Cruising to Saba

Small luxury cruise liners boost Saba's tourism industry

Photo credit: © Gtipton |

Saba Cruises

Some visitors to other Caribbean islands may wish to spend at least a day exploring the unique landscapes of Saba. Travelers can take a day ferry from St. Maarten to the small island of Saba, while others can choose a small cruise line that includes Saba in its ports of call.

Without beaches or dense shopping, Saba is not a port that attracts large numbers of cruise lines. In fact, Fort Bay Harbor, the island's main harbor and port, is not a deepwater harbor and cannot support the large cruise vessels that carry thousands of passengers around the Caribbean. It would also be difficult to have a large number of cruise travelers pour onto this five square mile island.

Despite - or perhaps because of - the lack of large cruise crowds, several small luxury cruise lines anchor outside of the harbor at Fort Bay, allowing guests to spend a day visiting the charming island. This small influx of cruise passengers has resulted in a recent boost for the island's tourism industry. Visitors may have time to scuba dive in the famed Saba Marine Park or take a hike to the top of Mt. Scenery for breathtaking views. Travelers can indulge in Caribbean food in one of the island's small restaurants and spend the early afternoon shopping for lace and local artwork and crafts. Saba offers a quiet alternative to many of the cruise ports in the Caribbean.

Saba is located in the midst of the heavy concentration of Leeward Islands, and smaller cruise vessels from St. Thomas and St. Maarten can call at Fort Bay Harbor. The Caribbean high season for cruise travelers coincides with the Caribbean's high travel season, from mid-December to mid-April. Travelers may find reduced fares for cruises offered outside of the high season.

Cruise Lines

Cruise Line Contact
SeaDream Yacht Club 2601 South Bayshore Drive, Penthouse1B,
Coconut Grove, Florida 33133
305-631-6110 (Fax)
Windjammer Barefoot Cruises 800-327-2601
Windstar Cruises 800-544-0443

SeaDream Yacht Club has a fleet of two luxury yachts that provide upscale service and luxury to its guests. The ships accommodate just over 100 passengers and offer their guests spa services, water sports, Internet access, and fine cuisine. The rates are pricey, but all-inclusive, and guests need not worry about tips or bills. SeaDream Yacht Club offers cruises that begin on St. Thomas and stop on Saba, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, St. John, and other locations.

Windjammer Barefoot Cruises caters to families, singles, adventurers, and couples, and offers cruise travelers a stop on Saba aboard a smaller cruise vessel. Windjammer's other destinations include Anguilla, St. Barthelemy, and St. Kitts. They also offer theme cruises. Windstar Cruises stops on Saba and also calls on St. John, St. Lucia, and Barbados. Windstar also offers spa services and on-board and water activities.

Cruise Vessels, Class, and Cabins

Cruise travelers who are prone to motion sickness may generally feel more comfortable on larger cruise vessels, although this is not an option for those wishing to stop on Saba. Smaller cruises generally afford passengers a more luxurious experience, although this is not always the case. Many smaller cruise lines pride themselves on maintaining a world-class waitstaff that provides guests with an elegant and refined cruise experience. When choosing a cruise, travelers should look at the number of guests compared to the number of waitstaff on board. Generally, the smaller the ratio of guests to waitstaff, the better the service. Passengers can also look at the gross registered tonnage (volume and size) and the boat's available square footage compared to the number of passengers that will be on board.

Some cruise vessels allow passengers to travel according to different classes. Higher class fares may include extra amenities, such as spa services and more designer products. Guests traveling in higher classes will generally have more spacious rooms with more amenities and will receive more attention from the boat's waitstaff. Other cruise lines offer themed cruises that cater to groups of travelers, such as families, singles, couples, gay and lesbians, and eco-tourists. Select cruise lines with smaller vessels may even allow for the charter of their boats.

Vacationers on the smaller cruise vessels may not have the same options offered to travelers aboard larger boats. Cabins are normally divided into "perfect" and "run of the ship" cabins. Perfect cabins allow travelers to choose specific cabins, giving them control of the type and location of their room. Run of the ship cabins generally allow travelers to request an outer or inner cabin, but not the exact cabin. Room assignments for these cabins will not be known until the cruise sails. Passengers requiring an inner room due to seasickness, or who desire an outer room with a view should request these cabins when making their reservations.

Light sleepers and travelers who value quiet should consider selecting rooms that are away from noisy areas such as stairwells, dining rooms, health centers, and bars. Travelers with children should also consider potential hazards such as balconies when selecting their room.

Packing and Costs

Dress codes can vary by cruise line and even by specific cruise, so travelers should always research the sort of attire they will need on board. Some boats or voyages may require more formal dress. Others allow travelers to dress casually throughout the day and evening. Standard items in suitcases for cruise travelers should include both beach and active wear. Travelers should also pack items such as hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect themselves from the sun. Travelers who will be taking island excursions such as mountain biking may wish to pack appropriate gear.

It is considered inappropriate on most Caribbean islands to wear beachwear, active wear, and revealing clothing in shops, cities, and restaurants. Some restaurants do not allow shorts or sandals. Travelers should pack a neat but casual outfit for time spent at their ports of call.

Travelers should not fail to consider extra costs when selecting their cruise. Some cruises may be all-inclusive, meaning tips, meals, and other services are included in the overall bill. Other specialized services and island tours operated by the cruise line may incur additional costs. Vacationers should plan to bring daily spending money for their time on Saba and other islands.

Although this charming island is not the most popular cruise destination in the Caribbean, several small cruise liners offer stops at Fort Bay Harbor. Travelers can take advantage of their stop by hiking, scuba diving, or enjoying food and local art on Saba.


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