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24 Caribbean Cruises for Your Next Tropical Vacation

Island hop in luxury.

unique caribbean cruises

The Caribbean islands are among the most popular cruise destinations in the world thanks to the region's beautiful beaches, historic towns, ancient ruins, delicious food, and friendly locals. The diverse languages and cultures add to the appeal of the Caribbean, and cruises that visit a series of destinations highlight the distinctions among the islands. From ocean liners and yachts to small expedition vessels and sailboats, the best Caribbean cruises allow travelers to enjoy the time at sea and on land.

Caribbean cruises depart from many port cities, so for some travelers, spending a few days in a new place before or after the cruise adds to the experience. Cruises can be family-focused or adults-only, and many accommodate all ages with activities to keep everyone happy. Whether you're looking for a quick getaway or an extended vacation, a cruise can fit into your plans. Here are some of the best Caribbean cruises to inspire your island vacation.

Ponant's Panama, Colombia, and Caribbean Islands

Duration: 12 nights

What to expect: This voyage aboard the 184-passenger Le Bellot begins in Panama’s second-largest city of Colón, which sits at the Caribbean entrance of the Panama Canal. The first stop is the historic town of Portobello, home to UNESCO-listed fortifications and a colonial-era shipping port. Then, the cruise heads to the San Blas Islands, where guests can relax on white-sand beaches, swim in crystal-clear waters, and learn about the traditional fishing techniques of the Kuna people. Next is Cartagena, Colombia, home to a colorful and lively UNESCO-listed historical center, and Santa Marta, a gateway to the lush Sierra Nevada, the highest coastal chain of mountains in the world. After a day at sea, the ship arrives at the diving hot spot of Bonaire. Highlights after that include Grenada's capital city of St. George’s, the tranquil beaches of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the lush rain forest of St. Lucia. The penultimate port is Les Saintes, a pristine and mostly uninhabited archipelago of nine islands in Guadeloupe. After swimming, snorkeling, and reflecting on the journey, guests disembark the next day in Fort-de-France, Martinique.

Frederic Michel/Courtesy of Studio PONANT

Disney Cruise Line's 6-Night Western Caribbean Cruise from Galveston

Duration: Six nights

What to expect: Disney Cruise Lines has been named one of the best large-ship ocean cruise lines by Travel + Leisure readers, and for good reason. This itinerary invites guests to board the 875-room Disney Magic , which offers plenty of entertainment to enjoy during the first two days at sea between Galveston and Grand Cayman. For young passengers, there are clubs, games, pools, and Disney character encounters. Adults might enjoy the spa, nightclubs, restaurants, and evening entertainment. In Grand Cayman, cruisers can relax on the famed Seven Mile Beach or learn about historical artifacts at the Cayman Islands National Museum. In Cozumel, Mexico, there's scuba diving, snorkeling, and more stunning beaches. The following day is spent at sea with time to enjoy Disney Magic 's amenities before returning to Galveston.

Norwegian Cruise Line's Caribbean: Great Stirrup Cay and Dominican Republic

Duration: Seven nights What to expect: This cruise departs from Port Canaveral (Orlando) and spends the next day at sea aboard Norwegian Joy , which can carry 3,776 passengers, and has an adults-only relaxation area and beach club. The first port is Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, where travelers have time to enjoy the city views or explore on a hike. The ship visits the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Charlotte Amalie, which offers duty-free shopping and beaches. Tortola, British Virgin Islands, is the next port, where guests can snorkel or tour the forest canopy before heading out to sea for a day. Following that is Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas, a private island for NCL guests to enjoy snorkeling, kayaking, WaveRunner adventures, or relaxing in a beachfront cabana before returning to Port Canaveral the next day.

Princess Cruises' 7-day Eastern Caribbean with St. Thomas

Duration: Seven nights What to expect: Guests board the 3,660-passenger Sky Princess in Fort Lauderdale and cruise to Princess Cays on Eleuthera in the Bahamas. A beach barbecue, a local craft market, and water activities from snorkeling to fishing are available on the private island resort. The next day at sea on the way to San Juan, Puerto Rico, offers time to enjoy onboard activities including the pool, spa, sports court, and casino, as well as programs for young cruisers. After that, travelers can tour Old San Juan, the El Yunque National Rainforest, and Fort San Cristobal. The next stop is St. Thomas, which offers snorkeling, hiking, and golfing. With the next two days at sea, guests can enjoy the ship's restaurants, spa, and family-friendly Camp Discovery centers before returning to Fort Lauderdale.

The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection's Bridgetown to Bridgetown

Duration: Seven nights What to expect: This cruise aboard the The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection 's 149-suite ship, Evrima , starts in Bridgetown, Barbados, and heads to Saint-Pierre, Martinique, also known as "the Paris of the Caribbean." Here, cruisers can explore a charming seaside town, black-sand beaches, and dive sites with shipwrecks. The next stop is Soufrière, St. Lucia, a gateway to natural wonders like the steaming volcanic crater of Sulphur Springs, the organic gardens of the Tet Paul Nature Trail, and lush rain forest that can be explored via guided hikes. The next day is dedicated to the pristine palm-lined beaches of Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Grenada’s pedestrian-friendly capital of St. George’s gives guests a perfect opportunity to stretch their legs while viewing 18th-century architecture. The final destination before returning to Bridgetown, Barbados, is Canouan, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, home to colorful coral reefs, turtle nesting sites, and hiking trails up Mount Royal.

Norwegian Cruise Line's Western Caribbean: Harvest Caye, Cozumel, and Roatan

Duration: Seven nights

What to expect: This cruise leaves from New Orleans, so the celebration can start even before guests board the 3,903-passenger Norwegian Getaway for a day at sea with nightly entertainment, a casino, a spa, and a water park. There's the Splash Academy for young cruisers and the Entourage games and activities lounge for teens. The ship arrives at Costa Maya, Mexico, home to Mayan ruins, beaches, fly fishing, and river tubing. Belize is the next port, with river rafting through the jungle and relaxing on the beach. The next day is spent on Roatán, an island off the coast of Honduras, for snorkeling or a beach day. In Cozumel, off Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, there's snorkeling, trolley tours, and tequila tasting. After another day at sea, the ship returns to New Orleans.

Royal Caribbean's 7-night Southern Caribbean

What to expect: Passengers board the 2,416-guest Rhapsody of the Seas in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The next port is the island of St. Thomas, with world-famous beaches and snorkeling. From there, the ship goes to St. Croix, the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Then, it's on to Philipsburg on St. Maarten, a culturally vibrant island governed by the Netherlands and France. On St. Lucia, cruisers can opt to relax at a resort or on the beach or hit the island's hiking trails. The last stop before the ship returns to San Juan is Barbados, where guests can marvel at pink-sand beaches, go spelunking, or visit historic plantations.

Virgin Voyages' Eastern Caribbean Antilles

Duration: Eight nights

What to expect: One of the best adults-only cruises , this trip from Miami features a mix of adventure-filled days, nightlife, and experiences that are exclusive to Virgin Voyages guests. After boarding the 2,770-passenger Scarlet Lady , the first stop is the Dominican port of Puerto Plata, where excursions include an off-road adventure through villages, rivers, and waterfalls, a cable car ride up to the mountains, and a rum-tasting tour. The next stop in San Juan includes a late-night stay, giving guests extra time to experience Puerto Rico’s capital city in the evening. After a stop in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, cruisers can enjoy the ship's many bars and restaurants before arriving at the Virgin Voyages Beach Club at Bimini, where they can relax by the shore or set out to explore the Bahamas' reefs, culture, and history on guided excursions.

Royal Caribbean's 4-night Bahamas and Perfect Day Cruise

Duration: Four nights What to expect: The 4,370-passenger Freedom of the Seas boards in Miami and heads to Nassau, Bahamas, for a day. Options there include Atlantis Resort and its water park, aquariums, and waterslides, as well as shopping and lounging on the beach. A day at sea gives guests time to enjoy the ship's water sports, nightlife, and restaurants. The ship arrives at CocoCay, Bahamas, for a day of fun in the freshwater pool, water park, Oasis Lagoon, and Coco Beach Club. The ship then returns to Miami for disembarkation.

Windstar Cruises' Classic Caribbean

What to expect: The cruise begins in St. Maarten aboard Wind Surf , a majestic 342-guest sailing ship with 150 luxurious staterooms. From there, the ship sails to Roseau, Dominica, and Pigeon Island, St. Lucia, where guests can explore rain forests and waterfalls. You can even hop aboard an aerial tram for a ride over the rain forest. In Guadeloupe, the Les Saintes archipelago offers snorkeling and rum sampling. In Basseterre, St. Kitts, there's an island tour, scenic railway, and zip line adventure. The cruise then heads to St. Barts for a catamaran sail before the ship returns to St. Maarten.

Hurtigruten's Tropical Waters and Remote Island Communities in the Caribbean

Duration: 11 nights

What to expect: Guests board the 550-passenger MS Roald Amundsen in Miami and spend the next two days cruising. The expedition ship has its own science center, as well as Nordic-inspired lounges, restaurants, and a spa, so guests can choose to dive into research or relax. The first stop is Belize, where you'll visit the Mayan ruins of Altun Ha and explore the country's pristine barrier reef. The cruise then heads to Honduras, stopping at spectacular dive sites and historic cities. Wildlife lovers will appreciate Nicaragua's remote islands of Cayos Miskitos, part of a protected nature reserve. Then, the adventure continues on Isla de Providencia in Colombia, Big Corn Island on Nicaragua's Caribbean coast, and Panama's UNESCO-listed Bocas del Toro islands. The final stop is Colón at the Caribbean entrance of the Panama Canal. Hurtigruten engages guests with citizen science programs, in-depth lectures from its expedition team, and purpose-driven excursions focused on mindfully exploring nature and the local cultures. Options include guided visits to Indigenous communities, hikes along rugged trails, and opportunities to learn about wildlife.

Windstar Cruises' Boston Sights, Warm Caribbean Nights

Duration: 10 nights

What to expect: Sailing from Boston aboard the all-suite Star Pride , which accommodates a maximum of 312 guests, cruisers can enjoy the spa, dining venues, and infinity pool during two days at sea on their way to Bermuda. In Hamilton, shopping, kayaking, and fresh seafood restaurants await, and in St. George's, guests can tour natural grottos or a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Two more days at sea take cruisers to St. Barts. After that, the ship stops in St. Kitts and the British Virgin Islands. San Juan is the final port, and guests can explore the walled old town after disembarkation.

Celebrity Cruises' Bahamas, Labadee, and Grand Cayman

Duration: Seven nights What to expect: Cruisers board the 3,260-passenger Celebrity Ascent in Fort Lauderdale and head to Nassau, Bahamas, for a day of relaxing beaches, duty-free shopping, and dining on the local specialty, conch fritters. A day at sea is next, with time to enjoy the ship's amenities, including 32 restaurants, bars, and lounges, a rooftop garden, and an adults-only solarium. Sip cocktails above the surf on the Magic Carpet, a cantilevered platform that can be raised up to 13 stories along the ship's exterior. The first stop is Labadee, a private Royal Caribbean port on Haiti's northern shore, which boasts stunning white-sand beaches and the world's longest over-water zip line. After another day of cruising the Caribbean, the ship arrives in George Town, Grand Cayman, for snorkeling, swimming with stingrays, and a beach barbecue. A final day at sea offers time to relax at the spa or dine at the three-story Eden restaurant before the ship returns to Fort Lauderdale.

Ponant's Pearls of the Caribbean Cruise

What to expect: From Martinique's capital of Fort-de-France, the 184-passenger Le Champlain sails to Bequia Island, home to lively Port Elizabeth, beaches, and a tropical rain forest. The ship makes several stops in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, including Mayreau Island for peaceful sandy beaches and snorkeling. The small islands of Tobago Cays teem with marine life such as green sea turtles. After a stop in the capital, Kingstown, the cruise heads to St. Lucia, where guests can relax on the protected beaches of Pigeon Island, a national landmark that features the ruins of an 18th-century British fort. A stop in Soufrière gives passengers a closer look at the Pitons, the island's signature twin volcanic spires. After a stop in Les Saintes, Guadeloupe, and Portsmouth, Dominica, the ship sails back to Martinique. Along the way, there's ample time to enjoy the elegant decor, swimming pool, and underwater lounge.

Azamara's 8-night Eastern Caribbean Voyage

What to expect: One of the best Caribbean cruises takes travelers on a voyage down to the region's eastern islands — all while sailing in the lap of luxury aboard the Azamara Quest , renowned for its comfortable 361 staterooms (including some with step-out balconies). The adventure begins in Miami and includes stops in St. Thomas, the British Virgin Islands, St. Kitts and Nevis, St Maarten, and St. Barts. Between shore excursions, guests can enjoy the ship's spa, fitness center, boutiques, enrichment programs, cocktail lounges, and performances by local talent.

Viking Ocean Cruises' West Indies Explorer

What to expect: Guests board the 930-passenger Viking Sea in San Juan before enjoying a day of exploring the town, kayaking, or horseback riding. Tortola, British Virgin Islands, is the next port, with time for snorkeling and the beach before heading to St. Kitts and Nevis. A rain forest safari and scenic railway trip are options there. In St. Lucia the next day, there's an aerial tram through the rain forest canopy and a catamaran tour. Bridgetown, Barbados, is the next port, and then Dominica the following day. Antigua and Barbuda offer a beach retreat or Segway city tour. In St. Maarten, sailing fans can participate in a simulated America's Cup race aboard a yacht. St. Thomas is the final stop before returning to San Juan.

Seabourn Cruises' 12-day Caribbean Gems

What to expect: The cruise begins in Miami, where guests board the Seabourn Sojourn for a day at sea on the way to San Juan. The ship offers 229 suites and an observation lounge and bar where passengers can enjoy the sea views. Activity options include a city tour, an El Yunque rain forest drive, or a culinary adventure. The next port is Gustavia, St. Barts, and then the ship continues to Guadeloupe for a day of touring or hiking. On Dominica, guests can explore waterfalls and hot springs before heading to Carambola Beach, home to some of St. Kitts and Nevis's most luxurious beach clubs and restaurants. Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands is the last port before the ship returns to Miami.

Viking Ocean Cruises' Amazon and Caribbean Adventure

What to expect: This cruise aboard the 930-guest Viking Sea begins in San Juan for sightseeing in the old city and access to white-sand beaches. Antigua and Barbuda are the next ports, where guests have a day to explore on land or via a catamaran cruise. Then it's on to St. Lucia for excursion options like an aerial tram through the rain forest canopy and a chocolate-making class. The ship arrives at Bridgetown, Barbados, for a day before setting sail for French Guiana. The next day is at sea, with time to enjoy the ship's activities before arriving at the Amazon River. The ship cruises the Amazon to the town of Santarém with its charming colonial-era cathedral. The next port in Brazil is Parintins, for a colorful folk performance, and then on to Manaus, 1,000 miles upriver from the Atlantic. Here, guests disembark to travel home or explore the city.

