A Western Caribbean cruise vacation is popular with families interested in exotic ports that have sun, sand and surf, exciting and adventurous eco-tourism, history of ancient civilizations, and fantastic beaches. Cruise ships that depart for the Western Caribbean
set sail from cities close to this region like Galveston, Texas, New Orleans, Louisiana, Tampa, Florida, and Mobile, Alabama. This makes cruises to the Western Caribbean more accessible to first time cruise travelers and for those wanting a shorter cruise such as a 3 or 4 day weekend cruise. P&O cruises provide cruises from Barbados and cruises from Southanpton to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Marella Cruises offer cruise and stay vacations as well
Here are four popular destinations in the Western Caribbean found on cruise itineraries:
Dominican Republic – Having the highest and lowest recorded sea level points in the Caribbean basin, the Dominican Republic’s landscape is anything but monotonous. Mountains and cliffs provide excitement for climbers, hikers, and the adventure enthusiast who would like to try cascading or canyoning. Walking and hiking tours through the Dominican Republic’s national parks and preserves expose visitors to the diverse wildlife and plant life. White water rafting and tubing over rapids provide intense adrenaline rush. Sandboarding is a popular activity for those who can’t get enough of snowboarding in the winter months. The many water sports on the crystal clear turquoise blue waters and white sand beaches will make you want to stay for a long, long time. Windsurfing, kiteboarding, scuba diving and snorkeling, deep sea fishing, catamaran sailing, and many others are offered with instructions and guides from local businesses. Whale watching between January and March features humpback whales, one of the largest species of the marine mammals. Compared to other Caribbean destinations, the Dominican Republic is quite inexpensive. Just be sure to keep to the tourist spots.
a list of 20 reasons to holiday in the Dominican republic.
1. The Weather!
As it is located in the Caribbean the climate of the Dominican Republic is mostly tropical. In the summer the temperature peaks at around 32 °C (90 °F) and the average daily temperature is 25.8 °C (78 °F) with approximately 6.3 hours of sunlight every day.
2. It Has Great Beaches!
The Dominican Republic has nearly 1000 miles of coastline on its north, east and southern borders, a third of which is made up of some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Most of these beaches are pristine oases of brilliant white sand due to the high content of coral and shell, lined by tall shaded palm trees and offset by crystal clear waters. Not only do the beaches look beautiful and are great places to relax, the water temperature is also a constant 28-30 degrees Celsius almost throughout the year, which makes swimming an added pleasure.
3. It has Great Hotels and Resorts!
As well as a wide range of fantastic hotels the Dominican Republic is the Caribbean’s undoubted leader for all-inclusive resorts, with more than two dozen all-inclusive properties ranging from budget to luxury currently in operation. These resorts are based in breathtaking locations and offer world class facilities including Golf Resorts, Spas, Weddings and Water Sports.
4. The Food is Amazing!
The Dominican Republic has an excellent reputation for its varied and flavoursome food. Local cuisine is unique and delicious and as a culture Dominicans love to eat. Holidaymakers will find plenty of places to eat ranging from luxurious restaurants with gourmet menus to casual street cafes, all of which offer a mouth watering array of meals including Oriental, Mexican, Mediterranean, Italian and of course Creole food. You certainly won’t go hungry!
5. It’s a great place to bring the kids!
On top of the great weather, magnificent beaches, excellent range of accommodation and the awesome food, the Dominican Republic offers a wide range of fun activities for children. As well as a full range of water sports including surf boarding, kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing, diving and sailing, there are opportunities for horseback riding, go karting and mountain biking. In addition to this the Trampoline Museum, the Children’s Library, the National Aquarium, the National Zoo, the National Botanical Gardens, the Waterslide Park and the Las Canquiñas Children’s Park are sure to keep the little ones amused.
6. It’s a fantastic place to get married!
Given its weather and breathtaking location the Dominican Republic is a fantastic place to get married. Many resorts offer complete wedding packages and dedicated co-ordinators who take the hassle out of organising the wedding for you. The Dominican Republic is of course a fantastic place for a honeymoon and just think what those wedding pictures will look like, especially against the backdrop of a pristine white beach!
7. It is an excellent place for a golfing holiday!
If you love golf then you will love golfing in the Dominican Republic as it contains 28 world class courses designed by such legends of the game as Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Nick Faldo, Nick Price and Greg Norman. Nine of the country’s golf courses are included in Golfweek Magazine’s 2010 list of the top 50 courses in the Caribbean and Latin America. Not least because the breathtaking coastlines, lush green fairways and magnificent unspoilt views of nature make these courses an absolute joy to play on.
