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How to Choose a Caribbean Cruise Line

Caribbean cruise photo
Norwegian Jade; © Norwegian Cruise Line
Choosing a Caribbean cruise line can be a simple or complex decision depending on a few important considerations.

For many people, it simply comes down to balancing quality, budget and value.

Many of the cruise lines target a certain demographic and income level. Higher-priced cruise lines cater to a higher income level and provide better food, service, entertainment and staterooms. The difference is especially large with food and entertainment.

Cruise lines such as Disney cater to families, while Carnival appeals to young adults and budget-conscious travelers. Disney is a good example of a cruise line with an emphasis on entertainment.

Less expensive cruise lines offer entertainment such as music and dance events in their own theaters using cruise line employees. Others bring in professional entertainers.

Factors to consider in choosing a cruise line include:

Price


The price of the cruise depends on the number of days, time of year, quality of service, onboard amenities, quality of entertainment, and the size and location of the staterooms.

A simple way to compare cruise prices is by dividing the total cost of the cruise by the number of nights onboard.

For example, a five-night $500 cruise going to Cozumel is $100 per night, while a five-night $600 cruise to Grand Cayman during the same month is $120 a night. The Cozumel cruise is less expensive per night, but is the destination more appealing than Grand Cayman?

Price also depends on supply and demand. A cruise line can have the exact same cruise going to the exact same destinations four weeks in a row, but one of those weeks might have a price break because not enough people have signed up for it.

Quality of service


It's a simple equation. The better the food and service, the more expensive the cruise line. Higher priced cruise lines tend to provide better quality food, more variety of food and sometimes food events.

Amenities on board


Larger ships tend to provide more unusual amenities such as outdoor movie screens, climbing walls, golf facilities and wave pools.

Entertainment


In our experience, price reflects a major difference in the quality of entertainment. The less expensive cruise lines usually offer live entertainment provided by cruise line employees, usually in the form of stage shows with singing, dancing and live music. More expensive cruise lines may bring in professional entertainers with some name recognition.

Staterooms


If price is less of a consideration, review the available staterooms, their sizes in square feet, price per square foot, whether they have balconies and other factors. All cruise ships have interior (no windows) and exterior staterooms (with windows). But some have balconies while others do not.

Number of cruises and destinations


Three of the largest cruise lines -- Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean -- offer Caribbean cruises that target eastern, western and southern destinations. They also have more choices throughout the year.

Caribbean Cruise Lines

Carnival


Carnival has 24 ships offering three to 18-day cruises around the world include the Bahamas, Caribbean and Mexican Riviera. Caribbean cruises include eastern, western and southern and visit all major ports.
• Phone: (800) 764-7419
Website

Cunard


Cunard lays claim to the most famous cruise ships in the world including Queen Mary 2. Destinations include the Caribbean and the Panama Canal. These longer voyages usually leave from Southampton, England, or New York City.
• Phone: (800) 728-6273
Website

Disney


Disney Cruise Line has made its mark with family-oriented cruises that include the use of Disney characters. It offers cruises to the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama Canal and Mexican Riviera.
• Phone: (800) 951-3532
Website

Holland America


Destinations include Bermuda, the Caribbean and the Panama Canal.
• Phone: (877) 932-4259
Website

Norwegian


Norwegian lays claim to pioneering Caribbean cruises back in 1966. It offers eastern, western and southern Caribbean cruises, plus cruises to the Bahamas, Bermuda, Panama Canal and Mexican Riviera.
• Phone: (866) 234-7350
Website

Princess


The company began with a single ship in 1965 that cruised to Mexico. It now claims to have more than 1 million guests every year.
• Phone: (800) 774-6237
Website

Royal Caribbean


Royal Caribbean offers eastern, western and southern cruises on 17+ ships.
• Phone: (866) 562-7625
Website
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

 > Category: Cruise Tips   

September 14, 2020
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