Silversea's Fort Lauderdale to Bridgetown

What to expect: This activity-packed voyage on the 596-passenger Silver Moon — one of the largest vessels in Silversea’s fleet — begins in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. After a couple of days at sea, the first stop is San Juan, where rain forest and architectural explorations await. Cruisers can take it slow in the next ports, St. Barts and St. Kitts, with beach time and culinary excursions or get their adrenaline pumping on a zip-lining adventure. The following two days include stops in St. John's and Guadaloupe, with shore excursions ranging from kayaking to snorkeling. On the seventh day, the ship arrives in Castries, St. Lucia, where guests can appreciate the capital city from above on a flightseeing helicopter tour or an aerial tram. The final stops are St. George's on Grenada and Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, before the voyage ends in Bridgetown, Barbados. 

Oceania Cruises' Tropical Retreats

What to expect: Passengers board in Miami for a day at sea on Oceania Cruises' Vista , with a pool bar, casino, spa, shops, 10 restaurants, and entertainment. The ship carries 1,200 passengers and features a wide variety of cabins including Oceania's first solo cabins. The first port is Cozumel, Mexico's largest Caribbean island, which offers shopping for local handicrafts and duty-free deals as well as snorkeling, river tubing, and boating. The next port is Harvest Caye, Belize, with beachfront villas and poolside cabanas that can be rented for the day and a lagoon for kayaks and pedal boats. Roatán, Honduras, is next, a remote island with white-sand beaches and coral reefs. The ship then stops at Costa Maya on Mexico's Caribbean coast, where guests can snorkel, kayak, relax on the beach, or explore nearby Mayan ruins. After a day at sea, the ship returns to Miami.

Celebrity Cruises' Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao

What to expect: After leaving Fort Lauderdale, this cruise begins with two days at sea, providing guests with ample time to enjoy the expansive top deck, restaurants, and bars aboard the 3,260-passenger Celebrity Beyond . The first stop in the Dutch Caribbean islands is Oranjestad, Aruba, where guests can stroll down historic streets lined with colorful buildings. The next stops are Kralendijk, Bonaire, renowned for its dive sites, and Willemstad, Curacao, famous for its 17th-century fort, colonial buildings, street art, and vibrant cafes and bars. Another two days at sea allow guests to relax before disembarking in Fort Lauderdale. 

Holland America Line's 7-day Tropical Caribbean

Duration: Seven nights What to expect: Boarding in Fort Lauderdale, this voyage invites up to 2,106 passengers for a week of fun on one of the best Caribbean cruises. After a night at sea, the sophisticated Nieuw Amsterdam arrives at Half Moon Bay, Bahamas, Holland America Line's private island with boating, snorkeling, biking, hiking, or horseback riding excursions. The following day is spent cruising toward the next stop in Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos, for snorkeling, diving, or relaxing on the shore. The next port is Amber Cove, Dominican Republic, to swim and snorkel or visit a rum distillery or cigar factory. After another day at sea, the ship arrives in Key West, Florida, giving guests a chance to visit the bars and restaurants of Duval Street and enjoy the historic architecture.

Lindblad Expeditions' Sailing the Caribbean Aboard Sea Cloud

What to expect: This cruise aboard Sea Cloud , a historic square-rigger ship that can accommodate 64 passengers, begins in Bridgetown, Barbados, for a true sailing adventure. The next day at sea provides time to relax on deck, observe the rigging crew as they hand-set the ship's 30 sails, or learn about the planned destinations. Upon arrival at Dominica, guests spend a day swimming and snorkeling before sailing on to Guadeloupe. The island of Bequia in the Grenadines is the next destination, where there's a model boat museum, a charming waterfront town, and local shops. Sea Cloud sails on to Grenada and then St. Lucia, which is home to a volcanic crater, waterfalls, sulfur springs, and mountains, before ending back in Barbados.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises' Magic in the Caribbean

What to expect: One of the best cruises to book in 2024 , Regent Seven Seas dazzles passengers with its luxurious amenities and captivating itineraries. For this voyage, travelers board the 750-guest Seven Seas Grandeur in Miami and spend the next day at sea, enjoying the ship's amenities, including the fitness center, spa, bocce court, cooking classes, infinity pool, and much more. Then it's five days of island hopping to the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, St. Barts, Dominica, Antigua, and the British Virgin Islands. Two more days at sea provide plenty of time to take advantage of everything the ship has to offer before returning to Miami to disembark.

Related Articles

  • Luxury Caribbean Cruises: What to Know and Where to go

A bright beach aerial shot with white high-rise hotels and bright blue ocean water

If you’ve daydreamed about going on a luxury cruise , chances are you’ve pictured yourself in the Caribbean. With its iconic beaches, swaying palm trees, and crystal clear waters drenched in sunshine, the Caribbean is beside the  Mediterranean , one of the most popular luxury cruise destinations in the world. Its close proximity to several US departure ports makes the Caribbean an easy cruise destination for short and long cruises alike, and there are a wide variety of Caribbean cruises to suit all tastes. 

However, the absolute best way to cruise the Caribbean is on a luxury cruise line.  What makes luxury cruises special? Not only are they all-inclusive, floating resort-style vacation packages, they also offer exclusive experiences only available to their passengers. And when visiting a luxury cruise destination as popular as the Caribbean, having premium options can be like experiencing the whole region again for the first time. 

Here are some of our top recommendations on when to visit and what to see on your next  luxury cruise vacation .

Why Take a Luxury Cruise to the Caribbean?

Where to go, most popular eastern caribbean ports, most popular western caribbean ports, most popular southern caribbean ports, most underrated caribbean cruise destinations.

A young boy wearing a snorkeling mask holds up a starfish in shocking blue water

From gorgeous sun-kissed beaches caressed by turquoise waves to vibrant rainforests sheltering ancient ruins - the Caribbean offers a little bit of everything. Architecture enthusiasts will love getting a closer look at the colonial ports, while history buffs can channel their inner Indiana Jones exploring Mayan ruins. You can relax on the beach one day, swim with pigs another, and zip-line through lush rainforests the next. Refresh yourself with French Creole cuisine, rum punch, and fresh tropical fruit - all without the hassle of multiple flights or hotels. There are many reasons why especially  luxury cruises for couples are in the Caribbean. 

Here are our top 3 reasons why your next luxury cruise should be in the Caribbean.

1. The weather

The Caribbean’s sunny, beachy reputation makes it a prime getaway destination, especially during the cold, dark winter months. While there are some weather issues to be aware of before you book your trip (which we’ll talk more about later), the weather in the Caribbean is generally sublime. Warm days and nights give it a forever-summer feel, even in the dead of winter. Rain is common, particularly in late summer and fall, but it’s fairly easy to plan your trip around serious storms.

2. Cultural and historical diversity

Despite many islands feeling like their own secluded paradise, the Caribbean has historically been quite the melting pot. Dutch, French, British, Indian, West African, and indigenous cultures have intertwined in this region for centuries. Colonial architecture is common, as is fusion-style cuisine. While it’s important to recognize that this unique cultural intermingling is the result of imperialism and exploitation, it has also led to the Caribbean’s famously welcoming and friendly attitude. Many islands celebrate their diverse heritage, and will likely invite you to join them in their joie de vivre.

3. Beaches and natural attractions

Just like the weather, the Caribbean is  world-famous for beaches . White sand beaches dotted by swaying palm trees are common, and some islands also boast lush rainforests and high mountain peaks. Many islands are made from ancient (or not-so-ancient) volcanoes, and they sustain massive amounts of life. Flora and fauna are abundant, from leafy flowering plants to turtles, stingrays, and tons of fish. There’s plenty to explore on a Caribbean cruise, so be sure to budget both beach days and active excursions.

Winter is easily  the best time to cruise the Caribbean. From December to April, the weather is ideal, with little rainfall and typically warm to hot days and milder nights. This makes it the perfect time for cruisers from the US, Europe, and Britain to escape the chilly winter and thaw out in the sunshine. 

As is typical with cruise destinations, ideal weather conditions mean peak season also falls during winter and early spring. This means the Caribbean is more likely to have more crowds and cruises will be more expensive during this time. However, more excursions will usually be offered, and itineraries are more stable. 

An option for cruisers seeking discount luxury cruises is to go in early summer when rainstorms are more likely but the islands will be calmer and luxury cruise ships emptier. June to August is the beginning of hurricane season so storms, rough seas, and last-minute itinerary changes are more likely, but it may be worth it to avoid overcrowded ports and extreme prices.

Hurricane season

While you may see incredible luxury cruise deals from June to November, be aware that this is hurricane season in the Caribbean. It may not be such an issue on mega-ships, but rough seas can ruin small luxury cruise ships. Be particularly wary of cruises during September and October, as this is the height of hurricane season. If you do choose to cruise during these months, we highly recommend you invest in  good cruise travel insurance - just in case. 

It’s also worth noting that many Caribbean islands were ravaged by hurricanes last year. We recommend double-checking with your cruise line or shore excursion provider to make sure all your preferred activities are available before you book.

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When it comes to picking the perfect luxury Caribbean cruise itinerary, it’s important to note that Caribbean cruises typically fall into three categories: Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean, and Southern Caribbean. Longer cruises (lasting a week or more) can visit all three categories, but shorter cruises usually stick to just one. 

As many luxury cruise lines tend to offer small ships exclusively, luxury Caribbean cruises can look a bit different from their mainstream counterparts. Luxury lines like Crystal Cruises , Regent Seven Seas , and Viking Cruises still visit many of the most popular ports in each area. Meanwhile, small ship cruise lines Ponant , SeaDream Yacht Club , and Star Clippers offer even more immersive and secluded itineraries. 

Here are some of the best ports to visit during your luxury Caribbean cruise, plus some hidden gems you may have missed out on.

The Eastern Caribbean is ideal for cruisers seeking beachy relaxation and plenty of aquatic adventures. Islands are close together, so it’s common for Eastern Caribbean cruises to be port-heavy, with fewer sea days. Shore excursions usually focus on more strenuous activity, like hiking or biking, or more individual pursuits like shopping. 

Here are some of our favorite cruise ports in the Eastern Caribbean.

Nassau, Bahamas

An aerial shot of five cruise ships at port in shocking blue waters

Although technically the Bahamas aren’t in the Caribbean Sea, Nassau tops the charts as one of the most popular destinations for Eastern Caribbean cruises. The capital of the Bahamas, the  port of Nassau is close to the city’s downtown, making it easily accessible for cruisers. Beautiful white sand beaches slope gently into brilliant blue water, making this luxury cruise destination ideal for beach days. Other great excursion options include golf and snorkeling.

St. Maarten / St. Martin

People on a white sand beach take pictures of a low-flying airplane coming in for a landing in St. Maarten

It may surprise you to find out that St. Maarten and St. Martin are very distinct from each other, and each offers something different. St. Maarten has Dutch roots, while St. Martin is French. St. Maarten welcomes larger cruise ships; St. Martin invites small vessels. Both sides of the island have great beaches, and St. Martin’s Baie Orientale is notoriously “clothing optional.” This is a great destination for catamaran excursions, beaches, and shopping.

St. Barts (St. Barthélemy)

Two tables with chairs on a beach beneath a dark cabana canopy with a palm tree

An ideal Eastern Caribbean luxury cruise destination, St. Barts boasts plenty of prime beaches and charming architecture. But the real draw of this island is the shopping. Haute couture may seem unlikely with iguanas roaming the isle, but St. Barts’ French roots grow deep, and boutique shopping is excellent. Dining options are also superb - try Restaurant Le Gaiac for an al fresco meal.

Western Caribbean cruises tend to focus more on culture, history, architecture, art, and food. With plenty of ports in Mexico and Central America, these itineraries are infused with active shore excursions and exploratory spirit. Head inland to explore Mayan ruins, zip line through the rainforest in Belize, or swim with stingrays in Grand Cayman. 

Here are some of the Western Caribbean’s most popular cruise ports.

Cozumel, Mexico

Shocking blue ocean waters lie just beyond white stone cliffs with a thatch umbrella

One of the Western Caribbean’s most famous hotspots, Cozumel combines stunning beaches with ancient history, shopping, and wildlife. This small island boasts a diverse array of activities from swimming with dolphins to exploring the  Mayan ruins of San Gervasio . Take a cab to San Miguel in the island’s interior for prime shopping, or hop on a ferry to nearby Playa del Carmen to explore Mayan site Tulum.

Grand Cayman Island

An aerial shot of two people floating in bright blue water with white sand beach on the left side of the image

Another well-known and well-loved port, Grand Cayman Island wows cruisers with its close encounters with sea life. Go snorkeling with Stingrays in Stingray City, a shallow sandbar where the sea creatures come to catch a meal. Or visit the island’s turtle farm to learn more about sea turtles. Beyond animals, Grand Cayman also offers excellent shopping and nightlife, though it can get very busy during the high season.

Montego Bay, Jamaica

Lush palm trees and dense vegetation extend past a white sand beach and a whitewashed building

Jamaica’s second-largest city and unofficial capital of tourism, Montego Bay delivers excellent shopping, beaches, and unparalleled golf courses. Luxury beaches are abundant, so plan for a tan. Nature lovers will also delight in the island’s many natural attractions, including the picturesque Dunn’s River Falls. While Jamaica can get crowded during peak season, exclusive luxury excursions are available.

The Southern Caribbean is generally less crowded than the Eastern or Western Caribbean, as it’s further afield from common US departure ports like Port Miami or Fort Lauderdale. For this reason, many luxury cruise lines focus on immersive experiences in these culturally diverse and naturally beautiful islands. 

Here are our top picks for the most popular cruise ports in the Southern Caribbean.

St. Kitts, St. Kitts and Nevis

Green letters above a yellow arched entryway in a building beneath bright blue sky

The island of St. Kitts makes up one half of the country St. Kitts and Nevis. Its towering, verdant mountains make for great hiking and ziplining excursions, and its wildlife-filled waters are great for snorkeling and diving. Take a walking tour through historic Basseterre or a railroad tour of the island. You could also rent a catamaran to nearby Nevis and spend a day on the water, or simply lounge on a beach.

Antigua, Antigua and Barbuda

A hill at sunset dipping into calm waters with palm fronds in the foreground

Pink and white sand beaches give this island a whimsical feel. Shore excursions range from shopping to helicopter tours and diving. Plus, Antigua’s colonial past lends it a colorful and charming city center, perfect for a walking tour or a night out on the town.

Beautiful blue waters with a small boat in the foreground with a dramatic triangular green mountain in the background

One of the wilder islands in terms of natural attractions, St. Lucia is home to reefs, rainforests, and even volcanoes. It’s a favorite getaway among the well-heeled and has earned its reputation as one of the Caribbean’s most stunning locales. Whether you stay on the beach, venture inland for a hiking or adventure excursion, or sample fresh-caught fish from the reefs, St. Lucia is an unforgettable cruise destination.

