Cruise to Caribbean

MSC cruise ship docked with lighthouse at the front of the image

Overview

  • Drone shot of MSC cruise ship cruising past sand island
  • Drone shot of MSC cruise ship cruising past city with a smaller boat on either side
  • Cruise ship docked at island with water park

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Frequently asked questions

There are more than 100 cruise ports in the Caribbean, spread across multiple islands and coasts. Cruise itineraries tend to stick to one of the three main groups: Eastern, Western and Southern Caribbean. 

In the Eastern Caribbean, cruises usually depart from Florida but can set sail from ports as far north as New York City. On these itineraries, ports include Nassau and Princess Cays in The Bahamas, Grand Turk in Turks and Caicos, Puerto Plata and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, San Jaun in Puerto Rico, and St Maarten. Boutique cruise ships may also visit smaller ports like Antigua, Anguilla, Dominica and St Barts. 

Western Caribbean cruises can depart from Florida or ports along the Gulf Coast in Texas, Louisiana and Alabama. Sailing here you may visit Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Falmouth in Jamaica; Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands; Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Cozumel in Mexico; and Belize City in Belize.  

The Southern Caribbean is closer to South America and will take longer to reach from mainland USA. Ports of call include Oranjestad in Aruba, Willemstad in Curacao, Bridgetown in Barbados, Bonaire and St Lucia.


The Caribbean is a year-round destination, with cruises setting sail every month. The peak season is from November to April and you’re almost guaranteed perfect weather. Note that the US summer school holidays in July and August will make ships busy and prices high. Hurricane season runs from mid-August to November, peaking in September and October. However, the high pressure and humid temperatures can actually make for calmer seas.


Yes, Caribbean cruises are perfect for families. The largest and most advanced ships in the world are based here, offering family-friendly fun on another level. The kids (and the grown ups) will have a ball on surf simulators, indoor skydiving tunnels, roller coasters, adventure parks, bumper cars, roller skating rinks, video game arcades and more. Make the most of the sunshine with multiple swimming pools, waterslides and waterparks, or enjoy some downtime while the children check out the kids’ clubs. There are shore excursions for the whole family as well, like snorkelling, zip lining through the jungle, horse riding on the beach and even swimming with wild pigs in the Bahamas!


With multiple restaurants onboard, ranging from casual buffets to white tablecloth fine dining, you can expect a huge variety of international cuisine during a Caribbean cruise. Many ships will also tailor their menus to the destination, so you could order Caribbean specialties like jerk chicken, roast pork, plantains and fresh seafood. Be sure to also sample food when you’re in port, dining at local restaurants or street food stalls to taste authentic Caribbean flavours. If you can see a place is full of locals dining, that’s usually a sign it’s good!


You can sail the high seas in high style in the Caribbean. Many luxury cruise ships regularly sail these turquoise waters, offering huge suites with balconies or private terraces, exceptional food and wine, indulgent spas and wellness facilities, and impeccable service. You can even enjoy exclusive onboard toys like helicopters and submersibles. Top luxury lines include Scenic, Silversea, Seabourn, Ponant, Crystal Cruises, Regent Seven Seas and Oceania.


The classic round trip Caribbean cruise – sailing through either the East or West – lasts seven days. This gives you enough time to visit a few islands with a couple of sea days as well. Cruises to the Southern Caribbean are typically 10 to 14 days, factoring in the longer sailing time from the US. If you’re short on time, take a quick three- or four-day jaunt through some of the islands closest to the US mainland, or take things slow and explore the whole region on a cruise of two or three weeks.


Absolutely! Some of the best snorkelling and diving in the world can be found in the Caribbean. The clear, calm waters are great for beginners, you can often snorkel straight off the beach, and you’ll encounter a huge range of marine life. Some of the top spots are Aruba, Curacao, Grenada, Grand Cayman, Antigua, Turks and Caicos, US Virgin Islands, and Barbados. Scuba divers can get deep here as well with excellent sites along the coast of Mexico and Belize, and in Bonaire, The Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Curacao, and Turks and Caicos. Expect to see technicolour corals, thousands of fish, manta rays, turtles, dolphins, starfish and even whale sharks.


Because Caribbean cruises visit multiple countries, you will need to meet the visa requirements for each destination. Almost all Caribbean cruises will depart from the USA (usually from Florida) so you will also need to apply for a Visa Waiver through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before you travel. Things can change, so always check with your travel expert and check with your relevant government authority to ensure you know which visas you need to apply for in advance.


The vibrant, colourful Caribbean culture permeates every aspect of life in these tropical islands. Many cruise lines will bring this onboard, entertaining guests with live calypso bands, reggae music, steel drums and authentic dance performances. Caribbean-themed parties are also a regular feature on many cruises, taking over the top deck with music, dance, costumes and cocktails.


Most Caribbean nations have their own currency, though some overseas territories will use the currency of their parent country. However, US dollars are widely accepted and you will be able to spend them everywhere you go. Shops and restaurants may display prices in local currency but still be happy to accept US dollars – just check the exchange rate. Try to carry small bills (like $1, $5 and $10) as it can be difficult to break larger notes. You will also be able to use Australian and international credit cards in most major cities.


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