I was wondering if anyone could tell me how cruise ships work, like, say the ship leaves Southampton, UK for the Caribbean, do the people on board return by cruise ship or do they catch a plane home. Then what happens to the cruise ship once it reaches the Caribbean, does it return to Southampton, is there anyone on board? Please give as much detail as you can.
That depends entirely on the cruise line, the ship, and the schedule. Some cruise lines will have ships that make a regular circuit starting at a home port and returning to that home port. Others will vary the itinerary so will start and end at a different port on a regular basis. Yet others will have a summer and a winter home port so twice a year will do a reposition cruise which will start at one port and finish at another. The cruise that you describe is usually one of the latter where it operates out of the UK for the summer and repositions to Florida or the Caribbean for the winter. In the case where the start and finish port are different then yes most people will fly to or from one port or both. In the case where a ship starts and finishes at a home port then depending on your relative location to the home port some will drive or fly. You can always check with your travel agent for specifics on a cruise line or ship or you can go to the web site for the cruise lines. Most list the ships itineraries a year or two in advance.
Look into the itinerary. All cruises I've gone on return to the departing port. Typically on disembarking, all the passengers get off in the morning, the crew stay and prep for the next batch of cruisers coming on that afternoon. The staff work for 7 or 8 months straight, get a 3-4 month vacation on land and are back at it. Ships have dry docking which they have service and upgrades, and there are repositioning as described before that do not return.
Yes, look into your itinerary, ship and cruise line. You may have to fly home from Caribbean. That would be a long cruise if you had return back across the Atlantic to England....Long is good