

You may experience genres like reggae, dancehall, and Afro-Cuban music, and witness cultural rituals such as Santeria or Garifuna drumming and dance.

Like the Eastern Caribbean, the Western Caribbean was influenced by European colonial powers, particularly Spain and Britain. This influence is evident in the architecture, language, and historical sites.

The Western Caribbean is known for its stunning natural beauty, including lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and marine life. Local cultures often embrace environmental conservation and offer ecotourism activities like snorkeling, diving, and exploring national parks.

The Western Caribbean experiences a tropical climate with slightly higher temperatures, ranging from 80°F to 90°F (27°C to 32°C). The best time for Western Caribbean cruises is typically from November to April, with less rainfall and milder temperatures.

Cruise Lines Offering Western Caribbean Itineraries

Several cruise lines offer Western Caribbean itineraries, including Royal Caribbean International, Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and MSC Cruises.

Key Differences Between Eastern & Western Caribbean Cruises

1. Geography and Scenery: The Eastern Caribbean features more islands and a greater number of picturesque beaches, while the Western Caribbean is known for its lush rainforests, ancient ruins, and diverse marine life.

2. Culture and Cuisine: Eastern Caribbean islands have a blend of European, African, and indigenous influences, with a variety of cuisines to savor.

In contrast, the Western Caribbean showcases a mix of Mayan, African, and European cultures, offering unique culinary delights and musical traditions.

3. Weather Patterns: While both regions offer year-round warm temperatures, the Eastern Caribbean generally experiences a drier climate.

The Western Caribbean can have higher rainfall, particularly during the hurricane season (June to November). Note that weather patterns can be unpredictable, and storms can affect both regions.

4. Port Variety: The Eastern Caribbean often provides more diverse port options, with a mix of bustling cities, historic sites, and stunning beaches. The Western Caribbean, on the other hand, offers a combination of adventure activities, natural wonders, and opportunities for cultural exploration.

5. Popular Cruise Lines: Many major cruise lines operate in both regions, offering a wide range of itineraries. However, certain cruise lines may have a stronger presence in one region over the other. For example, Royal Caribbean International is well-known for its extensive offerings in both Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises.

Final Thoughts – Eastern vs Western Caribbean

Ultimately, the choice between an Eastern or Western Caribbean cruise depends on your preferences for beach relaxation, cultural immersion, adventure activities, or historical exploration.

There is no right or wrong answer.

Remember to consult with travel professionals or cruise line representatives to get the most up-to-date information on itineraries, ports of call in the Caribbean , and any travel advisories before finalizing your decision. Happy cruising!

This page contains affiliate links for which we may receive financial compensation when a purchase has been made through one of our affiliate partners.

eastern versus western caribbean cruise

About Jonathon Hyjek

Jonathon is the tech guy behind CruiseportAdvisor.com. When he's not stuck in front of his computer, Jonathon enjoys travel & cruising (even after being on a cruise ship that caught fire - a story for another day!)

RECENT POSTS

lelepa3

Cruise News This Week

lelepa3

What Does It Take To Keep Cruise Passengers Fed?

lelepa3

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Loyalty Programs: Sailing to Rewarding Adventures

lelepa3

Retirement Home Vs Life At Sea On A Cruise Ship

lelepa3

Do I Need Travel Insurance For A Cruise?

lelepa3

The Pros And Cons Of Cruising On A Smaller Cruise Ship

Grab your tour with cruise port advisor now, a short description introducing your business and the services to visitors..

eastern versus western caribbean cruise

© 2023 cruiseportadvisor All Rights Reserved.

  • Book Excursions
  • Anchorage, AK
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Cape Liberty, NJ
  • Charleston, SC
  • Ft Lauderdale, FL
  • Galveston, TX
  • Honolulu, HI
  • Jacksonville, FL
  • L.A. (San Pedro), CA
  • Long Beach, CA
  • Montreal, QC
  • New Orleans, LA
  • Norfolk, VA
  • NYC – Brooklyn
  • NYC – Manhattan
  • Port Canaveral, FL
  • Quebec City, QC
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • San Juan, PR
  • Seattle, WA
  • Vancouver, BC
  • Whittier, AK
  • Alaska & Pacific Northwest
  • Central & South America
  • Cruise Ports in Bermuda
  • Dominican Republic
  • Mexico & Mexican Riviera
  • Eastern Canada & Quebec
  • New England
  • Los Angeles (San Pedro), CA
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Cruise Blog
  • Cruise FAQ’s

Caribbean Uncovered

Eastern vs Western Caribbean Islands: Which One Is Better?

Eastern vs Western Caribbean Islands: Where should you visit this year? After a decade of traveling around the Caribbean islands, I’ve flown, island-hopped, and cruised to some of the best Eastern and Western Caribbean islands. This post dives into the difference between Eastern and Western Caribbean Islands to help you decide which one is best for your next vacation.

The Caribbean is a hugely popular vacation destination, with people choosing to visit its islands for a range of different reasons. When planning a Caribbean vacation, many people are unsure of whether to choose an eastern or western itinerary.

While it comes down to personal choice, the Eastern Caribbean islands are best for beach lovers looking for white sand and clear waters, along with duty-free shopping for US Citizens. On the other hand, the Western Caribbean islands offer rich history and exciting watersports and excursion opportunities.

Eastern vs Western Caribbean Islands: Quick Breakdown :

Booking travel soon? Here are my favorite reputable Caribbean resources – Book your villas a vrbo.com – Find tours at viator.com – Find hotels at expedia.com – Find the best deals for rental cars at Discover Cars

Eastern vs Western Caribbean Islands: Where Should You Visit?

Well, that depends on what kind of traveler you are. Whether you’re looking for a place to relax and de-stress or you want to explore some of the region’s vibrant culture, there’s an island for you in the Caribbean.

If you want to soak up the sun on beautiful beaches and enjoy crystal-clear waters, then the Eastern Caribbean is probably your best bet.

However, if you’re looking for something more lively and want to experience some of the region’s famous music and dance festivals, then head west to the Western Caribbean. No matter what your interests are, there’s a Caribbean island for you!

Choose your vacation: St Thomas vs Turks and Caicos

Eastern Caribbean Islands

Eastern vs Western Caribbean Islands map

  • US Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands
  • St Marteen/St Martin
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • Antiqua and Barbuda
  • St Vincent and Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago

Western Caribbean Islands

Eastern vs Western Caribbean Islands map

  • Turks and Caicos (both eastern and western cruises hit Turks and Caicos)
  • Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  • Grand Cayman , Cayman Islands

Eastern vs Western Caribbean Islands Similarities

Both options have their own unique charms, but there are also many similarities between the two regions.

Free Caribbean Packing Checklist

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.

eastern versus western caribbean cruise

Great Weather Year Round

Bahamas beach

The Eastern and Western Caribbean boast great weather year-round, making them both ideal places to escape the cold winter months.

