Traveling abroad doesn’t always entail long, grueling flights in a cramped and dark metal tube. In fact, the journey to your destination never has to feel like a journey at all, when you take a Caribbean cruise. But what makes for the best Caribbean cruises?
Maybe it’s cruising past a once-active volcano. Or perhaps it’s sinking your feet and crinkling your toes in the warm, embracing sands of one of the myriad jaw-dropping Caribbean beaches. Perhaps it’s trying new cuisine or interacting with people from a culture you’ve never even heard of.
Regardless of your motivations for traveling to the Caribbean, relaxing and vacationing are the priorities, and the best cruises to the Caribbean will have that in mind, too. Here’s our list of the best Caribbean cruise lines that will have an itinerary suited for you.
Destinations: Fort Lauderdale; Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica
Begin your adventure in Fort Lauderdale: The ship won’t leave until late afternoon, so you have most of the day for activities like visiting the Florida Everglades and shopping. After a day at sea, you’ll arrive in Labadee, Haiti, where you can zip-line 500 feet above the ground on the Dragon’s Breath Flight Line before indulging in local food. Your final destination is Falmouth, Jamaica, where you can go river-tubing or climb Dunn’s River Falls.
Onboard Independence of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International makes sure boredom is not an option. There are three stories worth of water slides and a virtual-reality bungee trampoline, for starters. Hungry? Try everything from typical American fare to decadent, made-to-order Japanese cuisine at Izumi or juicy hand-cut steaks at Chop’s Grille. Entertainment and relaxing won’t be lacking either, as there’s a spa, shops, live shows and auctions, to name a few activities.
Destinations: Fort Lauderdale; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Roatan, Honduras; Belize City, Belize; Cozumel, Mexico
Your ship will first take you to Grand Cayman of the Cayman Islands where you can explore George Town before snorkeling with stingrays. In Honduras, check out the over 2,700 iguanas at a local iguana farm. Then, in Belize, visit the125-animal zoo, or check out Mayan ruins dating back to 2000 B.C. Last but not least, Cozumel offers a look into Mexico’s history while offering attractions like a national park, beaches, Mayan ruins and snorkeling in crystal-clear waters.
Sky Princess offers a multitude of entertainment and dining options, as well as activities to keep your entire group engaged, placing it among the best Caribbean cruise ships. There’s a newly released escape room you can try out, or attend cooking shows and wine-tastings. Feeling lucky? There’s a casino, too. Also onboard are live shows, outdoor movies, a spa, a fitness center and kids activities for ages 3 to 17, making for one of the best Caribbean islands cruises.
Destinations: San Juan; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; St. Kitts (Basseterre), St. Kitts & Nevis; Castries, St. Lucia; Bridgetown, Barbados; Roseau, Dominica; St. John’s, Antigua; Philipsburg, St. Martin; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Starting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, this Caribbean adventure will take you to eight other ports. Start in Tortola, and consider a forest hike or an offshore fishing trip. In St. Kitts, take in the views on a scenic, historic train ride. Then, in Bridgetown, visit Harrison’s Cave for an awe-inspiring site of stalagmites and stalactites (which one’s which, again?).
Day 7 of the voyage will take you to Roseau, where you can relax to the sounds of the flowing Indian River, as you travel by rowboat. St. John’s, your next port, offers a catamaran cruise with a lobster lunch and tours of historic Fort James. In Philipsburg, you can admire panoramic views from hundreds of feet above on a chairlift. Snorkel with sea turtles at your last port, St. Thomas, while engaging with other marine life.
Onboard Viking Sea, there’s a spa, a fitness center, shops, a salon, a myriad of restaurants, a theater, pools and a sports deck.
Destinations: Fort Lauderdale; Long Island (Clarence Town), Bahamas; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Nevis, St. Kitts (Charlestown) & Nevis; St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda; Gustavia, St. Barthélemy; Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
You’ll leave from Fort Lauderdale in the early evening and travel at sea for a day before arriving in Clarence Town where you can explore coral reefs teeming with life, beautiful beaches and waterfalls. After another day at sea, you’ll visit San Juan and its lively, vibrant culture and people. Charlestown is next on the itinerary, and, here, you can take to the salt again for an offshore fishing trip.
In St. John’s, go horseback riding, or break out the golf clubs at Cedar Valley. In Gustavia, you’ll likely be jaw-dropped from the abundance of personal luxury yachts at bay (all pale in comparison next to Silver Wind, though), but don’t forget to visit the red and white Gustavia Lighthouse. For your last port, you’ll visit Jost Van Dyke and its turquoise waters and idyllic beach scenes with palm trees and blinding white sand. Go snorkeling off this island’s shores.
