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Top spots in the Caribbean you can go to now without the cruise ship

15 Jan 2021

There will not be any Caribbean cruises until at least May, but that doesn't mean you can't swim in the blue turquoise waters of the tropics until then.

While the cruise industry remains shutdown, many Caribbean islands will allow you to visit on your own.

Certainly the current global health crisis means there may be additional rules or tests required, nonetheless, there is no bad time for a Caribbean escape.

Beginning January 26, the CDC will require all travelers, including U.S. citizens, flying to or through the U.S. from international destinations to provide proof of either a negative test or documentation of recovery.

The test must:

  • Be a viral test (molecular or antigen)
  • Be taken within the 3 calendar days prior to departure
  • Show written proof of the traveler’s negative laboratory test result

Documentation of recovery must include:

  • Proof of a positive test result
  • A letter from a licensed health care provider or public health official clearing them for travel

Many Caribbean islands are welcoming tourists to return, albeit with their own testing requirements and protocols. Here are my picks for the top Caribbean beaches you can visit without too much hassle this winter.

St. John

When I visited St. John for the first time, I knew instantly it was the most beautiful beach I had ever been to.

Much of St. John is a national park, and that means it is very undeveloped and among the most natural and quiet beach you will find in the Caribbean.

Many tourists hit Trunk Bay, but nearby Cinnamon Bay Beach is a bit less crowded and equally stunning.  

Health rules: St. John is part of the USVI, which means you must provide a negative PCR test within five days of arrival. Otherwise, you must self-quarantine until the test results arrive.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia may be known for the two ancient volcanoes, the Pitons, but it has a great beach scene as well.

Locals love the not-so-well-known black sand beach of Anse Mamin.  It is idyllic as it is scenic, with a beautiful backdrop against the Caribbean blue water. It is located near Anse Chastanet and the two beaches are linked by a rocky path below the cliffs.

If you prefer to get out and do some exploring, the Pitons are a world-renowned hiking destination.

Health rules: All arrivals over age 5 must have a negative PCR test within seven days of arrival. You must also complete a travel authorization form and submit to screening, which includes temperature checks.


Aruba has been one island that has been welcoming tourists for many months, and features some absolutely stunning beaches to see.

Oranjestad offers plenty to do, including Palm and Eagle Beach.  These are well-known and stunning beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see.

If you want a lesser-known beach, hit up the black-pebbled Andicuri Beach on Aruba's east coast.

The island sees little rain throughout the year, so no matter when you arrive, you’re likely to enjoy warm temperatures and sunny skies all day long. 

Health rules: You must answer health questions and upload a negative test result, along with purchasing Aruba Visitors Insurance.


You might have just heard Royal Caribbean will offer cruises from Barbados in December 2021, but if that is not soon enough, you can visit now and get a head start on what the island as to offer.

Barbados is home to Bathsheba Beach on the easy coast, which you will quickly notice the massive rock formations (which are actually remnants of ancient coral).  Bathsheba Beach is also famous for drawing surfers from all over the world, who come to participate in local and international surfing competitions.

Barbados is known for many things, including at one time being the largest producer of sugar cane, and with that came a famous rum-production industry. You can visit the Mount Gay distillery if you need a break from the stunning beaches of the island.

Health rules: Persons traveling to Barbados from High and Medium-Risk countries must have a negative test result in order to enter the country. These tests must be taken at an accredited or certified facility/laboratory within 3 days prior to arrival. 


One of the most famous Caribbean cruise ports is still open and welcoming to tourists.

Cozumel is home to many beautiful beaches, including some well-known all-inclusive beach day spots. You will find many different beaches to visit on the island's west coast. There are iconic spots like Paradise Beach or Mr. Sanchos, as well as more secluded beaches.

Another popular option is to stay at a resort on the island, such as Cozumel Palace Resort or Allegro resort. In fact, many of the resorts offer their own on-site antigen (rapid) testing.

Health rules: Mexico does not require any test results upon arrival, but you must fill out a health form.

How to choose the right Caribbean cruise sailing

21 Nov 2020

Caribbean cruises are some of the most popular types of cruises available, so how do you choose the right sailing for your family?

Royal Caribbean offers cruises to every corner of the Caribbean, and that means a lot of choices to consider. Eastern, Western, Southern or even Bahamas sailings are available year round on Royal Caribbean.

Regardless of which region of the Caribbean you pick, you will find beautiful beaches and warm temperatures. The region enjoys fantastic weather for an escape during all months of the year.

