Ideal weather year-round, dozens of picture-perfect tropical islands, incomparable beaches, boundless shopping bargains and easy proximity to a growing number of cities on America’s coastlines have made the Caribbean the world’s biggest, most popular cruise destination, says the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
CLIA notes that cruise line members will showcase their newest ships on appealing Caribbean itineraries this winter and throughout 2010. Vacationers have numerous opportunities to take advantage of unbeatable last minute bargains, early booking savings and some of the best year-round vacation values anywhere in the world, across all price categories of cruising.
With Port Everglades, Port Canaveral and Miami at the top of the list, CLIA members offer Caribbean itineraries from easily reached embarkation ports on the East Coast and Gulf Coasts. Among the newer places to board a cruise ship to the tropics are Baltimore, Charleston, S.C, Mobile, AL and others. For West Coast residents, a Caribbean cruise is just a short flight away. A growing number of ports in the Caribbean region also offer the opportunity to visit as many islands as possible – in some cases, seven in seven days.
CLIA’s list of the newest developments in Caribbean cruises:
Azamara Journey will sail a variety of Caribbean, Panama Canal and first-ever Sea of Cortez voyages between November 2010 and April 2011. The season features 23 ports in 13 different countries. The 12-night Caribbean itineraries are roundtrip from Miami, visiting ports in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, St. Martin, St. Kitts, Guadeloupe, St. Barts, St. Lucia and Dominica. Sixteen-night Panama Canal voyages sail between Miami and San Diego.
Carnival Cruise Lines
The largest Carnival ship ever constructed, the 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream launches year-round Caribbean service from Port Canaveral in December. Carnival also is increasing its capacity from Mobile, AL by 42 percent with the deployment of the Carnival Fantasy in November (to be replaced by Carnival Elation in May 2010) and by 34 percent from New Orleans when Carnival Triumph begins new Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises in November. And, beginning in May 2010, Carnival Fantasy will launch the first year-round cruise schedule from Charleston.
The 2,850-passenger Celebrity Equinox, the company’s newest arrival, makes her debut in the Caribbean this winter with 10- and 11-night cruises from Port Everglades. Celebrity guests also have more East Coast ports to choose from, including Baltimore, Charleston and Bayonne (for Bermuda cruises) and can take advantage of lower airfares to San Juan where Celebrity Summit visits no fewer than five ports in a week. Celebrity Solstice will sail year-round in the Caribbean starting this winter.
With sailings from Fort Lauderdale, Costa Atlantica returns to the Caribbean with new, exclusive spa accommodations that feature personalized wellness consultations, complimentary spa treatments, fitness or meditation classes, complimentary access to the Wellness Restaurant and more. Guests on Costa Atlantica and Costa Fortuna can also take advantage of “Italy in the Tropics” with a “Free Upgrade” promotion and the popular “Kids Sail Free” program.
Cunard is looking ahead to the 2010 Caribbean season and the arrival of its newest ship, the Queen Elizabeth, which will offer a debut 22-day Caribbean voyage roundtrip from Southampton departing December 14. The itinerary includes inaugural calls in Madeira, Tortola, Dominca, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua and the Azores. Queen Mary 2’s 2010 season will feature three different itineraries, all roundtrip from New York and varying in length from 10- to 15 days.
Holland America Line
Offering diversity and a breadth of itinerary lengths from seven to 14 days, Holland America Line has nine ships sailing the Caribbean on 126 cruises from January to May and October to December. The line's newest ship, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, will offer seven-day western and eastern itineraries. Homeports are Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa. Some cruises include the Panama Canal and nearly all include the line's award-winning private island of Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.
Vacationers have until October 31 to take advantage of MSC Cruises’ “Last-Minute” deals on select Caribbean cruises aboard the MSC Poesia. The five- and 10-night itineraries from Fort Lauderdale feature the southern or eastern Caribbean or Panama. For bookings made by October 16, complimentary balcony stateroom upgrades are available on select voyages. This year marks the Caribbean debut of the 1,275-passenger Poesia, which will offer cruises of three- to ten nights.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Next year marks the arrival of Norwegian Epic, Norwegian’s largest and most innovative ship, which will begin her inaugural Caribbean season in July with alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries available as seven-day individual sailings or 14-day combined sailings and offered through April 2011. Norwegian also will seasonally homeport the 1,936-passenger Norwegian Sun in Port Canaveral beginning October 2010 for seven-day eastern and western Caribbean itineraries.