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Since the Caribbean is one of the most popular and well-trod cruise regions in the world, it’s likely you’ve heard of these hidden gems. They may not exactly be secrets, but these cruise destinations certainly offer a little something extra that it’s worth discovering for yourself.

Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

A white sand beach with blue waters, green palm trees and bushes, and large white and gray boulders

Dwarfed in many ways by neighboring Tortola, Virgin Gorda is nevertheless a stunner in its own right. With yacht clubs, wintering movie stars and billionaires, and incredible natural geologic formations, Virgin Gorda is 8.5 square miles of pristine Caribbean paradise. It’s only the third-largest of the British Virgin Islands, and its small size means few cruise lines can access it. Because of that intimacy and exclusivity, it’s a favorite port of call for luxury lines like Windstar and SeaDream Yacht Club.

Cartagena, Colombia

A partially obscured photo of a street with cars, bright blue and orange buildings, and lush palm trees

Colombia’s picturesque 16th-century port city is a charming entrypoint into the South American continent. While larger cruise lines like Princess Cruises  and Royal Caribbean do venture there, Cartagena is best experienced aboard the Seabourn cruise line. Opt for an immersive itinerary aboard Seabourn Sojourn to sidestep the frequent complaint from megaship cruisers that there wasn’t enough time to explore.

Bequia Island, The Grenadines

A wind-worn tree overlooking nothing but blue sky

If you’re looking for pure relaxation and luxury, visit Bequia Island in the Grenadines. This tiny island measures just 7 square miles and is particularly popular among the yachting and sailing crowd. Choose a sailing on Royal Clipper by Star Clippers, Windstar’s Star Legend, or Silversea’s Silver Shadow. This island is still something of a secret among luxury cruisers, but it comes highly rated by those who value slowing down for an afternoon and taking it all in.

Can't wait to go on a Luxury Caribbean Cruise now? Simply use our  cruise search to narrow your focus and activate a free price alert to be automatically notified of any price changes. You can also take advantage of our price prediction analytics to save even more money.

Check out these articles for more information about luxury cruises:

  • Going on a Luxury Cruise
  • Top 8 Luxury Mediterranean Cruises: Best Ports and Excursions
  • Luxury Cruises for Couples: Best Cruise Lines, Activities and Destinations

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The Best Caribbean Cruises 2023—With Stops at Rugged Volcanic Islands, Tropical Forests, and Serene Beaches

By Scott Laird

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All products featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Caribbean cruises have long been a favorite with travelers for their picture-postcard attributes. White sand beaches front turquoise waters. But these tropical itineraries have something for every type of traveler. Activities abound—perhaps it’s shopping on one island, hiking through nature reserves and snorkeling among coral reefs on another, or having a beach day on a cruise company’s private retreat. Many Caribbean itineraries skew toward tried-and-true standards, but a number of cruise lines will have a handful of unique sailings put together for particular tastes or the seasoned cruiser who has already tried them all.

Some of these sailings visit offbeat destinations like volcanic Montserrat, while others take a non-traditional southern track from Panama along the northern coast of South America. Others visit sleepier, less-frequented destinations like St. Croix, St. Barts, and Mayreau, in addition to stopping at banner spots like St. Lucia and Aruba for dramatic vistas and spectacular beaches.

Here are some of the best Caribbean cruises to book for 2023.

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Seven Seas Splendor ventures to some of the Caribbean's most iconic isles.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Itinerary: Sunny Beaches & Emerald Forests

Departure: March 11, 2023

Experience: This 10-night sailing from Miami embarks on Regent Seven Seas' newest ship, Seven Seas Splendor , for a leisurely sail through the Caribbean’s windward isles. Hike to waterfalls in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, explore Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest, or relax on a sailboat excursion off minute St. Barts , which Splendor is right-sized to visit. Take an aerial tram through the rainforest canopy on St. Lucia or snorkel Champagne Reef on Dominica, watching bubbles and warmth rise from geothermal activity beneath the ocean floor. Excursions are included in the cruise fare with Regent—as are beverages, gratuities, transfers, specialty dining, Wi-Fi, and laundry service.

Itinerary: Panama, Colombia, & Caribbean Islands

Departure: March 9 and 17, 2023

Experience: Voyage from the gates of the Panama Canal to the French West Indies, with a wealth of diversity in between. Experience Afro-Caribbean heritage in Portobelo, Panama, and Indigenous Kuna fishing communities in the San Blas Islands. Next, it’s on to Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, and then the coral reefs of Bonaire for diving. The spices of Grenada and St. Lucia’s volcanic pitons round out the itinerary before the intimately appointed ship Le Bellot (with fewer than 92 staterooms and suites) anchors in the turquoise waters of Fort-de-France for a fond farewell.

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Celebrity Beyond 's Luminae Restaurant

Celebrity Cruises

Itinerary: Southern Caribbean

Departure: December 11, 2023

Experience: Offering a little of everything, this 11-night roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale includes calls at cobblestoned Cartagena, Colombia, the white-sand beaches of Aruba, and the famous colonial houses and swinging drawbridge of Curaçao. As an added bonus, Grand Cayman and Falmouth, Jamaica, also appear as ports to help break up the long journey south from Florida. The sailing takes place onboard the brand-new Celebrity Beyond , packed full of original art, Infinite Veranda staterooms—so-named for the floor-to-ceiling windows that open into a private balcony at the push of a button—and ocean-going gastronomy at Le Voyage, Chef Daniel Boulud’s first signature restaurant at sea.

Windstar Cruises

Itinerary: Windward Ways & Tobago Cays

Departure: January, February, November, and December 2023

Experience: Almost purpose-designed for cruisers who prefer their shore excursions to be on or in the water, this seven-day sailing onboard Windstar's Star Legend starts in the Dutch islands, offering up serene Aruba’s white-sand beaches and tranquil Bonaire’s 50 species of coral. “Isle of Spice” Grenada is next (nutmeg ice cream is a must-try), followed by spectacular vistas of the Grand Pitons on “seven times French; seven times British” St. Lucia. Mayreau is the smallest of the Grenadines—here cruisers can enter the water directly from Star Legend’s water-sports platform, then wind up the day with a private beach barbecue.

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Valiant Lady will operate Caribbean cruises in spring and winter 2023.

Virgin Voyages

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean Antilles

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Departure: January, February, March, November, and December 2023

Experience: St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands is a less-trafficked port of call known as the “Garden of the Antilles” and Valiant Lady drops in during her Eastern Caribbean sailings, in addition to San Juan , Puerto Plata, and a day at Virgin’s lounge-y Beach Club at Bimini private island. Onboard, Wi-Fi and “essential” non-alcoholic drinks and gratuities are included on the adults-only ship, which touts over 20 eateries and a number of inventive ways to find a glass of champagne.

Holland America Line

Itinerary: 11 Day Panama Canal Sunfarer

Departure: March 14, 2023

Experience: Part Caribbean surf, part jungle excursion, this 11-day roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale onboard Eurodam calls first at Aruba and Curaçao for a taste of Holland America Line’s namesake Dutch culture before skirting the coast of South America for several days of scenic cruising the Panama Canal and Gatun Lake, taking in the maximum biodiversity (over 500 species of birds) of the Canal Zone, juxtaposed with the engineering wonders of the lock system.

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A Signature Suite on board Evrima

Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

Itinerary: Bridgetown Roundtrip 7 Nights

Departure: March 19 and November 19, 2023

Experience: Ritz-Carlton has drawn on their vaunted properties to design everything from onboard dining to shore excursions on board the all-suite Evrima . Guests can visit Grenada’s Tower Estate to sample their famous blue tea, made from estate-grown butterfly peaflower, with cucumber sandwiches, cupcakes, and fresh fruit picked onsite. On Bequia, in the Grenadines, it might be a windjammer excursion to nearby Mustique for a seaside lunch, or a private car and driver arranged at one of the ports.

Silversea Cruises

Itinerary: 9 Day Bridgetown to San Juan

Departure: February 18, 2023

Experience: When not luxuriating onboard Silversea’s newest ship, the all-suite Silver Dawn , passengers might explore this itinerary’s most unique destination: Montserrat. Once a favored haunt of the jet-set, volcanic activity that earned it the nickname “The Pompeii of the Caribbean” has kept tourism development low-key, and visitors few, but cruisers on this itinerary will discover an Emerald Isle reminiscent of Ireland, and some of the Caribbean’s most beautiful, secluded beaches. Unspoiled Deshaies, on Guadeloupe, is another under-the-radar call for this spectacular ship boasting butler service in every suite and a guest-to-crew ratio of nearly one-to-one.

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A suite onboard Norwegian Prima

Norwegian Cruise Line

Itinerary: Caribbean: Harvest Caye, Cozumel, & Roatan from Galeveston

Departure: December 15, 22, and 29, 2023

Experience: In December 2023, the new Norwegian Prima begins sailing the Riviera Maya from Galveston, also including port calls at resort-like Harvest Caye in Belize , where guests can rent private cabanas, and Roatan, in Honduras’s Bay Islands, home to a large Gumbalimba eco-preserve and animal sanctuary. Onboard, Norwegian has enhanced The Haven, the VIP suite area on this ship, with some the largest suite accommodations in the fleet, and all public areas in the suite enclave now have ocean views.

Princess Cruises

Itinerary: 5 Day Caribbean Getaway with Grand Turk

Departure: October 31, 2023

Experience: Not all Caribbean cruises need to be a week or two in duration. Princess Cruises offers a Halloween weekend getaway onboard Caribbean Princess that’s just five nights in duration, with two unbeatable ports—Grand Turk, and Princess Cays, the line’s private island in the Bahamas. A highlight of this seasonal sailing can be sitting in the ship’s piazza, watching festive passengers promenade their inventive costumes for spooky onboard revelry—a Princess tradition dating back to the days of the original “Love Boat” series.

Booking tips for Caribbean cruises

What are the best months to take a caribbean cruise.

Although some cruise lines operate in the Caribbean year-round, the widest selection of sailing dates and itineraries can be found between November and March.

What part of the Caribbean is best for a cruise?

The best Caribbean cruise is a matter of personal taste. Many cruises focus on a region, like the Southern, Eastern, or Western Caribbean, and itineraries, regardless of destination, often feature stops at cruise line operated private islands in the Bahamas.

What are the cheapest months to cruise in the Caribbean?

Generally, the beginning and end of the November-to-March season can be affordable—any time when North American schools are widely in session are also good times to cruise for lower fares.

Do you need a passport to go to on a Caribbean cruise?

Check with the cruise line before booking. U.S. citizens traveling on cruises calling at most Caribbean countries can do so with both an enhanced state ID and an original birth certificate in lieu of a passport, but a passport is by far the easiest form of identification (and most strongly recommended by both the U.S. State Department and most cruise lines) for U.S. citizens outside the country. It’s also important to note that documentation requirements can change, and passengers are ultimately responsible for having the required documents at embarkation or they may be denied boarding.

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Caribbean Cruises

Plan your best caribbean cruise vacation, favorite caribbean cruise line.

Travel Awaits Best of Travel 2022 (Top 10)

The sun-kissed shores of the Caribbean are calling. Relax on gorgeous white sand beaches surrounded by crystal clear waters, discover the ancient treasures of the Mayans, or let your cares melt away while relaxing to steel drum melodies. Find the best Caribbean cruises sailing from Ft. Lauderdale, Port Canaveral , Galveston, New York, or San Juan, Puerto Rico to suit your vacation desires. 

Find Caribbean Cruises

Eastern caribbean cruises, top-rated beaches and water play.

The laid-back Eastern Caribbean is home to many of the region’s most popular islands — gems like St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Grand Turk. Known for world-famous beaches, stingrays and limitless water activities, this is the perfect option for a sunny Caribbean cruise vacation, reconnecting with loved ones.

Western Caribbean Cruises

Historic spots and natural wonders.

Mayan ruins, exciting eco adventures and the friendly spirit of Jamaica await in the Western Caribbean. Enjoy the lush wildernesses of southern Mexico, unspoiled coral reefs of Belize and Roatan, underground caves on the Island of Cozumel and so much more.

Southern Caribbean Cruises

Local culture and colonial past.

Cruise options for the Southern Caribbean take you from the lush paradise of Dominica to the remote isles of Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire. Immerse yourself in traditional Caribbean culture and life on islands that blend their colonial influence with native charms.

Bahamas Cruises

Exclusive Island experience

The Bahamas, a series of islands with sparkling waters and pristine beaches, is a top Caribbean cruise destination. Princess Cays, our Private Island resort, calls the Bahamas its home, and our guests get exclusive access to this tropical oasis on almost all Caribbean itineraries. Get away to the Bahamas for just a few days or during a week-long Caribbean cruise and you’re sure to relax and recharge.

Caribbean Getaways

Sun, sand and a short escape

White sand beaches and coral reefs await on Caribbean Getaway cruises. Soak up some vitamin D on Princess Cays, Princess' Private Island resort, and enjoy watersports or an encounter with stingrays in brilliant turquoise waters. Or explore the colorful buildings and exciting historical sites of Grand Turk. Do it all in just a few days on a short Caribbean cruise.

San Juan Cruises

Southern Caribbean sailings from San Juan

Seven days, five islands and countless memories to be made with the ones you love. That’s the beauty of our new cruises from San Juan, our only weeklong sailings to the Southern Caribbean. They’re the perfect blend of exploration and relaxation, with sought-after ports, convenient departures and iconic experiences at every turn. 

Featured Ports on Cruises to the Caribbean

One of the best parts of a Caribbean cruise is the freedom to spend your days however you like. Ashore that can mean relaxing on popular beaches, diving into the local culture or exploring the islands’ many natural wonders.

8 Top Cruise Line Private Islands

US News & World Reports

Long to dive into turquoise waters? The Eastern Caribbean's world famous beaches await. Prefer to explore historic Mayan ruins? The Western Caribbean's ancient wonders are calling. For those craving adventure in a natural wonderland, the Southern Caribbean is brimming with possibilities. Each voyage illuminates the heart of Caribbean life, so come see what makes these islands legendary.

Beaches & Sunshine

Lazy days beneath swaying palms

Let the soft sands and warm winds melt all your worries away. The beaches of the Caribbean are legendary for their natural beauty and tranquil turquoise waters. Relax with a tropical cocktail in your hand, swim with stingrays and sea turtles, or just take in the calming ocean air.

Culture & History

A diverse heritage

The culture and history of the Caribbean is rich, varied and deep. Walk the docks that once harbored the greatest fleet in the world at Nelson's Dockyard, taste and hear the deep West African influences in everyday Caribbean life, and experience the uniqueness of each island.