Before you book a Caribbean cruise, here is what you need to know about what each region is known for and what you should look for in a cruise.

Eastern Caribbean

Cruises to the Eastern Caribbean will take you to a wide variety of beautiful places to visit.

In fact, the Eastern Caribbean ports are best known for their beaches, with many cruises visiting different Virgin Islands, as well as the far reaches of the East Indies. 

The Eastern Caribbean is also home to very popular cruise ports, such as San Juan which offers rich culture and history among many different types of shore excursions.

If your cruise happens to visit some of the further out ports in the Eastern Caribbean, you will have the opportunity to see some of the more exotic cruise ports in the region. Usually cruises to this area require a longer sailing, but the scenery is among exquisite.

Top Eastern Caribbean ports

  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Philipsburg, St. Martin
  • Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

Read more: Things to do in Old San Juan

Western Caribbean

The Western Caribbean is filled with some of the friendliest people you will find, with some lovely ports of call.

Many Western Caribbean cruises will visit at least one port in Central America.  Cozumel, Progreso, Costa Maya, Belize or Roatan are very popular cruise ports and offer some the widest variety of things to do.

Not only do Western Caribbean cruises have beautiful beaches, they rich history and cuisine of the area stand out as favorites. The Western Caribbean is also where you will find the rich history of Maya, with Mayan ruins available to tour in the mainland ports.

In addition to the mainland, ports in Jamaica and Grand Cayman round out a good variety of port visit options.

Whereas the Eastern Caribbean tends to be a bit more "beach day" heavy than the Western Caribbean, you will find a great deal of fun activities for all ages (including going to the beach).

Top Western Caribbean ports

Read more: Fun things to do on a cruise to Mexico

Southern Caribbean

If your goal is to find the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, look no further than the Southern Caribbean.

Islands in the Southern Caribbean have some of the best variety of water color, temperature, and clarity that you will find in the entire region.  Moreover, the Southern Caribbean is almost always quite warm, with temperatures dropping rarely below the 80s Fahrenheit.

Since the Southern Caribbean islands are a bit further away from the United States than other parts of the Caribbean, the ports you visit will seem a little less built up and less crowded.

The Southern Caribbean ports also tend to retain more of their European influences than other Caribbean islands.

Cruises to the Southern Caribbean tend to mostly sail from San Juan, Puerto Rico, although Royal Caribbean does sometimes offer longer sailings from Miami.

Top Southern Caribbean ports

  • Oranjestad, Aruba
  • St. John's, Antigua
  • Willemstad, Curacao

Private destinations

In addition to the different Caribbean islands you will visit on any of these cruises, Royal Caribbean will also mix in visits to one of its private destinations.

These ports are only open to Royal Caribbean cruise ships, and it offers a relaxing and fun beach day where the cruise line takes care of just about everything.

Most of each destination is included in your cruise cost, although there are some extras you can opt to purchase to enhance your visit.

Perfect Day at CocoCay

The crown jewel of Royal Caribbean's private islands is Perfect Day at CocoCay in The Bahamas. Royal Caribbean recently upgraded the entire island and enhanced the offerings from end to end.

Guests can choose between a variety of beaches, the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean, water park and even a private beach club.

In short, CocoCay stands out because of the variety of choices that appeals to just about anyone and any age.

Available on Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises.


Located in Haiti, Labadee is a private enclave where you can kick back with a relaxing beach day.

While Labadee does not have all the bells and whistles of CocoCay, it delivers exactly what most cruisers want: a slice of paradise with relaxing beach choices, coupled with add-on excursions if you wish.

Labadee is best known for the Dragon's Breath zip line, which is a 2,600 foot zip down a flight line at speeds that reach 40-50 mph.

Available on Western Caribbean cruises.

Which Caribbean cruise should you choose?

Ultimately, there is no bad choice to be made, and the decision boils down to what type of vacation you are leaning towards.

Any of the regions of the Caribbean offers its fair share of beautiful Caribbean beaches, and you are splitting hairs about which beach looks more pristine than the other.

The Western Caribbean offers more history and Mayan culture in Mexico and surrounding areas.

You might pick the Eastern Caribbean if you prefer beaches over port exploring, as well as if you are looking for a Caribbean cruise longer than a week.

The Southern Caribbean is stunning, but it will almost certainly require you to fly to Puerto Rico to begin your cruise, which can be a dealbreaker for some people.

More Caribbean planning articles:

Royal Caribbean will redeploy six cruise ships for winter 2021-2022

21 Oct 2020

Royal Caribbean announced some new changes to its winter 2021-2022 cruise schedule for the Caribbean and Australia regions.