The average temperature in the Caribbean ranges from 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit, with humidity levels hovering around 70%. Humidity rises during hurricane season and falls around January to April. However, it is important to note that the trade winds blowing across the islands can help to keep things cool, especially in the evenings.

Hurricane Season

Renaissance Wind creek Aruba resorts villas

Visitors should also be aware that hurricanes are a possibility in both the east and west during the hurricane season (June-November). As long as you are prepared for some inclement weather and have a backup plan, both regions make for great vacation getaways.

There are with a higher hurricane risk and options like a lower hurricane risk, Turks and Caicos vs Aruba , for example. Where Aruba is farther from the hurricane belt and less likely to experience rains and heavy hurricane weather, and Turks and Caicos the opposite.

Beaches and Activities

From beautiful weather and beaches to a wide range of activities and excursions, it’s easy to customize your perfect Caribbean vacation. Both the eastern and western Caribbean Islands offer a wide range of activities and excursions for visitors to enjoy.

Popular activities include hiking through rainforests, zip-lining through jungles, taking 4×4/ ATV tours through mountainous terrain, visiting sugar plantations or rum factories, exploring caves and waterfalls, and much more.

No matter what type of activity you’re interested in, both regions have plenty to offer. There are also numerous excursions available that allow you to experience multiple activities in one day or even one week.

An Unforgettable Vacation

There is no wrong choice when it comes to deciding between an eastern or western itinerary. Both options have an abundance of hidden gems in the Caribbean to explore.

Each region offers stunning weather, beautiful beaches, and plenty of activities and excursions to keep you busy, or plenty of relaxing spots to hang if you’re looking for that “island-time” vacation.

Whether you’re looking for a secluded escape, a romantic honeymoon , or a party-filled getaway, you can find it in either the eastern or western Caribbean islands

Caribbean honeymoon destinations: St Croix Honeymoon / Aruba Honeymoon

Eastern vs Western Caribbean Islands Differences

JoJo the dolphin in Turks and Caicos

The main differences to consider before planning a Caribbean vacation: Eastern Caribbean islands tend to be more developed and have more popular beaches, whereas Western Caribbean islands are less developed but the still breathtaking beaches will likely be less crowded.

Choose Your Vacation: St Croix vs St John

Eastern Caribbean Islands are More Developed

The eastern Caribbean islands tend to be more developed, with more resorts and restaurants to choose from. This also means they may tend to be more crowded than the western islands.

white shoreline in St John USVI, clear blue water

The Eastern Caribbean islands offer some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, like Trunk Bay and Honeymoon Beach in St John, USVI or Magens Bay and Coki Beach in St Thomas . If you’re looking for a relaxing vacation where you can spend your days lounging on the beach, the eastern islands may be a better option for you.

Read More: Is St John Worth Visiting?

The western Caribbean islands are less developed and tend to be less crowded . This can make for a more adventurous vacation, as you’ll have the opportunity to explore off-the-beaten-path places. These islands are also rich in history for exploring and learning.

The beaches on the western islands are also typically less crowded than those on the eastern islands. If you’re looking for a more active vacation with plenty of opportunities for adventure and history, the western islands may be a better choice.

Choose Your Vacation: St Thomas vs St John

Is Eastern or Western Caribbean Better for a Cruise?

Cruise ship in the Western Caribbean islands

This really depends on preference when deciding between an eastern or western Caribbean cruise.

For an Eastern Caribbean Cruise, you’ll spend a bit more time on the water to get to your destinations, and then be able to quickly hop around the eastern islands since they are very close to each other.

Western Caribbean islands are more spread out, so you’ll spend more time on the ship traveling between islands. My last 5 night, 6 day western Caribbean cruise had only two days at ports!

If you want to spend lots of time on the white sandy beaches and shopping through the downtown areas, you’ll want to choose an Eastern Caribbean cruise.

If you want to hop off the ship and go on an outdoor adventure and explore the deep waters, head to the Western Caribbean. You’ll find similar notes in any Eastern vs Western Caribbean cruise Reddit thread.

⭐ Is the Eastern or Western Caribbean better for a cruise? Only you can answer that, really. Eastern for quick hops through many islands, Western for longer trip through the Caribbean seas. Each can offer such difference experiences, though you can’t go wrong with either.

Eastern Caribbean Cruise Itinerary

Puerto Rico historic view in Eastern Caribbean

A common eastern Caribbean itinerary includes Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, St Maarten, and British Virgin Islands. Each of these islands has something unique to offer visitors.

Puerto Rico is a great place to experience traditional Spanish culture. The US Virgin Islands offer beautiful beaches and stunning scenery. The popular French West Indies territory St Maarten is a perfect destination for those who love to shop. And the British Virgin Islands are known for their laid-back atmosphere and stunning natural beauty.

Whether you’re looking for culture, relaxation, or adventure, an eastern Caribbean cruise is sure to have something for you.

Western Caribbean Cruise Itinerary

Western Caribbean cruises offer a wonderful opportunity to explore some of the world’s most beautiful and exotic locations. The itinerary typically includes stops in Grand Cayman , Grand Turk or Bahamas , Curacao , Aruba , Jamaica , as well as sometimes Central American ports such as Belize City and Roatan. Roatan is a diving haven of the Caribbean.

You’ll also see more sharks on the western side, specifically in the Bahamas, so these are great places to go diving.

Each of these destinations offers its own unique attractions and activities, so there is something for everyone to enjoy. Western Caribbean cruises are the perfect way to experience everything that this region has to offer.

Eastern vs Western Caribbean Islands: Which is Nicer?

Turks Grace Bay Club

While both types of islands have their own unique charms, Eastern islands generally offer a more developed infrastructure, more dining and shopping options, and world-class beaches.

For example, the Eastern island of St. Lucia boasts dozens of high-end restaurants, an array of luxury hotels, and a vibrant nightlife scene. You can go on full-day island Land and Sea tours and snorkel tours in St Lucia . By contrast, the Western island of Jamaica is more laid-back, with a focus on Rastafarian culture and reggae music.

So if you’re looking for a more traditional Caribbean experience, the Western islands may be more your speed. But if you’re looking for sophistication and luxury, you’ll find it in the East.

⭐ Western vs Eastern Caribbean : which islands are nicer? Eastern Caribbean Islands

Eastern vs Western Caribbean Islands: Which is Cheaper?

The Western Caribbean islands are known as being a bit cheaper, particularly in terms of cruise options. However, there are so many different regions and options in both the eastern and western Caribbean islands, it’s possible to make either work on many different budgets, so don’t box yourself into one because of price!

The cost will also depend where you want to leave from, as airfare may become the most expensive cost of your trip!

⭐ Eastern vs Western Caribbean islands: Which is cheaper? You can budget for either! Western Caribbean islands are usually cheaper than Eastern, and a popular option for first time cruisers and Caribbean vacationers.

