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The Hot List: Top 3 Tropical Cruise Destinations

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For those who live in colder climates, the start of the new year is met with dreams of somewhere warm and tropical. Cruise liners are making it easier than ever to turn this dream into a reality. January and February offer more affordable cruise packages since most Americans are back at work or in school during those months. Things pick up in March with Spring Break, so if you can, squeeze sunny skies and clear waters in the first couple months. Here are some ideal destination cruise options.

Crane Beach, Barbados

Photo by seanosh via Flickr

Head toward the Bridgetown, Barbados port to experience rope swings, calypso dancing and the rest of the exotic culture Barbados offers. Though appropriate only for strong swimmers, the waters are filled with both body surfers and board surfers alike since Crane Beach is known for its fantastic waves. Regular swimming is definitely encouraged. In fact, the exotic underwater life tempts scuba divers and snorkelers to the coral reefs right off the coast. Also, the sand is soft and fine since every beach is made up of pulverized coral, making the beaches are perfect for long strolls. This West Indies gem, with its fun-loving culture and natural beauty make it a distinctive island.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Photo by over_kind_man via Flickr

Brazil’s capital is just off the coast — a perfect destination for your South American cruise. A cruise to Rio in January or February is perfect for a number of reasons, especially in 2014. First, if you’re looking for a beach but not a resort, this is the place to be. Second, with the World Cup being held in June and July, a trip early in the year ensures you’ll have an easier time getting around. January boasts low hotel prices and warm weather, but if you want to party, February plays host to the famous Carnival. Either way, you have Copacabana, one its most famous and lengthy beaches, as well as several other fabulous places to soak up the sun.

Dominican Republic

Photo by Ian D. Keating via Flickr

Cruises travel to La Romana, Samana and other coastal cities on this tropical Caribbean island. Temperatures hover around the mid-70s in the early months of the year, with a low chance for rain, which means less humidity and comfortable weather for beach goers. When you’re not relaxing on the ship, explore the Dominican Republic’s cobblestone streets and enjoy this rich culture. For those seeking engaging resorts, Punta Cana is a popular destination and most offer several water sports and more. If you’re the adventurous type, Santo Domingo is ideal since you can remain surrounded by other tourists or travel to other areas for a more local feel of the Dominican Republic (DR).

But before selecting your tropical cruise, ensure you have everything you’ll need for your trip. For starters, your luggage should be lightweight since many tropical destinations don’t have luggage conveyors, with the exception of Brazil. A passport is a must just about anywhere, but check in advance if you’ll need a tourist visa (Brazil and DR require them). Take bathing suits, shorts and tank tops, but definitely no camouflage clothing (it’s illegal in some countries). Bug repellent is a must as is sunscreen of about 30 SPF for equatorial climate.

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