The changes encompass six ships, which offer new ships, as well as new itineraries, from a few different ports. Royal Caribbean says, "we’ve listened to our guests and valued travel partners, and are ready to share some Winter 2021 – 2022 deployment updates."

Vicki Freed, Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service announced the changes during a webinar with travel advisors, "We've modified our schedule to make room for some incredible new itineraries."

Royal Caribbean issued a statement that elaborated on the changes, "Our new deployment line-up provides guests with greater variety, including new itineraries in the Caribbean and Australia that will help strengthen the cruise line’s footprint globally."

These changes are in addition to five other Royal Caribbean ships that were redeployed for summer 2021.


Explorer of the Seas will sail 7-night Southern Caribbean cruises from San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Explorer will replace previously scheduled sailings on Freedom of the Seas.

Freedom of the Seas will offer 3- and 4-night Bahamas and Perfect Day at CocoCay cruises from Miami, Florida.

Radiance of the Seas will offer 5- and 9-night Caribbean cruises from Miami, Florida.  Radiance will replace Explorer of the Seas.


Royal Caribbean will offer new sailings from Brisbane and Sydney, including 25 itineraries sailing from Brisbane to 18 destinations across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.

Ovation of the Seas will sail from Sydney, Australia and offer guests a variety of sailings, including:

  • 9/12 night New Zealand cruises
  • 5/7 night Queensland cruises
  • 6/8 night Tasmania cruises

Quantum of the Seas will sail from Brisbane and offer 3-night Weekend Getaway cruises along with 7/9 night South Pacific sailings. Quantum of the Seas will be the newest and biggest ship to ever call Brisbane home

Serenade of the Seas will also sail from Sydney and offer 7-night Australia cruises.

These new itineraries are currently open and available to book immediately.

Guests who may have been booked on the previous sailings should be hearing from Royal Caribbean soon with their rebooking options.

Individual reservations will be moved to the new ship/sailing on-or-before October 30, 2020.

The re-accommodation of Groups with at least one (1) named reservation will be completed on-or-before November 18, 2020.

More helpful resources

Royal Caribbean CEO part of task force to safe return of tourism to the Caribbean

11 Sep 2020

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley revealed on Thursday he is the co-chair of a task force that is working on the safe return of cruising to the Caribbean.

At a meeting of the Miami-Dade County Tourism and the Ports Committee, Mr. Bayley spoke of the work everyone in Royal Caribbean is doing to get back to cruising, including this Caribbean island task force.

Made up of over 40 different Caribbean countries, the Americas Cruise Tourism Task Force is co-chaired with the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley.

According to Ms. Mottley, the ultimate goal of this effort is to ensure that the Caribbean region can prepare to reopen the borders for cruise tourism in a safe way.

Mr. Bayley spoke of the task force's work as being in conjunction with the Royal Caribbean Healthy Sail Panel work to prepare a new set of guidelines and protocols for the cruise line to employ once it resumes service.

"We have been working over the past several months on the creation of a universal set of guidelines that dovetail and fit into the work that's being created by our panel, and ultimately our collective submission to the CDC."

Ms. Mottley spoke of the group's work in July, noting the need for a firm set of new guidelines to ensure cruise lines will want to return to the islands.

"... That allows those people within our community to be able to see economic activity again, from vendors, to taxi drivers, to tourism attractions, etc. But they will not benefit if the cruise ships are not coming in, and the cruise ships cannot come unless there are safe protocols that we are satisfied on and that they are too, as owners of companies are satisfied can work for us."

Part of the work Royal Caribbean has outlined in its Healthy Sail Panel work has been to coordinate its efforts with the ports they visit.

Earlier this summer, Mr. Bayley outlined the four major areas of work for the Healthy Sail Panel, with the ports of call being one the top priorities.

  • Upgraded screening prior to boarding
  • Enhanced processes on board
  • A special focus on addressing the destinations
  • Procedures for addressing any reports of exceptions

Other cruise lines that have restarted operations in Europe have instituted strict rules for guests who go on shore excursions, such as MSC Cruises requiring guests only go on cruise line approved tours.

What is the best time to cruise to the Caribbean?

03 Jun 2020

There are ample cruises to choose from throughout the year that visit the Caribbean, so what is the best time to cruise there?

While the Caribbean is a year-round destination for cruises, there is a high season and low season, just like any other locale. The key is finding a time that combines the best weather with the lowest prices.

When is the best Caribbean Weather?