Eastern vs Western Caribbean Islands: Who has Better Beaches?

Blue Water and Green Mountains of Trunk Bay St John in Eastern Caribbean

⭐ Does the Eastern or Western Caribbean have better beaches? Eastern beaches are more popular and known for their famous, picturesque features. Western beaches may be less crowded. Eastern Caribbean Islands have to take this one.

More on St John: Is St John Worth Visiting?

Eastern vs Western Caribbean Islands: Best for Families?

Generally speaking, the eastern Caribbean islands tend to be more developed, with more Resort hotels and all-inclusive options making it ideal if you’re looking for a relaxing vacation where most of the details are taken care of in advance.

The western Caribbean islands, on the other hand, tend to be less developed and offer more opportunities for exploring and adventure. If your family enjoys spending time outdoors, then the western Caribbean islands may be a better fit. Whichever destination you choose, the Caribbean is sure to provide your family with lasting memories.

They both hold a wide variety of history if you want to learn about the culture of the islands with your family, and they both offer a wide variety of family-friendly excursions, hotels, activities, and beaches. Your sure to find exactly what your family is looking on either side of the Caribbean!

⭐Eastern vs Western Caribbean islands: Which is better for families? Both Eastern and Western Caribbean Islands offer great family opportunities and activities.

Family on beach in St John USVI Caribbean vacation

Conclusion Eastern vs Western Caribbean Islands: Which One Is Better?

So, Western Caribbean vs Eastern Caribbean islands. Should you choose the Eastern Caribbean islands or the Western Caribbean Islands for your next adventure?

Overall, head to the eastern Caribbean for long stretches of white sand and clear, calm waters – perfect for beach lovers looking to unwind and head to the Western Caribbean if you’re looking to experience a bit of history and culture, outdoor activities, and exploration.

However, you’ll get a wide array of everything any Caribbean island. They’re all so full of beauty, history, and adventure. Whichever side of the Caribbean you choose, you’re sure to have a memorable vacation.

' src=

Rachel is passionate about encouraging you to stop waiting and start exploring. After over a decade of traveling through the Caribbean islands, Rachel is sharing all of her secrets. She's passionate about sharing her expert Caribbean travel tips with you to make planning your trip as easy as lying on the beach.

Similar Posts

17 best caribbean islands to visit in august 2024.

13 Best Caribbean Islands for Hiking Adventures

13 Best Caribbean Islands for Hiking Adventures

17 Best Caribbean Islands to Visit in February (2024)

17 Best Caribbean Islands to Visit in February (2024)

Which Caribbean island has the most shark attacks?

Which Caribbean island has the most shark attacks?

Ultimate caribbean packing list essentials 2024 (free pdf checklist), hawaii vs caribbean: which is better in 2024.

Caribbean Cruise Itineraries

Southern, Eastern, and Western Trips

eastern versus western caribbean cruise

Pola Damonte/Getty Images

The southern, eastern and western compass points in relation to the Caribbean reflect common cruise itineraries rather than any useful geographic designation.

Different cruise lines mix them differently, but generally speaking, a southern Caribbean cruise visits the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles or the Dutch islands of Aruba , Bonaire , and Curacao , while the eastern Caribbean includes the U.S. and British Virgin Islands , Puerto Rico, the Bahamas , Turks and Caicos , and Antigua . Western Caribbean itineraries tend to encompass the Mexican Caribbean and the Cayman Islands and may include stops in Jamaica, Belize, and Honduras.

Cruise Length

Eastern itineraries offer the shortest trips from the eastern United States, with three- and four-day cruises to Grand Turk or the Bahamas. Week-long cruises may include three or four ports of call in the Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.

Western itineraries likewise range in length from several days to more than a week but generally include more time at sea for travel between the more widespread islands in this part of the Caribbean. They also frequently include Mexico and occasionally Central American destinations as well.

Southern Caribbean cruises tend to be the longest, partly because these islands sit the farthest from the U.S. and partly because southern itineraries seem to stop at more ports of call. They often encompass both eastern itinerary destinations plus more southern ports such as Dominica, Martinique , and Grenada.

Cruise Activities

Though good snorkeling and diving exist throughout the Caribbean, the islands in the western cruise itineraries hold a slight edge with their locations closer to the Mesoamerican Reef.

The western Caribbean itineraries also tend to include more outdoor adventure, while eastern Caribbean destinations tend to focus more on a luxury experience with world-renowned shopping.

Cruises to the southern points let you experience the European flavor that remains from the French, British and Dutch colonial powers, while also enjoying a unique island style and nearly pristine scenery in the region with the fewest number of visitors.

Different cruise lines feature different types of onboard activities, but if you like the idea of recreation at sea, it makes sense to find a cruise with longer stretches between ports of call. Conversely, if you prefer daily shore excursions, an eastern itinerary makes the most sense for you.

Cruise Embarkation Locations

Eastern Caribbean cruises typically embark from the east coast of the U.S. in locations such as Baltimore, Maryland, Charleston, South Carolina, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami, Florida. Western itineraries often start from U.S. port cities on the Gulf of Mexico, such as Galveston and Houston, Texas; New Orleans; and Mobile, Alabama.

They may also embark from eastern locations such as Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Southern Caribbean itineraries usually start in Puerto Rico, Barbados or Miami, though depending on the cruise line, it's possible to find itineraries from any of these starting locations to destinations throughout the islands.

Top Cruise Ports in the Eastern Caribbean

The Best Spring Break Destinations for Families

Choosing a Caribbean Cruise Itinerary

A Guide to Airports in the Caribbean

Use Caribbean Maps to See Where Your Cruise Is Going

The Best Cruise Ports of Call in the Western Caribbean

13 New Ocean Cruise Ships in 2018

Guide to Christmas in the Caribbean: Festivals, Events, Things to Do

The 20 Best Caribbean Islands to Visit

Top 20 Beaches in the Caribbean

Caribbean Currency for Travelers

Gay and Lesbian Friendly Destinations in the Caribbean

February in the Caribbean: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Guide to Which Islands 21 Caribbean Cruise Lines Visit

Marriage Laws for Caribbean Destination Weddings

Top Caribbean All-Inclusive Hotel and Resort Chains

cruise news

  • Cruise Advice

Planning: Western Caribbean vs. Eastern Caribbean Cruise

Picture of Richard Simms

Richard Simms

  • June 25, 2017

Imagine that there are two things in life you know for certain: One is that you want to go on a cruise, and the other is that you want to go to the Caribbean.

You tell a friend who happens to know a lot about traveling in general, and they say, “Do you want to go on an Eastern or Western Caribbean cruise?” If you’re anything like I was not so long ago, you might look at them blankly and say, “Is there a difference?”

As it turns out, there is more than one. And while chances are you’ll have an amazing time eating great food and visiting beautiful ports no matter which you opt for, it’s worth taking the time to figure out which itinerary — Western or Eastern — is right for you.

