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17 September 2019 by blade

With an island for every taste, the Caribbean is the ultimate place for relaxation. You'll find white sands and turquoise water throughout the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. Some islands are lush, with rainforests and mountain trails, while others have desert climates and coral beaches. Wherever you visit, taste regional specialties such as conch fritters and get out on the water with snorkeling and sailing excursions.

If you're new to cruising, it's easy to get Bermuda and the Bahamas mixed up. Both island chains have a shared British heritage and are located in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Caribbean. Both are easily accessible from the East Coast, which makes them a favorite for cruise lines. Yet, the two archipelagos have some important distinctions when it comes to cruise seasons and itineraries and island attractions. Read on for more tips on how to choose between a Bermuda or a Bahamas cruise.

Between wrecks and reefs, pinnacles and pelagics, the Southern Caribbean offers some of the region's best opportunities for diving and snorkeling. Undersea adventures are easy to arrange on Southern Caribbean cruises that call on these islands, and many dive shops offer newbies a Discover Scuba

Southern Caribbean cruises typically call on ports that are farther away than most Caribbean itineraries, and thus more remote -- they can bring back that feeling of discovery. There are actually ports with nary a fast food chain in sight and islands where English is barely spoken. You'll find towns that make you feel as though you've walked through the looking glass into a colonial past, with sugar mills and manor houses offering high tea and gourmet repasts. We've selected some of our favorite places and shore excursions -- journeys that offer varied glimpses of life of these islands. How about a train ride through the region's sugar cane history? Or snorkeling in a sea of Champagne? Most of the excursions we've chosen are available on major ship itineraries, although they might vary slightly from one cruise line to the next. As always, we encourage you to read up on Southern Caribbean ports, look into the Cruise Critic destination boards, ask questions and determine which excursions are best for you.

Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, is popular with cruise lines, offering a bit of island sun and bargain shopping close to Florida. But even popular ports bring in first-time visitors, who need to figure out what are the must-see attractions and how to go about getting to them without sweating through their new logo tees. For many, a highlights tour is a good bet. In an effort to gain an overview of what the port has to offer, we booked "Nassau Shore Excursion: Island Highlights Sightseeing Tour" through Viator, an affiliate of Cruise Critic and also owned by TripAdvisor. We wanted to see how the excursion stacked up in terms of time, cost and experience. Read our findings beow.