Difference between the Bahamas and Caribbean Cruises

Updated on June 28, 2017

So you’ve been longing to walk along an endless stretch of powdery white sand under the warm tropical sun, but you are still torn between a cruise in the Bahamas and the Caribbean. If this sounds like your own dilemma, this article is for you. Read on as we explore the difference between the Bahamas and Caribbean cruises.

Descriptions

The Bahamas
Half Moon Cay, the Bahamas

The Bahamas cruise, as the name suggests, is a cruise that stays within the boundaries of the Bahamas. The trip usually starts in Southern Florida because the Bahamas is only about 313 miles (504 kilometers) from Florida. The cruise also has two other ports of call: Nassau and Freeport, which are both located in the Bahamas.

Known for its laid-back atmosphere, the Bahamas cruise is a perfect getaway for adults who simply want to escape their busy lives in the city. Guests can enjoy shopping, water sports, sightseeing, swimming, snorkeling, and even island hopping. Some private islands, such as Half Moon Cay and Castaway Cay, can also be accessed by the cruise guests.

The Bahamas cruise is also a great option for those traveling with kids. It has a number of fun-filled activities that are designed to entertain the young.

As the Bahamas cruise only has three ports of call, it usually only lasts three to five nights. Consequently, it also costs less, making it a great travel option for those who want to go to a tropical paradise without spending too much money. It also attracts a great number of repeat cruisers.

Caribbean cruise
Mustique Island, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

On the other hand, a Caribbean cruise is a cruise that covers a number of islands in the Caribbean territory. Its ports of call are in Cuba (for those non-U.S. citizens), Mexico, Costa Maya, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Belize City, and Roatan.

There are three types of Caribbean cruises:

  1. Western Caribbean – This trip includes the eastern coast of Mexico, Central America, and Greater Antilles (Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Dominican Republic). Guests will enjoy sightseeing (the Mayan Ruins is one of the most popular attractions), scuba diving, snorkeling, and even zip lining. These destinations can be crowded because of their close proximity to the United States.

  2. Eastern Caribbean – This covers Turks and Caicos, Saint Maarten, St. Kitts, the Virgin Islands, and occasionally Puerto Rico. Surfing, swimming with dolphins, sightseeing, and beach combing will keep the guests occupied on this trip.

  3. Southern Caribbean – This includes some islands of the Lower Antilles (Dominica, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, and Bermuda), Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. Swimming, beach combing, hiking, trekking, and cliff jumping will keep you busy. This trip is perfect for the outdoorsy type. These places are also not that crowded because they are far from the United States.

Generally, going on a cruise in the Caribbean means having numerous islands to visit. However, in the Caribbean, the transportation from and to different islands are not organized navigation can be challenging. The guests have to find boats or ferries that will take them to these islands. Flying is an option but is a lot more expensive and complicated.

Because a Caribbean cruise covers a wide area and has several ports of call, it typically lasts at least a week and is expensive. It is a great option for those who want to go on a cruise for the first time.

The Bahamas vs Caribbean Cruises

What, then, is the difference between the Bahamas and Caribbean cruises?

The Bahamas cruise stays within the boundaries of the Bahamas and only includes three ports of call (Florida, Nassau, and Freeport). The Caribbean cruise, on the other hand, covers several islands in the Western Caribbean, Eastern Caribbean, and Southern Caribbean. It has a number of ports of call including Cuba (for those non-U.S. citizens), Mexico, Costa Maya, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Belize City, and Roatan.

The Bahamas cruise is more relaxed, laid-back, and family-friendly than the Caribbean cruise. Shopping, swimming, sightseeing, snorkeling, and beach combing are the usual activities in the Bahamas. In the Caribbean, some activities such as trekking, hiking, cliff jumping, zip lining, surfing may not be appropriate for very young children.

Both destinations offer island hopping. In the Bahamas, you get to access private islands when you are on a cruise. In the Caribbean, you have to navigate the islands on your own, which means you have to find ferries or boats that will take you to and from the islands.

A cruise in the Bahamas is shorter (three to five days) and more affordable. It is perfect for those who are repeat cruisers, those who want a quick vacation, or those who are traveling with a family. On the contrary, going on a cruise in the Caribbean is longer (at least a week) and more expensive. It is great for those who want to try going on a cruise.

Comparison Chart

BahamasCaribbean Cruises
Stays within the boundaries of the BahamasCovers several islands in the Western Caribbean (Mexico, Central America, Greater Antilles), Eastern Caribbean (Turks and Caicos, Saint Maarten, St. Kitts, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico), and Southern Caribbean (Lower Antilles, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao)
Has three ports of call: Florida, Nassau, and FreeportHas several ports of call: Cuba (for non-U.S. citizens), Mexico, Costa Maya, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Belize City, and Roatan
Relaxed, laid-back, and family-friendly; activities include shopping, swimming, sightseeing, snorkeling, beach combing, and island hopping (which is easier since you are allowed to access a few private islands when you are on a cruise)Activities such as trekking, hiking, cliff jumping, zip lining, and surfing are suited for adults or the adventurous types; island hopping is difficult since guests need to find transportation to and from the islands on their own
Lasts three to five daysLasts seven days or more
More affordable than the Caribbean cruiseExpensive
Attracts repeat cruisers; ideal for those who need a quick and affordable vacation or those who are traveling with kidsAttracts first time cruisers; ideal for the outdoorsy type