Think of the Caribbean and you probably see white, sandy beaches with clear blue water and palm leaves rustling in the breeze. Of course this is what the Caribbean is famous for but there is more to the region: A rich and fascinating history, gorgeously elegant architecture, exciting excursions, colourful rhythms and world-class golf courses are just some of the other reasons why you may want to go on a cruise to this tropical paradise.
The Enviable Climate
Contributing to the idea of tropical paradise is the weather in the Caribbean. Even during the rainy season, most days are warm to hot, with plenty of sunshine and balmy evenings. In the rainy season, showers can be quite a downpour, but they are usually short bursts and not disruptive to holiday activities. This means that you can cruise to the Caribbean all year round. High season is midsummer, the festive season and Easter time (when many islands have wonderful carnivals and festivals). Hurricane season is June to November, but cruise itineraries take this into account.
Slaves and pirates
When you take part in that wonderfully passive Caribbean activity of lounging in a hammock, spare a thought for the people who gave the world this great invention: The Arawaks were some of the first people who lived in the region and explored the islands. They were replaced by Caribs, and then the Europeans arrived. These newcomers enslaved the Caribs, brought even more slaves from Africa, and started building ports and plantations.
Ships laden with treasure became an easy target for those who wanted to make a quick buck and with about 7,000 islands providing hideaways, pirates soon started sailing the high seas. This led to the construction of forts to protect the local population and all over the region you can still find remnants of these buildings. Fortaleza San Felipe in the Dominican Republic, Fort San Felipe del Morro in Puerto Rico, Citadelle Laferrière in Haiti and Brimstone Hill Fortress in St Kitts and Nevis are just some of the Caribbean forts you can explore.
A paradise for modern-day adventurers
While you can’t join the crew of a pirate ship without getting into some serious trouble, you will find adventure in many other ways. Whether you want to climb a volcano, dive among whale sharks or shipwrecks, explore caves or hike through dense tropical jungle, you’ll find it somewhere in the Caribbean. The natural beauty of the region is not only limited to the white palm-fringed beaches. Islands like Dominica, St. Lucia, Grenada, Jamaica and Cuba have splendid national parks where you can hike in the cool mountain air to dramatic waterfalls, hot springs, valleys and habitats for rare wildlife. The Bay Islands in Honduras are famous for excellent scuba diving and cheap PADI courses. In the waters around Florida and Cuba you can follow in Hemingway’s wake and go deep-sea fishing.
Dancing the night away
Some of the world’s most popular dance rhythms hail from the Caribbean. Salsa, merengue or rumba the night away at a local fiesta or join other revellers for a street party during Carnival, especially in Trinidad and Tobago. Sip on the region’s excellent rum to quench your thirst and when the midday sun is out, listen to laid-back reggae while shooting the breeze. No matter whether it’s fast or slow, the rhythm will soon get into your hips and make them move of their own accord.
A sporting good time
If you’re a sports fan, you’ll get your fix in the Caribbean too. Cricket and baseball are big and if you can, try to catch a game. There is excellent golfing too, with many courses designed by champions. What better way is there to tee off than doing it against the backdrop of an azure ocean?
Booking a Caribbean cruise holiday is easy and you can choose from packages suitable for any budget. Now you just need to get your swimsuit and sun cream ready.