Cruises to the Caribbean are split up into three regions: Eastern, Western, and Southern Caribbean.

Best weather in the Eastern and Western Caribbean

In terms of the best weather for a Caribbean cruise, the months of December through April will see the most comfortable weather. During these winter and early spring months, there is the least amount of precipitation and humidity. Moreover, this is the time of year that is not part of hurricane season.

In addition, cruising between December and April means an escape for many guests who are coming from colder locations further north.  It is a popular time for many to escape to warmer temperatures. When it is 5 degrees at home, spending the day in the Caribbean can be a really great idea.

The weather on excursions and beach days will be more comfortable in the winter months. Whether you’re walking around Mayan ruins in Costa Maya, lounging in a beach chair in St. Thomas, or going hiking in St. Lucia, you won’t feel as hot as you would in the peak of summer.

Best weather in the Southern Caribbean

While winter is still a fantastic time to cruise to the southern Caribbean, our recommendation for the best time to cruise this region is during hurricane season.

The southern Caribbean has a lower chance of being impacted by hurricanes, as it mainly lies below the hurricane belt. Therefore, during hurricane season in the fall, you are still likely to see lower prices but have a lower probability of your cruise being affected by a hurricane.

What about the summer?

June, July, and August are the most popular months to cruise to the Caribbean, and cruising in the summer comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. 

In the summer, expect higher humidity, hotter temperatures, and more chances of rainfall. Beach days will be welcomed as the temperature and humidity levels can be quite high, and the pool deck will be a very popular spot on the ship.

Looking at a weather forecast in the summer can initially be a bit disappointing, as you will often see that the forecast shows rain every day. However, usually the rain does not last the entire day, and often lasts only an hour or so.

With kids out of school in the summer, you should expect to see more families onboard. Summer can be a great time for families to cruise because they do not have to rely on a school schedule, giving them more flexibility in cruise itinerary and length.

One advantage of cruising in the summer is that the ocean temperatures tend to be warmer than in the winter. While the water in the Caribbean usually stays quite comfortable, the water temperature can get chilly in more northerly Caribbean destinations during the winter. This is something that you will not have to worry about by selecting a cruise in the summer.

Another advantage of cruising in the summer months is that daylight hours are longer. Whereas in the winter it may get dark around 5:30PM, in the summertime, sunset may not be until 7 or 8PM, depending on where in the Caribbean you are sailing.

Should I cruise in the Caribbean during hurricane season?

Cruising during hurricane season may sound scary, but it is not as crazy as it may seem.

Hurricane season runs between June 1 and November 30, and it is the time of year when we typically see tropical storms form in the Caribbean. The most common months to see hurricanes are in August and September. Of course, that does not mean there is a hurricane every day, nor does it mean when there is one, the entire Caribbean is affected.

First and foremost, Royal Caribbean employs a Chief Meteorologist to track every disturbance and storm out there, and provide guidance to each cruise ship on how to best avoid the storm. 

Royal Caribbean will absolutely, positively, avoid the path of any hurricane. Itineraries will be flipped, swapped or completely changed to avoid going anywhere near the storm. The cruise line has said time and time again that the safety of its guests, crew and ships are vital, and they will not send their vessels near any hurricane.

In rare situations, entire sailings have been cancelled if the path of the storm rules out any possibility of a ship making it in or out of its homeport.

The top reason to cruise during hurricane season is it will cost you a lot less to cruise during this time of year, and the likelihood of a storm directly impacting your cruise is low.  Moreover, your ship will not go in or near any storm.

Cheapest months to go on a Caribbean cruise

If you are looking to get the lowest cost for a Caribbean cruise, late August through early November see some of the lowest prices of the year.

Cruises in this time period have two things in common: it is the peak of hurricane season and it is also when most families are unable to vacation due to the school calendar. The combined effect is lower demand for cruises, and thus, lower prices.

You can also find bargains during other times of the year when school is typically in session, such as mid-January to mid-February, mid-April through the end of May, and the first two weeks of December.

While we recommend cruising to the Caribbean in the winter months, don’t expect to find the cheapest fares around the holidays. Cruises around Christmas and New Year’s will, unsurprisingly, come with higher prices. That being said, the holidays can be a fun time to set sail with special dining menus, decor, and events throughout the ship.

There are always exceptions, but the key to finding the best price on a Caribbean cruise is to try to go when most others cannot cruise. Avoiding religious holidays and the school vacation calendar is a good start.

Caribbean holidays and festivals

A great way to dive deeper into the cultures of the Caribbean islands you visit is by experiencing local holidays and festivals. Festivals happen throughout the year and can be a unique way to experience a port during your cruise.