Exploration

Mother nature's playground

The Caribbean has been a land of adventure for hundreds of years, and there's excitement for every traveler, now more than ever. Zipline above the lush jungle, snorkel through a coral reef teeming with life, take an off-road vehicle deep into the rainforest or sail a catamaran out to explore a shipwreck. Adventure lives around every corner.

Island shore excursions

Experience the authentic Caribbean with award-winning shore excursions. In a region so full of new experiences, unique culinary delights and deep history, why trust anyone but the experts? Go swimming with stingrays in Grand Cayman, travel through dense jungles to hidden Mayan ruins on Cozumel, snorkel the world’s second largest barrier reef in Belize or sail on a thrilling catamaran in Antigua.

Late night departures

The Caribbean has a different feeling at night. Revel in its warm evenings and enticing music with our More Ashore program. Later stays on select itineraries in Aruba, Curacao, Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Maarten and St. Thomas let you soak up the full Caribbean experience, like a fresh-caught seafood dinner on the beach or street fair full of local crafts and flavors. With More Ashore, you get more time to enjoy the vibrant island nightlife.

Why Cruise the Caribbean with Princess

Year-round sailings. Family-friendly fun. A private beach party. And our newest ships. The question isn’t “why choose Princess?” but “why not?”

We sail the caribbean year-round

Each season has a personality all its own. Summer is a time for family fun in the sun. Fall invites the adventurous to immerse themselves in the islands. Winter is marked by festivals and other celebrations. Spring is the perfect time for renewal and relaxation. Cruise the Caribbean throughout the year, and you’ll encounter a different side of the Caribbean each time, unified by the distinctive experiences Princess offers.

See why families love the islands

Social media stars the Holderness Family recently set sail on a Caribbean cruise. Check out the music video to see why a Caribbean vacation with Princess Cruises is more than just a trip!

Want more? See the kids’ vlog of their experiences in Camp Discovery and adventures ashore, and watch the parents tackle cruise myths in their vacation recap.

Princess Cays®, private island resort

Relax on your very own beach playground, where 40 acres of white sands, bungalows, local crafts and a complimentary barbeque await. Snorkel in sparkling turquoise waters. Find serenity fishing from the rocky coastline. Feed stingrays or paddle through the lagoon in a clear-bottom kayak. And you can post your experiences with ease, thanks to Princess’ MedallionNet™, the best Wi-Fi at sea — now on land!

Our newest ships enjoy the islands

There’s no better way to cruise the Caribbean than on one of the bold, new additions to our fleet. We take travel to the next level: the exceptional features of Sky Suites and the unrivaled service, the glass-enclosed dome and balconies taking in the Caribbean sun and sights of beautiful islands and crystal clear waters. Cruise to the Caribbean in luxury with Princess.

Caribbean Cruise Onboard Experience Featured Program

With award-winning onboard programs, regional cuisine from world-class chefs and celebrations of Caribbean life, Princess makes your ship a destination all its own.

Comfortable accommodations

Your stateroom is your home away from home on your voyage where you rest up and recharge between adventures. With the expertly designed Princess Luxury Bed, luxurious 100% Jacquard-woven cotton linens and specially created SLEEP program by a board-certified sleep expert, you might just get the best sleep of your life. We offer staterooms ranging from interior cabins to full suites, and we even offer connected rooms for families with more than four members traveling together.

Bringing local life aboard

Embrace the spirit of the islands the moment you step on your ship with our Rhythm of the Caribbean program. Savor island cuisine, sip signature cocktails and engage in authentic regional experiences. Dance beneath the stars to vibrant island rhythms at exclusive parties, and immerse yourself in one-of-a-kind cultural activities — from concerts and crafts to talks from shark experts and treasure hunters.

Never miss a beat

Say goodbye to the daily grind with our new Sail Away Party poolside on the top deck, dance to local music at one of the many Caribbean inspired concerts, or be the envy of every pirate at our high-energy gold treasure-inspired Terrace Pool Gold Party. Throughout your cruise to the Caribbean there will be events that excite, enrich and challenge you to fully experience the islands.

Deeper experiences of the islands

Discover the history of local distilleries while sampling some of the region’s best rums, meet the parrots and macaws that call the Caribbean home in the ship's Piazza, or become a part of the rhythm with steel pan drum lessons. Our onboard activities give you the chance to gain a deeper connection and understanding of the gorgeous islands you'll visit on your voyage.

Discovery at Sea

Sharks, pirates and stars — oh my!

Discovery at SEA brings the expertise and excitement of the Discovery Channel™ on board your Caribbean cruise! Enjoy Shark Week all summer long with shark-themed activities, hear tales of sunken treasure and lost shipwrecks from the stars of Travel Channel’s™ Caribbean Pirate Treasure, and explore the constellations and spectacular galaxies of the night sky with the Voyage to the Stars indoor planetarium experience.

Ship Activities for Every Cruise to the Caribbean

Recharging your batteries.

Pamper yourself in the Lotus Spa® with a massage, facial or manicure, and feel renewed. Enjoy The Sanctuary, a lounge just for adults, where you can relax with a light meal, specialty drink and al fresco massages while digging into that novel you've been looking forward to reading. If you prefer your relaxation more active, we offer Zumba, yoga and tai chi classes to burn off stress and raise your heart rate.

Celebrations

The perfect place to celebrate

Almost 30% of all passengers who sail with us are celebrating an important milestone in their lives. Say "I do" at sea in a ceremony officiated by the captain. Arrange for an anniversary package and let us spoil you with romantic balcony dining, chocolates and more. For us, every day is a celebration.

Love blooms on the Love Boat

It's difficult to imagine something more romantic than sailing through the warm waters of the Caribbean, hopping between tropical islands and white-sand beaches from the comfortable luxury of your ship. While on board we cater to your romantic side with private dining on your balcony, whether a relaxing breakfast for two or a romantic sunset dinner, honeymoon packages for lucky newlyweds, flowers and chocolates delivered to your room and couples-only massages in the Sanctuary.

Food & Drinks

The flavors of the islands

The diverse cultural influences, local climates and history of the Caribbean combine to make one of the most exciting and unique regional cuisines in the world. From mofongo, a dish from Puerto Rico made from mashed fried plantains, pork and garlic, to the famous jerk chicken of Jamaica, we serve the Caribbean's favorite flavors to you on board. Thanks to Princess' world-class chefs you'll enjoy fresh, locally inspired dishes for your entire voyage.

Movies Under the Stars®

Outdoor cinema at its best

Enjoy many of the latest movies, exciting concerts and most anticipated live sports games on a massive poolside screen. The warm Caribbean night air, fresh popcorn and comfortable lounge chair with fleece blanket make for a viewing experience like no other. Not to mention the best theater in the world, the Caribbean ocean with a ceiling of stars!

Sailing with your crew

Enjoy a ship full of activities for the whole family, from Broadway-style shows to Discovery’s Shark Week all summer long, your family will be engaged in the Caribbean. Go Stargazing under the stunning expanse of the night sky with Discovery at SEA, compete in a family game night, and savor the flavors of the islands together.

Caribbean Cruise Articles and Videos

Read about colorful cultures, breathtaking landscapes, must-see attractions and preparation advice for cruising the Caribbean.

2024-2025 Caribbean Cruises

There’s no better way to truly experience the laid-back Caribbean than with Princess.

Caribbean Cruise Weather by Month

From radiant sunshine to turquoise waters, enjoy the best Caribbean cruise weather all year round when you sail to these tropical lands with Princess.

Top Five Caribbean Cruise Destinations

Whether you’re a history-lover, adventure-seeker or laid-back traveler, discover the best Caribbean cruise destinations for any guest with Princess.

Best Caribbean Cruises

Visit the best Caribbean cruise destinations with Princess and relax on white-sand beaches or embark on adventure that will leave a lasting impression.

Top Things to Do in Grand Cayman

From relaxing on the shores of Seven Mile Beach to feeding majestic sea creatures at Stingray City, discover the top things to do in Grand Cayman with Princess.

Best Time for a Caribbean Cruise

Discover the best time for a Caribbean cruise. From the offseason to the sunniest months to festival season, anytime is the best time to travel to the Caribbean.

Travel, Airfare, & Hotels: Let Princess Get You There

Princess EZair® Flights

Stress-free airfare

Remove the hassle from air travel and give yourself the gift of flexibility, time, and a thicker wallet with Princess EZair flights. We negotiate lower rates with the airlines, allow you to modify your flight up to 45 days prior with no penalty, and protect you if your flight is late or canceled.

EZair flight quotes are available on our cruise search result details pages.

Airplane to Ship Transfer

We get you where you need to go

Let Princess pick you up from the airport and take you directly to your ship or hotel when you arrive, even if you didn't book your airfare through us. A uniformed Princess representative meets you at the airport after you've retrieved your luggage and transports you directly to your ship or hotel without you having to worry about the logistics of navigating a new city.

Cruise Plus Hotel Packages

Stay longer and relax

Extend your cruise vacation, and simplify your travel plans with a hotel stay at the beginning or end of your cruise. With a Cruise Plus Hotel Package, a Princess representative meets you at the airport and pier, transporting you to and from your hotel. The package includes the cost of your hotel stay, transportation, luggage handling, and the representative’s services.

Need help planning?

Princess Cruise Vacation Planners are a dedicated resource to help you every step of the way through the planning process of your cruise vacation. The best part is, their services are completely FREE!

Cruise deals & promotions

Find our top sales, deals, partnerships and promotions for our destinations all in one place. We run promotions throughout the year and sometimes run sweepstakes where you can win prizes!

#PrincessCruises Caribbean Connections

See the Caribbean through our guests' eyes.

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Caribbean cruise guide: Best itineraries, planning tips and things to do

Erica Silverstein

"All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray …" When the weather turns cold, you could be California dreamin' but doesn't a Caribbean cruise sound so much more relaxing?

Many people would agree with me that a Caribbean cruise is the perfect antidote to the winter doldrums and work stress, plus a wonderful way to reconnect with friends and loved ones. The ship takes care of everything -- transportation, accommodation, meals and entertainment – so you can skip much of the daily planning drama and simply enjoy your vacation and travel companions. Every day you wake up to warm weather and sunny skies (well, most of the time) and a new destination promising white sand beaches, fun activities and memories to be made.

The biggest decision you have to make is between a pina colada and a strawberry daiquiri.

For cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter .

Before you go, however, you have lots of choices to make: Which is the best cruise line? Which are the best Caribbean cruise ports for the activities you most enjoy? What time of year should you travel?

Don't let planning a rejuvenating vacation add more stress to your life. This Caribbean cruise guide gives you the lowdown on everything you need to know to plan the perfect island getaway.

Why cruise to the Caribbean?

unique caribbean cruises

Sun, sand and sea are what most travelers want when they book a cruise to the Caribbean. If you want to trade chilly weather at home for warm, sunny days spent relaxing on a beach or swimming in clear blue waters, a Caribbean cruise is an ideal vacation. Unlike a resort stay, you can sample multiple beaches in various destinations, as well as the pool life on board the ship.

Many people choose Caribbean cruises because they're affordable getaways to tropical destinations. The sailings depart from several U.S. home ports — from Galveston, Texas, to Boston — so many Americans can drive to their departure ports and avoid paying for airfare.

Plus, cruise ships can change course to avoid bad weather, such as hurricanes, so you can salvage your beach vacation when a storm is headed toward a particular island by cruising to a different one. If you booked a land-based stay, you'd be forced to cancel — or hunker down and wait for the rain and winds to pass.

When do cruises go to the Caribbean?

Caribbean cruises sail year-round, so you can plan your trip for the winter holidays, spring break or summer vacation. However, more ships sail this region of the world in the winter, when other destinations (such as the Mediterranean, Baltic, Canada/New England and Bermuda) are too chilly for vacations at sea.

The luxury and upscale cruise lines especially tend to only base ships in the Caribbean during the winter because their fleets are too small to base a ship there year-round — and their passengers want to explore bucket list destinations around the world.

Best Caribbean itineraries

unique caribbean cruises

Cruise lines divide the Caribbean into three regions: Eastern, Western and Southern. Itineraries tend to concentrate on one area, but longer itineraries may include islands in two or all of the regions, as well as ports in the Bahamas and Florida.

Which itinerary is best for you will depend primarily on which port you want to depart from and how long a vacation you can take. Once you see the options that fit your parameters, you'll want to look at how many port stops versus sea days an itinerary has and which specific islands you'll visit.

The best Caribbean itineraries for first-time cruisers are often the seven-night Eastern or seven-night Western Caribbean cruises out of Florida home ports, such as Miami , Fort Lauderdale or Port Canaveral (near Orlando).

Western Caribbean

You'll find two main types of Western Caribbean cruises, and both are fabulous introductions to Caribbean culture and attractions. The classic Western Caribbean itinerary visits Mexico (typically Cozumel or Costa Maya), Jamaica, Grand Cayman and a cruise line's private island, which is typically in the Bahamas.

However, some ships sail a Western Caribbean itinerary that's more focused on Central America, with stops in Mexico, Belize and Honduras. These itineraries are great for travelers who are interested in Mayan or Mexican culture in addition to beaches and water sports.

Western Caribbean itineraries are typically a week, but can be as short as four days (with just one stop in Mexico) or as long as 12 days (though these might include stops in the Bahamas, too). You can find departures from ports all along the U.S. East Coast, Gulf Coast and Florida.

Eastern Caribbean

Another popular itinerary for first-timers is the Eastern Caribbean, with visits to St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Grand Turk, the Dominican Republic and/or San Juan, Puerto Rico. Private island and Bahamas stops are common. Longer cruises or smaller-ship itineraries might stop elsewhere in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, St. Barts, Antigua or St. Kitts.

These itineraries are slightly more targeted toward beach time and water sports, with fewer options for historical or cultural attractions than their Western Caribbean counterparts.

As with the Western Caribbean, seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruises are the most common itinerary length. The shortest options are four nights, typically visiting only Grand Turk or Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. The longest, around 10 to 12 nights, will often include Southern Caribbean ports or start from more northerly home ports.

You can find departures from ports as far west as Galveston and as far north as the New York area, but the majority of true Eastern Caribbean cruises set sail from Florida or Puerto Rico.

Related: Eastern Caribbean vs. Western Caribbean cruises: Which itinerary will I like more?

Southern Caribbean

Southern Caribbean cruises tend to attract luxury travelers and repeat cruisers. That's because these islands are farther from U.S. shores, meaning you'll need to fly to an island to catch your cruise ship or need more than a week's vacation to get from Florida all the way south to ports in Aruba or St. Lucia and back. The islands themselves tend to be more exclusive, with fewer ships visiting on any given day.

Common destinations on Southern Caribbean cruise itineraries include Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Barbados, Trinidad, St. Lucia, Dominica, Martinique and Grenada. You'll find everything from gorgeous beaches and diving destinations to lush rainforests and flowing waterfalls.

