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Best Caribbean cruises

11 amazing cruises that prove paradise is within your reach.

Escape for a weekend getaway or a longer holiday where you can truly clock onto island time. Put your explorer hat on and discover some of the regions most beautiful beaches, legendary ruins and indulge in a whole new world of cuisine.

Ports with cruises to the Caribbean

Most cruise ports on the East Coast and Gulf Coast offer cruises to the Caribbean — the question is how many days you want to spend at Sea. You can book wonderful Caribbean cruises to multiple tropical islands that last less than a week if you start from Miami or Orlando. From New York, though, you’ll need to clear a longer space for your vacation.

Small ship cruise lines, like Windstar, Azamara and Crystal, have Caribbean itineraries that start on islands like St. Maarten and Puerto Rico.

Here’s where you can kick off a Caribbean cruise in the US:

  • Bayonne, NJ (Cape Liberty)
  • Charleston, SC
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Galveston, TX
  • Jacksonville, FL
  • Mobile, AL
  • Miami, FL
  • New York, NY
  • New Orleans, LA
  • Orlando, FL
  • Palm Beach, FL
  • Tampa, FL
Traveling during COVID-19
The CDC continues to advise caution when traveling within or outside the US, However, it no longer requires self-quarantine or a COVID-19 test for fully vaccinated domestic travelers as of April 2021. International travelers need to get tested three days prior to flying out of the US and within three days after returning, even if you are fully vaccinated. It recommends that you delay travel if you’re not fully vaccinated to protect yourself and your family from getting or spreading the virus.

If you’re planning a trip outside the US, bear in mind that many countries have placed restrictions on US tourists. Check the US embassy website for updates before booking international travel.

Our favorite Caribbean cruises

    Cruise lineDeparture portCruiseLengthItineraryPriceBook
    Norwegian Cruise LineMiamiEastern Caribbean6 nights
    • Miami
    • Puerto Plata
    • St. Thomas
    • Tortola
    • Great Stirrup Cay
    • Miami
    From $909 per personBook now
    Princess CruisesFort LauderdaleSouthern Caribbean with Barbados9 nights
    • Fort Lauderdale
    • Princess Cays
    • St. Thomas
    • St. Kitts
    • Barbados
    • Martinique
    • Antigua
    • Fort Lauderdale
    From $1,150 per personBook now
    Royal CaribbeanGalvestonWestern Caribbean5 nights
    • Galveston
    • Yucatan
    • Cozumel
    • Galveston
    From $299 per personBook now
    CarnivalOrlandoEastern Caribbean7 nights
    • Orlando
    • Amber Cove
    • St. Thomas
    • San Juan
    • Grand Turk
    From $529 per personBook now
    Royal CaribbeanMiamiWestern Caribbean6 nights
    • Miami
    • Key West
    • George Town
    • Cozumel
    • Miami
    From $381 per personBook now
    CarnivalCharlestonSouthern Caribbean10 nights
    • Charleston
    • Aruba
    • Bonaire
    • Grand Turk
    • Princess Cays
    • Charleston
    From $779 per personBook now
    Norwegian Cruise LineNew York CityCaribbean: Dominican Republic & Grand Turk9 nights
    • NYC
    • Puerto Plata
    • St. Thomas
    • Philipsburg
    • Tortola
    • Grand Turk
    • NYC
    From $811 per personBook now
    Celebrity CruisesFort LauderdaleEastern Caribbean7 nights
    • Fort Lauderdale
    • San Juan
    • St. Thomas
    • St. Maarten
    • Fort Lauderdale
      • From $1,649 per person
    Book now
    AzamaraMiamiCaribbean Breezes14 nights
    • Miami
    • Key West
    • Labadee
    • Oranjestad
    • Willemstad
    • Kralendijk
    • Gustavia
    • Philipsburg
    • Tortola
    • Miami
    From $2,099 per person
    WindstarSt. MaartenBeach Fun & Sun: A Remote Caribbean Getaway6 nights
    • St. Maarten
    • Road Bay
    • Jost Van Dyke
    • Soper’s Hole
    • Normal Island
    • Virgin Gorda
    • St. Barts
    • St. Maarten
    From $1,999 per personBook now
    Crystal CruisesMiamiCaptivating Caribbean12 nights
    • Miami
    • Tortola
    • Antigua and Barbuda
    • St. Lucia
    • St. Kitts
    • St. Barts
    • St. Maarten
    • Turks & Caicos
    • Miami
    From $4,139 per personBook now

    Best cruise lines sailing in the Caribbean

    Here are our top picks for your next tropical getaway where you can look forward to exploring one island paradise after another.