Heading to Barbados? Each summer, the island nation hosts the Crop Over Festival. Crop Over is a festival that originated over three hundred years ago when the Bajan people celebrated the end of the sugar cane growing season. Nowadays, Crop Over is celebrated with music, dance, arts, concerts, street parties, and plenty of Barbadian rum!

The festival is celebrated with events from May to August, with the biggest celebration taking place on Grand Kadooment Day in early August. Most events take place in Bridgetown, where Royal Caribbean ships port.

The biggest festival in the Caribbean each year is Carnival. Celebrated throughout the Caribbean, the most famous Caribbean carnival is in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. Carnival in Trinidad & Tobago is held each year on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. From street parades to calypso music, elaborate costumes, and dancing, a full port day of partying is guaranteed.

Carnival and similar festivals are also celebrated in other Caribbean islands. Exact dates may change depending on the year, so be sure to check if you will be sailing to these islands during Carnival.

  • St. Lucia: Mid-July
  • St. Vincent: June and July
  • Grenada: August
  • Aruba: January - March
  • St. Maarten: April
  • Bahamas: May
  • Curaçao: January - March
  • Dominica: February

What times of the year should I avoid?

While there isn’t a particular time of year that needs to be avoided when cruising to the Caribbean, you may prefer a certain time of the year based on your schedule and cruising style.

Royal Caribbean is a family-oriented cruise line. Sailings that occur during spring break, holidays, and the peak of summer will have more kids and families onboard. If you are looking for a sailing free from a lot of kids, these are probably not the best times to cruise. Likewise, if you have children and are wanting them to be around a lot of other kids or teens, these times of the year can be a good choice.

In addition, cruises during spring break may see an influx of college-aged students, thus leading to a bigger party atmosphere. Cruise pricing during this time in March or April can also be higher than choosing to cruise in February or May instead.

Oftentimes, however, the length of a cruise can have a bigger impact on the ship’s atmosphere even more than the time of year. Shorter, 3 and 4-night cruises are likely to have a bigger party vibe and more families onboard, whereas longer cruises tend to skew quieter.

Luckily, you will likely have nice weather no matter what time of the year you sail to the Caribbean. Certain times of the year may be more warm, humid, or rainy than others, but in general, the weather in the Caribbean is warm and breezy. 

Eight Southern Caribbean Cruise Tips & Secrets

06 Jan 2020

Taking a cruise to the Southern Caribbean offers the opportunity to visit some of the most exotic and beautiful islands. While all Caribbean islands share a common theme when it comes to tackling itinerary planning, there are some unique elements to a Southern Caribbean cruise.

When planning a visit to this region, you will often find less developed islands that are far more unique than other Caribbean destinations.

Before hitting the Southern Caribbean, here are some good tips having a great vacation.

It is going to be hot

When you see photos of islands such as Aruba, Bonaire, St. Kitts or Barbados, they look incredibly beautiful, but what you do not see in these photos are the high temperatures.

The Southern Caribbean is going to be hot year-round, and unlike more northerly islands, cold fronts do not make it down to impact the temperatures. This means you can expect temperatures routinely above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

With high temperatures comes the need to pack plenty of sunscreen, UV Sun Protection Clothing, sunglasses and drink plenty of water. I would also recommend packing extra outfits so when you return from a sweaty shore excursion, you can change into something else.

Islands are more specialized

Unlike other Caribbean islands, you will find smaller and less developed islands in the Southern Caribbean. This means there is not an overwhelming amount of choices of shore excursions, and places a greater emphasis on the importance of planning your shore activities.

Some islands, such as Antigua, Bonaire or St. Lucia have limited choices in what to do, so be sure to book shore excursions ahead of time, rather than walking off the ship to discover something to do.

Many cruisers who are used to ports that offer expansive downtown areas and an army of locals offering things to do, are surprised to discover limited activities and popular choices selling out.

Flying to San Juan 101

Many cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, offer the bulk of their Southern Caribbean sailings from the homeport of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Here are some basics to know about sailing from San Juan.

  • Book airfare early: Prices for flights to San Juan are far more limited than other homeports in the United States, so plan to book airfare early and jump on a good deal. While some low-cost carriers may offer deals later, flights sell out quickly (especially for convenient times).
  • Airfare prices wont be cheap: If you are expecting bargain prices for your flights, think again. Due to the airlines not offering as many flights to Puerto Rico as in the past, and the lack of direct flights to the island, you will not find bargain basement prices on airfare. Quite often the cheaper cruise fares from San Juan are offset by the higher airfare prices.
  • Hotels cheaper outside Old San Juan: Since you will likely (and should) fly into San Juan at least a day before the cruise, you should know that prices for hotels are significantly cheaper if you are willing to stay outside of Old San Juan.

