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Bermuda vs. Bahamas
If you're new to cruising, it's easy to get Bermuda and the Bahamas mixed up. Both island chains have a shared British heritage and are located in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Caribbean. Both are easily accessible from the East Coast, which makes them a favorite for cruise lines. Yet, the two archipelagos have some important distinctions when it comes to cruise seasons and itineraries and island attractions. Read on for more tips on how to choose between a Bermuda or a Bahamas cruise.
Princess Cays vs. Half Moon Cay
Passengers who are lucky enough to cruise the Bahamas on Princess, Holland America or Carnival ships will probably see a stop at Princess Cays or Half Moon Cay show up on their itinerary. These destinations, unlike others that are filled with intense sightseeing excursions, are favorites of beach-loving passengers for their singular focus on rest and relaxation. Sure, you can book a few excursions on these islands, but you're on island time -- so doing absolutely nothing is perfectly OK, too. Let's explore the amenities on Princess Cays and Half Moon Cay to help you pick your next cruise itinerary.
CocoCay vs. Half Moon Cay
Cruise passengers who roll up to Half Moon Cay are greeted with the sign "I Wish I Could Stay Here Forever," while over at another Bahamian private island, Coco Cay, it's seemingly always a "Perfect Day." Both islands are run by cruise lines: Half Moon Cay is used exclusively by Holland America and Carnival passengers, while Coco Cay caters to Royal Caribbean cruisers. Regardless of which island you're on, after a day swaying on a hammock overlooking the turquoise ocean, that #privateislandlife seems more like a life goal than a clever hashtag. Let's explore the amenities offered on each island to help you determine which port of call is best for your next cruise adventure.
Great Stirrup Cay vs. CocoCay
Private islands are some of the most luxurious ports of call, but they aren't just reserved for the rich and famous. Most mainstream cruise lines offer access to private islands for the everyday cruise passenger, too. They provide the perfect reason to ditch every item on your to-do list and get in that R&R time you've been craving, focusing on fun and togetherness. We'll take a look at two private islands undergoing big changes to provide cruise passengers with new amenities and upgraded spaces to stretch out and enjoy: Norwegian Cruise Line's Great Stirrup Cay and Royal Caribbean's CocoCay.
Best Eastern Caribbean Shore Excursions
The eastern reaches of the Caribbean are a unique blend of melding cultures and tropical waters, as well as territories that remain a part of the United States. Eastern Caribbean shore excursions are also a blend of familiar beach days and more unique and adventurous sights and activities. It's a part of the world with a surprising amount of history if you wish to unlock it, but miles of sand stretch before you if you'd rather not think about anything at all. Before the sun melts all your cares away (including the ability to make decisions), we mapped out some of the best Eastern Caribbean cruise excursions so you can sprinkle your next sailing with the right amount of exploration and relaxation.
Your Guide to Labadee Cabanas
Make your way down private stone stairs to the refreshing ocean water for a dip before you dry off in your private cabana on Labadee, Royal Caribbean's private beach destination on the northern coast of Haiti. There are plenty of options for cabanas, from locations over the water to others surrounded by lush trees, as well as beach bungalows. You can think of Labadee in terms of four separate beach areas, each with different cabana options: Barefoot Beach Club, Nellie's Beach, Columbus Cove and Adrenaline Beach. We'll help you explore all of your options for your ultimate day of relaxation.
Best Month to Cruise to the Bahamas
Less than 200 miles off the coast of Miami is Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. Ubiquitous with cruising, the Bahamas offers up its tropical ports and private islands on short cruises or part of longer Caribbean itineraries, nearly year-round. Deciding the best month to go to the Bahamas by cruise ship can be tough, due to its long cruise season. Vacationers might wonder: Will it be too crowded in the summer or rainy in the winter? When is the cheapest time to sail to the Bahamas? We took a look at the calendar year to determine when you can find the best weather conditions, hurricane season storms and a not-to-miss festival -- all to help you decide the best month to cruise to the Bahamas. But first, here's our pick:
Best Time to Cruise
It's one of the most common cruising questions: When is the best time to cruise Alaska, Australia, the Caribbean, Canada/New England, Hawaii, Europe or the South Pacific? The answer depends on many variables. For example, fall foliage enthusiasts will find September and October the best time to cruise Canada/New England, whereas families prefer to sail in summer when temperatures are warmer for swimming. The best time to cruise to Alaska will vary depending on your preferences for viewing wildlife, fishing, bargain-shopping, sunshine, warm weather and catching the northern lights. For most cruise regions, there are periods of peak demand (high season), moderate demand (shoulder season) and low demand (low season), which is usually the cheapest time to cruise. High season is typically a mix of when the weather is best and popular travel periods (such as summer and school holidays). However, the best time to cruise weather-wise is usually not the cheapest time to cruise. The cheapest time to cruise is when most travelers don't want to go because of chillier temperatures or inopportune timing (too close to holidays, the start of school, etc.). But the lure of cheap fares and uncrowded ports might make you change your mind about what you consider the best time to cruise. As you plan your next cruise, you'll want to take into consideration the best and cheapest times to cruise and see what jibes with your vacation schedule. Here's a when-to-cruise guide for popular destinations.
Your Guide to Great Stirrup Cay Cabanas
Nibble on fresh fruit and enjoy the soft ocean breezes from the plush sectional inside your very own private cabana on Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas. Owned by Norwegian Cruise Line, the 250-acre Great Stirrup Cay is an exclusive destination for NCL passengers. To make your experience even more serene, book one of the small or large beachside cabanas, stocked with plenty of extras to make it a worthwhile splurge. Read on for more information about each cabana to help you choose the right one for your group.
Your Guide to Half Moon Cay Cabanas
A private cabana is a plush way to enjoy the pristine sand and surf of Half Moon Cay, Carnival Corporation's private island in the Bahamas visited by Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America. Half Moon Cay cabanas are colorful wooden outposts peppered along the island's shoreline, and while they all offer special amenities, offerings vary based on cabana type. If you're not sure which enclave is the best fit for you during your time ashore, read Cruise Critic's guide to Half Moon Cay cabanas.
Best Bahamas Shore Excursions
A cruise to the Bahamas conjures images of sugar-sand beaches and crystal-clear water, but the islands have much more to offer than a chance to bask in the sun. The port cities of Nassau and Freeport are stepping stones to a wide variety of experiences, from world-renowned snorkeling and scuba diving to foodie and cultural tours that take you off the beaten path. (And of course, you can still have that picture-perfect beach day.) Check out the top Bahamas shore excursions in each of these popular ports -- all of which can be booked either through your cruise line or independently.