8 Best Cruises to Jamaica for Every Type of Traveler

There’s no other voyage quite like a cruise to Jamaica, the Caribbean island that’s the birthplace of both reggae music and the legendary musician Bob Marley. When your ship arrives in port, you’ll find reef-lined sandy beaches, soaring mountains, tropical rainforests, and rum cocktails you’ll be daydreaming about for months. 

Jamaica is home to five cruise ports equipped to handle everything from intimate yachts to mega-ships. Ocho Rios is Jamaica’s largest port and a gateway to attractions like Dunn’s River Falls. Montego Bay is a golfer’s dream while Kingston, the Jamaican capital, offers an opportunity to visit the Bob Marley Museum and dine at a restaurant owned by Olympian Usain Bolt. Here's everything to know about booking a cruise to Jamaica.

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What cruise lines sail to Jamaica?

Several cruise lines sail to Jamaica with most itineraries departing from the United States. Royal Caribbean sails to Jamaica from Tampa, Florida. Celebrity cruises to both Ocho Rios and another Jamaican port, Falmouth. Carnival has several itineraries that stop in Jamaica, including a few that sail the Panama Canal. Carnival Cruise Line and Princess Cruises sail to both Montego Bay, located on the northern side of the island, and Ocho Rios. MSC, Norwegian, and Holland America also include Jamaica on their cruise itineraries. 

MSC alone offers more than 50 cruises that stop in Jamaica.

Jamaica cruise itineraries often depart from Texas or Florida and include other Caribbean islands. Some include more adventures, sailing to Central America or through the Panama Canal. 

What cruise ships sail to Jamaica?

Cruises to Jamaica tend to be longer, with many itineraries falling into the five- to seven-night range, so you’ll need more than a long weekend for this vacation. Ships sailing here tend to be larger and stacked with onboard entertainment and activities. Most ships sailing to Jamaica, like Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, the Norwegian Escape, and the MSC Meraviglia, carry thousands of passengers, but Viking Cruises and Oceania Cruises sail to Jamaica on ships that carry 1,200 passengers or less.

Whatever kind of cruise experience you’re looking for, you can find it on a ship headed toward the sandy beaches and reggae beats of Jamaica. These are some of the best Jamaica cruises for every kind of traveler. 

Which Jamaica cruise port is better?

Ocho Rios on Jamaica’s northern coast is the island's largest and best-located cruise port. It offers easy access to two of Jamaica’s top attractions—Dunn’s River Falls and Mystic Mountain, where you’ll find bobsledding and zip-lining—and several of Jamaica’s most popular activities. In Ocho Rios, you can ride horses on the beach, take a tour to learn about Bob Marley and the roots of reggae music, or relax on sandy beaches. The port is a quick walk from town, making it easy to explore on your own if you choose not to take an excursion.  

What is the best month to cruise to Jamaica?

There’s no place like Jamaica to escape winter. Jamaica’s dry season stretches from mid-December through April and brings sunny days with pleasant temperatures. Cruise to Jamaica between mid-December and April for perfect beach days and good weather for exploring rainforests and local markets. Avoid cruising the Caribbean in August and September, which is peak hurricane season. 

Find the right cruise for you:

  • Best Jamaica cruises for solo travelers 

  • Best Jamaica cruises for thrill-seekers 

  • Best cruise to Jamaica for families 

  • Best cruise to Jamaica for relaxing

  • Best cruise to Jamaica for partying 

  • Best megaship cruise to Jamaica 

  • Best smaller ship Jamaica cruise 

  • Best long cruise to Jamaica 

Best Jamaica cruises for solo travelers 

Holland America, one of the best cruise lines for solo travelers, offers a seven-night Western Caribbean itinerary that includes a full day in port in Ocho Rios. Check out Dunn’s River Falls and go for a swim at the Blue Hole. Relax on a bamboo raft, ride horses, listen to reggae or try zip-lining. Back on board the Nieuw Statendam, enjoy having one of the ship’s 12 oceanview solo staterooms all to yourself. These solo staterooms are small —between 127 and 172 square feet— but with so much to do onboard that might not matter. The Nieuw Statendam is a Pinnacle Class ship with several live entertainment venues, an expansive fitness center, shopping, and a spa. There are multiple dining options on board, and the cruise line hosts several events for solo travelers each sailing. The Nieuw Statendam’s Western Caribbean itinerary departs from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and also stops in Cozumel, the Cayman Islands, and the Bahamas. 

Book now with Holland America

Best Jamaica cruises for thrill-seekers 

Royal Caribbean cruises to Falmouth, Jamaica, on the Independence of the Seas, a modern cruise ship made for unforgettable adventures at sea. Spend your Jamaica port day zip-lining, bobsledding, or snorkeling. Try white-water rafting or go tubing through the Jamaican jungle. Climb to the top of Dunn’s River Falls or opt for a lazy day on a gorgeous beach eating beef patties. Back on board the Independence of the Seas, try out the 40-foot-long FlowRider surf simulator or scale an outdoor rock climbing wall with epic ocean views. Play glow-in-the-dark laser tag or race down dueling waterslides. You might just find yourself wishing for more sea days. The ship sails from and returns to Miami. Five-night itineraries also stop in Labadee, Haiti. 