Port intensive itineraries that feature longer stays

It is not uncommon to go on a seven night Southern Caribbean cruise that features just one or two sea days, and that means a lot of port stops in a row. Moreover, since the islands are so close to each other, many Royal Caribbean cruises tend to offer later stays in port.

While having more time in a port of call is almost always a good thing, the added time to enjoy all there is to see and do can make dinner back on the ship tough to schedule. With departure times regularly past 7pm, you may find dinner in the main dining room or specialty restaurants difficult to plan.

Before booking dinner at any restaurant onboard your ship, look at your itinerary times and cross reference that with what your plans are for each island. If you are going to be spending time enjoying the evening hours on shore, you will either have to eat dinner on the island, or plan on a late dinner back onboard.

It is okay to stay onboard

Following up on the port intensive itinerary tip earlier, you should know it is okay to skip an island visit and stay onboard the ship to enjoy a relaxed day.

With the possibility of four or five island stops in one sailing, it is easy to become exhausted from running around each port in consecutive days.  If none of the activities stand out, or the idea of your third beach day in a row seems like overkill, sleep-in and then enjoy having the ship seemingly to yourself while others are out exploring.

Take advantage of shopping opportunities

Despite the internet offering the ease to buy pretty much anything, Southern Caribbean islands do offer certain accoutrements otherwise unavailable.

The islands of Curaçao, St. Maarten or Bonaire, are well-known for Dutch goods, such as cheese or Dutch tin-glazed earthenware.

French islands, including Martinique or St. Martin, offer luxury goods as well.

Book excursions early

Since Southern Caribbean islands lack the variety of activities found elsewhere in the Caribbean, excursions tend to sell out quicker than usual.

Rather than waiting to book something onboard your ship, be sure to reserve a shore excursion as early as you can before the cruise. This is especially true to all-inclusive day passes, as well as guided tours.

When booking any excursion, be certain you can cancel and get a full refund if you change your mind later. All Royal Caribbean excursions are fully refundable up until 48 hours prior to the activity.

Royal Beach Club in Antigua

Something to keep an eye on for the future is Royal Caribbean's first Royal Beach Club, which will open in Antigua in 2021.

The Royal Beach Club at Fort James will combine Antigua's famous beaches with the cruise line’s signature service and amenities. Guests can take in the island’s exceptional views from private cabanas or plunge into a stunning pool and swim up to the bar to order a classic rum punch.

Though Royal does not expect to release specific designs for the Antigua destination for several months, the company expects to offer regional fare, island-style BBQs and live music, along with unforgettable experiences, including such thrills as wave runners, paddle boarding, snorkeling, a family splash pad and stunning pool with swim-up bar.         

Your thoughts

What are your tips for someone cruising to the Southern Caribbean? Any questions for those taking or considering a Southern Caribbean cruise? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

Royal Caribbean releases port status update following hurricanes

03 Oct 2017

Royal Caribbean released a map of the Caribbean, with an updated look at which ports are open, closed, or ready for departures.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria wreaked havoc on many Eastern Caribbean cruise ports, and recovery efforts are in-progress at all ports.  Understandably, many Royal Caribbean guests are curious about when these ports will re-open and if there will be any impact to their scheduled cruises in the meantime.

This update was released on October 2, 2017.  The status of any port listed as closed could change at anytime.  If/when there is an impact to your cruise itinerary, Royal Caribbean will contact you with changes.

Royal Caribbean announces 2018-2019 Caribbean, Alaska and Northeast Itineraries

15 Mar 2017

Royal Caribbean has released its 2018-2019 North American cruise itineraries, that allow guests to choose cruises that sail to destinations in the Caribbean, Alaska and Northeast.

Royal Caribbean’s Alaska itineraries are available to book starting March 16, 2017, while year-round Caribbean & Bahamas sailings will begin opening on March 17 and continue to open on a rolling basis, shortly followed by seasonal Caribbean and Northeast itineraries beginning on March 30. All itineraries are available to book one day in advance for Crown & Anchor Society loyalty members.

Nineteen Royal Caribbean ships will sail from South Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas, the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast.