8. There’s no better place for an Eco-Adventure!
The Dominican Republic has no less than nine distinct ecological zones. This natural diversity allows you to enjoy an extraordinarily diverse eco-adventure on one beautiful island. Containing the highest and lowest points above and below sea level in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic entertains practically every form of nature. From luscious tropical rain forests to arid deserts, each area offers a wide range of very distinct activities. Places like Jarabacoa and Constanza provide opportunities for mountain climbing, hiking, horseback riding, and rafting, while Pedernales, Bahoruco, Bani, Azua and Barahona will reveal untouched beaches, geological formations, lagoons, deserts and dunes. At Cabarete and Samaná, in the northeast coast near Puerto Plata you can experience deep dives, windsurfing, kite boarding, jeep safaris, waterfalls and even humpback whales. While all around the island you can marvel at more than 5000 different species of plant, 254 species of birds and 1,411 species of reptile, many of which are endangered or simply can’t be found anywhere else in the world. If eco-adventure tourism is your bag, then the Dominican Republic is definitely for you.
9. You’ll love the Water Sports!
Surrounded by warm waters and breathtaking views The Dominican Republic is a Mecca for water sports. Attracting regattas from around the world, such as the R.o.l.e.x Farr 40 Pre-World Cup in April 2010 and the World Sailing Championship at the Casa de Campo marina, sailing is extremely popular. As well as hosting the Windsurfing World Cup, Cabarete Beach is also revered as the ‘kiteboarding capital of the world’ because its perfect combination of beaches, winds and waves creates the optimum conditions for the sport. Surfing of course is an extremely popular activity and there are 16 fantastic surfing sites located on the northern coast from Puerto Plata to Playa Grande and in Río San Juan, with classic or standard waves that reach over 4 metres high during the months of December to March. Diving too is a major attraction and with 1000 miles of coastline housing coral reefs, caves, shipwrecks and brilliantly covered fish and fauna the Dominican Republic is also known as one of the best places to snorkel or dive in the whole of the Caribbean. If you love water sports, whether it be watching or participating, the Dominican Republic is somewhere you simply have to visit.
10. It has World Class Fishing!
The Dominican Republic is a world class destination for fishing. For years it has been a legendary destination for fishermen and has hosted several international bill fishing tournaments such as the Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament at Cabeza de Toro, the ESPN Billfish Xtreme Tournament at Punta Cana Resort & Club and the new International Billfish Shootout at Cap Cana Marina, the largest marina in the Caribbean. If you like to fish then the Dominican Republic is where it’s at!
11. The National Parks are incredible!
The Dominican Republic has a beautiful topography; so much so that over 25 percent of the country has been protected in the form of National Parks, Reserves, and Marine Sanctuaries. These beautiful ecosystems are protected areas within a conservation plan that boasts 83 distinct areas, including 19 national parks, 15 natural reserves, six scientific reserves, 32 natural monuments, 2 marine sanctuaries and 9 areas of protected islands with panoramic views. Providing awe inspiring views of untouched landscapes and moments of peace and solitude the Dominican Republic’s National Parks include everything from verdant mountains with bosky pine forests to pristine white-sand beaches and arid desert lands. If you love getting at one with nature the Dominican Republic is the place you must go.
12. The Nightlife is great!
If you like to party, the Dominican Republic will not disappoint as most bars and cafes throughout the country are open and serve alcoholic drinks until midnight on Sunday to Thursday and 2:00 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and public holidays.
While most resorts offer a variety of musicals, shows, discos and performances every night if you really want to party then head to Santo Domingo! The Dominican Republic’s capital is the hub of the country’s nightlife. It enjoys arguably the greatest entertainment in the Caribbean, with a wide range of trendy and happening bars, discotheques, casinos and restaurants and has been touted by some as the Caribbean ‘New York’.
13. The Spa’s are mind blowing!
The Dominican Republic houses a number of world-class spas. Many are located in luxury ‘all-inclusive’ resorts that offer the most up-to-date and advanced treatments, including some that use traditional Dominican herbs and minerals. Set in magnificent surroundings, with the subtle sounds of relaxing music, the ocean or waterfalls to sooth your ears and the sweet aroma of natural oils to tantalise your nose, these spas provide the perfect place to pamper your body and free your mind. Many spas also provide a range of cosmetic treatments, hairdressing services; makeovers, hair removal, manicures and pedicures. So there is everything you need to totally unwind!