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Best cruise to Jamaica for families 

If you’re looking for a cruise line that’s got something for everyone, MSC has you covered. The MSC Meraviglia starts its Caribbean journey in Port Canaveral, Florida, giving families a chance to visit Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, or the Kennedy Space Center before heading out on an unforgettable Caribbean vacation. The 11-night itinerary visits the Bahamas, Aruba, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. In Ocho Rios, guests can choose from several excursions including a traditional bamboo rafting tour. Adults may prefer the island tour and rum-tasting excursion. That excursion dives into the history of the island, taking travelers to historical sights as well as scenic spots. Guests learn about rum production on the island while sampling locally made rums. Juice tastings are available for any kids who may want to join this experience. 

But there’s so much to do on the Meraviglia, it may be tough to get your kids off the ship. The ship is home to a full-size bowling alley, F1 simulators, an epic waterpark with twisty slides and a sports field. There’s also a kid’s club, several shows to choose from, and an expansive pool. 

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Best cruise to Jamaica for relaxing

For a relaxing Jamaican cruise, jump on board the brand new Celebrity Beyond, which sails a nine-night Caribbean itinerary round trip from Fort Lauderdale. The Celebrity Beyond is the cruise line’s newest ship. It boasts 32 restaurants, bars, and lounges and has a spa that offers a selection of more than 120 treatments. The cruise makes its first stop in Grand Cayman before stopping in Aruba and Curacao. Its last stop is Falmouth, Jamaica, a town with cobblestone streets lined with Georgian architecture that sits between Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. From Falmouth, cruise passengers can opt to ride a bamboo raft along the Martha Brae River, climb to the top of Dunn’s River Falls, or lounge on the beach. This is an area of Jamaica known for its long emerald rivers, caves, waterfalls, and beaches, there may be no better place to relax in Jamaica. 

For a longer cruise, consider the Celebrity Beyond’s 11-night Southern Caribbean itinerary which adds a stop in Cartagena, Colombia. 

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Best cruise to Jamaica for partying 

If you’re looking to party on your Jamaican cruise, look no further than Carnival Cruise Line. Carnival is the cruise line for travelers looking to let loose on vacation and is known for its fun onboard atmosphere. Carnival sails to Ocho Rios and Montego Bay from Florida. 

The Carnival Sunrise sails roundtrip from Miami to Ocho Rios, Jamaica's most popular cruise port. This five-night itinerary starts with a day at sea—the perfect way to ease yourself into vacation mode, especially if you spent the night before sailing sampling Miami’s epic nightlife. The ship’s first port is Ocho Rios, where travelers can climb the 600-foot Dunn’s River Falls, drive a dune buggy through Jamaican woodlands, swim with dolphins, ride horses on the beach or try out river tubing. The ship stops in Grand Cayman before making its way back to Miami. 

Onboard, spend your sea days sipping cocktails by the pool. Spend your evenings at the Red Frog Pub, the onboard piano bar, or laughing your heart out at the ship’s comedy club. 

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Best megaship cruise to Jamaica 

To cruise to Jamaica with everything you could ever want on board, book yourself on the Norwegian Escape, a ship built in 2015 that can accommodate more than 4,200 passengers. This is a ship with dining options to suit even the pickiest palates. There’s even an American Diner on board should you get a little homesick. 

The Escape cruises to Jamaica on a seven-day itinerary that includes stops in Cozumel, Mexico, George Town, Grand Cayman, and Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas, in addition to Ocho Rios, where it spends a full day in port. Excursion options in Ocho Rios include a 4x4 safari to Dunn’s River Falls, island sightseeing and beach breaks.

The itinerary includes two sea days, offering plenty of time for lounging by the pool or relaxing by the spa. Or try your hand at the ship’s ropes course and catch a show at the onboard comedy club. 

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Best smaller ship Jamaica cruise 

If you’re looking for a luxury cruise experience and a trip of a lifetime that stops in Jamaica, Viking has you covered with its 15-day Panama Canal and Central America itinerary on board the Viking Star. The Viking Star is smaller than most of the cruise ships that call on Jamaica. It accommodates just 930 guests, ensuring top-notch service for everyone on board. 

​​Being a smaller ship, you won't find the same breadth of dining and entertainment offerings on board the Viking Star as you may on other cruise lines calling on Jamaica, but you're guaranteed not to get hungry or get bored on this luxury vessel. The Viking Star has two pools, a spa, and a fitness center. It also has a sports deck, piano lounge, and a handful of dining venues. This is a cruise line that focuses on enrichment, so expect lots of opportunities to learn about your destinations along the way. 

Viking’s Panama Canal and Central America journey begins and ends in Fort Lauderdale. It takes passengers on a once-in-a-lifetime journey to Cozumel, Mexico; Belize City, Belize; Roatan, Honduras; and Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, before sailing through a portion of the Panama Canal. Its last stop before returning to Fort Lauderdale is Montego Bay. 

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Best long cruise to Jamaica 

Oceania's 27-day Rome to Miami Grand Caribbean Crossing may be the most exciting way to make your way to Jamaica. This epic journey begins in Rome and spends a day sailing the Mediterranean Sea before sailing to Valencia and Santa Cruz de Tenerife in Spain. From Spain, the Oceania Vista crosses the Atlantic Ocean for just over two weeks of hopping around some of the Caribbean's top destinations. The cruise stops in Antigua, Puerto Rico, and Cozumel, before eventually making its way to Montego Bay. 

This itinerary does include several sea days, but with cabins that feel more like a home than a room on a ship, lots of great food, and a selection of cocktail experiences, you may not mind. The luxurious ship also offers cooking classes, shows, a spa, and lots of gorgeous photo spots. 

Book now with Oceania

Originally Appeared on Condé Nast Traveler