The Caribbean is the world’s top cruise destination for a variety of reasons: it’s a convenient getaway for the many cruise aficionados in the U.S. and Canada; you can sail there from several North American home ports; and, the weather is balmy all year long.
Most of all, the palm-studded islands, whether low-lying or mountainous, are gorgeous. And, there are lot of historic ports, beautiful beaches and turquoise waters to enjoy.
There are also a variety of ways to cruise the Caribbean, with a tremendous range of lengths and itineraries that focus on the eastern, western or southern Caribbean. Mainstream cruise lines sail some of their newest and largest ships, loaded with features and amenities, in the Caribbean. Luxury cruise lines sail there, too, offering an elegant small-ship experience.
Why choose luxury?
In the Caribbean, as elsewhere, luxury lines offer a higher standard of service, more balcony staterooms and suites, high-end dining, and more inclusive fares (items considered “extras” on mainstream cruises, such as beverages and shore excursions, and often included in the base fare of a luxury cruise).
When looking at luxury cruises in the Caribbean, note that these smaller ships can slip into harbors and docks that can’t accommodate larger ships. This gives you the opportunity to explore less-developed islands and ports for a more authentic Caribbean experience.
Here are some examples of Caribbean ports that you might visit on a luxury cruise:
Gustavia, St. Barthelemy
If you can pass by the luxury shipping and white-sand beached, try an ATV adventure tour that will take you all over St. Bart’s. Follow your guide along the scenic coastline, climb up to the see the salt ponds that were once the island’s economic mainstay, and ride on to welcoming mountain villages rarely seen by visitors.
Isla Culebra, Puerto Rico
This scenic island, near the main island of Puerto Rico, has lovely coral beaches, mangrove forests, sea-facing cliffs, and one of only two nesting sites in the U.S. for giant sea turtles. It’s a truly special place to go snorkeling through beds of sea grass along with hawksbill and green sea turtles, stingrays and more.
Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Tortola offers wonderful onshore and offshore activities. You can tour the island’s historic landmarks, like the Old Government House Museum and the ruins of St. Phillips Anglican Church; or, board a boat and cross the Sir Francis Drake Waterway for a gourmet picnic lunch and exploration of an outlying island.
Little Bay, Montserrat
This island was devastated by a series of volcanic eruptions that began in 1995, but a new port facility at Little Bay now welcomes welcoming luxury cruise ships back to Montserrat.
More than 20 years after the dramatic eruption of the Soufriere Hills volcano began to cover much of the island with ash, it’s fascinating to see nature reclaiming abandoned homes, villages and the once thriving city of Plymouth. You can learn more about this “modern day Pompeii” at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory.
Port Elizabeth, Bequia
This small island brims with history. From Fort Hamilton, 300 feet above the sea, French lookouts watched for approaching English ships during the Seven Years’ War. Now, the fort is perfect for taking in the view of Admiralty Bay, dotted with luxury yachts at anchor. You can also learn about the island’s surprising tradition of whaling: it’s one of the few places in the world where limited whaling is still slowed. Or, enjoy lunch on the beach, followed by sunbathing and a couples’ massage.Luxury lines do call on Caribbean ports also visited by larger ships too – such as St. Johns, Antigua, or Philipsburg, Saint Maarten – but are likely to offer exclusive onshore experiences that aren’t available to mainstream cruise passengers.
Picture an onshore event in a historic building, complete with rum-infused cocktails; or a moonlight catamaran sail across the shimmering water.
While many mainstream cruise lines sail the Caribbean year-round, luxury lines tend to limit their Caribbean seasons to November (after the possibility of hurricanes abates) through May. With the limited passenger count on luxury ships, this a good reason to book your luxury Caribbean cruise experience as early as you can.
Let a Cruise Specialists with expertise in luxury cruising help you pick the ship itinerary that interest you most. (888) 993-1318