Imagine you’re sitting on an empty white sand beach, listening to gentle waves and sipping on a fruity cocktail. Welcome to the Caribbean. When you add in adventurous excursions, incredible marine life and thousands of islands to explore, you won’t be able to get enough. Here are five reasons why you need to book a Caribbean cruise.

Island Hopping

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With over 7,000 islands in the Caribbean, the possibilities are endless. A cruise allows you to travel to several different islands in one trip, seeing the best of what each place has to offer. When you’re planning a cruise to the Caribbean, it’s important to understand the three major regions. The Western Caribbean is comprised of parts of Mexico and Central America, in addition to the Cayman Islands, Cuba and Jamaica. The Southern Caribbean includes exotic destinations such as Curacao, Barbados, Guadeloupe, Antigua and Aruba. And the Eastern Caribbean, best known for its laid-back vibe, includes the U.S. and the British Virgin Islands, parts of the French West Indies and the Dominican Republic. If you’re a first-timer, check out Carnival Cruise for a seven-day voyage to some of the most iconic spots in the Eastern Caribbean.

Incredible Beaches

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With white sand, turquoise waters and gentle, lapping waves, the Caribbean boasts some of the best beaches in the world. Whether you prefer lying on the beach, relaxing in a hammock or immersing yourself in the warm salt water, spending time oceanside is requisite for any trip to the Caribbean. If you’re looking for powdery, white sand and empty beaches, plan on hitting up some of the “A” islands — the beaches on Antigua and Anguilla are often less crowded than other islands in the Caribbean. Seabourn Cruise Line offers a seven-day cruise with stops at these two islands, plus St. Maarten, St. Kitts and Barbados.

Stunning Marine Life

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The true magic of the Caribbean lies beneath the surface. Whether you’re a beginner snorkeler or an advanced diver, the underwater beauty of the Caribbean is worth the trip alone. Beginners will love snorkeling near Buck Island in St. Croix, a U.S. National Park known for its healthy marine life and massive brain coral. And Belize is famous for its unique underwater experiences, such as snorkeling with sharks at Shark Ray Alley and diving into the infamous Blue Hole. Norwegian Cruise Line has a seven-day trip to the Western Caribbean, with two days in Belize, leaving plenty of time to explore the sea’s underwater depths.

Adventure Galore

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Adventure sports enthusiasts will love cruising to the Caribbean for the sheer excitement alone. In addition to the aforementioned snorkeling and diving, cruises to the Caribbean offer paddleboarding, fishing and kayaking excursions. For something new, try out a clear-bottomed kayak to observe the depths of the ocean from the safety of your vessel. Or, if you stop in Puerto Rico, go on a bioluminescent kayak excursion to witness the amazing fluorescent glow of the dinoflagellates at night. For land excursions, go zip lining or rappelling in Cozumel or climb the Dunn's River Falls in Jamaica. Either way, if you’re an adventure lover, a trip to the Western Caribbean, like the Royal Caribbean’s seven-night Western Caribbean cruise, is a great choice.

Cultural Land Excursions

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The many island nations in the Caribbean offer a plethora of exciting cultural activities for every type of traveler. The incredible Mayan ruins in Cozumel and Tulum are an easy day trip and a must-visit for this port-of-call. The history of St. Maarten, an island divided by the Dutch and French in 1648, is fascinating, and art aficionados will love touring the homes of Kunstenaars, the Dutch word for native artists. If you visit the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago during early February, you will be thrilled by the carnival festivals that take place on the islands. And even if you don’t go during February, you may fall in love with the vibrant culture of Trinidad, which was the birthplace of calypso music. Princess Cruises offers a 14-day cruise with a stop in Trinidad’s Port of Spain, as well as several other Southern Caribbean islands.