Three of Oceania’s seven Caribbean itineraries for 2010/2011 will be new, including a 10-day “Mayan Mystique” voyage of the western Caribbean; a 14-day “Southern Treasures” cruise featuring overnights in Bermuda and Charleston; and a new springtime Panama Canal sailing. In addition, there will be two departures –November 27 and March 19 – for the 24-day “Amazon Adventure” and a 12-day holiday voyage. An introductory offer expiring March 31 includes free air and two-for-one pricing.
Princess will sail six ships on 13 Caribbean itineraries ranging from seven to 14 days this winter, with 129 departures visiting more than 25 ports in these fabled islands. Ruby Princess will take over the line’s 10-day eastern and southern Caribbean itineraries, offering some of the less-visited ports in the region. Crown Princess’ western Caribbean itinerary will feature Roatan, Honduras. Grand Princess returns with an extensive 14-day Caribbean Collection route and Sea Princess will again sail on 14-day voyages from Barbados.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Regent will be offering a full season of Caribbean cruises from December to April this winter aboard the newly-refurbished Seven Seas Navigator. During the 2009 refurbishment the ship received two brand new restaurants (Prime 7 and La Veranda) as well as a Canyon Ranch SpaClub. All roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, the cruises feature two-for-one fares, free air from 22 North American gateways, free Unlimited Shore Excursions and government fees and taxes included in the fare.
Royal Caribbean International
Royal welcomes the largest ship in the world, the 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas, to Fort Lauderdale in November when the ship begins year-round Caribbean cruises. Looking ahead, sister ship Allure of the Seas joins the company’s Caribbean fleet for the 2010-11 Caribbean season, which will feature year-round voyages from such ports as Port Everglades, Port of Miami, Port Canaveral, and San Juan, Puerto Rico; seasonal voyages from ports ranging from Cape Liberty to Galveston; and over 20 short itineraries to 15 ports in the Caribbean.
Seabourn is canceling a planned five-month deployment of Seabourn Legend in the Indian Ocean late next year. Instead, after summering in Europe, the 208-guest, all-suite Legend will return to the Americas and sail to Seabourn’s “Uncommon Caribbean” in late 2010 and early 2011, making seven- to 14-day voyages from Fort Lauderdale and St. Thomas. With “Yachting Collection Savings,” all- inclusive fares will start at $1,999 for a 277-square foot ocean-view suite.
Seadream Yacht Club
As in previous years, 2009 and 2010 will find the small, 56-couple, mega-yacht cruisers SeaDream I and II sailing in the Caribbean in the winter months, calling not only at vibrant port cities, but at small and exclusive seaside towns and villages where the big passenger ships can’t go. The ships will sail the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico’s Virgin Islands; French West Indies, Netherlands Antilles and the Windward and Leeward Islands, with convenient Caribbean embarkation and debarkation ports.
Travelers should plan ahead for the 2010 Caribbean season of Silversea's brand new vessel, Silver Spirit. Beginning with a seven-day day roundtrip voyage from Bridgetown, Barbados, visiting Dominica, St. Bart's, St. Kitts and Bequia, the ship, will five additional voyages, ranging in length from 9 -14 days. Silversea also offers a variety of golf programs on Caribbean/Mexico itineraries as well as culinary theme cruises featuring celebrity chefs and cooking demonstrations.
Windstar Cruises premieres a new seven-day St. Martin roundtrip itinerary this season on the 148-guest Wind Spirit. Each week from December through March, Wind Spirit will sail roundtrip from St. Martin offering guests pristine beaches, lively island culture, lush tropics and additional daytime sailing. Port of calls include St. Kitts, Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda and St. Barts. The 312-guest Wind Surf offers 7-day roundtrip sailings from Barbados.