Those of you that have had the experience of ploughing through Caribbean waters on a vessel that is the seafaring equivalent of an 18 wheeler trailer can look back at their time with fond memories, however your recollections will always have to be asterisked when describing the places you’ve visited. Most major cruise lines allot only enough time to visit islands so that cruisers can later justify braggadocios claims about all the places they’ve visited.
Cruises offer an abundance of on-ship activities but severely dilute on the shore experience, allowing for only a brief window for passengers to explore all those exotic idylls. Such meagre opportunities for adventure relegate tourists from doers to seers when on land. Lack of time and transport mean that those curious enough to exit the ship will be greeted by a tourist-tainted version of paradise. Perhaps those wonderful islands that travellers wish to enjoy will be better experienced by an on-ship Wikipedia exploration than with simply a quick hop ashore?
For the pirates out there who yearn to interact at an intimate level with disparate cultures there is another option. Tourists can hire a yacht and become explorers, which gives them a nautical wheel to captain themselves to the Caribbean destinations of their choice. For those not sailing-inclined, no need to skidoo on back to your portable city just yet. Many yacht charters are available fully equipped with a trained crew, thus allowing you to sit back with your captain’s hat, have a cigar, and laugh condescendingly at the fools who thought it’d be a good idea to spend seven nights on a ship with hordes of caffeine-stoned toddlers and not enough space.
The autonomy you’ll have when unfurling your jib sail will grant you the freedom to travel to any destination you desire and create an itinerary that you feel passionate about. If you’ve found an island you can’t get enough of, feel free to stay there as long as your holiday allows.
Yacht life means you’ll be eating the food of the native population. On cruise ships you’re dining options will be limited to the special of the day – it’s common practice to offer patrons a menu comprised of two entrée choices for dinner. However, when on your own you’ll be able to have authentic Jamaican jerk chicken, the singular roast pork served with rice, beans, and plantains, and pepperpot stew which entails aubergine, okra, squash, potatoes and other island staples.
With all the appeal of any new, exciting culture, the choice to ditch the cruise ship and sail to the Caribbean on your own terms should be a no brainer.