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Top five Caribbean cruises for 2024 & 2025

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Whether you’re a culture vulture or a beach babe, here’s how to make your Caribbean dreams come true

Sapphire waters, shining beaches and a tangle of deep-green foliage; such an idyllic picture is what draws many people to the Caribbean.

But did you know that the region is also rich in historic interest, with colonial mansions and formidable fortresses?

Add the rhythms of reggae and calypso that are as intoxicating as the ubiquitous rum, along with a great range of watersports and jungle adventures, and you have a seductive playground for all ages and tastes.

Ships large and small ply these waters, and the diversity of itineraries increases each year, especially with Cuba becoming ever more open to the world.

The choice of departure ports is expanding, too, which means it’s easy to add a hotel stay in, say, Florida or Barbados.

If you’re looking for a touch of Caribbean sunshine to brighten up the dreary British winter, here are our top ten suggestions…

Holland America Line has its own private Caribbean island, Half Moon Cay.

1. Explore with Holland America Line

Equipped with its own private island, Half Moon Cay, where a day is spent no matter which itinerary you sail on, Holland America Line is a competitive option for a Caribbean cruise.

The cruise line offers countless stunning round-trips from Fort Lauderdale – convenient for UK guests – mixing buzzing beach resorts and quieter isles, with calls including Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Mexico, the Turks & Caicos Islands, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

The '14-day Western/Eastern Caribbean' itinerary departing February 24, 2024, is a stand-out, promising the opportunity to swim in Half Moon Cay’s blue lagoon, cool off with a Jamaica waterfall climb and also explore the white sands and rainbow reefs of Turks & Caicos.

Visit the idyllic port of Nassau in the Bahamas. Credit: Shutterstock

2. Azamara takes the Caribbean

Azamara is not the only cruise line to have exclusive use of a corner of the Caribbean, but intriguingly theirs is on Haiti, which remains largely undeveloped. Here you’ll find fine sandy beaches and plenty of watersports, with a lovely backdrop of forested hills.

There is an array of tempting Caribbean itineraries from Azamara, with our favourite being the 16-night cruise 'Caribbean Holiday Voyage' onboard Azamara Journey, departing December 22, 2024.

Azamara Journey is a relatively small vessel but her 694 guests can look forward to the finest food, as well as luxurious pampering in the ship’s all-new spa.

As for the itinerary, you can look forward to exploring the white-sand beaches, extensive golf course and pink Colonial buildings of Nassau, St. John, which is the smallest of the U.S Virgin Islands, Charlotte Amalie, which is a peaceful harbour which used to be the home of pirate culture, and more.

Lively Montego Bay, or 'Mo Bay' is it is affectionately known, is Jamaica's second city. Credit: Shutterstock

3. Value and variety

There’s so much more to this region than the well-known islands such as Barbados and St Lucia.

The Caribbean Sea stretches across to Central America, creating a vast cruising playground. Marella Cruises takes advantage with its Exotic Explorer voyage to the less visited countries of Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.

It’s a seven-night round trip from Montego Bay, Jamaica, where you can opt to stay for an additional hotel week.

Along the route there is the opportunity to take a boat trip up a jungle river, visit Mayan ruins, swim with dolphins, snorkel on coral reefs and admire colonial architecture – or just flop on the beaches.

The ship is Marella Explora 2, which has an outdoor cinema and indoor pool, plus full entertainment programme. With free drinks and flights too, this cruise is something of a bargain.

This itinerary departs across multiple dates in February 2024.

Antigua boasts an incredible 365 beaches. Credit: Shutterstock

4. Bahamian rhapsody

How about spending New Year’s Eve in Nassau off the coast of Madeira, known fondly as the floral isle? And spending Christmas Eve in coral-edged Antigua?

That’s on offer from Saga, with its 30-night 'Festive Celebrations in the Caribbean' round trip from Portsmouth over the Christmas period.

The journey, with five included panoramic excursions, will visit Santa Cruz, Bridgetown, Castries, St George's, Roseau, Charlestown, Road Town, St John's. A good mix of sightseeing, nature treks, shopping, snorkelling and relaxation on lovely beaches is promised.

The 987-passenger Spirit of Adventure's facilities and entertainments are tailored to British tastes, and you can expect the usual celebrations, including roast turkey on Christmas Day, which is spent at sea.

Departs December 6, 2024.

Tortola: BVI is known for its sweet treats like fruit tarts and sugar cake. Credit: Shutterstock

5. Amazon Encounter

Why not combine a Caribbean cruise with an exciting trip up the Amazon? Thanks to P&O, you can do just that – in a 65-night adventure.

Making a round trip from Southampton, Aurora heads first to Gran Canaria, then Antigua, Tortola in the Virgin Islands and Castries, Bridgetown before heading to Brazil, where you can explore the beauty of Santana, Manaus and more.

What's more, you will also sail the iconic Panama Canal as well as explore the shops and nightlife of the capital of Bermuda – Hamilton.

Accommodating 1,874guests, Aurora is a stylish vessel with a sociable atmosphere and is specifically designed for the British market.

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