Difference Between a Western and Eastern Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean cruise blue waters

It’s perfectly understandable that one might have questions regarding the Eastern and Western Caribbean. So, let’s start with the basics.

Generally speaking, the most popular itineraries to either side of the Caribbean tend to range from 7-10 nights. Both routes will include incredibly popular destinations, and both will guarantee that your feet wind up on a sandy beach. The most popular stops on cruises bound for the Eastern Caribbean include Nassau, St. Thomas, St. Marteen, and — on longer voyages — Barbados.

There are, of course, other ports to be visited — including Dominica and Puerto Rico. In fact, many people — in order to spend as much time as possible island hopping, opt to sail out of Puerto Rico instead of wasting time traveling between Florida or one of the Eastern seaport ports.

For others, the journey — including the sea days spent going back and forth — is just as important as the destination.

As for Western Caribbean sailings, among the most popular stops on these trips include Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Belize, Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, and Cozumel.

It’s worth noting that many Western Caribbean cruises departing from ports such as Boston or New York City stop at Key West, while those heating for the Eastern Caribbean usually stop at Port Canaveral.

When Is The Best Time To Take a Caribbean Cruise?

Caribbean cruise

Both itineraries are great year-round, although you’re likely to pay more during the winter months. Why? Because of all those people looking to trade their snow-slogging boots for beach-friendly sandals!

As soon as the temperatures began dropping in the north, people began dreaming of sunny shores, making trips to the Caribbean crazy popular. As we all learned in high school, the law of supply and demand tells us that when a whole lot of people want something, you’re going to wind up paying a premium price for it!

This means that from around late November to early May, you’re going to see higher prices and fewer great bargains available.

On the other hand, you’re also going to have amazing weather… not only because it doesn’t snow in the Caribbean (D’uh!), but also because there’s generally very little rainfall in the forecast, making just about every day a perfect one to hit the beach. (That said, even if it does rain? You’re on a beach in the Caribbean, not back home shoveling snow, so… )

beautiful sunset at sea

If there’s a less-than-awesome time to visit, it would probably be during hurricane season, which runs from around mid-May until October.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean you’re going to run into rough seas if you decide to take advantage of the lower prices offered during this time of year, but it means the chances of you doing so — or at least having some wet weather — are much greater.

One thing many people don’t think of in regard to hurricane season is the impact stormy weather can have on the beaches you visit.

Know that sometimes, when winds whip up the water, it can result in the sandy bottoms of the sea being churned, meaning that the infamous blue waters of the area can wind up losing some of their luster.

The other side-effect of choppy water is that beaches can wind up covered with much more seaweed than one might normally encounter.

No matter which Caribbean you opt for, you’re going to have a plethora of activities to choose from. If you think all the area has to offer are beaches — not that there’s anything wrong with a day spent doing nothing more intense than gazing at the ocean while sipping a drink with an umbrella in it — you’re definitely mistaken.

There are a slew of fantastic shore excursions available to be booked, whether through the cruise line or a service such as CruisingExcursions.com.

Among Our Favorite Eastern Caribbean Cruise Excursions

34477126155 1e1dc7dd98 z

The Baths at Virgin Gorda

One of the most popular tourist destinations in the British Virgin Islands, this national park offers the opportunity to swim, snorkel, and explore one of the most unique terrains on the planet thanks to giant granite boulders that have, over time, formed a maze of tidal pools, tunnels, and caves.

BOSS Underwater Adventure, St. Thomas

Think of this as scuba diving for beginners. After a 20-minute boat ride to the Buck Island National Wildlife Rescue, guests board their individual BOSS (Breathable Observation Submersible Scooter) vehicles to do some exploration.

And yes, they’ll take pictures of you and your crew with your underwater camera (or sell you one on board if you forgot yours).

The Butterfly Farm, St. Maarten

La Fermes des Papillons is a gorgeous garden populated by, as you might guess, a whole lot of gorgeous winged insects. The guided tour is relatively short at only 15 minutes, but guests are welcome to explore and interact to their heart’s content.

Among Our Favorite Western Caribbean Cruise Excursions

IMG 3498.JPG

Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios, Jamaica

There’s a reason this is one of the most popular tourist spots in Jamaica. Whether hiking up the 600-foot waterfall or enjoying the beach below, this is nature at its best. It’s also just a hop, skip, and jump away from an amazing zipline and bobsled experience. For more, see our Dunn’s River Falls   review.

Chacchoben Mayan ruins in Costa Maya

If there’s one thing Western itineraries have over Eastern ones, it’s some of the opportunities to explore incredible sites such as this.

While these excursions involve traveling and hiking– you can’t just step off the ship and onto the grounds of a temple, after all — they offer an opportunity to walk away with something more valuable than any souvenir: a sense of having intimately experienced a long-gone culture.

Snorkeling in Belize

It’s easy to find an excursion that will take you to the Barrier Reef, an awe-inspiring coral formation with an abundance of marine wildlife. Follow that up with a trip to Shark & Ray Alley for an incredible opportunity to interact with a variety of sea creatures.

Final Thoughts on Caribbean Cruises

Caribbean cruise snorkeling

Clearly, both Western and Eastern Caribbean cruise itineraries have much to offer. Some think of the Eastern sailings as being a bit more sedate with their emphasis on beaches and shopping, while the Western itineraries are a little more off the beaten path and can offer more for the adventurous traveler.

And that is, of course, exactly why we put together this guide… to help you decide which type of cruise is more your style.

EASTERN

Recent Posts

World cruise ceo addresses delays, announces new launch date [video], uber takes to the water with boats in european cruise port, travel agent leaves carnival cruise passengers without refunds after port cancellation, 3 cruise ships earn perfect cleanliness scores from the cdc, share this post, related posts.

World Cruise CEO Addresses Delays, Announces New Launch Date [VIDEO]

Disney Updates Boarding Times for Florida-Based Cruise Ships

Wildfires in Alaska Force Cancellation of Denali Cruise Tours

Wildfires in Alaska Force Cancellation of Denali Cruise Tours

Cruise Radio header

Bringing you 15 years of cruise industry experience. Cruise Radio prioritizes well-balanced cruise news coverage and accurate reporting, paired with ship reviews and tips.   

Quick links

Cruise Radio, LLC © Copyright 2009-2024 | Website Designed By   Insider Perks, Inc

Imagineered Vacations

July 27, 2017 by Jessica Tullino

Eastern vs. Western Caribbean Cruises Aboard Disney Cruise Line®

How would you like to sail the Caribbean?

Disney Cruise Line® offers several itineraries through the Caribbean islands. So how do you know which one to choose?

Here’s your guide to deciding between an Eastern or Western Caribbean cruise.

