Southern Caribbean

St. Barts is so French, you'll swear you're in the Mediterranean while sipping a glass of something at a sidewalk cafe. Martinique and Guadalupe also harbor both French and West Indian trappings. Grenada, relatively undeveloped, is laid-back and exudes a genuine small town vibe.

Aruba and Antigua are regarded for their soft, sandy beaches. Martinique, St. Lucia and Guadeloupe wow visitors with spectacular scenic views, from rain-forests to volcanoes. Dutch-influenced Curacao and its sibling, Bonaire, host great snorkeling and scuba diving spots.

Opportunities to go (quite literally) off the beaten path abound on islands such as Dominica, where the countryside is so lush, just the foliage is an attraction. In contrast, the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) are arid and sandy, and have their own incredible beauty.

Short Cruises: Because of the region's relative distance from North America, Southern Caribbean itineraries are typically at least seven days. Embarkation on these shorter cruises tend to be in San Juan and Barbados.

Traditional Southern Caribbean Itineraries: The islands in the region offer endless variety, but where you sail is likely to be determined primarily by the size of the vessel you're on. Large ships call at islands with enough tourism infrastructure to keep shore excursion throngs satisfied and amused. These include Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, and Curacao or Bonaire.