    Best for a blissful budget escape: Norwegian

    This fun, laid back cruise line manages to pull off an upscale experience for a fraction of the price making it a top choice for budget-friendly travelers. How low are we talking? You could be cruising from as low as $30 a night.
    • Room service included
    • No free alcohol
    • Food included
    • No price matching
    • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Discover Card
    Price ($-$$$):
    Book now

    Best for honeymooners: Princess

    The company that brought us The Love Boat continues to offer up all the necessities for romance at sea. Honeymoon packages filled with champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries, couples massages and watching the sunset over a meal for two on your private balcony are all on the agenda.
    • Room service included
    • No free alcohol
    • Food included
    • No price matching
    • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Discover Card, JCB
    Price ($-$$$):

    Best for a party at sea: Carnival

    Elaborate bars and packed nightclubs where you can dance the night away to tunes crafted by DJs trained by the official DJ of the Miami Heat. For something different, you can opt for one of Carnival’s LIVE Concert Series cruises.
    • No free room service
    • No free alcohol
    • Food included
    • No price matching
    • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Paypal, Carnival EasyPay, Gift Card, Discover Card, Debit, Western Union, Cheque
    Price ($-$$$):
    Book now

    Best for families: Disney

    With a roster packed full of kid-friendly entertainment options, Disney has firmly carved out its place at the top of the family cruising totem pole. Disney magic oozes into all areas of cruising from the dining rooms to the theatre right down to some of the most elaborate kid’s play areas at sea.
    • Room service included
    • No free alcohol
    • Food included
    • No price matching
    • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Discover Card, JCB
    Price ($-$$$):
    Book now

    Best for cultural immersion: Azamara

    Spend more time in port with regular overnight stays and dock at smaller, less-traveled ports. Get to the heart of the history, culture and natural beauty of the Caribbean with Azamara’s complimentary AzAmazing Evenings in a unique location along your cruise.
    • No free room service
    • No free alcohol
    • Food included
    • No price matching
    Price ($-$$$):
    Book now

    Best for seniors: Celebrity

    Focused on modern luxury for a sophisticated traveler, Celebrity’s one of a handful of cruise lines to offer seniors’ discounts. Onboard you’ll find a high level of intimacy and service, and a wide variety of accommodation to suit guests with special needs.
    • Room service included
    • No free alcohol
    • Food included
    • No price matching
    • Visa, Mastercard, American Express
    Price ($-$$$):
    Book now

    Best for all-inclusive luxury: Crystal Ocean Cruises

    Go ahead and treat yourself, we won’t judge. Think penthouse suites, Michelin-inspired cuisine, fine wines, premier entertainment and enrichment activities. Best of all, there are no nasty surprises at the end of the cruise because it’s all included.
    • Room service included
    • No free alcohol
    • Food included
    • No price matching
    • Visa, Mastercard, American Express
    Price ($-$$$):
    Book now

    Best for high-octane thrills: Royal Caribbean

    This aptly named liner ticks a lot of boxes — but for those looking to get the adrenaline pumping, you’ll find activities like surf simulators, bumper car tracks, water parks and laser tag. And that’s only onboard. Ziplining over the cruise line’s private island in Hispaniola could be in your future.
    • Room service included
    • No free alcohol
    • Food included
    • Price matches
    • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Discover Card
    Price ($-$$$):
    Book now

    Best for foodies: Windstar

    You’ve got at least one chef-led market tour on every sailing, locally-sourced cuisine onboard and workshops and cooking demos with a James Beard Foundation chef on some ships. End your day with a menu crafted to highlight the flavors of succulent Caribbean cuisine.
    • No free room service
    • No free alcohol
    • Food included
    • No price matching
    • Visa, American Express, Discover Card
    Price ($-$$$):
    Book now

    How we picked the best cruises.

    When choosing cruises for this list, we looked at the quality of routes available from each cruise line, prioritizing well-paced itineraries with port stops at key destinations around the Caribbean.

    We also considered dining onboard, weighing the number, variety and overall quality of restaurants against passenger reviews. Finally, we weighed cabin amenities against each price point, looking for cruise lines that are known to deliver the highest value.

    Additionally, we sought out customer reviews on travel websites and personal travel blogs, considering first-person experiences and each company’s overall reputation

    When is the best time to cruise the Caribbean?

    Luckily, the weather is fairly consistent across this region of about 7,000 different islands, whether you’re planning a quick jaunt to Cuba or heading as far south as Aruba.

    Caribbean ports are open all year-round so you can fit a cruise in whenever suits your schedule or, take in some of these factors to help you decide:

    • Best weather. December to April is when you’ll find the sunniest days and less rain on average.
    • Off-peak season. The cheapest time to visit falls during hurricane season, June to November. Historically, most hurricanes tend to hit between August and October and while cruise lines will actively avoid any storms, it’s a good idea to look into cruise travel insurance.
    • Carnival. Most islands celebrate their own version of Carnival — similar to Mardi Gras — and you can be part of the festivities which often start weeks leading up to the main event.
    • School holidays. If you’re craving more serenity during your cruise, avoid sailing during the school holidays when decks get packed with families with kids in tow.