Eastern vs. Western Cruises Aboard Disney Cruise Line

Caribbean Sailings

There are three different options when it comes to Caribbean cruises with Disney. You can choose between Eastern, Western, or Southern Caribbean destinations. While the Southern Caribbean is a lot of fun, the Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises are the most popular. So, I’ll focus on these and save the South for another day.

For the sake of comparison, let’s look at the 7-Night cruises out of Port Canaveral. These are easily accessible and offer a nice, long getaway. They also include stops at Disney Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island.

Comparing Itineraries

Both Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises typically leave from Port Canaveral and sail on the Disney Fantasy . This is one of Disney’s newest and largest ships, alongside its sister, the Disney Dream. They both offer special holiday sailings and have the same amenities on-board. So the comparison comes down to the itineraries themselves.

Let’s look at the two standard itineraries for the 7-Night cruises:

7-Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise:

Day 1: Depart Port Canaveral, Florida Day 2: At Sea Day 3: At Sea Day 4: Tortola, British Virgin Islands Day 5: St. Thomas/St. John, US Virgin Islands Day 6: At Sea Day 7: Disney Castaway Cay Day 8: Port Canaveral, Florida

7-Night Western Caribbean Cruise:

Day 1: Depart Port Canaveral, Florida Day 2: At Sea Day 3: Cozumel, Mexico Day 4: Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands Day 5: Falmouth, Jamaica Day 6: At Sea Day 7: Disney Castaway Cay Day 8: Port Canaveral, Florida

As you can see, Eastern Caribbean cruises offer an extra day at sea. Western Caribbean cruises spend more time at port and visit more countries.

Now, these are not the only itineraries that tour these areas. You can also find Caribbean cruises that visit Key West, Costa Maya, or even San Juan. In 2018 there are even a few Caribbean cruises that sail on the Disney Wonder. If you’re looking to change things up a bit, talk to your vacation planner about what options are available for you.

Beach

Which is Better: Eastern or Western Caribbean?

Most cruises come down to preference – which itinerary would YOUR family enjoy more?

Here are some of the general pros for each sailing:

Eastern Caribbean

  • More time on-board the ship
  • More relaxed pace
  • Better for nature lovers
  • Better beaches

Western Caribbean

  • More time in port
  • Smoother sailing
  • Better for historians and adventurers
  • Better for college students

Ultimately, the best way to decide which is best for your family comes down to your interests. Do you want to spend more time on-board the ship enjoying the kids clubs and recreation? Do you plan to spend all of your time in port relaxing on the beach? Are you excited to explore as many different islands as possible? Would you like to learn about the Mayan ruins? These questions will help guide you toward the best route.

Take a look at the Port Adventures available for the cruises before you book. If you notice that you find more interesting activities on one itinerary versus the other, you’ll start heading towards a decision.

Is there a particular port you’ve always wanted to experience? Grand Cayman and St. Thomas are the favorites when it comes to these two itineraries.

No matter which itinerary you choose, you are sure to have a truly magical, relaxing vacation!

Ready to book your Caribbean cruise?  Need a little more help deciding on the best itinerary for your family?  I’d love to help!  My planning and concierge services are available at no additional cost when you book your Disney Cruise with me.  Request a free consultation or send me an email at [email protected] for more information!

Related Posts:

Royal Caribbean International® Vacations

Share this:

  • Click to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)

Imagineered Vacations is an independent contractor with Ears of Experience, LLC

eastern versus western caribbean cruise

As to Disney artwork, logos, and properties: ©Disney/©Disney-Pixar. Ships' Registry: The Bahamas

  • Favorites & Watchlist Find a Cruise Cruise Deals Cruise Ships Destinations Manage My Cruise​ FAQ Perfect Day at CocoCay Weekend Cruises Crown & Anchor Society Cruising Guides Gift Cards Contact Us Royal Caribbean Group
  • Back to Main Menu
  • Search Cruises " id="rciHeaderSideNavSubmenu-2-1" class="headerSidenav__link" href="/cruises" target="_self"> Search Cruises
  • Cruise Deals
  • Weekend Cruises
  • Last Minute Cruises
  • Family Cruises​
  • 2024-2025 Cruises
  • All Cruise Ships " id="rciHeaderSideNavSubmenu-4-1" class="headerSidenav__link" href="/cruise-ships" target="_self"> All Cruise Ships
  • Cruise Dining
  • Onboard Activities
  • Cruise Rooms
  • The Cruise Experience
  • All Cruise Destinations " id="rciHeaderSideNavSubmenu-5-1" class="headerSidenav__link" href="/cruise-destinations" target="_self"> All Cruise Destinations
  • Cruise Ports
  • Shore Excursions
  • Perfect Day at CocoCay
  • Caribbean Cruises
  • Bahamas Cruises​
  • Alaska Cruises
  • European Cruises​
  • Mediterranean Cruises​
  • Royal Destinations
  • Cruise Planner
  • Make a Payment
  • Check-In for My Cruise
  • Beverage Packages​
  • Shore Excursions​
  • Book a Flight
  • Dining Packages​
  • Royal Gifts
  • Required Travel Documents
  • Transportation
  • Book a Hotel
  • Redeem Cruise Credit
  • All FAQs " id="rciHeaderSideNavSubmenu-7-1" class="headerSidenav__link" href="/faq" target="_self"> All FAQs
  • Boarding Requirements
  • Future Cruise Credit​
  • Travel Documents​
  • Check-in​ & Boarding Pass
  • Transportation​
  • Perfect Day at CocoCay​
  • Post-Cruise Inquiries
  • Royal Caribbean
  • Celebrity Cruises

Coco Beach Club Aerial, Perfect Day at Coco Cay

8 Night Eastern Caribbean & Perfect Day

Your ship adventure of the seas.

Adventure of the Seas, The Perfect Storm Waterslides

THRILLS ONBOARD BETWEEN NEW SHORES

Girl Going Down the Slide at Splashaway Bay

Splashaway Bay℠

Mariner of the Seas The Perfect Storm Water Slide

The Perfect Storm℠

Man Arrive on the top of the Rock Wall

Rock Climbing Wall

Instructor Jumping on Flowrider

FlowRider ®

Taste the bold.

Chops Grille Dinner Table Dishes

Chops Grille℠

Chefs Table - Dining Room

Chef's Table

Izumi Appetizer

Giovanni's Table

Settle in for a scene-stealer.

Jackpot Cruise Show Performers on stage Adventure of the Seas

Invitation to Dance

Can't Stop the Rock Cruise Production, Performers Dancing, Adventure of the Seas

Can't Stop the Rock

Day 1: orlando, florida.

Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida

Trekkie Track

Universal Studios Hogwarts, Orlando, Florida

Get In Character

Surfer's Standing By Wavy Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral, Florida

Outside The lines

Fish Tacos Cuisine, Orlando, Florida

Local Cuisine

Canoes at Night, Orlando, Florida

Day 2: Perfect Day at CocoCay, Bahamas

Arrivals Plaza Perfect Day at Coco Cay Aerial

popular Shore Excursions

Amazing experiences coming soon..

