If you’re looking for adventure, the Western Caribbean should be your choice. Here you have access to so many great things, from ancient Mayan ruins to eco-adventures and gorgeous beaches. Depending on the itinerary, you can visit the ancient ruins near Cozumel and Progreso in Mexico, snorkel around the reefs in Belize or Roatan, Honduras, or just enjoy the sun in the Cayman Islands and Jamaica.
The Ancient Mayan treasures that can be found here are some of the most fascinating historical attractions a person can see. The pyramids and temples at Altun Ha in Belize, the legendary walled city of Tulum and other relics on the Island of Cozumel are just a few of the great things you can see during a cruise in the Western Caribbean.
As for the natural wonders, a cruise through these amazing places will place you in front of Belize’s spectacular coral reef, the second largest living reed system in the world. You can also visit underground caves on the Island of Cozumel or an iguana farm on the Island of Roatán.
From snorkeling to kayaking, sport fishing and paddle boating, shopping for island keepsakes, steelpan bands, tropical cocktails and an island-style barbecue, the activities are endless. The gorgeous beaches, exotic wildlife and lush rain-forests you will encounter here are something that you won’t forget. You can also zip line through the Belize jungle, swim with the dolphins or climb a waterfall and experience unspoiled beauty in Ocho Rios.
Western Caribbean cruises usually depart from homeports across the U.S. Southern Coastline, such as Fort Lauderdale, Galveston, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, Port Canaveral and Tampa. The major ports that comprise the Western Caribbean are: Belize City(Belize), Costa Maya(Mexico), Cozumel(Mexico), Falmouth(Jamaica), George Town(Grand Cayman), Key West(Florida), Montego Bay(Jamaica), Ocho Rios(Jamaica), Progreso(Mexico) and Roatán(Honduras).
Belize, Cozumel and Roatán are great places for Scuba diving and snorkeling. In Belize, you can also go for cave tubing and visiting Mayan sites like Altun Ha. Cozumel is the place to go if you are interested in shopping and dining (in Playa del Carmen); it has various eco-parks that offer water play opportunities and chances to see the native flora and fauna, while Honduras boasts white sand beaches and pristine bays.
George Town offers the opportunity to go on a boat trip to the famous Stingray City Sandbar, where you can snorkel in shallow water and feed the huge stingrays with chopped up squid provided by the tour operators. The rays will eat from your hand and you are bound to have a great relationship with them as long as you don’t step on their tails. The Tortuga Rum Factory is also a great destination in George Town; it is the place where you’ll find some of the best rum caked, if you manage to win against the tourist hordes gathered there.
Montego Bay is the place for crafts, duty-free shopping, golfing and frequenting local bars, while Ocho Rios and Progreso are full of adventure opportunities. You can hike 180 meters up a waterfall in Ocho Rios, while being surrounded by lush foliage, as the water comes crashing down onto a sandy beach. You can also go for a rainforest adventure park or a tour exploring the roots of raggae. Progreso’s main draw is the proximity to the Yucatan peninsula’s Mayan ruins.
Whether you’re out for adventure or relaxation (or both, why not?), a cruise through the Western Caribbean is a great choice for its various activities and opportunities, for the great cultural lesson it can give you and for the breath-taking view of the amazing natural world you’ll be in. Pack smart: bring sunscreen, hats and all you can think of when it comes to a sunny cruise, but keep in mind that there’s also a possibility of running into a storm, so you’ll need rain gear and warm layers. Remember that the Western Caribbean is a destination chosen by many tourists, so it will most likely be crowded, prepare yourself. If you’re planning to spend much of your cruise underwater, consider bringing some of your own gear (snorkel, mask and flippers), and check if your cruise line offers some sort of dive program.