Cruise Trends: Cruise Lines Highlighting Less Crowded Caribbean Islands

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Cruise Trends: Cruise Lines Highlighting Less Crowded Caribbean Islands

Expect to see a new trend in Caribbean cruises over the next few years as cruise lines develop new ports of call. After years following the same itineraries, cruise lines are seeking out newer, less crowded destinations.

“Most Caribbean cruises follow one of two routes,” says Paul Motter, editor of CruiseMates, “The typical Western Caribbean itinerary goes to Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel; the standard Eastern Caribbean sojourn stops in St Thomas, St Martin and a Bahamian island.”

These itineraries lead to a hoard of travelers descending on the same islands.

“Bigger and bigger ships frequently arrive in the same ports on the same day as they service the same itineraries,” says Motter.

For major stops like Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas, it is not unusual to have five ships arriving each day during high season, each dropping up to 3,000 passengers on the town.

“Does this make sense?” asks Motter, “Absolutely not.”

To avoid the crowds some cruise lines are seeking out quieter ports of call.

Carnival Cruise Lines recently announced a new itinerary for its ship Carnival Destiny featuring stops at less-visited ports in the Southern Caribbean, including St. Kitts and St. Lucia.

In the Western Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Lines and Holland American feature stops at the Guatemalan port of Santo Tomas, which began receiving cruise ships only four years ago.

But travel experts predict that the next major cruise destination will be the Honduran island of Roatan.

“Roatan is beautiful and unspoiled,” says local travel agent Gary Miller of TropicalRez, “It’s what the rest of the Caribbean was like 20 or 30 years ago.”

In many ways Roatan is an ideal destination for American travelers. The island features tropical scenery, sugar white beaches without the crowds and first rate scuba diving.

Already over a third of visitors to Roatan come via cruise ship. Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Holland American and Norwegian Cruises currently stop at the island as part of their Western Caribbean cruise routes.

But ship traffic is still light by Caribbean standards. Only nineteen cruise ships stopped at the island during January 2008. That may change in the next few years.

Royal Caribbean has just signed a deal to build a $30 million extension to the island’s cruise terminal.

Carnival Cruise Lines is spending $50 million on its own port of call. To be called Mahogany Bay, the new port will feature shops, restaurants and bars and have the capacity to handle up to 7,000 visitors per day.

All of which begs the question, as the cruise lines seek to get away from the crowds, will they spoil paradise?

“I’m not too worried about that,” says Miller, “Right now we’re so much less developed than the better-known Caribbean islands, it will take a long time for us to get where they are today.”

Source by John Anton

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