Perfect Day Coco Cay Slide Aerial

Thrill Waterpark

Perfect Day Coco Cay Dare Devil's Tower Racer Slides

Daredevil’s Tower

eastern versus western caribbean cruise

Splash Summit

Tidal Wave Pool Father and Daughter, Perfect Day at Coco Cay

Adventure Pool

Father and Son by the Floating Cabanas at Perfect Day at Coco Cay

Coco Beach Club

Coco Beach Club Couple Walking to Floating Cabana, Perfect Day at Coco Cay

Overwater Cabanas

Coco Beach Club Cabana Family Tanning, Perfect Day at Coco Cay

Beach Cabanas

Coco Beach Club Restaurants Couple Celebrating, Perfect Day at Coco Cay

The Restaurant

Hideaway Beach at Perfect Day at Coco Cay

Hideaway Beach

Hammocks and Tiki Umbrellas at Hideaway Beach

Hideaway Pool and Swim-up Bar

On the Rocks Bar at Hideaway Beach

On the Rocks

Slice of Pizza at Hideaway Beach

Slice of Paradise

Girlfriends Enjoying their Cabana at Hideaway Beach

Hideaway Cabanas

Perfect Day Coco Cay Snack Shack

Island Dining

Perfect Day Coco Cay Captain Jacks

Captain Jack's®

Perfect Day Coco Cay Captain Jack Self Serving Beer Station

Skipper's Grill

El Loco Fresh Soft Taco with a Hint of Lime

Chill Grill

Perfect Day Coco Cay Snack Shack Chicken Sandwich

SNACK SHACK

eastern versus western caribbean cruise

THRILLS & CHILLS

Perfect Day Coco Cay South Beach Boy Snorkeling

UP, UP AND AWAY

Perfect Day Coco Cay Oasis Lagoon Aerial with Cabanas

OASIS LAGOON

Perfect Day Coco Cay South Beach Volleyball Friends

South Beach

Perfect Day Coco Cay Captain Jill Galleon Kids Splashing

CAPTAIN JILL’S GALLEON

Perfect Day Coco Cay Splashaway Bay Girl Slidiing

SPLASHAWAY BAY

Cove Beach at Perfect Day at Coco Cay

CHILL ISLAND

Day 3: cruising.

Young Woman Climbing

Typhoon℠ and Cyclone℠

The Perfect Storm Mariner of the Seas

Sports Court

Adventure Ocean Splashaway Bay

Ice Skating

Day 4: san juan, puerto rico.

Sunset View from Atop El Morro Fortress in San Juan, Puerto Rico

CASTILLO DE SAN FELIPE DEL MORRO

Bautista Cathedral Closeup, San Juan, Puerto Rico

CATEDRAL DE SAN JUAN BAUTISTA

Puerto Rico Mofongo Shrimp

Day 5: St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Wave Crashing Against Rocks on a Sunny Day in Frederiksted Beach, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

GET YOUR RUM ON

Canon Fort Frederik, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

FORTIFIED FINDS

A View of Buck Island from Point Udall, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Island

A BETTER POINT OF VIEW

Canon Overlooking Harbor at Yellow Brick Fort Christiansted, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

LOCAL CUISINE

Tropical Shirts, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Day 6: Philipsburg, St. Maarten

Sandy Blue Beach Sailboat, Philipsburg, St. Maarten

LOTERIE FARM

Cityscape at the Great Salt Pond, Philipsburg, St. Maarten

SIMPSON BAY LAGOON

Girl Horseback Riding with a View of the Ocean, Philipsburg, St. Maarten

MOUNT CONCORDIA

Boats by the Pier, Philipsburg, St. Maarten

Day 7 - 8: Cruising

Crusted scallops - Giovanni's Table

Café Promenade

Day 9: orlando, florida.

eastern versus western caribbean cruise

eastern versus western caribbean cruise

Cruise stocks turn defensive as Hurricane Beryl heads for Yucatán

C ruise stocks are under pressure Monday as a major hurricane rips through the Caribbean, with the Yucatán peninsula and its popular destinations of Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Cozumel the next target. Hurricane Beryl has already made landfall as a dangerous Category 4 storm on the Caribbean Island of Carriacou in Grenada, with the National Hurricane Center warning of the “extremely dangerous” conditions of the third named storm of the season.

The path of the hurricane has already forced major cruise operators to change itineraries, including Royal Caribbean ( RCL ) which has three ships currently in the hurricane’s path. The company warned that as a result of high waves and strong winds the intended path to the Eastern Caribbean would be modified.

While hurricane preparedness and altered itineraries are nothing new to the cruise industry, the severity of the storm so early in the hurricane season has made investors nervous that this could be a challenging summer for the industry. Besides Beryl, there is another potential storm developing several hundred miles behind following the same path into the southeastern Caribbean islands, making this already the fourth named storm since the start of the season. According to NHC historical data, the fourth named storm typically forms by August 15, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts the 2024 hurricane season will be well above average with 17-25 named storms.

Fortunately for passengers, cruises are rarely canceled because of a storm, although the itinerary can be changed if the storm is impacting a scheduled port, especially if it’s a tendered port. Cruises can be re-routed depending on the path of the storm with Eastern Caribbean destinations moved to Western Caribbean destinations, and Bermuda destinations being moved as far north as Canada. Since cruise ships can travel faster than most storms, there is little chance of a ship being caught in the middle of a hurricane or to be at a port long enough to coincide with landfall.

Still, the industry faces headwinds not just from storms, but from indications that prices heave peaked and are beginning to come down in June. According to a study from BofA Securities, 40% of cruise itineraries had softer pricing compared to 33% in May, while only 32% of itineraries showed higher pricing versus 43% in May. Analysts attribute some of the softness to the increased supply for cruises to the Caribbean and Alaska due to disruptions in the Red Sea.

Among the major stocks in the category, Norwegian Cruise Lines ( NCLH ) is suffering the heaviest losses, down 6.5%. Carnival Corporation ( NYSE: CCL ) is lower by 5%, followed by a 3% drop in Viking Holdings ( VIK ). Shares of Royal Caribbean ( RCL ) are down 3%. 

More on Carnival

  • Carnival Corporation: Significantly Overvalued
  • Carnival Corporation & plc (CCL) Q2 2024 Earnings Call Transcript
  • Carnival Corporation: Continued Expected Progress Still Doesn't Make It A Buy
  • Carnival Corporation trades in the green for seven straight days
  • Carnival results beat expectations but high leverage and lofty valuation could weigh

Cruise stocks turn defensive as Hurricane Beryl heads for Yucatán

  • Entertainment
  • Newsletters

WEATHER ALERT

2 heat advisories in effect for 10 regions in the area

Multiple cruises rerouted, cancelled due to hurricane beryl.

