Even if you have traveled to the Caribbean before, working with a licensed travel agent is an excellent idea. Not only does a travel agent have a wealth of resources on destinations and cruise lines, but they are also the best person to contact with questions or concerns. Working with an agent from the beginning will make your whole trip smoother and more relaxing, giving you time to focus on enjoying yourself.
There are many different islands you can visit in the Caribbean-each with its own distinct flair. No matter which island you choose, you're bound to have a fabulous time. I have decided to share some information about the USVI and BVI for all you future cruisers because if there is one trip you must book in your lifetime, it is visiting the Virgin Islands.
First, there are the US Virgin Islands consisting of a few large and many small islands, the large and most well known are St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John.
St. Thomas is a very mountainous island and is a frequent cruise stop for most cruise lines. St. Thomas is home to a beautiful town called Charlotte Amalie which also happens to be the capital of the Virgin Islands. The town was named in 1962 after the Queen of Denmark and has a population of approximately 62,000. Tourism is the name of the game on St. Thomas attracting over 3 million tourists per year.
St. Croix is the first island Christopher Columbus landed on and originally named it Santa Cruz. I understand his stay was brief there and he was forced to flee, later naming the group of islands Las Islas Virgenes or The Virgin Islands. St. Croix is the largest of the USVI at 82 square miles and right off the north east side of the island you will find Buck Island which happens to be one of the world's finest dive spots.
St. John is the smallest of the islands and is most well known for it's untouched forests and beaches which are part of the National Park. They offer a phenomenal Jeep or Safari bus tour that is sure to be a memorable experience. Some of the land activities also include horseback riding, donkey trail rides, rock climbing, exploring historic ruins, and some of the clearest scuba diving imaginable.
Next we have the British Virgin Islands which consist of over 50 islands and cays. The primary islands are Tortola and Virgin Gorda.
Tortola, which may sound familiar due to the recent success of the film, “Pirates of the Caribbean", is very spectacular. Tortola is the main island of the BVI. Due to the turtle like shape of the island, the island is named accordingly. Driving the island alone can be a magnificent experience. Take a jeep ride around the island and take witness of the spectacular landscape filled with hairpin turns and sheer descents.
Virgin Gorda is about 20 miles east of Tortola, 80 miles east of Puerto Rico. Virgin Gorda is a must see and one of the sightseeing stops that you must make sure to visit is “The Baths. One of nature's greatest creations, the unique landscape is filled with crystal clear tidal pools, caves to explore and play in, surrounded by these giant boulders that give the unique area a fort type of feeling. Your family, loved ones, lover, everyone will adore this spot.
Which Cruise Lines visit the Virgin Islands? Most Cruise Lines do, make it your travel agents job to find the right one for you. Look for the last minute deals; you can save a lot of money that way. Here are some that look great to me:
Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Liberty - 8-day Cruise Starting in Fort Lauderdale with stops in San Juan, St. Thomas, Antigua, Tortola, Nassau 2006 Sails: Jan 7, Mar 4, Apr 1, Dec 9
Disney Cruise Line, Disney Magic - 7-day Cruise 7 Days Starting in Port Canaveral with stops at St. Maarten, St. Thomas, St. Johns, Castaway Cay 2006 Sails: Jan 7, Jan 21, Feb 4, Feb 18, Mar 4, Mar 18, Apr 1, Apr 15, Apr 29, May 13, Jun 10, Jul 8, Aug 5, Sep 2, Sep 30, Oct 28, Nov 25
Holland America Line, Zuiderdam - 11-day Cruise 11 Days Starting in Norfolk with stops in Half Moon Cay, St Thomas, Cabrits, Roseau, Bridgetown, Basseterre, San Juan 2006 Sails: Jan 7, Feb 9, Feb 20, Mar 3, Mar 14, Mar 25
Princess Cruises, Caribbean Princess - 7-day Cruise 7 Days Starting in Ft. Lauderdale with stops in St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Princess Cays 2006 Sails: Jan 7, Jan 14, Jan 21, Jan 28, Feb 4, Feb 11, Feb 18, Feb 25, Mar 4, Mar 11, Mar 18, Mar 25, Apr 1, Apr 8, Apr 15, Apr 22, Apr 29, May 13, May 27, Jun 10, Jun 24, Jul 8, Jul 22
When you are shopping for deals and dates, use an online travel agent to help you. There are so many great informational cruise sites on the internet these days with tons of helpful tips and info. Let an agent help you find a cruise and let them help you decide which gorgeous sun-drenched island will be best for your getaway.
Since many Caribbean cruises depart from such exotic ports as Fort Lauderdale and San Juan, Puerto Rico, you might consider combining your cruise with a layover in your port of departure. These areas are steeped in history and interesting culture, and are a wonderful way to extend your vacation. In addition to helping you book your cruise, your travel agent will be able to help you arrange all aspects of your travel, including deluxe hotel accommodations and airfare to your port of departure.
TJ Elliott is the Internet Marketing Consultant for http://www.joystarcruises.com and is a cruise addict. “We all work too hard to make a living these days, we must make a point to take vacations with our friends, families and loved ones. Cruises are a great way to visit some of nature's most beautiful locations". -TJ
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