Silver Wind has a boutique, a theater for live shows, a fitness center, a pool deck, multiple bars, lounges and restaurants, a spa, a library, a casino and a salon, to name a few amenities, making for one of the best tropical cruises.
Destinations: Fort Lauderdale; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas (Charlotte Amalie), U.S. Virgin Islands; Philipsburg, St. Maarten
Fort Lauderdale will play host to you and thousands of other passengers waiting to board Celebrity Reflection for this seven-night voyage. Here, you can explore beaches and have a relatively light day shopping, eating and enjoying South Florida life.
San Juan will be your first stop. Consider a trek through El Yunque National Forest, one of the most famous natural sites in the Caribbean in one of the best Caribbean cruise destinations. Day 4 will entail a stop on St. Thomas where not one culture reigns supreme: Danish, French, Spanish, West African and Caribbean influences can be seen all over the island. For your last stop in Philipsburg, prepare to go snorkeling in their crystal-clear, vibrant waters.
Aboard Celebrity Reflection, you’ll have the option to dine at a variety of restaurants, like the main Opus Restaurant that boasts “legendary” service. A martini bar and multiple lounges, among other onboard amenities, are also available for you to relax and enjoy life on the water outside your stateroom, making for one of the best cruises to the Caribbean islands.
Destinations: Philipsburg; Tortola (Road Town), British Virgin Islands; Jost Van Dyke (Great Harbour), British Virgin Islands; Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands; Road Bay, Anguilla; Gustavia, St. Barthélemy; Falmouth Harbour, Antigua
For your first stop, you’ll visit Road Town on the British Virgin Island of Tortola. Here, you can go snorkeling around Norman Island. On Jost Van Dyke, you have the option to go on a kayaking eco-tour. At Road Bay, enjoy true paradise on a relatively remote beach with delicious local food. When you get to Gustavia for your penultimate port, consider returning to the water on a catamaran adventure. At your last stop on Antigua, take a segway tour around Fort James.
Your Windstar Cruise aboard Wind Surf includes all meals in all venues at any hour and 24-hour room service, all non-alcoholic beverages and coffee, multiple restaurants and lounges to enjoy, of course multiple pools and a spa, among other amenities.
Destinations: Fort Lauderdale; Half Moon Cay, Bahamas; Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos; Amber Cove, Dominican Republic; Kralendijk, Bonaire; Willemstad, Curaçao; Oranjestad, Aruba
What better way to spend a day in the luxurious Bahamas than by going an eco-bike ride and hike, as you explore Half Moon Cay on a relaxed, wholesome experience. Change the pace when you arrive at Grand Turk: Try a thrilling dune-buggy safari that’ll take you to multiple sites with more energetic means than a bike ride. For those interested in culture in the D.R., visit Puerto Plata for its Victorian-style architecture, the rum factory and the Plastic Artists Art Galleries.
Bonaire is, perhaps, one of the lesser-known Caribbean stops, so a trip to King’s Warehouse & Cultural Park for a historic tour filled with panoramic views might be worth it. In Willemstad, a trolley train will take you on a 50-minute trip that takes you around many local sites, like Scharloo, a former Jewish neighborhood with buildings begging to be photographed. On Aruba for your final stop, consider exploring an underwater shipwreck on a submarine adventure.
From the Rolling Stone Rock Room and the Lincoln Center Stage providing live-music performances to a multitude of dining experiences, ranging from Northwestern American fare to pan-Asian cuisines, and a spa, Koningsdam has no shortage of onboard amenities to keep you engaged.
Destinations: Philipsburg; Frenchman’s Cay, British Virgin Islands; Gustavia, St. Barthélemy; Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis; Terre-de-Haut, Guadeloupe; Castries, St. Lucia; Mayreau, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Bridgetown, Barbados
Your seven-day voyage will begin in Philipsburg: Go duty-free shopping before boarding. Then, on Frenchman’s Cay, take a self-driving safari and beach tour that’ll take you to Smugglers Beach, among other stops. In Gustavia, there are awe-inspiring beaches and now-dormant volcanic hills to explore. Basseterre has the Brimstone Hill Fortress that’s been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its 17th- and 18th-century military architecture.
On Guadeloupe, go clear-bottom kayaking, and become enamored with the natural marine world below. Castries is home to St. Lucia’s only rum distillery, so that’s a must-visit. On Mayreau, take a local boat to two islands for photo-ops galore. You’ll end your cruise in Bridgetown where you can explore the ocean waters while staying dry in a submarine on one of the top Caribbean cruises.
Restaurants, lounges, bars, a casino, a dance club and a sky bar are just a few of the features that highlight an engaging experience aboard Seabourn Odyssey.