Cruising the Eastern Caribbean: A Guide to the Ships & Ports of Call

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On January 14, , coordinated terrorist attacks hit central Jakarta—suicide bombers hit a Starbucks and a shopping mall, aiming specifically at foreign nationals and police officers—four people, aside from the attackers, died. As for pettier crimes in Jakarta, the theft rate is high. Stay vigilant in crowded places, where pickpocketing is likely, and avoid buses and trains when possible.

And be aware that crime increases leading up to the Muslim month of Ramadan, which usually falls in June. The siege prompted the U. Embassy in Bangladesh to predict that there may be more terrorist attacks to come. The U. How to stay safe in Dhaka: The U. When they were getting off the bus, terrorists opened fire, killing 22 and injuring more than Three months later, in June, a gunman who was specifically targeting tourists opened fire on a crowded beach about 90 miles south of Tunis, killing In November, terrorists attacked security forces in downtown Tunis.

How to stay safe in Tunis: The U. Two words: Drug. On Margarita Island, a gorgeous little dot in the Caribbean Sea, a passenger on the Carnival-owned Aida Luna was killed during an armed robbery at a tourist shop in These struggling economies mean that police protection is minimized, unemployment and inflation are high, and criminals are likely to be more aggressive. How to stay safe on Margarita Island: Stay very alert.

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Bureau of Consular Affairs. Steer clear of gatherings and political demonstrations, and avoid taxis, buses, and ATMs.

Perhaps above all, do not get arrested. Each offer may focus on discounting one aspect of the cruise fare over another, but the important thing to remember is in most countries, you can re-price up until final payment date in the event the price drops. In short, there is no bad time of the year to take a Royal Caribbean cruise. Sailings are designed to be entertainment for guests regardless of what the calendar may say. It is important to know that there can be peaks and valleys, in terms of demand and crowds in the ports you will visit, but the cruise experience overall is great year-round.

Regardless of when you sail, be sure to put a deposit down as soon as possible. There are certainly promotions and sales throughout the year, but in general, the best prices for cruises will be found when booked as early as you can manage. Cruise fare is determined largely by supply and demand.

When an itinerary goes on sale, all the inventory is available, but as rooms start to be reserved, inventory drops and that can coincide with prices rising.

Eastern, western or southern Caribbean itineraries – which is right for me?

Most Royal Caribbean fans will tell you that the best fares they find are those booked one to two years prior to their cruise. The other really good reason to book early is for airfare. Airfare pricing is notoriously in flux, so you want to get an acceptable rate for your air travel in coordination with reserving your cruise. How long your cruise should be largely depends upon the kind of trip you are considering.

Is this just a quick escape? Or do you want to spend some time to get away from it all? Ultimately, the exact length of your cruise may depend on how much vacation time you have and which ports of call you are interested in visiting. By going with a slightly longer cruise, you will have the opportunity to really explore the ship and enjoy the experience. Shorter cruises go by so quickly and for someone new to cruising, it may not provide enough time on ship or on shore to really get a sense of it all.

Moreover, on a per-night basis, the cost of a cruise tends to be cheaper the longer the sailing. Royal Caribbean ships are designed to be destinations rather than just a floating hotel room, so you will want more time to experience it all. We typically find cruises closer to a week in length provide a great balance of value, time and opportunity. It is understandable if you are at the mercy of work or school calendars, which limit how much time your cruise can be.

Speaking of vacation time and planning, you will want to pad your cruise vacation with at least one day before your cruise. There are so many travel delays that can occur, so why put your cruise vacation at risk?

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Veteran cruisers will always fly in at least one day before their cruise leaves and that's to avoid travel nightmares that the airlines are notorious for. Delays, weather and breakdowns happen consistently so don't let those kind of inconveniences cause you to miss your cruise.

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Getting in a day early will give you plenty of time to get past any travel delays you encounter with the added bonus of beginning your vacation a day earlier! The ships vary in size, offerings, and ports of call they will visit. While Royal Caribbean's ships tend to be big, there is enough variation among the different classes of ships to offer everyone a good choice. These ships are not just built to be big, rather, they are built to be large enough to house all the really cool adventures that await you.

Looking back to our first way Royal Caribbean differentiates itself, all those innovative activities need to go somewhere and so Royal Caribbean has built its ships bigger and bigger to offer more and more to its guests. If you are worried that the ships might be too big, do not worry. Despite their size, Royal Caribbean designed these ships to be easy to get around. The neighborhood concept makes getting around easier because areas of the ship do not blend into each other.

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In fact, first timer cruisers might find the largest and newest Royal Caribbean ships to be an ideal pick because they offer the latest innovations, entertainment, technology and choices. There are lots of other great ships in the fleet to consider. First, are the Quantum class ships, which are also quite new but not quite as large as the Oasis class ships. It can be argued that Quantum class ships were designed with first time cruisers in mind. Just like the Oasis class ships, the Quantum class ships offer a number of Royal Caribbean advancements and some of the finest dining and entertainment at sea.

The Voyager and Freedom class ships are slightly smaller, but offer an amazing value for large ships. They are also dispersed more widely than their larger cousins, and still offer a lot to see and do onboard. Many Royal Caribbean veterans love the Voyager and Freedom class ships for their well-proportioned size, dining choices and activities onboard.

The "sweet spot" of Royal Caribbean pricing tends to fall right in with the Voyager and Freedom class ships because the newer ships have drawn much of the attention, and the other ship's premium pricing means there are some really good deals to be found. Radiance, Vision and Sovereign class ships make up the smallest ships in the fleet, but what they lack in size, they make up for in port variety, great value and beauty onboard.

To paraphrase the Jedi Master Yoda, judge not these ships by their size. While they may lack surf simulators and bumper cars, they make up for in classic cruise experience. These smaller ships can get to ports of call that larger ships cannot, as well as offer a more intimate experience in relationship with your fellow guests. Not to mention, these smaller ships also come with a lower price tag!

4 Caribbean Cruise Ports You Need to Visit Right Now

There is absolutely nothing wrong with these ships, but it is worth understanding what these ships offer and do not offer onboard when picking the right ship for you. If you are trying to decide between itineraries like eastern or western Mediterranean or a Bahamas cruise or to visit Cozumel or St. Thomas, these are the typical quandaries those new to cruising all go through. For a fist time cruiser, we think it makes the most sense to pick an itinerary that mixes in an even amount of sea days with port days.

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The reason for this is so that you have ample opportunity to explore the ship as well as the places you visit. We would be remiss if we did not mention cruising to Cuba, since so many cruisers are interested in visiting Cuba. Both ships are the oldest in the fleet, and the smallest, but they are the only ships that can fit into Cuba's small cruise ports. Moreover, the ports you visit are arguable the draw more than the ship.

Both Empress and Majesty have received extensive refurbishments, so they are certainly up to date in their offerings. Even if you have never taken a cruise before, these two classes of ships offer the kind of gee-whiz features that many first timers read about being on the latest cruise ships.