Source: data adapted from Cruise Market Watch.
(Detailed PDF map)
Cruise Passengers Visits, Caribbean, 2012
The Caribbean is the world's largest cruise shipping market, representing over 40% of the annual cruise supply. It serves as an ideal cruising destination for the following reasons:
  • Geography. The Caribbean is mostly a chain of islands in close proximity implying short cruising distances between ports of call. The climate is subtropical with limited temperature fluctuations, albeit the hurricane season (August to October) can create some disruptions. There is a variety of landscapes ranging from rain forests to semi-arid conditions as well as the presence of coral and volcanic islands.
  • Historical and cultural. The region has a long history associated with European colonialism and accounts for the oldest settlements in the Americas. African, Hispanic, English, French and Dutch influences are prevalent, conferring a very diversified cultural landscape that often changes completely from one island to the other. Therefore, the cruise industry is able to offer to its customers a variety of cultural experiences in close proximity.
  • Commercial. Being adjacent to the United States offers a large market of potential tourists able to afford cruise packages without having to travel far to start a cruising itinerary.
Most Caribbean cruises call from the Miami, Fort Lauderdale or Port Canaveral cruise ports cluster that act as the main turn (hub) ports. All are near major airports well connected to the rest of the United States and major touristic destinations in their own right. New York is also a significant hub port, but its distance limits its Caribbean ports of call options; Kings Wharf (Bermuda) represents a common port call for New York bound Caribbean itineraries. Itineraries using San Juan, Puerto Rico as a hub port have the advantage of being able to effectively cover the southern Caribbean, the furthest from the United States.