When it comes to planning a cruise in the Caribbean, it’s hard to make a wrong decision as every destination offers something of interest – idyllic beaches, diverse activities and cultural attractions – and all unique and distinctive as the islands themselves. Perhaps the biggest choice is whether to cruise the crystal clear waters of the East or the azure waters of the West.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Heavenly Sunsets itinerary offers a ten-day voyage through some of the Eastern jewels of the Caribbean – St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. John, St. Bart’s and Nassau. A stop in St. Kitt’s lively capital of Basseterre offers a look at the city’s historical colonial past (National Museum, St. George’s Anglican Church and Independence Square) as well as a chance to snorkel, sunbathe and windsurf. The “Mother Colony of the West Indies” known as St. John is particularly notable for its Rainforest Conservatory complete with waterfalls, Mayan influenced sculptures and a variety of flora. And as one of the smallest of the trio of US Virgin Islands, calm and tranquility make it the perfect hideaway.
Gustavia, the capital of St. Barthelémy a.k.a. St. Bart’s, is the ultimate spot for sophisticated jet setters. Long known as a playground for the rich and famous, the French-speaking island offers glam in abundance with some of the most luxurious boutiques and restaurants in the Caribbean –and prices to match. And when you’re tired of shopping, shell hunting on the aptly named brown sands of Shell Beach is free.
Nassau marks the final stop where a viewing of flamingos at Ardastra Gardens & Zoo, a swim in the blue waters of Western Esplanade Beach or a visit to the outdoor Straw Market for souvenirs is the perfect way to spend the day.
For a tour of the West, the Tropical Essence ten-day cruise highlights destinations in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Cayman Islands and Key West. The popular city of Cozumel in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is a diver’s haven, thanks to the underwater reef gardens and fauna as well as a great place for rappelling, zip lining and swimming with the dolphins. And if it’s land activities you are seeking, check out the Mayan ruins of San Gervasio.
With its coral reef filled with tropical fish, the Honduran island of Roatán also offers some of the best diving and snorkeling sites in the world. And while we are on the subject of the best, Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach was named one the ultimate beaches by Caribbean Travel and Life where diving is the perfect place to spot a stingray or two.
Located on the southern tip of the Florida Keys, Key West is famous for its active Margaritaville style nightlife, historical sites and the former playground of writer Ernest Hemingway. After a morning of sailing, kayaking and shopping, be sure to explore the island’s unique architecture via a walking tour and catch the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum (and perhaps say hello to a six-toed cat or two). And finally, a visit to the town’s irreverent cemetery reflects the off-beat nature of Key West where “I told you I was sick” is one of the many gravestone epitaphs.