The most popular destination for cruise travelers by far is the Caribbean. Warm and friendly tropical isles dotting the crystal blue Caribbean Sea beckon millions each year.

There are dozens of destination islands in the region, which is why taking a Caribbean cruise is the best way to get the most out of your holiday. Sail the Caribbean to escape the doldrums of winter, to experience rich island culture, and to enjoy a wide variety of activities, both on board the ship and on the islands.

All of the largest cruise lines operate in the Caribbean, and they offer cruises of varying lengths. Most cruise lines offer 3, 4, or 7 night cruises in the Caribbean. They also offer cruises that sail in two separate regions: the Eastern Caribbean and the Western Caribbean. Which you choose is completely up to you, and both regions are home to beautiful islands to explore.

The Eastern Caribbean cruises set sail from various ports in eastern Florida, Port Canaveral or Fort Lauderdale. Often, Eastern Caribbean ports of call include Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the wildly popular Bahamas. The islands in this area are situated close to each other, allowing for longer shore excursions from the ship, as well as more beach time. Many choose these routes for shorter cruises.

The Western Caribbean cruises embark from ports in western Florida, New Orleans, and Texas. This regions includes various ports of call in Mexico, including Cozumel and Playa del Carmen, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Key West, Florida. Often the longer cruises sail these routes. The islands are pretty spread apart, so you will find that a western Caribbean cruise means more time on the open seas and less time at each port of call. However, because of the variety of the ports of call, it also means that you will have more options for excursions than with the eastern Caribbean. Aside from shopping and lounging on the beaches, you can hike in the rain forests, explore ancient ruins, scuba dive, and more.

If you love to shop, there is no shortage of that in the Caribbean. The Bahamas are famous for the straw market, but other islands and ports of call have wonderful outdoor markets. Strolling through them is a great way to experience the local island culture and get to know the people.

If you love history, the ports of call in Mexico are particularly interesting. Explore ancient Mayan ruins and learn about the history of that fascinating culture that dominated the region for hundreds of years.

Outdoor adventure seekers can hike through the rainforests of Costa Rica, take a thrilling zip line tour through the forest canopy, relax among waterfalls, even climb mountains. There is also plenty of fun to be had on the water. Scuba dive, snorkel, or go out on a deep sea fishing excursion. The beautiful blue Caribbean waters are ripe with colorful and exotic sea life.

When you are out at sea, the cruise ship will be your floating resort. Cruise ships today are fully equipped with any and all of the amenities you would expect at an expensive resort, including swimming pools, spas, gourmet restaurants, fitness centers, even shopping malls. Some of the larger cruise ships even have parks and gardens on board. You can surf, rock climb, jog, and simply relax while sailing to your next destination.

Caribbean cruises operate all year long. It is important to note that hurricane seasons lasts from June through November, and while it is unlikely that you will be affected by a bad storm, the possibility is there. The most active months for hurricanes in the Caribbean are August and September, when the water is at its warmest.

Because of this, you can find the lowest rates between the months of September and early January. The weather is temperate, but the water does cool off, and can be chilly for swimming.