Not all cruising ports are year-round destinations; here, our guide to cruising in the winter months.
Originally Appeared on Condé Nast Traveler
From Boston to Miami, ports swell throughout the winter months with ships headed south to the Caribbean. This season’s mega-ships joining the fray include Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship; Norwegian’s newest and largest ship, Norwegian Encore, and the design-forward Celebrity Edge. Narrowly avoiding extensive damage from Hurricane Dorian, the cruise-favorite ports of The Bahamas are all back and operating at full capacity. As for determining what Caribbean itinerary is best for you, the cruise line and ship should take top priority. There’s not too much variation in beach quality at destinations along the eastern and western Caribbean routes, and nearly all islands offer comparable thrills such as zip-lining, scuba diving, and liquor tastings.
Private cruise line island stops help distinguish Caribbean itineraries, where well-kept beaches are steps from the ship and the shore-side BBQ lunches are included. New this year, Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day CocoCay enhances the private island experience. The Bahamas-based outpost features an expansive water park featuring North America’s tallest water slide, a helium balloon that takes adventurers 450 feet high, and floating cabanas available to rent for the day.
For smaller ships, Viking has three of its sister ships traversing the Caribbean this winter, sailing seven to 21 nights from Miami, San Juan, and New York. Silversea continues its annual Caribbean winter itineraries spanning five to 24 days, with highlights that include swimming with the pigs of Exuma Island, a day in the remote Mayreau Island with a population of 200, and the remarkable 365 beaches at Falmouth, Antigua, and Barbuda.