The Caribbean is calling. Credit: Shutterstock

Everything you need to know about Marella’s Caribbean cruises – including three of the best to book for 2024

Author: Kaye Holland

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A Caribbean cruise promises sun-kissed shores, rushing waterfalls, lush mountains and a welcome as warm as the weather

The Caribbean has long been the world’s favourite cruise destination and for good reason. These idyllic islands offer year-round sunshine as well both escapism and relaxation in (buckets) and spades.

Meet the famous swimming pigs of the Bahamas; admire the elegant colonial architecture of Nevis; trek through the verdant rainforest of St Lucia; or top up that all important vitamin D – delicious rum punch in hand – on any of the islands’ pristine beaches.

Perhaps add on a stay in an indulgent Sensatori by TUI Blue resort in the Dominican Republic, or beachfront hotel in Barbados pre or post cruise to enrich your holiday?

Visitors to the Bahamas can encounter swimming pigs at Pig Beach on Big Major Cay in Exuma. Credit: Shutterstock

Caribbean cruises can be divided into eastern, western, and southern categories. The former typically call at Barbados, St Lucia, St Kitts, the British Virgin Islands, Grenada, and occasionally the Turks & Caicos Islands.

Elsewhere Western Caribbean voyages focus heavily on the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Central American ports while Southern Caribbean cruises incorporate a mix of the above – plus Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico, Costa Rica, Belize, Honduras, and Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao (affectionately dubbed the ABC islands).

There’s no bad time to visit the Caribbean – temperatures hover between 20-30C year round – however December to April (aka when Europe is under a dark blanket) is when the islands appear even more appealing than usual.

Considering a Caribbean cruise? Here are three (hot, hot, hot) sailings with British line Marella Cruises that have caught our eye. We’re willing to bet they’ll catch yours too…

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Tropical Treasures
Get to know the Caribbean better on this ‘Tropical Treasures ’ itinerary onboard the adults-only Marella Explorer 2. Setting sail from La Romana in the Dominican Republic, hailed by Colombus as "the fairest land under heaven", you'll call at the island's capital Santa Domingo –famed for its colourful, Unesco-protected buildings. A sea day gives you plenty of time to explore and enjoy your ship and share a sundowner (or two) with fellow passengers.
Then it's onto Aruba's genteel capital, Oranjestad, an enticing mix of 19th-century merchants’ houses, historic forts and chi chi boutiques. Brightly coloured Willemstad – legend has it that the former governor of Curaçao's capital decreed houses shouldn't be painted white, due to the sunshine and his weak eyes – and Kralendijk, on the Dutch island of Bonaire, complete the line-up before you return to La Romana.
Departs February 4, 2025. From £1,636.90* per person.

Cocktails and Coconuts
After the ultimate Caribbean getaway? Then Marella’s all-inclusive ‘Cocktails and Coconuts’ cruise onboard Marella Discovery could be the one for you. In the British Virgin Islands, ancient rainforests hog the limelight. Elsewhere fill your boots in St Maarten – it’s home to some 400 restaurants which have helped earn the French Caribbean island a reputation as a culinary capital. Other undeniable highlights include Antigua, where you can explore the country’s last working Georgian Dockyard that was once home to Admiral Horatio Nelson – before marvelling at magnificent frigate birds in Codrington Lagoon.
Departs November 24, 2024. From £1,394.60* per person.

St Maarten, the Dutch half of an island shared with French St Martin, is a busy cruise-ship stop. Credit: Shutterstock

Exotic Islands
Dreaming of ushering in the New Year somewhere sunny? Marella’s ‘Exotic Islands’ itinerary is the answer. Departing on December 29, 2024, the seven-night sailing includes stops at all the big hitters: take a bow Castries, St Lucia's bustling capital; Willemstad in Curaçao whose brightly-coloured buildings have World Heritage status on account of their historic importance; and St George's in Grenada – arguably the Caribbean’s prettiest port owing to its jumble of red-roofed buildings – to name but a few. ‘Sea’ you onboard?
Departs December 29, 2024. From £2,389.30* per person.

If the above dates don’t work, you’ll find plenty of other Caribbean cruises – at prices that don’t break the bank – on Marella Cruises’ website.

*Prices correct at the time of publication

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About Kaye Holland

Kaye is a London-based wordsmith who has written for a range of publications including The Times, The Independent, The I, Culture Trip, The Sun, and ABTA among others. In June 2022, Kaye joined the Real Response Media where she looks – together with Lucy Abbott – after the World of Cruising website. Want to get in touch? Kaye can be reached at: [email protected]