There are more than 7,000 islands in the Caribbean that are part of more than 28 nations. Your average seven-night cruise can visit three to five of them—so how do you narrow down where you should go? While we’d argue there’s a reason to visit every destination available on a Caribbean cruise, some locales speak directly to a traveler’s vacation style, be it relaxed and indulgent or adventurous and on-the-go (and anywhere in between). If you’re wondering where to begin, we’ve gathered some thought-starters here. With nearly two dozen different locations from which to choose, Royal Caribbean makes it easy to “swipe right” on the perfect one.
Belize City, Belize: pure and vibrant.
To take in all of the natural beauty surrounding you in Belize, you’ll want to climb to the top of El Castillo; at 135 feet, it’s one of the tallest Mayan structures in this tiny nation. From the top, you can see the lush rainforest of Peten, the nearby mountains and even across the border into Guatemala. You also can explore the amazing Altan Ha pyramid, an ancient temple built as a symbol of Mayan honor and devotion to the Sun God. If you’re looking for Belize City’s “wild side,” look for flocks of toucans and parrots in the tree-tops, manatees along the coast, baboons at the Community Baboon Sanctuary, crocodiles and wild howler monkeys along the Old Belize River, and jaguars, pumas, ocelots and more at the esteemed Belize Zoo. Royal Caribbean’s shore excursions include snorkeling along the barrier reef, cave tubing and a riverboat ride to get you up close and personal with nature.
Kralendijk, Bonaire: sweet, yet a little mysterious.
The main port on the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean Netherlands, Kralendijk is a picturesque and charming town lined with delightfully pastel stucco houses turned out in pink, orange and lime green. Scores of pink flamingos call the island home, but it’s what lies below the surface that makes the destination even more enticing. The city is widely considered a top diving destination in the Caribbean. For a sampling of what this dreamy island has to offer, enjoy snorkeling or diving among coral reefs, turtles and brightly colored fish in the protected Bonaire National Marine Park; tour the local salt flats and mountains; and don’t miss the local gastronomic delicacy, cactus soup.
Roseau, Dominica: stunning and chic.
The capital—and largest—city of Dominica, Roseau is a small and compact urban settlement. If you appreciate the finer things in life, we have two words for you: Champagne Beach. These effervescent waters produce an actual “fizz” from the volcanic sea floor. After swimming alongside parrotfish in bubbly waters, there are plenty of other ways to pass the time, including ogling the West Indian architecture in town while scouring the local boutiques. You also can treat yourself to the relaxing and therapeutic powers of Dominica’s natural mineral waters while surrounded by the island’s lush tropical vegetation.
Roatan, Honduras: wild and untamed.
This narrow strip of land was born with an adventurous spirit, as it was once the domain of Spanish conquistadors and British pirates. Roatan lies in the Caribbean at the southernmost tip of the second biggest barrier reef in the world. Diving with sharks and snorkeling with pods of squid and other exciting sea life are popular pastimes, and Royal Caribbean also offers a survivor-style challenge course that will have you scurrying along jungle paths in the thick rainforest, crawling in mud ravines and climbing cargo nets and hills. If you prefer your challenges with altitude, the Adrenaline Zip-Line Adventure will take you soaring through the skies and between mountains on an exhilarating zip-line tour.
Puerto Costa Maya, Mexico: fascinating and soulful.
Costa Maya, once a trading post for the Mayan Empire, is located in the Mexican Caribbean and best known for its jungles, beaches, lagoons and ruins. While this corner of the Caribbean might look serious and sedate at first glance, there is a wealth of history to be explored. The ancient city of Chacchoben dates to 360 AD, when it played an important role in the distribution of such precious items as wood, jade and exotic birds. It was largely unexplored until 1999, but archaeologists now believe this fascinating locale was a thriving metropolis 1,500 years ago. On its Chacchoben Ruins Exclusive Drive, Royal Caribbean gives you the chance to marvel at the temples, stroll their surrounding gardens and dive deeper into this culture.
To see all of Royal Caribbean’s captivating Caribbean cruises and their ports of call, head here.