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Surf & Turf

Top tips for a Caribbean cruise and stay vacation

Caribbean vacations have long been popular with British travelers eager to escape Blighty’s shores to guaranteed sun, amazing beaches and warm waters.

Caribbean cruise and stay vacations can often be the solution for many jet-setters keen to make the most of the trip across the pond.

By opting for this type of package vacation you can island-hop via ship – admiring the amazing shorelines from a distance and visiting multiple fabulous destinations without ever unpacking – before setting down roots in a hotel and exploring the hotspot on foot (or by snorkel, paddleboard, scooter… you get the picture).

If you’re new to cruise and stay, though, it can be tricky to know how to go about planning your getaway.

We’ve teamed up with the experts at boutique travel agency Paramount Cruises who shared their wisdom on the top tips and tricks to nailing your Caribbean cruise and stay vacation.

How to plan your cruise and stay Caribbean vacation

Up, up and away

When is the best time to cruise the Caribbean?

A cruise and stay vacation in the Caribbean islands will see you enjoying a hot, tropical climate all year round with an average of about 28°C highs.

Typically many people will say the best time to visit the Caribbean is from February to May – but it’s a great place to visit all year round in our opinion; why limit yourself when you could be drinking pina coladas on the beach rather than at home?

Which part of the Caribbean is best to cruise?

Some people wonder, which is better, a western or eastern Caribbean cruise? Well, the Eastern Caribbean is best for you if you prefer the beach and enjoy island hopping (guilty).

This part of the Caribbean hosts some of the most beautiful, tropical beaches in the world, including the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, St. Maarten and more. What’s more, Eastern Caribbean ports are usually the best for duty-free shopping.

However, if you are interested in the history and flora and fauna at your ports of call, the Western Caribbean could well suit you better. Here you will be able to explore ancient ruins or tour a coffee plantation, for instance.

It’s worth considering vacation length, too. If you want a shorter cruise the Western Caribbean usually offers four to five-night itineraries whereas the Eastern Caribbean tend to have longer itineraries.

How to save money on a cruise and stay Caribbean vacation

Get value

What is the cheapest month to cruise the Caribbean?

Typically there are some great deals around September for the Caribbean; however, that doesn’t mean it will always be the cheapest.

Depending on cruise line promotions you may find some great prices throughout other months of the year so do shop around!

How much does a Caribbean cruise and stay vacation cost?

There will be a cruise line out there for every budget so don’t assume a cruise and vacation to the Caribbean will break the bank.

Those looking for a cheaper deal should look out for the four-star cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, NCL, Carnival or Princess while those who want a touch of luxury can cruise with five or six-star lines such as Celebrity, Silversea, Regent Seven Seas or Seabourn.

The Paramount team is always able to advise on which cruise line will meet your needs so feel free to give them a call to discuss your options – one of the many ways in which going with a travel agent makes things easier!

Is all-inclusive worth it on a Caribbean cruise and stay vacation?

Every cruiser will have a different view on value, but as a general rule, with all cruises being full board, those who do not drink a lot of alcohol may not see the value in an all-inclusive upgrade while those who do indulge (that would be us) could make a significant saving by upgrading their cruise ahead of time.

Paramount recommends checking with its travel agents and doing some research to make sure you get the best value for your preferences. Also, do check how many days you will have at sea during your cruise as you will spend more onboard those days compared to a day in port. A third Sauvignon Blanc, please!

What are the best value Caribbean cruise and stay vacations right now?

The best value Caribbean cruise and stay vacations that Paramount Cruises are offering right now are:

What: New York Stay & Coco Cay Bahamas Cruise package
Price: From £1,499 pp
Inclusions: Two-night stay in New York pre-cruise plus a seven-night Royal Caribbean cruise to the Bahamas with a day at Royal Caribbean’s private island exclusively for their guests.

What: Southern Caribbean with Barbados Stay package
Price: From £1,599 ps
Inclusions: Three-night Barbados pre-cruise stay along with a seven-night Royal Caribbean cruise.

Both the above packages are great value for the price as they include a full-board cruise, return flights from the UK, overseas transfers and are ABTA & ATOL protected.

How to organize a Caribbean cruise and stay vacation

Fine details

Is it better to do the cruise before the hotel stay or vice versa?

Ah, the classic surf and turf dilemma – where to begin? This actually depends on the places the cruise is starting and finishing in; for example, if the cruise was to finish in a really exciting destination then it would be best to do your hotel stay after the cruise (just remember to conserve your energy!).

Top tip: When going on cruises starting in the far east it can be wise to do your cruise stay both before and after the sailing – sometimes flights to and from these sorts of destinations will get you in late at night and therefore often don’t match up with the departing time of the cruise.

In short, when you do the hotel stay depends on the location you are sailing from and to as well as flight times.

How do shore excursions work on a cruise and stay vacation in the Caribbean?

The Caribbean has so many different experiences and opportunities not to be missed when you visit each port, so booking shore excursions is a must if you want to experience specific sights or activities such as the El Yunque Rainforest Drive or the Old and New San Juan City Tour in Puerto Rico.

Shore excursions organized with the cruise line can be most convenient as you can be sure you will always be back on the ship on time before it departs. Other advantages are meeting and spending time with fellow cruisers and enjoying inclusions such as transfers to and from the shore excursion and more.

However, if you prefer to explore different countries and places at your own pace then booking a shore excursion may not be for you – you might prefer to go it alone and benefit from the freedom to do what you want, see what you want and go where you want without being hindered by a group.

Dos and don’ts for a Caribbean cruise and stay vacation

Do pick the cruise line which meets your preferences. Everyone is different and, with so many different cruise lines sailing in the Caribbean, there will always be a line which works best for you.

Don’t rush – take the time to think about what you want from your cruise and the team at Paramount Cruises will be more than happy to help match you with the perfect cruise line.

Do pack wisely if you are only staying for a short amount of time – you don’t want to be constantly unpacking and re-packing so bring a carry-on bag or case with everything you need for your pre-cruise or post-cruise stay.

Don’t limit yourself – make sure you try out some local delicacies, visit a range of restaurants, cafes and bars, and fully experience the culture of the place that you are staying in.

Do create a list before your stay of everywhere you want to see and the places you want to go so that you can make the most of your stay in the amount of time that you have.

Set Sail

New York Stay & CocoCay Bahamas Cruise with Paramount Cruises

Duration: 10 nights

Where: New York | Nassau, Bahamas | Perfect Day at Cococay, Bahamas | New York

Ship: Anthem of the Seas

Price: From £1,499 pp

Find out more
Published 07.07.22