14. The place oozes of history and culture!
Santa Domingo is generally recognised as the ‘First City in the Americas’, the place where the New World started. As a consequence Santo Domingo has an impressive display of historic monuments that are as captivating as they are enriching. The most famous of which, the “Colonial City” was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1992. The city has also recently been confirmed as the American Capital of Culture for 2010. To mark this celebration The Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Culture has scheduled more than 600 activities to take place throughout the year including the Second National Festival of Theatre and the International Book Fair, as well as various exhibitions, festivals and the inauguration of the new National Library and the much anticipated Museum of Dominican Man.
15. You can shop till you drop!
If you love to shop then The Dominican Republic is the place to go as it has a wide range of many excellent places for the discerning shopaholic to get their fix!
In most tourist areas as well as in the bigger cities, you will find upscale open air markets and large well known shopping centres. But if you really want to shop the place to go is Santo Domingo where the range of shops, boutiques and department stores are simply superb. Selling everything from the latest fashions, leather articles, bags, cosmetics, jewellery and shoes to books, electronic games, liquor, cigars, water sports equipment and art, you will find an endless array of fantastic products to suit any budget and taste.
Typically the shops in Santo Domingo tend to stay open from 9am to 7pm on Monday to Saturday and 9am-6pm on Sunday, so there’s plenty of time for a browse even between lying on the beach.
16. No Language Barriers!
If you can’t speak a word of Spanish don’t worry! Although it is the official language of the Dominican Republic many employees at tourist and hotel destinations across the country speak English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Russian. So you should not have any problem in finding someone to communicate with. That said as a common courtesy it is always worth learning a few basic Spanish phrases. You are after all visiting a country that doesn’t speak your native tongue as their first language.
17. You can log on anywhere!
Internet cafes can be found in most tourist destinations in the Dominican Republic. In addition, pretty much all of the larger resorts and hotels offer Internet access on site and most of them offer high-speed DSL Internet connection for laptops in your room. So even though you will be in Paradise you won’t find it difficult to keep up to date with all the news, events and scores from the outside world.
18. The Drinking Age is 18!
Both the legal drinking and gambling age in the Dominican Republic is 18 years old so even though you might not be old enough to drink in the USA you can legally do so in the Dominican Republic.
19. It is close to other Caribbean islands!
Located in the heart of the Caribbean the Dominican Republic is a fantastic place to use as a base for other destinations in the region. Neighbouring Haiti and with the Bahamas and Turks & Caicos to the North, Cuba and Jamaica to the west and Puerto Rico and the West Indies to the east, in just a few short hours you can visit any other destination in the whole of the Caribbean. Imagine what a holiday that could be.
Belize – For the nature adventurer and eco-tourist, Belize is known throughout the world for its abundant and diverse natural environments. Having the longest living barrier reef in the western hemisphere and boasting of the abundant marine life, Belize is a great place for scuba diving and snorkeling. Inland, Belize is dotted with ancient ruins and caves that were inhabited by the Mayan. The ruins at Cahal Pech are easier to get to for families by car. Cave tubing is becoming a popular way to experience the ancient cave dwellings as well as canoeing. Spectacular beaches with the soft sounds of Reggae playing cannot be missed when in Belize.
Jamaica – The birth place of reggae and jerk cuisine, and home of what is considered the best coffee in the world, Jamaica is one of the most popular choices in cruise destinations. Ochos Rios on the north coast is where cruise ships dock. From there, you will find the cascading Dunn’s River Falls where you can take a guided hike up the falls for a breath taking view of the rain forested canopy. Street market vendors sell art, food, seasonal fruits, t-shirts, just about anything. Enjoy horse back riding through the lush tropical forest and the tranquil Jamaican countryside. The powdery white sand beaches provide plenty of water sports and recreation to choose from. For something a bit different, rent a glass bottom boat for a few hours and sail around the coast and view the inhabitants of the coral reef. Jamaica is both laid back and exciting, lively and serene. Whatever you’re looking for in Jamaica, you are sure to enjoy your stay there.
Cayman Islands – Grand Cayman, the largest island and most visited of the Caymans, offers the most in family activities. Visit the Turtle Farm at Boatswain’s Beach, Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, Pirate’s Caves, and more. There are many shore excursions to plan when in the Cayman Islands. Scuba diving, snorkeling with sting rays in Sting Ray City, ride the Atlantis Submarine up to 100 feet deep to explore shipwrecks and coral reefs, tour secluded shorelines, inlets, and the tranquil beauty of mangrove communities by kayak, or tour inland by jeep or horseback riding, shop the duty free stores in George Town., and many others. Caymanians enjoy high standards and quality living and are a friendly people. Peace, serenity, on this tropical island paradise is what they enjoy and willingly share with others.
With so many sites to see, places to visit, and things to do, a Western Caribbean cruise possesses an enchanting allure that will you make you want to return to the cultures, music, cuisine, and friendly people this region has to offer.