Ryan Mackey , Digital Journalist

MIAMI – A number of cruise lines have changed itineraries to avoid Hurricane Beryl.

After striking the small island of Carriacou at the entrance of the eastern Caribbean as a 150 mph Category 4 hurricane on Monday, Beryl continued to intensify through the overnight hours, becoming a 165 mph Category 5 hurricane by early Tuesday , according to Local 10 Hurricane Specialist and Storm Surge Expert Michael Lowry.

Multiple cruise companies announced Tuesday that they are making significant adjustments to their Caribbean sailings as Hurricane Beryl approaches, prioritizing the safety of guests and crew.

Royal Caribbean said its Icon of the Seas, Wonder of the Seas, and Harmony of the Seas ships have all changed itineraries due to the hurricane, according to their website. Read the full list of changes by clicking here.

A spokesperson for the cruise line released a statement to Local 10 News Tuesday, which you can read here:

“The safety of our guests, crew and communities we visit is our top priority. Along with our Chief Meteorologist, we are closely monitoring the progression of Hurricane Beryl, and are making adjustments to some of our Caribbean sailings for the comfort and safety of our guests and crew. Guests and travel advisors will be notified directly of any necessary changes.”

Norwegian Cruise Line also reported amendments to the routes for its Jade and Takeaway ships due to the hurricane.

The cruise line has significantly altered the itinerary for its week-long Norwegian Breakaway voyage that departed from Miami on Sunday.

According to a letter sent to guests, the cruise will no longer stop in Honduras, Harvest Caye in Belize, Costa Maya, and Cozumel in Mexico. Instead, the ship will visit Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, St. Thomas, Tortola, and Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas.

Norwegian released the following statement which was obtained by Local 10 News on Tuesday.

“The safety and security of our guests, crew and communities we visit is always a top priority. We are monitoring the projected path of Hurricane Beryl and have amended the itineraries for Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Breakaway’s current voyages. Please see the letters attached, which were provided to all guests on board, for full details,” a Norwegian spokesperson stated.

The Carnival Horizon has canceled its scheduled stop in the Cayman Islands, while the Carnival Liberty will visit Cozumel on Tuesday instead of on July 5.

Additionally, “Disney Fantasy, which is currently sailing a 7-night Western Caribbean itinerary, will no longer call on Falmouth, Jamaica on Wednesday. The ship will instead spend the day at sea,” according to a Disney spokesperson.

These changes come as part of the cruise lines’ efforts to navigate safely through the impending storm.

FOR THE LATEST UPDATES , visit the complete coverage of hurricanes page , visit the weather page for the hourly local forecast , sign up for the free e-mail Talking Tropics newsletter , and download the free tracker mobile app on the Apple Store or Google Play .

Local 10 viewers can find the itinerary changes for Norwegian’s Jade and Breakaway cruise ships in the documents provided below.

More Stories Like This In Our Email Newsletter

Copyright 2024 by WPLG Local10.com - All rights reserved.

About the Author

Ryan mackey.

Ryan Mackey is a Digital Journalist at WPLG. He was born in Long Island, New York, and has lived in Sunrise, Florida since 1994.

Recommended Videos

IMAGES

  1. Western vs. Eastern Caribbean: Smackdown!

    eastern versus western caribbean cruise

  2. Should You Cruise the Eastern or Western Caribbean?

    eastern versus western caribbean cruise

  3. 7 Night Eastern and Western Caribbean Cruise!

    eastern versus western caribbean cruise

  4. Should You Cruise the Eastern or Western Caribbean?

    eastern versus western caribbean cruise

  5. Eastern vs. Western Caribbean Cruises Aboard Disney Cruise Line®

    eastern versus western caribbean cruise

  6. Eastern Caribbean vs. Western Caribbean Cruises

    eastern versus western caribbean cruise

VIDEO

  1. 🇯🇲🟢 Jamaica || Western Caribbean Cruise Day 4

  2. Will Carnival Better Royal Caribbean?

  3. WESTERN CARIBBEAN: A TRUE PARADISE

  4. Disney Cruise Line Vs Royal Caribbean International

  5. Western Caribbean Cruise Day 4 Georgetown, Cayman Islands

  6. Western Caribbean Cruise, Carnival Horizon, Part 3

COMMENTS

  1. Eastern Caribbean vs. Western Caribbean: Which Should You Cruise To

    While it's easy to imagine the Caribbean islands as one big paradise of sandy beaches, reggae, and rum punch, there's an enormous diversity of culture, cuisine, language, and landscapes in the Eastern Caribbean vs. the Western Caribbean. You'll find coral islands, volcanoes and limestone caves. You'll hear French, Dutch, and Spanish, as ...

  2. Eastern Caribbean vs. Western Caribbean Cruises

    The duration and pricing of Western Caribbean versus Eastern Caribbean cruises are also different. Western voyages offer a range of itinerary lengths, from shorter four- or five-night cruises to ...

  3. Eastern Caribbean vs. Western Caribbean Cruises [Infographic]

    Some veteran cruisers feel the eastern islands offer more historical sites, a bit more diversity in terms of culture, and slightly more dramatic landscapes. Others prefer the western Caribbean isles for their calm, crystal-clear waters, abundance of wildlife and gorgeous beaches equipped with amenities that make every visit effortless.

  4. Eastern vs. Western Caribbean Cruise: What's Best?

    Choosing between an Eastern vs. Western Caribbean cruise is a common question for cruisers looking for warm weather during the winter months. An aerial view of Trunk Bay in St. John, USVI. The ...

  5. Which cruise should I take: Western or Eastern Caribbean?

    Itineraries. Seven-night, year-round cruises are the most common option in both regions. Eastern routes sail from ports in Florida or from ports along the East Coast. Western itineraries sail from Florida or Texas, and sometimes New Orleans. If you prefer visiting as many ports as possible, go for Eastern Caribbean sailings that depart from San ...

  6. Is the Eastern or Western Caribbean cruise better?

    Western Caribbean vs Eastern Caribbean Cruises 1. Locational Overview: There are many different islands in the Caribbean, and each has a certain charm of its own. Eastern Caribbean Cruises and Western Caribbean Cruises visit various regions of this breathtaking region. To establish the scene, below is a basic geographical breakdown: 2 ...

  7. Eastern Caribbean vs. Western Caribbean cruises: Which itinerary ...

    Eastern Caribbean and Western Caribbean cruises might sound similar when you start researching them. Just about wherever you go, you'll enjoy sunny days, sandy shores, sparkling seas and balmy ...

  8. Eastern vs. Western Caribbean Cruises: Which One is Better?

    Eastern vs. Western Caribbean Cruises: Weather. If you're cruising to either the Western or Eastern Caribbean, you can expect warm tropical weather as both regions are near the equator. The Western Caribbean tends to be a bit warmer and more humid, with temperatures often approaching 90°F (32°C). Keep in mind that both regions are affected ...