The shortest Southern Caribbean cruises are five or six days and leave from places such as Barbados, San Juan and St. Thomas. You can find weeklong sailings from Florida, but more commonly, they're eight nights or longer.

The Bahamas and Florida

Yes, I know that the Bahamas is technically located in the Atlantic, but it's an easy mistake to think the balmy islands are found in the Caribbean. Besides, many cruises add stops in the Bahamas to a Caribbean cruise. The majority of the cruise line private islands are located in the Bahamas, and these appear regularly on all Caribbean itineraries. The Bahamian ports of Nassau and Freeport, even Florida's Key West, may appear on Caribbean-centric cruises.

Why? They're close to the U.S. and cruise lines use these ports to break up the multiple days at sea needed to sail farther south into the Caribbean proper.

Related: Caribbean vs. Bahamas cruises: Which itinerary will I like better?

Best Caribbean cruise lines

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You'll be hard-pressed to find a cruise line that does not sail to the Caribbean at least for a few months a year. The big-ship lines will station multiple ships in this region year-round, with additional ships swinging by during the colder months.

If you consider the best Caribbean cruise lines to be the ones with the most ship and itinerary choices, look to the big-ship lines such as Carnival , Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line .

These lines offer a range of itinerary lengths, port combinations and departure cities from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast. Their biggest and newest ships are often deployed to the Caribbean, so you can find all the latest celebrity-backed restaurants, crazy top-deck attractions (like waterslides, climbing walls and roller coaster rides) and expanded cabin choices. These lines cater to all ages, including older couples and families with children.

Related: The best Caribbean cruise for every type of traveler

If you're looking for an adults-only option, Virgin Voyages caters to the young at heart with its edgy new ships. It offers six- and seven-night Caribbean cruises from the late fall until early spring. Viking takes an entirely different approach to no-kids cruises, catering to mature travelers craving culture and educational vacations. It also offers wintertime Caribbean cruises, though many are paired with a Panama Canal crossing.

Luxury lovers should look at the smaller ships of the Seabourn , Silversea and Regent Seven Seas fleets for opulent accommodations and fine dining while sailing the tropics. Oceania , Azamara and Windstar Cruises are less inclusive, but still high end.

For something a little different, try SeaDream Yacht Club for a super-small ship that feels like a private yacht, complete with an emphasis on alfresco recreation and dining. Star Clippers appeals to sailing enthusiasts with its masted ships, simple entertainment and emphasis on water sports.

Things to do in the Caribbean

White sand beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters are the biggest attractions for most Caribbean cruisers. You'll be hard-pressed to find a Caribbean cruise port that does not offer beach access. Whether you enjoy a cruise line's private beach, a public beach lined with bars or get a day pass to a resort or beach club, you can rarely go wrong with a beach day in the islands.

Water sports are another quintessential Caribbean attraction. Cruisers can swim, snorkel and scuba dive, of course, but they can also kayak, snuba, Jet Ski, sail and parasail. Sometimes you can do these things right from whatever beach is your destination for the day. Otherwise, book a tour to the best spots or for a guided activity. Or, book a leisurely sunset sail or high-octane party cruise to get on the water, not necessarily in it.

Shopping is a popular diversion, from high-end French stores in Martinique and St. Barts to crafts markets and souvenir shops. Historical attractions range from forts erected to protect against pirates to Mayan temples. Cultural tours focus on local cuisine, wine and spirits, and dancing. (Yes, even you can learn to salsa.) Active travelers will find plenty of hiking, biking, zip lining and ATV tours.

Best Caribbean cruise ports

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A single cruise line might call at 20 to 30 different ports in the Caribbean. Although you might think they all look like stock photos of white sand beaches with palm trees and blue skies, each island has its own look, culture and vibe. I've sailed to a large number of those ports and would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite. They all have their charms for different reasons.

The following Caribbean cruise ports are generally standouts, no matter your travel style.

Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel is an island in the Caribbean just offshore from Playa del Carmen and just south of Cancun. It truly offers something for everyone. You can head to the beach, go scuba diving or snorkeling or head to the mainland to see Mayan cultural sites like Tulum and Chichen Itza. Stick around town to find cheap drinks at Senor Frog's or shop for souvenirs.

Cruise ships call at a number of ports in Jamaica: Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Kingston and Falmouth. Many folks spend the day on the beach, often at one of the resorts, but climbing up Dunn's River Falls is a unique experience not to be missed. Cruisers seeking a thrill can find bobsled, zip line, river tubing and ATV tours. And, yes, reggae fans — there is a Bob Marley tour you can take.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan is both a popular departure port and port of call on Eastern and Southern Caribbean cruise itineraries. Its Old Town and historic fort overlooking the water are top attractions, but cruisers have the opportunity to visit El Yunque National Forest (the only tropical rainforest on U.S. soil) or head to the beach.

Belize City, Belize

Travelers don't tend to spend much time in Belize City itself, but it's a great jumping-off point for all Belize has to offer. Visit the Altun Ha Mayan ruins, go river tubing and spelunking in caves, zip line through the jungle or go snorkeling or diving along Belize's famous barrier reef (the northern hemisphere's largest).

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

This island is known for its gorgeous Magens Bay beach. However, if you'd rather not share the beach with several ships' worth of cruisers, take the ferry to nearby St. John for the day and find a U.S. national park and a more chill beach experience. Take the kids to the Coral World Ocean Park, your sweetie on a catamaran sail or snorkel trip and your crazy friends on a helmet dive or BOSS underwater scooter adventure.

Known for its lush green twin peaks known as the Pitons, St. Lucia entices travelers with postcard-perfect beaches set against jungle scenery. It even has its own volcano with sulphur springs to visit and all the usual land and sea activities.

Beach, beach and more beach — Aruba is definitely a port to be in, on or near the water. It's one of the southernmost Caribbean islands, found just off the coast of Venezuela, and its location protects it from the summer and fall hurricanes that can hammer the islands to its north and east. Animal lovers might want to check out its ostrich farm — not something you usually find in a Caribbean cruise port.

When to book a Caribbean cruise

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The best time to book a Caribbean cruise is clearly right now! Seriously, you can almost always find a deal on a Caribbean cruise if you're flexible enough with your travel dates and cabin types.

If you want to book a popular sail date (such as a Christmas and New Year's Eve sailing) or are looking for a cabin type that's in limited supply (connecting cabins or studio rooms for solo travelers), book as far in advance as you can, at least nine months out if not longer. If you're retired and can drive to a port, you can likely find an inside cabin to book just a few weeks prior to sailing.

The first few months of the year, known as "wave season" in the cruise industry, is a time when cruise lines all offer some kind of booking promotion, and you can often find discounted fares or free booking perks on Caribbean cruises. Many cruise lines also run sales at the end of the summer or during Black Friday/Cyber Monday, and Caribbean sailings are almost always included.

What to bring on a Caribbean cruise

Swimsuits and warm-weather clothing should top your Caribbean cruise packing list, but don't forget the sunscreen. The sun is stronger than you might expect in this part of the world, and you can easily burn during a long day at the beach if you don't apply and reapply plenty of sunscreen. Hats, sunglasses, moisture-wicking athletic clothing and your favorite cover-ups and sundresses are all must-pack items.

I also recommend that all passengers bring a passport on their Caribbean sailing. If you're cruising round-trip from a U.S. port, a passport is not required by law — but it's a good idea to pack one in case of an unexpected medical emergency or mechanical problem that forces you to debark the ship in a foreign country.

Bottom line

Whether you're new to cruising or a hardy sailor, the Caribbean is the perfect place for a cruise vacation. If you've never been, any of the islands will delight. If you've sailed before, there's always some destination you've never visited or an activity you haven't tried.

When winter in your hometown drags on, or the stress of the workweek gets you down, a Caribbean cruise is often just what the doctor ordered to lift the weight of the world from your shoulders and let you escape to a tropical paradise for a few days.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

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  • The Blue Hole of Belize: Nestled in the Lighthouse Reef, the Great Blue Hole is a massive underwater sinkhole. This natural wonder, over 300 meters in diameter and 125 meters deep, showcases stunning marine life and geological formations, making it a world-renowned dive site.
  • Piton Mountains in Saint Lucia: The iconic Pitons, two volcanic spires rising dramatically from the Caribbean Sea, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gros Piton and Petit Piton offer breathtaking views and hiking opportunities, showcasing the unique geological features of the region.
  • Pristine Tobago Cays Marine Park: This protected marine reserve in the Grenadines is a haven for marine life. Snorkelers and divers can explore vibrant coral reefs, swim with sea turtles, and enjoy the crystal-clear waters of this idyllic Caribbean destination.
  • Historic Sites of San Juan, Puerto Rico : San Juan's Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasts colorful Spanish colonial architecture. El Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal, historic fortresses, reflect the city's strategic importance in the region's history.
  • Dominican Republic 's Pico Duarte: As the highest peak in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte stands at 3,087 meters above sea level. Hikers can embark on an adventure through dense forests to reach the summit, where panoramic views of the island await.
  • The Baths, Virgin Gorda : This geological wonder in the British Virgin Islands features colossal granite boulders creating stunning grottoes and pools along the beach. It's a natural playground for exploration, swimming, and photography.
  • Morne Trois Pitons National Park, Dominica : Dominica's UNESCO-listed national park is a treasure trove of natural wonders. Boiling Lake, the second-largest hot spring in the world, and Trafalgar Falls, with its twin cascades, highlight the island's geothermal activity.
  • Cuba's Viñales Valley : Known for its picturesque tobacco fields and limestone karst formations, Viñales Valley is a UNESCO site. The vibrant landscapes and traditional agricultural practices offer a glimpse into rural Cuban life.

Our Favorite Caribbean Cruise Ports for Small Ships

Windjammer cruises in the caribbean, fun facts about the caribbean.

  • Diverse Coral Reefs: The Caribbean is home to some of the most diverse coral reefs globally, with an array of marine life inhabiting its crystal-clear waters.
  • Multilingual Region: The Caribbean is a linguistically diverse region, with English, Spanish, French, Dutch, and various Creole languages spoken across its islands.
  • Pirates' Haven: The Caribbean was a notorious haven for pirates during the 17th and 18th centuries, with legendary figures like Blackbeard and Calico Jack roaming its waters.
  • World's First Rum Distillery: Mount Gay Rum Distillery in Barbados claims to be the world's oldest, dating back to 1703, showcasing the region's historical ties to the production of rum.
  • Birthplace of Salsa and Merengue: The Caribbean has played a pivotal role in the development of music genres, including the birthplace of salsa in Cuba and merengue in the Dominican Republic.
  • Blue Flag Beaches: The Caribbean hosts numerous Blue Flag beaches, recognized for their environmental management, cleanliness, and safety standards.
  • Hurricane Alley: The Caribbean experiences a hurricane season from June to November, with a higher likelihood of hurricanes and tropical storms during these months.
  • Biodiversity Hotspot: The Caribbean is a biodiversity hotspot, hosting a vast array of plant and animal species, including the endangered Hawksbill turtle and the colorful Queen Angelfish.
  • Cricket Craze: Cricket is a popular sport in the Caribbean, and the West Indies cricket team is one of the most successful in international competitions.
  • Arawak and Taino Indigenous Peoples: The Caribbean was originally inhabited by indigenous peoples, including the Arawak and Taino, whose influences are still visible in the region's culture and traditions.
  • Cayman Islands' Stingray City: Grand Cayman's Stingray City allows visitors to interact with friendly southern stingrays in their natural habitat, creating a unique and unforgettable experience.
  • Jamaica's Blue Mountain Coffee: Jamaica is renowned for its Blue Mountain Coffee, one of the most sought-after and expensive coffees globally, grown in the Blue Mountains region.

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  • Diverse Currency: Be aware that the Caribbean is a region with diverse currencies. While some islands use the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (XCD), others, like Jamaica, use the Jamaican Dollar (JMD), and some, including Puerto Rico, use the United States Dollar (USD).
  • Hurricane Preparedness: During the hurricane season (June to November), stay informed about weather conditions and consider travel insurance that covers unforeseen disruptions. Check local advisories and be flexible with your plans. Prices tend to be lower during this season.
  • Island Time: Embrace the laid-back lifestyle known as "island time." Things may move at a slower pace, so plan accordingly and savor the relaxed atmosphere.
  • Water Safety: Exercise caution with water activities. While the Caribbean boasts stunning beaches, currents and tides can be strong. Pay attention to warning flags, and only swim in designated safe areas.
  • Local Cuisine Exploration: Dive into the local cuisine. Each island offers unique flavors, so try traditional dishes and street food. Don't miss specialties like jerk chicken in Jamaica or conch fritters in The Bahamas.
  • Bargaining Skills: Brush up on your bargaining skills, especially in local markets. Haggling is common, and you may score better deals on souvenirs or goods by negotiating with local vendors.
  • Transportation Options: Explore various transportation options. Some islands have well-developed public transportation, while others may require renting a car. Consider your destination's infrastructure for the best travel experience.
  • Language Variation: English is widely spoken, but many islands have their own dialects or languages. Familiarize yourself with local phrases, especially if English is not the primary language spoken.
  • Health Precautions: Be cautious about food and water hygiene. Stick to bottled water, avoid consuming raw or undercooked seafood, and use insect repellent to guard against mosquito-borne illnesses.
  • Sun Protection: The Caribbean sun can be intense. Pack sunscreen, a hat, and lightweight clothing to protect yourself from sunburn. Stay hydrated, especially in warmer months.
  • Cash vs. Cards: While larger establishments accept credit cards, it's advisable to carry some cash for smaller businesses or markets. ATMs are available, but check for fees and notify your bank of your travel plans.

Video: Sailing the Caribbean on a Small Ship Cruise

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Top 10 Most Unique Cruise Itineraries

If you think that the vast majority of cruises only involve the Caribbean, think again. Today’s cruises feature more varied, unique and exciting itineraries than ever before. While fun in the sun cruises continue to be the mainstay of most of the major cruise lines, the majority of those cruise lines also boast a handful of itineraries to more exotic – and unique – locales. Whether you’re looking for a bit of adventure off the beaten path, want to see a far-flung part of the world in an exciting and different way – or if you just want to learn something new that you otherwise never would – consider one of the following unique itineraries when planning your next cruise.

The Galapagos Islands

Explore the part of the world that Darwin made famous – and where some of the most amazing examples of the diversity of nature are constantly on hand – by cruising around the Galapagos Islands. With approximately 60 islands, the Galapagos presents a wide array of options when it comes to enjoying a state of the art cruise. Celebrity’s Xpedition offers excellent Galapagos Island itineraries; you’ll never forget your visit to this compelling part of the world.

Russia and Scandinavia

Get a sense of how the Vikings must have felt all those years ago as they sailed around remote parts of Scandinavia by booking a cruise through this cold, fascinating part of the world. Many Scandinavian itineraries also include jaunts into parts of Russia, making these trips exceptionally eye-opening and impressive. Stop in at St. Petersburg along the way to get your fix of big city life. Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Sea is one great option for Scandinavian cruises.