Symphony of the Seas

Now available to book

  • After spending her inaugural summer season sailing to the historic cities of the Mediterranean, Symphony of the Seas will unite with her three Oasis-Class sisters stateside, arriving to Royal Caribbean’s brand new Terminal A at PortMiami. Beginning November 17, she will sail seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries, adding Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis to other marquee Oasis-Class ports of call.   


Available to book March 16, 2017

  • Explorer of the Seas will continue to sail to the new frontier with seven-night itineraries departing from Seattle, Washington with ports of call in Victoria, British Columbia, Juneau, Alaska and the Inside Passage, showcasing its jaw-dropping scenery and diverse wildlife.
  • Radiance of the Seas will sail seven- and nine-night open-jaw itineraries between Seward, Alaska and Vancouver, British Columbia, uncovering the myriad of Alaskan adventures.

South Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico Offer Year-Round Caribbean

Select Ships available to book starting March 17, 2017

  • Allure of the Seas will reposition from Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale to PortMiami for the winter season, where she will continue to offer seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.
  • Harmony of the Seas will continue to sail year-round seven-night Caribbean itineraries from Port Everglades Cruise Port in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, switching from Saturday to Sunday departures for the winter.
  • Oasis of the Seas will continue year-round seven-night itineraries from Port Canaveral, east of Orlando, Florida to the Caribbean, while Majesty of the Seas will offer three- and four-night getaways to The Bahamas.
  • Liberty of the Seas will continue her year-round deployment from the Port of Galveston in Texas, offering seven-night Mexico and Western Caribbean itineraries.
  • Enchantment of the Seas will sail three- and four-night getaways to The Bahamas, year-round from PortMiami.  

Northeast U.S. and Seasonal Caribbean

Available to book March 30, 2017

  • Quantum-Class Anthem of the Seas will continue year-round itineraries from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey sailing a diverse series of five- to 12-night itineraries to Bermuda and the Caribbean and seven-night itineraries to The Bahamas. For the fall season, Anthem of the Seas will offer nine-night itineraries to Canada and New England.
  • The newly revitalized Adventure of the Seas will call the Northeast “home” for the first time since her debut, sailing a variety of seven-night itineraries from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey to The Bahamas and New England & Canada throughout the summer season. In the fall 2018, the ship will feature three open-jaw 10- and 11-night Fall Foliage sailings to Quebec, Canada. Adventure of the Seas will reposition to Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale for the winter season, offering six- and eight-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.
  • Grandeur of the Seas will continue to offer a variety of destinations and experiences for guests sailing from Baltimore, including nine-night itineraries to The Bahamas and 12-night itineraries to the Southern Caribbean in the winter; and nine-night journeys to Canada and New England and five-night getaways to Bermuda’s pink sand beaches in the summer.
  • Vision of the Seas will join Liberty of the Seas in Galveston, Texas for the winter season offering shorter four- and five-night Western Caribbean getaways.
  • Rhapsody of the Seas will sail round-trip seven-night Western Caribbean itineraries out of Tampa, Florida during the winter season.
  • Jewel of the Seas will make San Juan, Puerto Rico her homeport for the winter season, sailing seven-night Southern Caribbean itineraries.
  • Brilliance of the Seas will sail from Tampa in the winter, alternating four- and five-night itineraries to the Western Caribbean.
  • Serenade of the Seas will homeport in Boston for September and October, offering seven-night itineraries to Canada and New England and seven-night itineraries to Bermuda. She will then reposition to Ft. Lauderdale for longer winter vacations sailing the majestic waters of the Southern and Eastern Caribbean on 10- and 11-night itineraries.
  • Navigator of the Seas will sail five- and nine-night Southern and Western Caribbean itineraries from PortMiami throughout the winter season.
  • Independence of the Seas will make her way to Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida offering four- and five-night itineraries to the Western Caribbean throughout the winter.

Royal Caribbean announces 2017-2018 Seasonal and Year-Round Itineraries to Caribbean and Canada

12 Apr 2016

Royal Caribbean released today its 2017-2018 cruise schedule for ships departing from the Northeast, Florida and Puerto Rico, year-round and seasonal escapes to the Caribbean and Canada.

All of the released sailings will go on sale on April 13, 2016.

The big change is there will be two ships based out of Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey beginning in summer 2017.

Royal Caribbean will offer expanded Caribbean itineraries from the Northeast in 2017, with Rhapsody of the Seas joining Anthem of the Seas in Cape Liberty, New Jersey.

