Caribbean Cruises - Going on a Caribbean Cruise
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As a tourist destination, the Caribbean is all it's cracked up to be. Years of Caribbean cruises haven't taken the edge off this travel experience. The Caribbean archipelago covers 2,500 sq km of sea, and the Afro-Caribbean culture is distinctive enough to have been called a whole civilization in its own right by some observers. The area is bordered by the West Indies to the north and east, South America to the south, and Central America to the west. Straits link it to the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico and - via the Panama Canal - to the Pacific Ocean.
Considering its location and area size, it's not surprising that Caribbean cruises offer a big choice of routes and destinations. To the west, there's Central American countries such as Belize and Guatemala and the islands of Jamaica, Cayman and the Dominican Republic. Easterly, there's Puerto Rico, St Maarten and the Turks/Caicos islands among other destinations And the less-cruised south Caribbean is home to Aruba (an up and coming holiday location), Martinique, St Kitts and St Lucia.
And every destination has its own character. Puerto Rico, for example, comes alive at night to the sound of flamenco and wild revue shows. The country's rum and coffee may be best drunk in the early hours of the morning in a local piano bar but they will also be pretty good if you take some home as souvenirs. Guatemala is distinctive for its beautiful coastal and mountain scenery, as well as its culture - many of the country's village inhabitants speak Mayan dialects as their first (or only) language. In the archetypal palm-fringed, calypso-filled island of St Maarten, game fishing is the thing - tuna, marlin or barracuda. And the Caribbean's clear, warm waters are excellent for diving, which is the major attraction in Grand Cayman. If you'd like to stay dry while you're looking into the deep blue, there are always glass bottom boats or submarines.
Cruises and tourism are of major importance to the Caribbean economy. The area is also highly dependent on trade with Europe and the US in its major products - petroleum, iron ore, bauxite, sugar, coffee and bananas. Fair trade societies have explored the darker side of these trade issues. the Caribbean is a paradise for visitors, but not always for its inhabitants.
Numerous operators run Caribbean cruises, including, as the name suggests, the upmarket Royal Caribbean. Check with a cruise agent for the best deal.