Who doesn’t want to get to know Hawaii in an up close and personal kind of way? These tropical islands offer a bit of something for everyone, and itineraries in Hawaii are resplendent with frequent stops at impossibly gorgeous ports of call. One moment, you’re gazing at a majestic volcano; the next, you’re pondering the vast, blue sea. Norwegian’s Pride of Hawaii is one example of a ship that boasts such itineraries on a regular basis.

New England

You don’t even have to leave the United States to experience an unforgettable cruise. Rediscover New England by cruising along its major waterways and coastlines. The Carnival Victory regularly offers itineraries around New England, especially when fall colors are in full “bloom.” Regardless of when you do it, though, this is bound to be a trip that you won’t soon forget.

South Africa

A cruise itinerary based around South Africa allows you to combine the pleasure of being at sea with the thrill of spotting wild game animals in their natural environment. Indeed, a cruise around the southern part of this massive, wild – and largely ignored – continent can be a wonderful way to expand your horizons on many different levels. Some South African itineraries include loops around Madagascar, where scuba diving and topnotch beaches await. Orient Lines offers plenty of unique South African itineraries.

Napa Valley

Wine connoisseurs take note: several small cruise companies regularly feature itineraries around California’s Napa Valley. In terms of being unique, this has to be one of the best options around. American Safari Cruises and Cruise West sail their ships round trip from San Francisco, allowing passengers to experience the Napa Valley in a whole new way. Learn something new – and try some phenomenal wine – by booking a Napa Valley cruise today.

What could be more exotic and unique than Tahiti? This far flung group of islands has captured the imaginations of people around the globe. Several especially unique itineraries include stops at the Marquesas, where you can see a whole other side of island life. Majestic peaks, green vistas and tropical lagoons await those who take cruises in this corner of the world. The Regent Seven Seas’ Paul Gauguin offers one of the best Tahitian options.

Australia and New Zealand

In a single cruise to the land “down under,” you can take in fjords, glaciers and other wild natural sights – along with amazing examples of man made wonders like the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Indeed, Australia and New Zealand itineraries offer passengers a delightful way to experience modern marvels along with some of the most stunning natural sights on the planet. The Regent Seven Seas’ Mariner is one great way to experience it.

As vast as it is, trying to get a real feel for the majesty of Alaska is nearly impossible when traveling by land. Cruising around its rugged coastlines, though, is a whole other story. Unique Alaskan itineraries often combine helicopter tours, fishing and other outdoor pursuits with more “common” cruise amenities and services. Most of the major cruise lines offer itineraries to Alaska, so you can take your pick from among several.

More and more cruise ships are offering itineraries to East Asia, which isn’t surprising considering what this part of the world has to offer. By booking a cruise on Oceania’s Nautica, for instance, you can check out ports of call as varied as Vietnam, Hong Kong and even the Great Wall of China. Cruising East Asia is one of the best ways to see a huge cross section of this culturally and historically compelling part of the planet.

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17 Unforgettable Things to Do in the Caribbean

By Lauren Breedlove

Last updated: April 11th, 2024

Couple sightseeing from Dark View Waterfall

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Known for idyllic beaches and sparkling turquoise seas, the Caribbean is a popular destination for sun-seekers in search of a tropical escape. Although the world-class stretches of sand are one of the main attractions, the Caribbean offers so much more including rich culture, exciting outdoor adventures, vibrant underwater worlds, and delicious cuisine.

Trek to gorgeous waterfalls, snorkel amongst colorful schools of exotic fish, indulge in authentic Caribbean fare, take in a memorable sunset, and view expansive island vistas from the top of stunning natural wonders.

From ultimate relaxation on the beach to thrilling sun-fueled ventures, uncover the top things to do in the Caribbean and start planning your next trip.

Hike El Yunque Rainforest

Lush greenery in El Yunque National Rainforest

El Yunque National Rainforest, Puerto Rico

Explore Puerto Rico’s nature with an outdoor adventure at El Yunque National Forest. Discover the diverse ecosystem within the park, which is located only forty minutes from the city of San Juan .

Make your way around vibrant flora and fauna that line hiking trails weaving through a verdant rainforest. Encounter interesting wildlife like the coqui frog and Puerto Rican parrot. Take a refreshing dip in a natural pool at the end of the popular Angelito trail, one of the best hiking trails in Puerto Rico . Marvel at giant ferns and beautiful waterfalls along the way.

Don’t forget to make a stop at the Yokahu Observation Tower, where you’ll feast your eyes on the park’s famed vistas full of rainforest canopies and azure seas for miles.

Read: Best Hiking in the Caribbean

Visit the Brimstone Hill Fortress

Lush landscape of historic site of Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park

Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, St. Kitts

Step back in time with a trip to a well-preserved fortress in St. Kitts, one of the best Caribbean islands . The Brimstone Hill Fortress is a well-known UNESCO World Heritage site that delivers both alluring history and unbeatable views.

Situated on the northeastern edge of St. Kitts , the fortress has an incredible panorama from its hilltop position that lies 800 feet above the sea. Wander the historical grounds of this national park, constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries for the British military.

Learn about the significant role it played throughout its existence while taking in views that can stretch to as far as six nearby islands.

Surf at Bathsheba Beach

Couple walking in Bathsheba Beach

Bathsheba Beach, Barbados

The ruggedly beautiful eastern shore of Barbados is home to one of the top surfing beaches in the Caribbean . A leisurely stroll is a great way to take photos of the unique rock formations that line an expansive and pristine white sand beach.

Enjoy the unspoiled landscape while watching skilled surfers tackle the wild waves. Combine your visit to this popular surf spot with a stop in the nearby fishing village of St. Joseph, where you can sample authentic Caribbean fare and browse local rum shops.

Read: Incredible Barbados Food to Try

Take in the View at Pigeon Island National Park

Scenic view of Pigeon Island National Park

Pigeon Island National Park, St. Lucia

On the northwest region of Pigeon Island National Park in St. Lucia , you’ll find a picturesque nature reserve near Rodney Bay. Two beaches, historic ruins, and an incredible viewpoint make this one of the most popular destinations on this Caribbean island.

Walk the trail to Fort Rodney, where historic ruins and a breathtaking island panorama await. Along the route, informational signs detailing the storied history of the fort provide cultural and historical insight into the significance of the structure, built in the late 1700s by Admiral George Rodney.

On a clear day, your vista will stretch all the way across Rodney Bay and as far as the island of Martinique.

Snorkel at Sapphire Beach

Beautiful shoreline of Sapphire Beach

Sapphire Beach, St. Thomas

On the idyllic island of St. Thomas , witness the rich marine life that lies in the clear waters of Sapphire Beach. Embark on a snorkeling adventure straight from the soft white sands of this east coast beach, where snorkel gear is readily available to equip your underwater exploration.

At the end of the beach, you’ll find one of the most popular snorkeling spots on the island,  Pretty Klip Point, which is home to a diverse population of tropical fish and graceful sea turtles. Glide through calm, clear waters while admiring colorful coral and schools of lively fish.  Afterward, enjoy local fare from the resident bar and grill while relaxing in the shade provided by ample palm trees.

Read: Where to Find the Best Snorkeling in the Caribbean

Explore the Chacchoben Ruins

Picturesque Mayan ruins in Costa Maya

Chacchoben Mayan Ruins, Mexico

Embark on a cultural and historic venture as you explore Mexico’s Chacchoben Ruins. Roughly translated as “the place of red corn,” the Chacchoben Ruins are located just outside of Costa Maya and are said to date all the way back to 200 B.C.

Wander around this ancient city framed by mahogany trees and cohune palms. Marvel at the construction of the impressive Temple 1 and Temple of the Vessels. And explore giant pyramid structures, temples, and large courtyards that once hosted Mayan ceremonies.

Trek to Dunn’s River Falls

Clear water of Dunn’s River Falls

Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica

Outside of Ocho Rios, discover one of the most well-known natural attractions in Jamaica , the Dunn’s River Falls. An outdoor enthusiast’s waterfall haven, Dunn’s River Falls is a terraced cascade in the middle of a tropical paradise.

Hike to the falls, where you can choose your own adventure by embarking on the path that follows the edge of the cascade or go on a more challenging climb up the travertine waterfall “steps.” A dip in one of the natural pools will be a welcome refresh off after all your efforts. Visiting here is one of the best things to do near Ocho Rios .

Read: Best Beaches in Jamaica

View Island Wildlife at Habitation Latouche

Things to do in the Caribbean - Habitation Latouche

Habitation Latouche, Martinique

Encounter exotic wildlife within the grounds of the oldest house in Martinique , located on an old sugar plantation. In this idyllic setting, you’ll enjoy a zoological park that houses interesting species such as tropical birds, pumas, anteaters, monkeys, and jaguars.

Wander boardwalk pathways within the botanical garden area of the estate to view the animals, as well as unique flora and fauna. In addition to the zoo experience, other highlights include the historical main house, workshop, paddle wheel, aqueduct, and the scenic Anse Latouche River.

Read: Wildlife Photography Tips for Beginners

Swim With Stingrays

Family swimming with stingrays in Grand Cayman

Stingray City, Grand Cayman

Experience one of the top things to do in the Caribbean by visiting Stingray City in Grand Cayman . Interact with stingrays in shallow water and touch, hold, and feed the sea creatures as they swim around you.

Safely swim along with the barb-clipped stingrays while enjoying the warm ocean waters and learning about these gentle undersea animals in the Caribbean . This is one of the ultimate Caribbean wildlife experiences that is sure to create long-lasting memories.

Get Misted by the Dark View Waterfall

Couple sightseeing from Dark View Waterfall

Dark View Waterfall, St. Vincent

Uncover a dual waterfall treasure on the island of St. Vincent in the Grenadines. Embark on an enjoyable fifteen-minute hike and land in a tropical paradise, complete with thundering falls.

Trek through a bamboo grove, crossing over the Richmond River via a bridge for an exciting outdoor experience. After encountering the first of the scenic waterfalls, another short hike is required to reach the second cascade.

At the base of the falls, natural pools provide the perfect place to cool off in the water. Feel like you’ve been transported into another world as the waterfall flows over soaring cliffs surrounded by lush flora and fauna within a jungle setting.

Lounge on Te Amo Beach

White sand beach and clear blue waters of Te Amo Beach, Bonaire

Te Amo Beach, Bonaire

Discover one of the most idyllic (and most romantic) stretches of sand in the Caribbean with a visit to Te Amo Beach in Bonaire . Lounge on powdery white sand and allow yourself to relax as you gaze upon crystal clear seas in the warmth of the sun.

Watch as planes take off from the nearby airport, and take a tranquil stroll. Wade into some of the clearest water in the Caribbean to go snorkeling, where you’ll see exotic fish species such as snapper, parrotfish, and blanket fish while swimming above the shallow reef just offshore.

Read: Best Beaches in Bonaire

Explore Natural Bridge Ruins

Things to do in the Caribbean - Natural Bridge Ruins, Aruba

Natural Bridge Ruins, Aruba

Nestled on Aruba’s rustic northern shore, you’ll find a unique and gorgeous geological formation perched 25 feet above the rugged sea. The Arikok National Park’s natural bridges previously served as the top of an ancient cave.

Composed of coral limestone, these formations were crafted from the effects of erosion throughout the years. Although the original, larger natural bridge collapsed in 2005, the baby bridge still exists.

Walk the trail to take in the stunning views, watch the powerful waves, and enjoy taking photos of this incredible natural site in Aruba .

Bask in the Sun on Grand Case Beach

Picturesque Grand Case Beach, St. Grand Case Beach, St. Maarten

Grand Case Beach, St. Maarten

Relax on the uncrowded shores of Grand Case Beach, one of the best things to do in St. Maarten . Enjoy a leisurely swim in the pristine azure waters in between lounging and strolling in paradise.

The long, sandy beach is ideal for seashell and sea glass spotting, and on a clear day, you’ll have a stunning view of the neighboring island of Anguilla. Beach bars and restaurants provide delicious local fare and thirst-quenching drinks.

This is a fantastic seaside destination on the island of St. Maarten for sunset watching, as well.

Read: Shopping in St. Maarten

Climb Gros Piton

Scenic view of the Pitons

Gros Piton, St. Lucia

Experience one of the top things to do in the Caribbean with a trek to the top of Gros Piton in St. Lucia. Starting near the village of Soufriere, challenge yourself with a climb up the mountain on the well-marked 3.2-mile trail.

Encounter rainforest flora and fauna during your hike and an impressive vista from the halfway point. Catch your breath and then embark on the second half of your adventure.

Your efforts will be greatly rewarded with panoramic views of the neighboring sister mountain, Petit Piton, the Maria Islands, Saint Vincent, and quaint fishing villages of the area that will dazzle you from 2,619 feet above sea level.

Venture Through the Baths of Virgin Gorda

Rock formation and turquoise waters at The Baths

The Baths of Virgin Gorda

Uncover a unique natural attraction in the British Virgin Islands with a stop at the Baths at Virgin Gorda, which are easily accessed by the nearby island of Tortola. Explore the national park’s beach playground by weaving through massive granite boulders surrounded by soft white sand and sparkling turquoise seas.

Inside, hidden coves, natural pools, mysterious caves, and a maze-like path all await under the Caribbean sun. Don’t forget to enjoy the idyllic views of Devil’s Bay as you wade through shallow waters.

Read: What’s the Best Virgin Island to Visit?

Eat Famous Jerk Chicken

Platter of Jamaican jerk chicken

Jerk chicken

Jerk chicken and pork are staples in the cuisine that Jamaica is known for , and once you taste this brilliant spice mixture, you’ll understand why this style of cooking has made its way around the world.

Head to the village of Falmouth on Jamaica’s northern coast to sample some of the best jerk chicken and pork on the island. Enjoy the perfect blend of spicy and sweet while indulging in this iconic Caribbean culture and culinary experience. Make sure to order a quintessential Red Stripe beer for a well-rounded pairing.

Read: The Ultimate Guide to Caribbean Cuisine

Catch a Thrill on a River Tubing Adventure

People on a river tubing adventure in Dominica

Layou River, Dominica

Float through some of the most incredible scenery in Dominica with a river-tubing journey down the Layou River. Discover why Dominica is one of the best Caribbean islands for adventure while making your way down the gorge.

In some sections, light rapids offer excitement, while other portions of your journey present a more peaceful glide. Spot exotic birds, such as Sun Pipers and King Fishers, as well as frogs amongst the lush flora and fauna as you navigate through this tropical paradise in Dominica .

Things to do in the Caribbean - River tubing in Dominica

If you’re ready for a tropical escape, get ready to uncover all the amazing things to do in the Caribbean on a luxury cruise. From exciting hiking opportunities and beautiful beaches to stunning waterfalls and cuisine that delights, the islands of the Caribbean have something for every type of traveler to discover. Browse Caribbean cruise itineraries on our website and book your next tropical escape today.