  • Rhapsody of the Seas will sail 7-night itineraries to the Bahamas throughout the summer.
  • Anthem of the Seas will sail to Bermuda in the summer and the Caribbean year-round on 5-, 7- and 9-night itineraries. Anthem of the Seas will also sail to Bermuda in the summer. In the autumn months, Anthem of the Seas will sail 9-night voyages to New England and Canada.

Baltimore, Maryland

Grandeur of the Seas, sailing from Baltimore all year, will continue offering a wide breadth of cruise experiences, from a 5-night itinerary calling on Bermuda to a 9-night voyage sailing to New England and Canada as the colors of fall foliage begin to show. Grandeur will also sail 12-night itineraries to premier Southern Caribbean destinations, including the U.S. Virgin Islands and St. Kitts and St. Maarten, as well as new 9-night itinerary to Nassau and CocoCay, Bahamas.

Southern Caribbean Hot Spots from Miami, Fla.:

Navigator of the Seas will sail 5- and 9-night itineraries to Southern Caribbean destinations, such as Aruba and Bonaire.

Eastern and Western Caribbean from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.:

Independence of the Seas will offer 4- and 5-night itineraries to Costa Maya and Cozumel Mexico; Falmouth, Jamaica and Labadee, Haiti.
Freedom of the Seas will offer 6- and 8-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.
Serenade of the Seas will sail 10- and 11-night Caribbean itineraries including a new port of call in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Key West and Beyond from Tampa, Fla.:

Brilliance of the Seas will join Rhapsody in Tampa for the winter, offering 4 and 5-night itineraries to Key West, Cozumel, Mexico and Grand Cayman.
Rhapsody of the Seas will relocate to Tampa for the winter season and sail 7-night Western Caribbean itineraries.

Exotic Island Escapes from Puerto Rico:

Jewel of the Seas will sail to romantic destinations such as St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Barbados on 7-night itineraries from San Juan.

Which sailings sound interesting to you? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Royal Caribbean announces 2016-2017 Caribbean cruise ship deployments

05 Mar 2015

Royal Caribbean announced its 2016-2017 deployment schedule for the Caribbean and with it where its cruise ships will be located.

Bookings for these Caribbean sailings will be available beginning on March 11, 2015.

Here's a breakdown of the deployments by ship

Anthem of the Seas

Year-round sailings from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, N.J., and make its maiden season at Bermuda. 

During September and October, Anthem of the Seas will sail nine-night Canada and New England cruises from Cape Liberty.

Serenade of the Seas

During September and October, Serenade of the Seas will offer seven-night Canada and New England cruises from Boston, Mass.

In the winter 2016-2017, Serenade of the Seas alternates a 10- and 11-night Southern Caribbean itinerary from Miami, Florida.

Grandeur of the Seas

Five-night Bermuda, nine-night Bermuda and Bahamas, and nine-night Canada and New England cruises throughout the summer. In the winter, the ship will sail nine-night Southeast Coast & Bahamas and 12-night Southern Caribbean cruises.

Enchantment of the Seas

Three- and four-night short Bahamas getaways from Miami, Florida

Navigator of the Seas

Alternate five-night Bahamas and Mexico with nine-night Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and Labadee cruises in the winter from Miami, Florida.

Oasis of the Seas

Western Caribbean and two new Eastern Caribbean itineraries in summer 2016, all seven nights in length and departing from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.

In winter 2016-2017, Oasis of the Seas will reposition to Port Canaveral, alternating a seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itinerary.

Allure of the Seas

Western Caribbean and two new Eastern Caribbean itineraries in summer 2016 and winter 2016-2017, all seven nights in length and departing from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.

Harmony of the Seas

Seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itinerary for winter 2016-17 from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.

Independence of the Seas

In the winter, Independence of the Seas will follow a sequence of four- and five-night short Western Caribbean itineraries from Port Everglades.

Freedom of the Seas

During summer 2016, Freedom of the Seas will continue alternating seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.

In winter 2016-2017, Freedom of the Seas will reposition to Port Everglades and lternate between a six-night Western Caribbean with an eight-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary.

Rhapsody of the Seas

Rhapsody of the Seas will take over three- and four-night Bahamas cruises from Enchantment of the Seas in Port Canaveral.

Brilliance of the Seas

Four- and five-night Western Caribbean cruises throughout winter aboard Brilliance of the Seas from Tampa, Fla.

Liberty of the Seas

Will continue its year-round deployment sailing from Galveston, Texas to Mexico and the Western Caribbean.

Adventure of the Seas

Will homeport at San Juan and sail to the Southern Caribbean.

Jewel of the Seas

Will homeport at San Juan and sail to the Southern Caribbean.

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