  9. Eastern Vs. Western Caribbean, Which Cruise Is Best?

    Western Caribbean itineraries have ports of call to Belize, Roatan, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Costa Maya, and sometimes Cuba or Jamaica. Again, a shorter vacation of four days is available, which usually sails to Cozumel. A western itinerary offers a week of adventure with adrenaline-filled excursions and tours for history buffs. Eastern Vs.

  10. Eastern vs Western Caribbean Cruises: What's Best For You?

    Eastern Caribbean cruises are synonymous with Picture-Perfect Beaches, clear azure waters, and an endless array of activities that cater to travelers seeking both relaxation and adventure.These islands, with their unique blend of cultural influences, offer a different vibe from their Western counterparts, providing a blend of leisure and exploration that's hard to resist.

  11. Eastern vs. Western Caribbean Cruises

    Not only are the ports largely different, but the length and pricing also vary. While cruises to the Eastern Caribbean usually last about a week, the Western Caribbean offers passengers with a choice of shorter -- and, therefore, less expensive -- sailings. If you are wanting a longer vacation, however, cruise lines do offer 7-night itineraries ...

  12. Is an Eastern or Western Caribbean Cruise Better?

    Though you can sail to both the Eastern and Western Caribbean from Florida, the ports of Galveston, TX and New Orleans, LA service Western Caribbean itineraries. To book your Eastern OR Western Caribbean cruise today, call The Cruise Web at 1-800-377-9383 or visit us online at www.cruiseweb.com.

  13. Eastern vs Western Caribbean Cruises

    Key Differences Between Eastern & Western Caribbean Cruises. 1. Geography and Scenery: The Eastern Caribbean features more islands and a greater number of picturesque beaches, while the Western Caribbean is known for its lush rainforests, ancient ruins, and diverse marine life. 2.

  14. Eastern vs Western Caribbean Islands: Which One Is Better?

    Snorkeling in the Turks and Caicos. The main differences to consider before planning a Caribbean vacation: Eastern Caribbean islands tend to be more developed and have more popular beaches, whereas Western Caribbean islands are less developed but the still breathtaking beaches will likely be less crowded. Choose Your Vacation: St Croix vs St John.

  15. Difference Between Eastern and Western Caribbean Cruises

    Final Thoughts. In short, the Eastern Caribbean offers more of a cultural, historical, and shopping experience, where as the Western Caribbean offers better water sports, beaches and fun in the ...

  16. Western vs. Eastern Caribbean: Smackdown!

    Here, we compare the most popular two cruise routes — Eastern Caribbean and Western Caribbean — to see how they stack up: Highlights Eastern Caribbean Highlights. Pristine beaches and days filled with choices such as island hopping, tropical drinks, sightseeing, shopping, or relaxating are the name of the game on Eastern Caribbean cruises.

  17. Caribbean Cruise Itineraries

    Different cruise lines mix them differently, but generally speaking, a southern Caribbean cruise visits the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles or the Dutch islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, while the eastern Caribbean includes the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and Antigua.Western Caribbean itineraries tend to encompass the Mexican ...

  18. Should You Cruise the Eastern or Western Caribbean?

    2. Ports of Call. The stops along the way during your cruise are the ports of call. The destinations for most eastern voyages mainly include the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, the French West ...

  19. Planning: Western Caribbean vs. Eastern Caribbean Cruise

    Clearly, both Western and Eastern Caribbean cruise itineraries have much to offer. Some think of the Eastern sailings as being a bit more sedate with their emphasis on beaches and shopping, while ...

  20. Eastern vs. Western Caribbean Cruises Aboard Disney Cruise Line®

    Day 3: Cozumel, Mexico. Day 4: Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. Day 5: Falmouth, Jamaica. Day 6: At Sea. Day 7: Disney Castaway Cay. Day 8: Port Canaveral, Florida. As you can see, Eastern Caribbean cruises offer an extra day at sea. Western Caribbean cruises spend more time at port and visit more countries. Now, these are not the only itineraries ...

  21. 10 Best Caribbean Cruises For Every Type Of Traveler

    Recommended Cruise: 7-Night Cruise to the Eastern Caribbean — Royal Caribbean - Icon of the Seas Route: Miami, St. Kitts (Port Zante), St. Thomas, Perfect Day at CocoCay, Miami Starting Price ...

  22. Eastern vs. Western Caribbean Cruise? : r/Cruise

    Carnival Dream goes to Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Belize on the Western Caribbean for 6 nights the 5th of January but then does a couple of longer cruises for 14 day and 8 day to the eastern and southern Caribbean. Carnival Jubilee does a 7 night to Mahogany Bay (Carnival's private beach in Honduras), Costa Maya, and Cozumel.

  23. 8 Night Eastern Caribbean & Perfect Day

    The 8 Night Eastern Caribbean & Perfect Day visits Orlando, Florida; Perfect Day at CocoCay, Bahamas; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Orlando, Florida. Explore our cruise itineraries and choose from a variety of rooms depending on your needs and budget. Start planning your next cruise vacation by selecting a destination and departure port.

  24. Eastern Vs Western Caribbean : r/Cruise

    Eastern Vs Western Caribbean. Debating on tow choices for Feb 2020. We have never been on a Caribbean cruise. RCL Allure of the Seas: CocoCay, St.Thomas/Virgin Islands, St. Maarten. Norweigan Escape: Costa Maya, Cozumel, Roatan/Honduras, Harvest Caye/Belize.

  25. Cruise stocks turn defensive as Hurricane Beryl heads for Yucatán

    Cruises can be re-routed depending on the path of the storm with Eastern Caribbean destinations moved to Western Caribbean destinations, and Bermuda destinations being moved as far north as Canada.

  26. All Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes Due to Hurricane Beryl

    Set to explore the Eastern Caribbean after departing from PortMiami on June 29, Royal Caribbean's 248,655-gross-ton Icon of the Seas has been diverted to the Western Caribbean.

  27. Multiple cruises rerouted, cancelled due to Hurricane Beryl

    MIAMI - A number of cruise lines have changed itineraries to avoid Hurricane Beryl.. After striking the small island of Carriacou at the entrance of the eastern Caribbean as a 150 mph Category 4 ...

  28. Europe

    Explora Journeys Explora I Europe - Western Mediterranean Cruises: Read 4 Explora Journeys Explora I Europe - Western Mediterranean cruise reviews. Find great deals, tips and tricks on Cruise ...

  29. July 4, 2024: The latest on Hurricane Beryl

    Royal Caribbean has altered courses for five cruise ships — Celebrity Beyond, Icon of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Wonder of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas. Some of the ships, like Grandeur ...

  30. Hurricane Beryl charges toward Jamaica as record-breaking ...

    Hurricane Beryl, now a potentially catastrophic Category 5 storm, has set its sights on Jamaica after leaving at least one person dead and inflicting ruin across entire islands in the Caribbean on ...