Cruise liners are a popular way for travelers to see more than one Caribbean island during their vacation. While planes allow travelers to reach a single destination quickly, cruises make getting to an island part of the fun. Travelers can enjoy watersports, fine cuisine, and entertainment as they relax aboard a cruise ship.
The cruise ship terminal in Guadeloupe is located at Centre Saint-John Perse, near downtown Point-à-Pitre. Taxis are available at the cruise terminal, which also has shops, restaurants, a tourist information office, and communications. Both major and smaller cruise lines call at Guadeloupe, and a number of small cruise lines also call at Iles des Saintes.
Visitors who have a day to experience this part of the French West Indies may wish to take in some of the fine shopping and dining options available on the island. Driving tours and hikes are also popular. Other alternatives include snorkeling or trips to visit Marie-Galante or Iles des Saintes. Although travelers can easily spend a full vacation exploring the attractions and terrain of Guadeloupe's various islands, cruise travelers can sample the country for a day.
The popular tourist season in the Caribbean runs from mid-December to mid-April, and this is also the most popular cruise travel season. The months of December through April are free from the threat of Atlantic hurricanes and tropical storms, and rainfall generally decreases during this time period. Many cruises offer packages that highlight the holidays of Christmas and New Years. Cruise line fares may be reduced for off season cruises, although journeys during this time may be more difficult to find.
|Cruise Line||Contact Information|
|Compagnie des Iles du Ponant||http://www.ponant.com/|
|Holland America||300 Elliott Ave. West
Seattle, WA 98119
|SeaDream Yacht Club||2601 South Bayshore Drive
Coconut Grove, FL 33133
|Silversea Cruises||110 East Broward Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
|Star Clippers||7200 NW 19th Street, Suite 206
Miami, FL 33126
|Windjammer Barefoot Cruises||800-327-2601
A sample nine day itinerary on board a Silversea Cruise begins in Ft. Lauderdale and includes stops in the British Virgin Islands, St. Kitts, Antigua, Iles des Saintes, St. Lucia, Grenada, and Barbados.
Travelers can find a Caribbean cruise that caters to their vacation style. Both large and small ships sail to destinations throughout the Caribbean, and passengers can select from various cruise classes that are based on different grades of products and services. Many cruise lines also offer theme or targeted cruises that cater to a specific type of traveler.
The choice between a large and small ship can come down to a simple matter of preference, as both have their benefits and drawbacks. Small ships typically offer luxury cruises that focus on customer service and satisfaction. These ships can be perfect for vacationers who wish to avoid the tourist crowds of large cruise vessels. Additionally, small cruise vessels can stop at many islands in the Caribbean that larger vessels do not - or can not - visit. Smaller islands do not always have a deep water harbor that can accommodate large vessels, and the small islands themselves may be unable to accommodate a large influx of visitors. Large cruise ships will have significant number of passengers, but can also offer more in the way of amenities and entertainment. Cabins in the middle of larger vessels experience less movement, making these ships more suitable for travelers who suffer from seasickness.
The size of a cruise ship is not necessarily indicative of the amount of space or service that will be provided on the ship. While large cruise vessels can carry thousands of passengers, the space and volume available on board of a large vessel will also be much greater than that available on a small ship. Passengers can calculate how much average space is alloted per passenger by finding the ratio between space and passengers. The higher the area and space per passenger, the more average elbow room guests will have. Travelers can also predict the level of customer service and care by comparing the number of passengers to the number of service staff. If the ratio of passengers to waitstaff is low, the level of customer service should be higher.
Both large and small cruise vessels offer cruises of varying classes and types. Travelers should select a cruise class that is suitable for their vacation. Whether on board a small or large ship, honeymooners or couples celebrating anniversaries and special occasions may wish to consider the added luxury and attention of a higher class cruise. Although higher class fares will be more expensive than standard cruise fares, rooms and services aboard luxury cruises will typically be of superior value. Rooms in luxury classes may be more spacious and come stocked with designer products. Many luxury cruises will have delightful, fine dining opportunities. On the other hand, families may wish to opt for cruises that focus on entertainment and fun rather than comfort and luxury.
Finally, cruises may be divided into themes or cater to specific types of travelers. Many cruises are planned during the popular tourist travel months of December through April, and holiday cruises are a popular way for vacationers to celebrate Christmas and New Years. Some cruises will focus on the journey, with itineraries that highlight a certain region of the Caribbean. Other cruises will cater to specific types of travelers, such as singles, families, honeymooners, older couples, or gays and lesbians.
When selecting a room on board a cruise vessel, passengers can choose from a "run of the ship" cabin or a "perfect" cabin. Room selection can be an important decision in travel planning, as rooms that are close to gyms, bars, casinos, stairs, and other areas of high passenger traffic tend to be much louder than other rooms. Run of the ship cabins allow vacationers to state a preference for an outer or an inner room, but do not guarantee a specific cabin choice. Passengers selecting a run of the ship cabin will be given their room assignment upon boarding, and the type of room they ultimately receive will be based upon availability. Perfect cabins, meanwhile, give travelers the ability to select the location and type of their cabin. Although these cabins are more expensive, travelers who have particular room preferences may want to use this option. Those who suffer from seasickness or have children who may wander onto a balcony should select an inner cabins. These cabins also give travelers specific choice as to where they would like to be in relation to many of the ship's facilities and attractions.
Packing is another important part of a cruise vacation. Although cabin rooms are typically small, vacationers should remember to pack a number of essential travel items. Travelers stopping at Guadeloupe or any of the Caribbean islands will not want to miss out on the chance to experience some of the best beaches and eco-tourism in the world, and should thus pack beachwear and active wear. Sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses will also be important for keeping the sun at bay.
Eco-tourists should consider bringing hiking boots and light, durable clothing that breathes in the heat. Bug spray containing DEET and long pants are essential to protecting travelers from bugs such as mosquitoes.
While dress on board the cruise vessels is often sporty and casual, some cruises may have formal dress codes for their dining rooms or special events. Travelers should check with their cruise line before packing to see if any formal attire will be required while on board. Vacationers should also remember that beachwear and revealing clothing should only be worn at the beach on Caribbean islands. Appropriate attire in shops, restaurants, and cities is casual, but neat and conservative, and never revealing. Many of the islands expect travelers to wear nicer clothing at dinner, such as pants, button down shirts, and casual dresses.
Time spent at the ports of call can significantly increase the cost of a cruise vacation, as shopping and meals on the island are not covered in cruise fares. Travelers should also consider additional costs such as alcohol on board the ship. Some luxury and smaller cruise lines will include a gratuity in the cruise fare, so travelers should aware of what they are paying for when they book their cruise. Watersports, tours, and adventure activities can also add to the cost of a cruise.
Cruises to Guadeloupe call at both Grand-Terre and Iles des Saintes, which may be just enough to make travelers wish for more time to experience this enchanting part of the French West Indies.
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