When most people picture a cruise to the Caribbean, they envision a massive ship carrying thousands of people pulling up alongside a sun-splashed island paradise. The fact remains that not all Caribbean cruises are created equal, and those seeking a more relaxed, premium, even luxury in experience in the Caribbean have plenty of options to choose from.
Here are four cruise lines you may not know offer cruises to the Caribbean.
Cunard Line may best be known for its Transatlantic Crossings aboard the superlative Queen Mary 2. But every year, Cunard sends its massive flagship on voyages to the sun-splashed shores of the Caribbean.
Like Crystal, Cunard typically sends Queen Mary 2 to the Caribbean during the high-season month of December.
Sample sailings might include sailing roundtrip from New York aboard Queen Mary 2, on a 12-night Holiday Caribbean Cruise with ports of call on English Harbour; St. Kitts; Barbados; and Amber Cove.
Sometimes Cunard also sends its smaller, but no less elegant, Queen Victoria on voyages to the Caribbean.
Chances are good that you’re aware ultra-luxury-line Seabourn offers cruises to the Caribbean.
Past sailings with Seabourn in the Caribbean have been very diverse, from 10-day getaways to longer, multi-week voyages, combining itineraries in the eastern, western and southern Caribbean into a single journey. Think St. Croix; St. Kitts & Nevis; Antigua & Barbuda; and San Juan, Puerto Rico or any other number of inviting tropical ports.
The Caribbean is the ideal stomping ground for European sailing line Star Clippers. Founded by Mikael Krafft, the Caribbean offers the “trade winds” that the line’s classy Royal Clipper and her smaller fleet mate, Star Flyer, need to cruise along under sail power alone. Sure, the auxiliary diesel engines are fired up every now and then to maintain schedule but for the most part, only the wind whistling between the ship’s sails and rigging can be heard on these romantic cruises to paradise.
Star Clippers creates primarily week-long cruises throughout the Eastern and Southern Caribbean. To sail with Star Clippers to the Caribbean is to discover the Caribbean you never knew existed. The one you see in brochures, devoid of people, seemingly in existence just for you. Forget the lines and the crowds and the need to get up early to save that favorite deck chair; aboard Royal Clipper and Star Flyer, the magic of sail is alive and well, and nowhere is it better showcased than in the crystal-blue waters of the Caribbean.
Most will know Viking Cruises best for its Viking River Cruises arm that offers river journeys around the world, but as Viking brings more of its ocean liner fleet online, it is beginning to offer more and more itineraries in the Caribbean.
Like the rest of the lines on this list, Viking operates a shorter Caribbean season that predominantly sets sail during the high-season months of November to February.
What’s truly striking, however, is just how diverse Viking’s Caribbean itineraries are. From the Southern Caribbean to the Panama Canal to voyages that just explore Cuba, Viking’s Caribbean cruises are a veritable wish-list of best sun-drenched ports of call.
Of particular note are the line’s eight-day voyages to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula that call on Key West; Belize City; and Cozumel and Merida (Progreso), Mexico. The latter gets you close enough for a day excursion to the famed ruins of Chichen Itza, done in Viking’s own inimitable style.
The Caribbean might be most popular with the big, mainstream cruise ships, but fans of small, niche, and luxury ships still have plenty to choose from in this sun-drenched paradise.
Ready to find your own luxury Caribbean getaway?