    Eastern Caribbean

    Cruises in the Eastern Caribbean generally start in Florida or along the Atlantic Coast of the US. They almost always include a day in the Bahamas, since you’ll sail by it on the way to other Eastern Caribbean islands. Eastern Caribbean itineraries generally include:

    • Anguila
    • Antigua
    • The Bahamas
    • Guadeloupe
    • St. Barts
    • St. Kitts
    • Trinidad & Tobago
    • Turks & Caicos
    • Virgin Islands — US & British

      Popular excursions

      • Mangrove Lagoon, St Thomas. Kayak and snorkel through clear channels and calm waters as you spot local wildlife like stingrays and brown pelicans.
      • Maho Beach, Saint Maarten. Watch as the planes pass close overhead at this popular beach spot on the Dutch side of the island.
      • San Juan, Puerto Rico. Get a real taste of the island as you try popular dishes like mofongo and camarones con cerveza. Make sure you sample a piña colada in the place where they make it best.
      • 27 Waterfalls of Damajagua, Dominican Republic. You can either stay dry and admire them from afar or get wet and hike, swim, jump and slide along the waterfall route.
      • Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos. Hop aboard a catamaran for a day filled with snorkeling, relaxing on a secluded beach, tropical cocktails and music as you explore the turquoise blue waters.
      • St Kitts. What better way to see the island’s tropical rainforests than soaring through the canopy, 25 storeys up? Make sure to keep an eye out for monkeys as you zip by.

      Southern Caribbean

      Closer to South America than North America, islands in the Southern Caribbean are known for being remote and untainted, with sparkling white sand and clear blue waters. Southern Caribbean itineraries often include:

      • Aruba
      • Barbados
      • Bonaire
      • Curacao
      • Dominica
      • Grenada
      • Martinique
      • St. Lucia
      • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
      • Trinidad & Tobago
      • Virgin Islands — US & British
      • Good to know — Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao are often referred to as the ABC islands on cruise itineraries.

      Popular excursions

      • Soufrière Bay, St. Lucia. Take a catamaran ride or drive to the town of Soufrière, the heart of St. Lucia. Visit the drive-in volcano of Sulphur Springs and take in views of the skyscraping Pitons along the way.
      • Christoffel National Park, Curacao. Curacao’s largest nature reserve bursts with wildlife. Explore by foot on one of the eight hiking trails, by bike or even on a 4×4 safari tour.
      • Aruba tours. Many go to this island for the beach, but it’s worth spending at least half a day exploring more remote parts of the island that include Natural Bridge, the aloe balm factory and the Butterfly Farm.
      • Harrison’s Cave, Barbados. Venture into an underground world full of natural passages, crystal formations and cascading waterfalls either by tram or on foot.
      • Seven Sisters Waterfall, Grenada. Take in the scenery of Grenada’s largest national park along with plenty of birdlife and monkeys, if you’re lucky, before a refreshing swim.
      • Champagne Reef, Dominica. Snorkel in volcanic bubbles thanks to geothermal springs at the edge of a submerged volcano.
      • Morne Trois Pitons National Park, Dominica. A taste of what life in the islands was like before mankind came around. Hike to the volcanic boiling lake, swim in Emerald Pool and gaze in awe at the majestic Trafalgar Falls.

      Western Caribbean

      Western Caribbean cruises typically kick off in the Gulf of Mexico and sail to beachy ports in:

      • Belize
      • Cayman Islands
      • Jamaica
      • Mexico

      Popular excursions

      • Progreso, Mexico. Make a beeline for Chichén Itzá, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and step back in time as you explore an ancient Mayan capital.
      • Belize City, Belize. Go cave tubing or kayaking through Nohoch Che’en Park, an underground cave system deep in the Belizean rainforest.
      • Falmouth, Jamaica. Climb up the natural steps of Dunn’s River Falls, 600 ft. of terraced falls with the opportunity to relax in the shallow pools that form on each level.
      • Costa Maya, Mexico. Enjoy the peace on offer in this sleepy fishing village or head inland to visit the multicolored wonder at Bacalar’s Seven Colors Lagoon.
      • Cozumel, Mexico. You’ll be close enough to the mainland to choose between taking a day trip to Mayan ruins in the picturesque seaside city of Tulum, or living out your island fantasies on a dune buggy or catamaran tour.
      • George Town, Cayman Islands. It’s time to head underwater to explore the coral reefs teeming with life in the Cayman Islands. Choose your own adventure with snorkeling, scuba, scuba and even submarine tours on offer.
      • Dunns River Falls, Jamaica. Spend the day climbing up 600ft of cascading water before you race through the forest down 3,280ft of twists and turns by bobsled.

      What to pack for a Caribbean cruise

      Take along your essentials of swimsuit, sunscreen and flip flops along with casual clothes fit for exploring the islands and lounging by the ocean. Most cruise lines have at least one formal night and have a dress code for the nicer dining rooms and restaurants so make sure you review the guidelines to help you fit in. A second bathing suit (no one likes putting on a wet suit), mask and snorkel and water shoes are all a worthy addition to the suitcase.

        Bottom line

        A cruise through the Caribbean is one of the best ways to see as much of the region as possible, whether you’re a cruising newbie or permanently on island time. Don’t let a good deal pass you by with these top cruise deals.

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