If you’ve never been to the Caribbean, you might find it difficult to choose between a western and an eastern itinerary. Both feature stunning beaches, tons of great water activities, and both have their loyal fans who will tell you why one is hands down better than the other.
But is one really better? Is there one that would best suit your personality?
We’re breaking down the key differences so you can enjoy every moment of your Celebrity Caribbean cruise no matter what direction you choose to travel.
Eastern Caribbean cruises typically depart from Miami or Fort Lauderdale, but some sailings now leave from San Juan, Puerto Rico offering you a chance to extend your vacation. Departing from Florida provides you with enough time to enjoy all the amenities onboard Celebrity Cruises before arriving in port to disembark and being exploring.
Port stops vary per sailing, but an Eastern Caribbean itinerary might include some of the following:
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Old San Juan, the heart of the capital city of Puerto Rico, combines history, art, architecture, food and fun. Whether you prefer to marvel at colorful buildings with intricate ironwork, savor fried plantains or the local version of the Spanish paella, shop for everything from craft items to high-end consumer goods, or relive San Juan’s history by touring the old Spanish fort, El Morro, there’s truly something for every taste in Old San Juan.
Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos
A popular escape for celebs looking to get away from it all, the Turks and Caicos offer a laid-back, almost exclusive feel. Diving is easier here than many places with just a short 10 minute boat ride leading to a drop of over 7000 ft where you can see coral, sea rods, squirrelfish, black durgon, and green turtles.
Nevis and St. Kitts
Laid-back is one of the favorite words to describe these two islands, but don’t let that fool you, there’s still plenty to see and do. A trip to Wingfield Estate provides an opportunity to zip line, explore the forest, visit ruins of an old rum distillery or the Caribelle Batik factory in Romney Manor (yes home to those incredible died fabrics you see in the shops). Of course you can also enjoy the black sand beaches or take a catamaran tour for more relaxation.
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
Visit one of the world’s most famous beaches, Lindquist Beach and enjoy the quiet of this unpopulated area. Stroll through the streets to soak in the vibrant building colors, grab a kayak for a day on the water or head to the Coral World Ocean Park for a day under the water interacting with turtles, seals and sharks.
The Eastern Caribbean is perfect for those who love everything that represents island life, gorgeous relaxing beach time, history and urban access.
The Eastern Caribbean is perfect for those who love everything that represents island life, gorgeous relaxing beach time, history and urban access. The Eastern Caribbean offers a wide variety of excursions like snorkeling, sunbathing, walking historical tours, Segway tours, duty free shopping and most Eastern Caribbean stops will not require a passport.
Cruises to the Western Caribbean typically leave from the same ports, but you’ll also occasionally see sailings from Texas or other US ports. As with Eastern Caribbean cruises, there are a variety of ports that may be included, but Western cruises tend to be a bit longer due to the distance between islands.
Port stops vary per sailing, but an Western Caribbean itinerary might include some of the following:
Owned at one time by the British, you’ll find English is spoken everywhere in this beach-town. Enjoy the calm waters of Half Moon Bay Beach for an afternoon swim or take a dune buggy tour to see more of the iguanas, monkeys, fish and fauna that populate the area.
Famous for its spectacular reefs, which are perfect for snorkeling and diving and its many Mayan ruins. Swimming in cenotes, natural swimming holes, is another popular activity in this area, along with a day simply enjoying the beach under a palm tree or building a sand castle.
Georgetown, Grand Cayman
Tour the old town square to take in buildings from the 1800’s, colonial architecture and pastel colors alongside palm trees and blue skies. Or head out for a day of family fun aboard the Jolly Roger three mast pirate ship, where a two hour tour provides time for snorkeling, watching sword fights and hearing pirate tales.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica
If you’ve ever wanted to get up close to a waterfall this is your chance. Home to Dunn’s River Falls and Island Gully Falls, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from which will allow you to truly climb through the waters bordered by the vibrant green forest and capture amazing memories with your waterproof phone.
The Western Caribbean is popular with active travelers and those who are interested in visiting historical sites. This area is also popular with college students as many of the Western Caribbean ports are packed with bars and clubs that cater to the youthful, exuberant set.
And because the Western Caribbean offers more active shore excursions like tubing, diving or horseback riding, it may also be a better choice if you’re traveling with children.
Still can’t decide? Then, perhaps, you should try both. Some itineraries offer the Western and Eastern Caribbean itineraries back to back, so if you have 14 or more days to spend on the seas, why not enjoy both great cruises?