The deep-water ports on Caribbean islands mean the islands can accommodate mega-cruise ships. Large cruise ships mean many people in a semi-enclosed space. Before you go, check the vaccination recommendations at the centres for disease control and prevention and disease outbreaks at any of the Caribbean islands where your cruise will stop. Be careful on shore excursions and in dark hallways on ships; be on guard as if travelling in a big city.
As on most cruises, when you check in at the pier, you have to give a porter your suitcase, but keep your carry-on. The carry-on should have any medications you need. Although cruise ship personnel are excellent at getting suitcases to the correct room, don’t take any chances with prescription medication. Plus, with the large ships cruising the Caribbean, mix-ups can occur and waits for bags can be long; you might need a dose before your bag arrives.
Yes, you want to come home looking bronzed, but you can tan without severely damaging your skin. The Caribbean sun is so strong that you will need to reapply sunscreen throughout the day, even in cloud cover. Bring a couple tubes of at least 30+ SPF for each member of your group. If you are flying to a cruise port, you can bring large tubes in checked luggage, or buy sunscreen near the port; it will be expensive on the ship.
Keep Your Street Smarts
Although you are on vacation, remember that crew members and people you see on shore excursions often have a much lower standard of living. Do not flash large amounts of cash or wear ostentatious jewellery. If you go off on your own on shore, stick to well-lit tourist areas and carry your cash and passport in a secure place on your body. On board, if you feel uncomfortable around a crew member, speak to the ship’s purser.
Cruisers often drink to excess since they don’t have to drive home, but they also need to be safe at ship’s railings. If you have a few drinks, stay inside, and if you want to see what is happening on a different deck, take the stairs or elevator; do not lean out over the exterior railing.
Most cruise vacations offer shore excursions, where a vetted company takes you around the island. You can arrange your own shore excursion, but then you are on your own: Remember your street smarts and your common sense. If an area doesn’t look safe, turn around. Be sure you know exactly where you are going and how you will get back; cruise ships will leave without you if you are not back in time.
If you would prefer a more private and personal cruise, then consider chartering a yacht, which will allow you to visit any island you choose, without having to worry about crowds and schedules. For more details, see Yacht Charter Specialists .