Cruising the Caribbean is a firm favourite for those who enjoy sunshine and beaches as well as the subtle differences to be noticed from island to island, depending on whether their historic influences were British, French, Spanish or Dutch. The journey to and from the Caribbean is an important consideration in the planning of your holiday and can begin to narrow abundant cruise routes that may appeal, so here we look at some of the most common start and finish options.
There's a glut of cruise choices from Miami, not least because of the ease for U.S. guests. The huge port infrastructure makes it the largest passenger port in the world with various terminals dedicated to specific lines for ease of passenger flow.
Although some may wish to avoid the somewhat infamous US immigration, the value of the airfares, especially in business class, on the daily direct flights from both BA and Virgin Atlantic are compelling and Miami's warm winters, bohemian beaches and Art Deco architecture make it an excellent stop for a night or two.
A hugely popular route for UK guests, Barbados has daily direct flights with BA and Virgin, not to mention a plethora of sumptuous hotels for those that might wish to extend their stay. Arriving from London in the mid-afternoon it's usually too late to confidently join a cruise departing the same day even with the airport VIP service (which we strongly recommend) to zip you through immigration, but it's pleasant to overnight on the island.
In fact, Regent Seven Seas are offering 3-night pre-cruise stays in a choice of resorts that can easily be bolted onto a cruise, whilst Silversea's plans to offer similar are imminent. Departing the island means an early evening flight and we recommend calling us about booking a day pass to the Hilton Barbados or the sightseeing transfer tours/hospitality rooms available
Antigua or St. Lucia
Cruising from Castries or Vieux Fort in St. Lucia or St. John's in Antigua is less common but can offer some itinerary variety for those who've perhaps travelled to the Caribbean before. Both are excellent standalone destinations for those considering a land/ cruise combination and are well served by daily direct flights from London.
Puerto Rico or Saint Martin
San Juan is an often-used embarkation/ disembarkation port thanks to Puerto Rico's close connection with the US whilst the island of Saint Martin has a dual personality with Philipsburg on the Dutch side, St. Maarten, and Marigot for the French-speaking St. Martin.
Both islands are most easily reached via Paris with a well-timed connection at Charles de Gaulle that sees travellers departing London in the early morning, arriving before 4pm the same day. Other options include the BA flight to Antigua and an onward Winair service which does mean an overnight stay in San Juan or breaking the journey in Antigua.
Home to Charlotte Amalie, the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands, St Thomas is well served via several U.S. gateways, although connection times are inconveniently long. Breaking the journey for a night or two in Miami or even New York is the best way to make the journey more comfortable, but a Big Apple stay in winter will make packing a little trickier!
The French Caribbean island of Martinique is used by the French flag cruise line Ponant whose tiny 32-guest luxury sailing vessel Le Ponant operates a number of 7-night sailings from the capital Fort-de-France. Connecting via Paris is the only option available, pushing up the flight costs, and an overnight on the island is a must, but it's worth it for such a truly unique cruising experience.
Of course, the London-centric nature of international air travel is a frustration to many, but regional options are possible including additional options via Amsterdam and Frankfurt. For the best advice do give us a call.