The islands of the Caribbean have remained high on the list of top cruising destinations for many years, and it’s easy to see why. With stunning white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, great weather, and friendly locals, cruising in the Caribbean is something that everyone should treat themselves to at least once. With so many to choose from, we've put together a guide to the best Caribbean islands to visit to make things a little easier.
The Caribbean is stock-full of exciting excursion options and places to eat, drink, and relax. If you’re thinking about cruising in this spectacular destination, or even if you’re already booked and ready to go, our useful guide to some of the islands should give you the information you need to have the time of your life.
Choosing which of the best Caribbean Islands to visit
Because of the nature of the layout of the islands, cruises in the Caribbean tend to involve stops in a number of them. There are in fact over 7000 islands, 26 of which are recognised countries. It can be tricky to know which islands to visit, with each one offering a unique and interesting culture, and varying food, drinks, festivities, and traditions. Many cruise lines even own private islands with exclusive access to their own guests. Each island boasts sandy beaches, delicious cuisines and a range of fun-filled activities, such as snorkelling, parasailing and other water sports. Others are more catered towards adults only, such as Virgin Voyages, who offer private, relaxing cabana's, luxurious bars and wild pool parties after dark. See below for some inspiration about some of the popular stops.
What to do in Curacao
The Dutch island of Curacao has a distinctly European feel to it, with pretty, pastel coloured, Dutch style buildings lining the streets of the capital, Willemstad. There are fascinating museums and historical relics to see, or, if preferred, the island boasts 35 picturesque beaches where you can enjoy the clear waters and bask in the Caribbean sun. Otherwise, there are also some national parks where you can see various wildlife and incredible vistas.
Curacao was not affected by the 2017 hurricanes, and is open for tourism.
What to do in St Maarten
St Maarten offers a unique blend of Dutch, French, and Caribbean culture which captivates all visitors to the island. The port town of Philipsburg is home to some pretty colonial buildings, and is close to the ruins of 17th century Fort Amsterdam. As well as getting your history fix, here you can take part in exhilarating activities like kayaking, snorkelling, biking, and even sailing lessons. Alternatively, you could spend time on the beach, or wandering round the hundreds of duty free shops.
St Maarten is recovering from damage caused by the 2017 hurricanes, and is open for tourism.
What to do in Barbados
One of the most popular ports on a Caribbean cruise, Barbados leaves visitors with a genuine longing to stay for ‘just another few nights’ every time! Along with a wonderful array of beaches, a stop here means some mouth-watering cuisine, rum punch at every corner, and the sound of singing, dancing, and laughter almost following you. See the fascinating shipwrecks around the coast while scuba-diving or snorkelling, try all the local delicacies at Oistins fishing village stalls, or see various sites leftover from colonial times.
Barbados was not affected by the 2017 hurricanes, and is open for tourism.
What to do in Nassau, Bahamas
Well-known for being an important pirate hub in the 17th and 18th centuries, Nassau boasts a great number of interesting things to see and do. As well as the wax-work museum, today you can visit several forts that played an important part in the history of pirates. Other popular things to do on the island include swimming with pigs, snorkelling, trying out the best local bars and restaurants, and whiling away the hours in the absorbing art galleries.
Nassau was not affected by the 2017 hurricanes, and is open for tourism.
What to do in Cozumel
Off the southeast coast of Mexico lies Cozumel, a beautiful sun-kissed island that offers the perfect mix of adventure and opportunities to relax. With clear surrounding waters, and an abundance of marine life, Cozumel is a great place for scuba diving and snorkelling. Otherwise explore the island on a jeep safari tour, take a speedboat ride, or simply enjoy the perfect beaches with a book and a cocktail.
Cozumel was not affected by the 2017 hurricanes, and is open for tourism.
What to do in Falmouth, Jamaica
Found in the north of Jamaica, Falmouth is believed to hold the largest quantity of British colonial architecture in the Caribbean. In its historical district visitors can explore the streets and see Vermont House – which is now the post office – the court house, and The Albert George Market. Other things to do include chilling out on the beaches, enjoying local rum cocktails and foods, or, about a one hour drive away are the beautiful Dunns River Falls.
Falmouth was not affected by the 2017 hurricanes, and is open for tourism.
What to do in St Thomas
One of the US Virgin Islands, St Thomas is a pretty and bustling island, full of life and lively Caribbean culture. Here you will find the chance to shop ‘til you drop, try all sorts of fantastic cuisines – both local and international in style – and dance the night away in one of the many bars or clubs. Of course here too there are beaches aplenty, or for a more original view of the island, consider taking a ride on the cable car, paddle boarding, or a yacht trip around the coast.
St Thomas is recovering from damage caused by the 2017 hurricanes, and is open for tourism.
Who to cruise with to the best Caribbean islands
Many holidaymakers who seek a cruise to the Caribbean often opt to do so with the eponymous Royal Caribbean. With a fleet of 26 ships, there are generally several different itineraries you can choose from at any one time. The cruise line are very family-friendly, offering an array of different dining, entertainment, and activity options onboard their ships. Some of their most popular features include the well-known FlowRider – an invigorating surf simulator that can be enojoyed by guests of all ages – the rock-climbing wall, and some amazing, fun-filled shows including Grease and Hairspray.
Take a look at Caribbean cruises with Royal Caribbean to find out which islands you can discover with them.
Now you've read our guide to the best Caribbean Islands to visit, all that's left to do is browse our fantastic Caribbean cruise deals. Alternatively, if you want to find out more about what to do in the Caribbean, be sure to read our pick of the best Caribbean shore excursions.