Lauren Breedlove

Lauren Breedlove is a freelance writer, travel photographer, and the girl behind girlwanderlist.com, a list-based travel blog. She thrives on random adventures, off-beat destinations, and grilled cheese. Follow all her exploits on Instagram, @girlwanderlist.

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The 18 best themed cruises for 2024 and 2025.

From Christmas to Comic-Con, there's a themed cruise for you.

The Best Themed Cruises

Disney characters in front of the Pumpkin Tree on Disney Cruise Line's Halloween on the High Seas.

Kent Phillips | Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Grab your costumes, musical instruments, books or anything else you could need for a fun themed cruise.

Imagine boarding a cruise ship to find hundreds – or even thousands – of your shipmates share the very same passions and interests that you do. You're thinking of a themed cruise.

Like a traditional cruise, a themed cruise delivers everything you'd expect of a shipboard vacation, like sundrenched ports, sparkling blue waters and superb dining amid lush surroundings, but instead of a daily program filled with trivia, bingo, dance lessons and pickleball tournaments, you'll find myriad activities geared specifically to the sailing's theme – and plenty of like-minded people to share them with.

Below, you'll find some of the top themed cruises for 2024 and 2025. Be sure to book soon, as these voyages can sell out quickly.

Book a cruise on  GoToSea , a service of U.S. News.

Best Music-Themed Cruises

Best holiday cruises, best star trek cruises, best literary cruises, best culinary cruises, best sports-themed cruises, cayamo, a journey through song: march 1-8, 2024.

In its 16th year, Cayamo celebrates music of all genres. The 2024 voyage brings Lyle Lovett, Billy Bragg and Shawn Colvin together with more than two dozen acts aboard Norwegian Pearl . This themed cruise sails from Miami to the Dominican Republic and Aruba while offering songwriting sessions, open jams, autograph opportunities and more. In addition to full concerts, cruisers can count on memorable collaborations and onboard performances crafted specifically for this weeklong musical celebration. Though this music-themed cruise is currently full, interested travelers can join the waitlist on Cayamo's website .

The Broadway Cruise 2: March 13-18, 2024

The Great White Way relocates from the Big Apple to Miami , with stops in Key West, Florida , and Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands , during this musical salute to Broadway. Join actors – including Norm Lewis, Christian Borle and Kerry Butler – as well as composers, choreographers, journalists and critics for five nights of performances, workshops and panel discussions aboard Norwegian Pearl.

Flower Power Cruise: March 21-28, 2024

Hop aboard Celebrity Summit for a celebration of the stars and music of the 1960s, hosted by Peter & Gordon's Peter Asher. The Rascals, Tommy James & the Shondells, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, John Lodge of the Moody Blues, John Kay of Steppenwolf, The Box Tops and The Grassroots are just part of the stellar lineup of classic rockers sailing from Miami to San Juan, Puerto Rico , and St. Croix on the seventh annual Flower Power Cruise. Visit the Flower Power Cruise website to join the waitlist.

On the Blue: April 5-10, 2024

Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues hosts this five-night celebration of classic rock aboard Norwegian Pearl, filled with full concerts, late-night jams, Q&A sessions with the artists, photo ops, meet-and-greets and themed nights. The Zombies, Alan Parsons, Al Stewart, Little River Band and more join Hayward as Norwegian Pearl sails from Miami to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic , and Nassau, Bahamas . VIP packages that include priority concert seating, a goody bag filled with themed merchandise and access to a special artist cocktail party are available.

The Michael McDonald and Patti LaBelle Cruise: April 10-13, 2024

In 1986, Michael McDonald and Patti LaBelle teamed up to record what would become a No. 1 smash hit: "On My Own," written and produced by Burt Bachrach and his then-wife Carole Bayer Sager. Now, McDonald and LaBelle reunite – this time, at sea – for a three-night event filled with musical performances. Hosted by Grammy Award winner Marcus Miller, this soulful voyage also features comedians George Wallace and Alonzo Bodden along with a cast of award-winning musicians and vocalists to keep the party going. This cruise sails from Miami to Nassau, Bahamas, aboard Norwegian Pearl.

Disney characters Mickey and Minnie stand in front of the Pumpkin Tree on Disney Cruise Line's Halloween on the High Seas.

Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Halloween on the High Seas: Mid-September to October 2024

It's a spooky time aboard four of Disney Cruise Line's ships – Disney Magic , Disney Dream , Disney Fantasy and Disney Wish – during its Halloween sailings. Dress up and join Disney characters for Halloween parties, themed food and beverages, eerie arts and crafts, creepy decor and other special events. Featured Halloween itineraries for 2024 sail to destinations in the eastern and western Caribbean, as well as the Bahamas.

Hallmark Christmas Cruise: November 5-9 and November 17-21, 2024

Hallmark Channel stars bring Christmas magic to life on this festive celebration at sea aboard the Norwegian Gem . Sailing from Miami to Nassau, Bahamas, the cruise includes Christmas cookie decorating, ugly sweater contests and Christmas "carol-oke" among its planned activities. Each voyage culminates in the world premiere of a new Hallmark Channel "Countdown to Christmas" movie. Head to the Hallmark Christmas Cruise website to join the waitlist.

Very Merrytime: November and December 2024

Get in the holiday spirit with Disney Cruise Line 's Very Merrytime sailings, available on Disney Magic, Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy and Disney Wish. Join in for a jolly fusion of shipboard decor and holiday-themed entertainment, including Christmas tree lightings, meet-and-greets with Santa Claus, a holiday deck show and more. Very Merrytime's 2024 itineraries explore ports throughout the Bahamas and the western Caribbean.

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Star Trek: The Cruise: February 22-29, 2024

Board Royal Caribbean International for the best cruise experience in the galaxy on Mariner of the Seas . Sailing to Curacao and Aruba from Port Canaveral, you'll join Star Trek actors Walter Koenig, Levar Burton, Garrett Wang and nearly two dozen others as you're beamed into themed shows, events, parties and actor-hosted shore adventures. Each night of the cruise celebrates a different dimension of the Star Trek experience and, since the cruise's debut in 2017, guests have knocked it out of the park with show-stopping costumes.

A panel talk on Cunard Cruise Line's Literature Festival at Sea in 2019.

Courtesy of Cunard Line

Literature Festival at Sea: November 13-20, 2024

Cross the Atlantic surrounded by authors, poets, journalists, critics, historians and book lovers aboard the legendary Queen Mary 2 as she sails from Southampton, England, to New York City . With discussions, master classes, book signings and special events, this ocean-going book festival, coordinated by The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, features authors Mark Billingham, Denise Mina and Chris Brookmyre, with more guest speakers and participants still to be announced. This special program is open to all guests sailing this particular Cunard Line crossing and need not be booked through an outside themed cruise organizer.

Comic-Con: The Cruise: February 5-9, 2025

A thrilling new entry into the themed cruise universe, San Diego Comic-Con and Entertainment Cruise Productions team up for Comic-Con: The Cruise. Participants will interact with Comic-Con icons – including the comic book world's leading actors, creators, authors and more – as they sail on Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas from Tampa to Cozumel. While the specific talent lineup will not be revealed until early November, fans can expect nonstop activities on board, including hosted tastings, trivia sessions, parties, cosplay events, and autograph and photo sessions.

Kitchen prepared for culinary classes for Silversea Cruises S.A.L.T.

Courtesy of Silversea Cruises

Silversea Cruises S.A.L.T. (All Sailings)

Sometimes, you'll find a theme built right into a standard cruise experience – like Silversea's S.A.L.T. (Sea and Land Taste), an immersive multipronged culinary program created by Adam Sachs, former editor-in-chief of Saveur magazine. Aboard Silversea's newest ships, Silver Nova, Silver Moon and Silver Dawn , S.A.L.T. celebrates the region guests are sailing through on their particular voyage. Cruisers will find a dedicated restaurant featuring local specialties; a bar offering the area's wines, beers and cocktails; hands-on cooking classes that show guests how to create their favorite local dishes at home; and an intensive program of culinary programs on shore.

Chefs Making Waves: March 25-29, 2024

Award-winning chefs Andrew Zimmern, Aaron Sanchez, Anne Burrell, Marcus Samuelsson, Robert Irvine, Michael Symon and more indulge you in culinary excellence on this four-night voyage from Miami to Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau, Bahamas, aboard Norwegian Pearl. Guests can expect cooking demos, in-depth master classes, culinary panels and, best of all, four meticulously designed sit-down dinners curated by these master chefs who have reshaped the American food scene.

Sara Moulton Cruise: May 18-June 1, 2024

Oceania Cruises, creator of the decadent onboard Dom Perignon Dinner, celebrates dining with sailings featuring leading names in the culinary arts. In May 2024, chef, cookbook author and TV personality Sara Moulton leads food demonstrations and special shore excursions during a 14-day sailing from Barcelona to Rome aboard Marina .

Claudine Pepin Cruise: July 17-31, 2024

Known for its commitment to all things culinary, Oceania Cruises hosts another foodie voyage in July 2024. Claudine Pepin, TV host and daughter of world-renowned Master Chef Jacques Pepin, conducts culinary-themed demonstrations and chats aboard Sirena on a sailing from Reykjavik, Iceland , to Hamburg, Germany , over 14 days.

A racecar races around a track with ships at sea in the background.

Courtesy of Windstar Cruises

Cleveland Browns Fan Cruise: March 11-16, 2024

Celebrate all things Browns during a five-day sailing from Miami to Nassau, Bahamas, and Falmouth, Jamaica, aboard Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas . Dozens of Browns alumni will share insider secrets with guests and join in experiences that include special dinners; a deep dive into the past, present and future of the team; autograph sessions; beach parties and more.

Rome & Prix du Monde of Monaco: May 20-27, 2025

Arrive for Formula One festivities aboard Windstar Cruises' Wind Surf, the world's largest sailing yacht. Cruisers will receive a themed gift package containing earplugs, binoculars, a seat cushion and more to enjoy the exhilaration of watching Monte Carlo's Grand Prix du Monde from a premier grandstand seat in Monaco . You'll enjoy two days of Formula One time trials and racing, as well as exclusive access to events like a Prix du Monde-themed cocktail reception. This experience is hosted by a Formula One expert who will provide behind-the-scenes insights, answer questions and participate in discussions throughout the sailing.

2025 British Isles Golf Cruise: July 15-July 28, 2025

In partnership with Perry Golf, Azamara hosts a number of golf cruises throughout the year. This is the big one: a sailing that includes attendance to the prestigious 153rd Open at Royal Portrush. You'll sail aboard Azamara Journey from Southampton, England, to Liverpool, England; Dublin ; Belfast, Ireland, and more, ending your cruise with three days in Edinburgh, Scotland . Travelers can count on playing six rounds of golf at well-known courses throughout the British Isles.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Judi Cuervo is a cruise enthusiast. Since her first cruise in 1976, she's been sailing aboard a wide array of cruises from mass market to expedition ships. Cuervo used her extensive cruise experience along with research skills to write this article.

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'No washy, no food': Meet Washy Washy, Royal Caribbean's singing public health character

unique caribbean cruises

Some of the best entertainment on Royal Caribbean International’s cruise ships happens at the sink.

Crew members throughout Royal Caribbean's fleet play Washy Washy, a character who reminds guests to stop at hand-washing stations when they enter various dining venues. They perform public health-themed covers of popular songs. Videos featuring their takes on hits like Bob Marley and the Wailers’ “No Woman, No Cry” (“No washy, no food”) and the Pussycat Dolls’ “Don’t Cha” (“Don’t cha wish your girlfriend washy washy like me”) have gone viral on social media in recent months.

The role – whose actual title is host or hostess of the venue – has been around for more than 15 years, with cruise ship employees adding their own spins, according to Rebecca Burns, the line’s Senior Manager of Restaurant Operations.

“Over time crew members have gotten very creative incorporating costumes, dances, and songs bringing excitement and happiness to guests,” she said in an email. “We love that there is an opportunity for each of them to make it their own and bring out their personalities.”

Washy Washy also helps the cruise line promote good hand hygiene. “The health and well-being of our guests, and the overall guest experience, are top priorities for Royal Caribbean,” Burns added. “Washing hands before dining is an important step to staying healthy, and this unique approach of integrating entertainment reminding guests to do so has made it more effective.”

USA TODAY spoke with five crew members who play Washy Washy on the line’s newest ship, Icon of the Seas : Neilbert Mar Morilla Saluta, 34; Jay Arenas, 33; Argel Symbol, 36; Jester Javier, 30; and Aaljon Nogaliza, 30. The employees, who are all from the Philippines, answered questions via email about their typical days, their repertoires and more.

Question: What does a typical day as Washy Washy look like? What are your responsibilities in that role?

Answer: We welcome guests to the restaurant we are attending and encourage them to wash their hands before dining by taking popular tunes and creating new words to include “washy washy” or “wash your hands.” A typical day for some of us starts as early as 6 a.m. at the opening of breakfast and, for others, continues through to the end of dinner.

Our goal as Washy Washy is to make this important task something fun for guests of all ages. Hand washing is very important for health.

How do you come up with the funny takes on popular songs (like “Don't Cha,” for example)? What other songs have you put unique spins on?

We choose songs that are popular for all our different guests – little kids, older kids and the adults; all the ages. Then, with each song, we find how to sprinkle in the important reminder to “wash, wash your hands” before coming in to eat with your family. This way, everybody has music that is familiar and catches their attention – we do songs in Spanish, too. The best is the smiles and dancing at the washy washy station.

We have so many favorite songs and all different types because our guests come from all different places, they are all ages and we like to have something for everyone, from kiddie music to popular songs today and from many years ago. Some songs we do washy, washy versions of are “Mamma Mia” and “Dancing Queen” by ABBA; “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins; classic family songs like “Hokey Pokey” and “Y.M.C.A.” by the Village People; and we do “La Bamba” in Spanish, “para lavarse las manos, para lavarse las manos…”.

The five of us who are part of Washy Washy make up lyrics on our own, we do it together, whenever we have ideas. Many times, lyric changes happen and new lyrics happen when we are performing because of reactions we see. We like to do music that matches the season; for December, for example, we sing Washy Washy holiday songs.

What is the response from Icon guests to Washy Washy?

They absolutely love it! And we love it! Washy Washy has been part of Royal Caribbean for a long time. It is different across the ships because the Washy Washy teams are all different – some crew members play an instrument, sometimes it’s about funny accessories – but most important is that we are friendly and happy, and we remind people to wash their hands. Because Icon is the best family vacation with lots of “wows,” we wanted Washy Washy to be a “wow,” like Icon. 

Before Icon, vacationers were surprised when they encountered Washy Washy. Now guests come find us because of all the beautiful videos guests put on social media.

