The Caribbean is one of the world's most popular regions for cruises and during my years at sea, I spent many months sailing around this captivating part of the world, falling in love with many of the gorgeous islands and returning several times since for my own holidays.
From high mountain peaks to sparkling reefs, salsa rhythms to rolling reggae, pirate hideouts to sugar-sand beaches, the Caribbean offers a unique richness of diversity. Its islands offer a vast selection of experiences, making it an ideal cruising destination.
A Caribbean cruise comes with the promise of tropical heat and sunshine - a big draw - particularly in the peak winter season.
The geographical makeup is tailor-made for cruising, with the islands conveniently spaced out to allow arrival at a new port most mornings.
Most importantly, a cruise in this region is the best way to visit several islands on a single trip, with no need for constant packing and unpacking.
During a single trip, you can be snorkelling with the stingrays off Grand Cayman, climbing waterfalls in Jamaica, zip-lining over St Lucia's spectacular rainforest canopy, hiking in Dominica or kayaking along the spice island of Grenada's indented coast.
There is of course another major benefit of a Caribbean cruise - you can simply relax on a stunning beach at every port of call.
I suggest spending a few hotel nights either pre or post-cruise when taking a Caribbean cruise.
When sailing from a US port, you will always fly out the day before, so if the ship is departing from Tampa, consider Clearwater or St Petersburg, only 30 minutes from the port.
Likewise, if your voyage leaves from Miami or Fort Lauderdale, enjoy some relaxing beach time before you set sail and explore the art deco scene of Miami Beach or the Intracoastal Waterways of Fort Lauderdale.
Numerous cruise lines offer the Caribbean, but I have picked out Celebrity Cruises’ luxury offering sailing out of Miami, Fort Lauderdale or Tampa as a particular favourite with clients to illustrate what you can expect.
Celebrity Cruises’ iconic “X” is the mark of luxury, with its cool, contemporary design and warm spaces, dining experiences where the venue vibe is as important as the cuisine and a dedication to service, all created to provide a memorable holiday experience.
A range of stateroom types, from cosy interior rooms to sprawling suites, are available with 75% of cabins featuring a private balcony.
Onboard are both indoor and outdoor pools, jacuzzis, solariums, fitness centres and a heap of entertainment catering for all tastes, along with an array of bars, lounges and clubs.
Several speciality restaurants will ensure guests eat well. Choose casual or upscale, sushi or Italian, dining room or alfresco under the stars. Fixed dining times can be taken or with Celebrity’s Select Dining, when you dine, and with whom, is entirely your choice.
Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Apex are new" Edge Class" vessels, setting revolutionary standards of luxury and innovation in cruising to the way guests play, dine and unwind at sea.
Using the latest 3-D technology, they have fine-tuned every detail of the ship like never before, from the incredible Magic Carpet to the private plunge pools in the new Edge Villas.
The Magic Carpet is a destination itself.
The size of a tennis court and reaching heights of 13 storeys above sea level, it is the world’s first cantilevered, floating platform.
Majestically situated on the starboard side of Celebrity Edge, it has been designed with comfortable seating, a full bar and space for live music performances.
This spectacular space opens to several decks, transforming into a new and exciting venue depending on where it’s positioned.
The Edge and the Apex are currently scheduled to undertake seven-night cruises out of Fort Lauderdale.
The Edge will head to the Eastern Caribbean with ports of call including San Juan, St Thomas and St Maarten, while the Apex visits the Western Caribbean, calling at ports such as Belize, Cozumel, Honduras and Grand Cayman.
There are of course numerous itineraries available from a variety of different cruise lines. Having cruised this part of the world extensively, I can offer a comprehensive insight into which may be the best fit depending on your individual needs.