Caribbean Cruises

Today's floating hotels have come a long way since the Love Boat

Photo credit: © King Ho Yim |

Cruising to the Caribbean

Approximately two million travelers choose the Caribbean as their cruise destination each year for the beautiful beaches and warm weather. Caribbean cruises maintain their popularity because of the nearly all-inclusive price that encompasses everything from travel and lodging, to food and daily activities.  Another perk of a cruise is the ability to experience more than one Caribbean island each time the ship makes port. 

If you're planning to cruise, plan ahead: Depending on the season, cabins may get completely booked months before the cruise is scheduled to set sail. You can book the cruise yourself by calling the cruise line, making an online reservation using the cruise line's website, or by contacting a recommended travel agent.

When planning, keep in mind what type of trip you're ultimately after.  For instance, if this is a family vacation, you may want to book with a cruise line that considers itself family friendly. These cruise lines, such as Disney and Royal Caribbean, have extensive daily activities specifically designed for children.  If you'd like to sail aboard the most luxurious ships available, look to liners known for their top notch services such as Crystal, Silversea, or Seabourn. If you are looking for something different, consider one of the smaller cruise lines. For instance, Sea Dream Yachts is a good choice for couples looking for a very small ship that provides an intimate yachting experience.

Of the many ocean liners servicing the Caribbean, each offers a variety of price, size, and itinerary options. Whether you seek an extravagant vacation aboard a floating luxury hotel, a romantic getaway with your loved one, or an activity-filled family voyage, your dream cruise awaits.

CruiselineTelephone Number(s)Web Sites
American Canadian Caribbean 800-556-7450
Azamara Club 877-999-9553
Carnival 800-327-9501
Celebrity 888-307-8401
Clipper 800-325-0010
Club Med 888-WEB-CLUB
Costa 800-GO-COSTA
Cruise West 800-580-0072
Crystal 866-446-6625
Cunard 800-728-6273
Disney 800-951-3532
Fred Olsen +44 (0) 1473 746157
Holland America 800-426-0327
MSC Cruises 800-666-9333
Norwegian 800-327-7030
Oceania 800-531-5619
P & O 0845 678 00 14
Princess 800-PRINCESS
Pullmantur 609-730-9155
Regent Seven Seas 877-505-5370
Royal Caribbean 800-722-5054
Saga 800-343-0273
Seabourn 800-929-9595
Sea Cloud 888-732-2568
Sea Dream Yacht Club 800-707-4911
Silversea 800-722-9955
Star Clippers 800-442-0551
Windstar 800-258-7245

Cruise Classes

There are currently four classes of cruises: contemporary/value, premium, luxury, and specialty. Depending upon the type of cruise you seek and how much money you wish to spend, these segmented classes can assist you in the ship selection process.

Carnival and Royal Caribbean, the powerhouses of cruising, are two of the most popular contemporary/value cruise lines and together make up almost 90% of the entire cruise industry. This is the largest class of cruising and it's characterized by reasonable prices and package deals.

Premium cruises are generally more expensive and the ships aren’t as large, but the service is considered superior to that of a contemporary/value cruise. Ocean liners like Celebrity, Princess, and Holland America boast a larger wait staff for fewer passengers.

Others may want to consider a luxury class ship. Ocean liners like Seabourn, Windstar, and Cunard belong to this highest class and reputedly offer top-notch service and amenities. Luxury cruises come with a higher price tag, but the experience is considered to be worth the value.

Ships in the specialty class, like the regional American Hawaii Cruises, typically sail to a unique, secluded destination, not the usual major Caribbean ports of the Bahamas or Jamaica. These ships may also offer specialized cruises for exclusive passenger groups such as gays and lesbians, senior citizens or singles.


Not only do ships range in theme, décor, and luxury level, they also vary in size. The size of a ship is a critical factor when booking a trip because some are too large to visit particular islands.

A Panama-class ship is the largest available. Its name derives from the Panama Canal because the ship is so large it can barely squeeze through the canal's borders. These enormous ocean liners, holding a maximum of 3,000 passengers, visit the major ports, such as Aruba, Barbados or the Bahamas.

If visiting a secluded island sounds appealing, try a smaller ship carrying no more than 300 passengers. These smaller ships, such as the Windstar Cruise Ships, generally avoid the larger ports the megaships visit and stick to the small harbors like those in the Virgin Islands.

Obviously, the larger the ship, the more stable it will be on the ocean during periods of turbulent weather. A medium-sized ship may feel a shudder from a swell, but one of the megaships should be almost completely resistant.

Ships are classified based on the following criteria:

CriteriaCriteria ExplainedMeaning
Gross registered tonnage measurement of the ship’s volume/vessel’s size 1 gross registered ton = 100 cubic feet
Passenger-to-crew ratio number of passengers served by each crew member Smaller ratio = better service
Passenger capacity based on double occupancy (2 passengers in each cabin) More rooms = more passengers
Space ratio comparison of ship space/tonnage to passenger capacity Higher ratio = extra spacious


For more information to help shape your ideal cruise, make sure to read our thorough guides to planning your cruise. We offer tips on everything from deciding if cruising is right for you to what to pack, a simple-to-understand guide on the costs of cruising, and even information on travelers insurance.

Cruise West 800-580-0072

Help us improve! We welcome your corrections and suggestions.