People really like the Washy Washy teams because it’s unexpected – happy, jolly songs that make you dance while washing your hands – most important is for everyone to wash hands. No one thinks they’re going to find us there singing and dancing about washing hands – and people can’t help but smile. We see guests of all ages, but especially kids, singing and dancing along. Sometimes they even request us to repeat songs they’ve already heard us sing or ask for an autograph!  We feel so special!

Do you have any favorite memories from interacting with guests as Washy Washy?

Interacting with kids and seeing their faces light up is priceless. Recently, there was a little girl who came into Windjammer with her parents, crying, and when she saw our Washy Washy performance, her mood totally shifted – she turned that frown upside down!

We also love it when guests recognize us in other venues around the ship, on Perfect Day at CocoCay when we are not wearing costumes, or even on different Royal Caribbean ships. This is extra special because we know we’re helping people make memories with us, and that’s what this is all about! We form bonds with guests and love making them happy. We’re always sad when they leave at the end of their vacation.

Short vs. long cruises: Here's how they compare

What do you hope guests take away from their interactions with Washy Washy?

We want to inspire our guests to have fun and enjoy every part of their vacation, even things like washing their hands. That’s why we created Washy Washy, and we are most happy when people smile and dance with us. We hope to be a lasting part of their Icon memory and that they’ll still be singing our catchy tunes when they go home.

Nathan Diller is a consumer travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Nashville. You can reach him at [email protected].

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BREAKING NEWS

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European union criticizes russia for removing estonian buoys, demand an explanation from moscow.

Associated Press

BRUSSELS – European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Friday called the removal of Estonian buoys by Russian border guards on a river separating the Baltic country from Russia “unacceptable,” and demanded an explanation from Moscow and the immediate return of the orange floats.

Early Thursday, Estonian border guards noticed that their Russian counterparts had removed 25 of the 50 buoys that Estonia had installed on the Narva River to prevent boats from accidentally crossing the border.

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Borrell said the incident “is part of a broader pattern of provocative behavior and hybrid actions by Russia.”

Estonia also dubbed it “unacceptable,” but said its response “remains calm and clear-eyed.”

"We treat this as a provocative border incident,” the Foreign Ministry in Tallinn said Thursday.

For decades, Estonia and Russia have installed buoys on the Narva River for the summer, with the towns of Narva on the Estonian side and Ivangorod on the Russian bank, largely in mutual agreement.

Every year, the marking of the shipping routes is rechecked because “the riverbed changes over time,” said Eerik Purgel, the local Estonian Border Guard head. Last year, Russia said it did not agree with the locations of the Estonian buoys.

This year, "we decided to release the floating marks into the water for the summer season according to a 2022 agreement, because they are necessary to avoid navigational errors, so that our fishermen and other hobbyists do not accidentally wander into Russian waters,” he said.

The first 50 buoys were installed on May 13. However, 25 of them were removed by their Russian counterparts early in the morning 10 days later, he added.

The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday summoned Russia’s deputy head of mission, the Baltic News Service agency said. BNS quoted Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna as saying that they “clearly expressed to the Russian charge d’affaires that such actions are provocative and unacceptable."

Estonia’s Foreign Ministry said the action “fits well within the broader pattern of Russia’s provocative behavior,” and drew parallels to the border mapping incidents in the Baltic Sea earlier this week. According to media reports, Moscow could revise the borders of its territorial waters in the region.

The draft proposal was published on an official Russian government website for draft legislation but disappeared hours after it was posted on Wednesday. It wasn’t immediately clear why.

Russian media said the Defense Ministry in Moscow had suggested updating the coordinates used to measure the strip of territorial waters off its mainland coast and that of its islands in the Baltic Sea. The existing coordinates were approved in 1985, the ministry says, adding that they were “based on small-scale nautical navigation maps” and don’t correspond to the “modern geographical situation.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov later said there was “nothing political” in the Defense Ministry’s proposal, and Russian news agencies said Moscow did not intend to revise the border or the width of its territorial waters.

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, Finland and Sweden have joined NATO, meaning that the Baltic Sea — Russia’s maritime point of access to the city of St. Petersburg and its Kaliningrad enclave — is now almost surrounded by members of the military alliance.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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Noumea, New Caledonia Street Beach Views

8 Night South Pacific Cruise

Your ship anthem of the seas.

Anthem of the Seas, Aerial view with North Star

UPGRADE YOUR PLAY

Bumper Cars at the Sea Plex

North Star ®

iFly by Ripcord Little Girl Flying

RipCord ® by iFLY ®

Woman Surfing on Flowrider

FlowRider ®

A culinary capital at sea.

Wonderland Baby Vegetables in the Garden

Jamie's Italian by Jamie Oliver

Parfait Dessert, Coastal Kitchen

Coastal Kitchen

Chef's Table Appetizer

Chef's Table

Whoa- worthy shows.

Bionic Bar Serving Cocktails

Bionic Bar ®

We Will Rock You Broadway Show Rockers Fists Up Stage

We Will Rock You

Two70 Starwater Show

Spectra's Cabaret

Day 1: sydney, australia.

Sydney, Australia, Circular quay and opera house

Go in Circles

Sydney, Australia, Manly beach

Walk Watsons

Sydney, Australia, Bondi beach

Local Cuisine

Sydney, Australia, Darling harbour

Day 2 - 3: Cruising

Flowrider Teenager Surfing

Rock Climbing Wall

Navigator of the Seas Adventure Ocean

Adventure Ocean ®

Day 4: noumea, new caledonia, popular shore excursions, amazing experiences coming soon..

Noumea, New Caledonia Kiteboarding

Wet and Wild

Noumea, New Caledonia Grey Kagu Birds

Walk With Nature

Noumea, New Caledonia Statue Musem

Kanak Culture Lesson

Noumea, New Caledonia Escargots

Day 5: Port Vila, Vanuatu

Port Vila, Vanuatu Mele Cascades Waterfalls

One for the History Books

Port Vila, Vanuatu Meele Cascades Waterfalls

Natural Heat Remedy

Port Vila, Vanuatu Hideaway Island

Find the Perfect Hideaway

Port Vila, Vanuatu Traditional Fried Pancakes

Day 6: Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Mystery Island, Vanuatu Beach Palm tree

Go on a Coral Safari

Mystery Island, Vanuatu Aerial View Paddle Boarding

What's SUP?

Mystery Island, Vanuatu Beach Boat Sticks

Embrace the Escape

Mystery Island, Vanuatu Grilled Lobster

Day 7 - 8: Cruising

Jamie's Italian Bruschetta

Chops Grille℠

La Patisserie

Solarium Bistro Restaurant

Cafe Two 70 Soup and Sandwich

The Café @ Two70

Day 9: sydney, australia.

Sydney, Australia, Aerial View

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Help! Our Cruise Operator Went Bankrupt and We Are Out $17,905.

A couple purchased an Arabian Sea voyage, but Vantage, the cruise company, went under. Their travel insurance was supposed to cover financial default, but the claim was repeatedly denied.

An illustration of a dollar bill folded up to resemble a boat sinking in a whirlpool in a sea of green.

By Seth Kugel

Dear Tripped Up,

In September 2022, I booked a 17-day Arabian Sea cruise through Vantage Travel Services to celebrate my 80th birthday with my wife. The cruise was to set sail in October 2023. I used my credit card to leave a $2,000 deposit and paid the remaining $17,905 shortly afterward by bank transfer. I also bought the Worldwide Trip Protector plan from Travel Insured International (for $1,954), in part because it covered financial default and bankruptcy of cruise lines. Vantage then canceled the cruise and offered me an alternative date I could not make; I also declined their offer of credit and asked for a refund, which they agreed to. But no refund ever came, and they stopped answering the phone. My credit card returned the $2,000, and I filed an insurance claim for $17,905. It was denied, as was my first appeal. Then Vantage filed for bankruptcy, and my second appeal was denied too. The reasons given by the insurer were outrageous. They cited a vague parenthetical phrase in the policy’s bankruptcy clause, claiming I wasn’t covered because I purchased the cruise directly from the cruise line (rather than, say, through a travel adviser). Then they said my policy lapsed when I canceled the trip. But I did not cancel; Vantage did. I also filed a complaint with the New York State Department of Financial Services, which was rejected. Can you help? Michael, Smithtown, N.Y.

Dear Michael,

When Boston-based Vantage filed for bankruptcy last year, it owed thousands of customers a total of $108 million for cruises and other travel products they had paid for but never received. The company’s former owner is facing lawsuits in New York and Pennsylvania. But you had purchased an insurance policy to cover just such a risk, a smart move. Or so you thought until the insurance company, Travel Insured International, denied your claim and then used exasperating logic to fend off your two appeals, first interpreting the policy’s financial default and bankruptcy clause in a maddening way and then twisting the meaning of the word “cancel.”

You made a few mistakes as well — most notably, by making a claim based on a financial default that had not yet happened. But after speaking with law professors, insurance experts and competing insurance companies, I believe Travel Insured International was wrong, at least by the time of your second appeal, and should pay up.

What does it have to say for itself? For nearly five months, Travel Insured International and its parent company, Crum & Forster, did not respond to my detailed inquiries. Days before publication, however, a spokeswoman, Amy Whilldin, sent the following statement:

“The claim was properly considered, and the correct determination was made based on the facts of this claim, which was to the satisfaction of both the New York Department of Financial Services and the New York State attorney general.”

Ms. Whilldin is correct about the state’s financial services department . An examiner with the department, which regulates the insurance industry, rejected your complaint. “After a review of the policy language," he wrote, “we do not find they are acting in an arbitrary or capricious manner,” referring to Travel Insured International. I disagree with that determination, as we are about to get into.

But the attorney general’s office was not satisfied. You had complained to its Department of Consumer Frauds and Protection, and they did not receive a response from the company. “Despite our repeated efforts,” an employee wrote, “they have failed to respond.” The letter goes on to recommend you consider suing the company.

I have a better idea. You should file a formal grievance with Travel Insured International, which under your policy allows you to submit new evidence, and if that fails even argue your case in person. (You told me you are not interested in a third option, to accept travel credits under the conditions offered by the Australian company that bought Vantage’s assets.)

In the meantime, your story provides great lessons on how travelers should choose the appropriate travel insurance policy, and what can go wrong even when they do.

In your initial claim to Travel Insured International, filed in late 2022, you cited Vantage’s “very poor record” in refunding its customers and your “assumption that the company is in default in making payments.”

This was an error: Your policy defines financial default as “the total cessation of operations,” and Vantage at the time was running at least some cruises. Travel Insured International’s response simply said that “your travel supplier canceling your trip is not a covered reason.” True.

When you first appealed in April, Vantage was two months short of declaring bankruptcy outright, and was not yet in financial default as defined by the policy. But it was teetering. (That one of its cruises left at all made headlines in The Boston Globe .) This time, Travel Insured International denied your claim, citing the bankruptcy clause, which protects policy holders in case of “Bankruptcy or default of an airline, cruise line, tour operator or other travel provider (other than the Travel Supplier, tour operator, travel agency, organization or firm from whom you purchased your travel arrangements).”

That parenthetical says you are not covered if the organization that sold you the cruise goes bankrupt. You purchased the cruise directly from Vantage, so you are not covered, according to the claims adjuster’s reasoning. (Why the company even cited this clause, if the cruise line was not yet in default, remains a mystery.)

Similar clauses appear in many travel policies, but that’s not what they’re supposed to mean, said Loretta Worters, vice president for media relations at the Insurance Information Institute , an industry group.

Such provisions, she explained, are intended to exclude coverage for an unscrupulous or financially flailing middleman that goes belly-up after collecting your money but before passing it along to the actual travel provider.

“Some of these are fly-by-night, travel-agencies-in-their-kitchen kinds of things,” Ms. Worters said. ( We encountered one such agency in a previous Tripped Up column .)

Guess who agreed with Ms. Worters: The agent who answered the phone when I called Travel Insured International’s customer care line as a potential customer. I asked about the clause and she agreed it was ambiguous, checking with a supervisor before saying: “If you are booking directly with the company and the company itself goes under default or bankruptcy, you would be able to file a claim for the nonrefundable portion of your trip.”

Ms. Whilldin, the spokeswoman for Travel Insured International, did not specifically answer my question about this apparent conflict. But it seems their claims adjuster made a mistake, aided by the ambiguous language of the underwriter who wrote the policy. (That’s United States Fire Insurance, another Crum & Forster company.)

Now, let’s discuss the second appeal. “Once you cancel your trip, the coverage under the plan ends,” Travel Insured International said. Your argument is that you did not cancel; Vantage did.

I think almost anyone who isn’t a lawyer would agree with you. But Oren Bar-Gill , a professor at Harvard Law School and the author of “Seduction by Contract: Law, Economics and Psychology in Consumer Markets,” explained to me the opposing argument. Vantage was contractually allowed to change the dates or offer credit, and you refused, the equivalent of canceling.

But, he added, when Vantage agreed to refund your cruise, it could be “considered a waiver of their contractual rights,” weakening the argument that you canceled your contract.

In a lawsuit New York State filed against the now-defunct Vantage and its former owner, Henry Lewis, the issue also comes up: The suit says Vantage “deceptively” mislabeled cancellations as “postponements.”

Even Travel Insured International admitted that Vantage had canceled, in its original letter rejecting your claim. “It is our understanding that your travel supplier, Vantage, canceled your cruise,” the claims adjuster wrote. Somehow, however, by the third response you had gone from cancelee to canceler.

You also missed a red flag when you chose your policy. Suzanne Morrow, the chief executive of InsureMyTrip , where you found your plan, told me you called the company within minutes of your purchase and asked an agent to point you to the bankruptcy clause. (You confirmed this to me.)

That means you’re not the typical insurance customer blindsided by small print you never read. If you were so concerned about the cruise line’s solvency, you could have canceled your plan during the insurer’s “free look” period and chosen one with more straightforward language — I found several on the InsureMyTrip website.

What lessons can we take away from your debacle?

To begin with, pay for everything with a credit card when your credit limit allows. Because of an odd quirk in a 1974 law , card issuers are required to reimburse you if the company you interacted with goes bankrupt.

Beyond that, the basic advice for travel insurance remains unchanged: Shop for a plan separately through a provider you trust or an aggregator like InsureMyTrip, rather than adding trip protection by checking a box just before you purchase a big-ticket item. Read the policy summaries fully and click through to the actual policy document to read fine print on issues that concern you most (say, bankruptcy protection or medical coverage for pre-existing conditions).

If you don’t understand anything, call the company. If it cannot answer satisfactorily and follow up in writing, choose another provider.

If you need advice about a best-laid travel plan that went awry, send an email to [email protected] .

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2024 .

Seth Kugel is the columnist for “ Tripped Up ,” an advice column that helps readers navigate the often confusing world of travel. More about Seth Kugel

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