If cruising from a U.S. port I like Western because you can sometimes get in 4 ports instead of the usual 3. If the cost of flying to San Juan is not a problem I would pick Southern. I like lots of ports. When you do Southern you wake up to different colored water everyday.
Southern !!!!! It also depends when you go. If you are traveling in the first 2 months of the year, the weather is not as warm in the western as it is in the Southern. One year we sat on deck the day at sea and had to cover up with our beach towels.
We did the western last December and the weather was very cool. Most days temps were in the low 70's. When we departed and arrived in New Orleans, temps were in the 50's. This year we are doing the southern Caribbean in December; 10 days on the Rotterdam, Dec. 12.
as an example...we have Aruba on our Southern Itinerary and it is our time share Island..average YEAR round temps( Aruba is 20 miles from South America...way down to the equator)...is 84 degrees..also "out of the Hurricane belt..last hurricane approx 150 years ago ..so it is always pretty warm year round..so in proximity those islands are those temps..Have fun on your family cruise..:daisy.if you are porting out of San Juan airfare is pricier but as a rule we much prefer Southern cruises..hotels are pricier as a rule too.."supply and demand"..just an FYI...:grin...Joanne
We did the Western in March and had a good time , but if the ship stops in Costa Maya, stay on board. Cozumel is interesting, at least from my POV because I live diving and snorkeling and Coz was some of the best I have seen. As was Grand Cayman.
However, if you want a lush "TROPICAL" experience, the Western Carib is not it. We have done 2 Southern cruises and are thinking about doing another next year. The islands are more varied, the people friendlier (at least in my opinion) and for me there is so much more to do and see.
The weather in Dec will be about the same for either destination, except that if you leave from San Juan (for the Southern), it will be warmer than Fort Lauderdale.
Western will be cooler but you'd like the stops - especially with kids along.
Southern has lots to offer but we've avoided it in recent years because of the tremendous air expense as most southern cruises go out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Airfare to San Juan is AWFUL!!! For us in the midwest it get close to 1/2 the total cost of the cruise. There are a few Southern cruises that depart from Florida but most are 10 days or more. That doesn't work for some people limited to a 7 day vacation.