The best Caribbean cruise lines have several qualities in common, including exceptional service, luxurious accommodations, gorgeous facilities and impressive itineraries. The top five Caribbean cruise lines, according to Luxist's readers include:
With ships that accommodate some 1,000 guests, Crystal Cruises' vessels are a bit larger than those of its competitors. But style isn't sacrificed aboard Crystal Symphony or Crystal Serenity; rather, it's abundant, earning Crystal a nomination for a Luxist award in the Best Caribbean Cruises category.
Crystal is known not only for the elegance of its ships but also for the rich cultural activities available to passengers. The company's Wine & Food Festival at Sea debuted in 1996, allowing guests to mingle with celebrity chefs such as Suzanne Goin, Danny Meyer and André Soltner as well as wine experts from across the world. In the wake of the festival's success, Crystal built a Vintage room in each of its ships; here, dinners pair rare wines with complementary cuisine. In 2009, the company debuted a series of themed cruises, each with a focus on a topic such as photography, jazz, golf and ballroom dance.
Owned by Japanese firm Nippon Uesen Kaisha, Crystal's spacious cabins all have design features based on feng shui, the Eastern art of interior design to create positive energy. Caribbean itineraries for two of its ships, Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony, offer ports of call including Turks & Caicos, Antigua, Curacao, St. Lucia and St. Maarten; trips range from 7-14 days and originate in Miami, New York and Costa Rica.
Cunard Cruise Lines
Arguably the grandest, most magnificent ocean liner ever built, Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2 is a nominee for a Readers' Choice Award for Best Caribbean Cruise. Queen Mary 2 is the flagship of Cunard, whose history dates back to 1839 when Her Majesty Queen Victoria awarded Sir Samuel Cunard of Halifax, Nova Scotia, the first ever license to deliver mail across the Atlantic Ocean.
While she is described as "timeless elegance", Queen Mary 2, which debuted in 2004, offers the latest luxury amenities, from the pampering services of the first Canyon Ranch SpaClub® at sea to a pool with a retractable roof, allowing it to be enjoyed in inclement weather. Queen Mary 2 also offers an award-winning intellectual and entertainment enrichment program led by prestigious experts in a variety of fields, including literature, the arts, politics, the sciences, culture, maritime history and academia.
The ship, which cost an estimated $800 million to build, is 1,132 feet long--113 feet longer than her predecessor Queen Mary, with space for 2,592 guests in lower berths and 3,056 total guest capacity, when including third and fourth berths. Her crew numbers 1,253.
Queen Mary 2 has more than 10 different restaurant and other dining venues, including the first eponymously named restaurant at sea by celebrity chef, Todd English. She also boasts the only planetarium at sea (also serving as a movie theater and lecture hall) and a casino with 12 gaming tables and 115 slot machines. There are a total of six swimming pools on the ship, including one designed especially for children. There's an authentic English pub, complete with darts, ale and traditional pub fare including cottage pie and fish and chips. Guests can dance the night away in the elegant Queens Room, the largest ballroom at sea. The Royal Court Theatre, which can accommodate 977 guests, features lavish theatrical productions and guest entertainers. Sports enthusiasts can enjoy two golf simulators, paddle tennis, basketball and shuffleboard. The Zone/The Play Zone children's programs provide age group-specific activities and entertainment and even certified British nannies for the youngest guests.
This is the world's only upper premium cruise line. Its ship, Regatta
, which is the flagship of the Oceania Cruises fleet, handles the company's Caribbean traffic. Built in 1998, the ship's decks are resplendent in the finest teak, custom stone and tile work while her lounges, suites and staterooms boast luxurious, neo-classical furnishings. The Regatta
offers every luxury one might expect with four unique, open seating restaurants, eight lounges and bars, a world class fitness center and spa, a casino and 342 suites and staterooms
, nearly 70% of which have private verandas. The ship's staff of 400 pampers up to 684 guests on every voyage; itineraries range from 10-24 days. The Regatta's Caribbean Pearls'
itinerary includes stops in bustling St. John's, scenic Tortola, and the posh port of Gustavia in St. Bart. The Canyon Ranch SpaClub on board Oceania's ships offer a full range of spa treatments
from body wraps and acupuncture to ayuryeda, massage and skin care.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Regent is the world's only cruise line that includes award-winning service, acclaimed cuisine, premium spirits and fine wine, gratuities and sightseeing excursions in every port for the ultimate "ultra-luxury" vacation. Its fleet includes the Seven Seas Voyager
and Seven Seas Mariner
, both of which are all-suite, all-balcony ships
accommodating 700 guests. Regent's Seven Seas Navigator
, is all-suite with 90% having balconies.
What really makes the Regent
experience different from the other cruise lines, is that it provides the most inclusive ultra-luxury cruise experience with an incomparable array of complimentary features and services
. Regent Seven Seas Cruise fares include economy class air fare, unlimited shore excursions, all fine dining options, fitness programs, complimentary beverages (including fine wines and premium spirits, beer, etc. served throughout the ships), and all shipboard gratuities. The only out-of-pocket expenses guests incur on board are for shopping or spa treatments.
has partnered with world famous Canyon Ranch, the leading operator of destination health resorts, to operate state-of-the-art spa, wellness and fitness facilities on-board all three of its ships
For seafarers who cherish the intimacy of small ships, it's hard to top Silversea
. With five of its six ships made to accommodate fewer than 400 guests apiece – and boasting elegance to spare – Silversea
has been nominated for a Luxist award in the Best Caribbean Cruises category.
For those who don't have the stomach for Arctic expeditions on Silversea's 132-guest Prince Albert II,
the Italian-owned company's Silver Shadow
, Silver Cloud
, Silver Whisper
and Silver Spirit
convey Caribbean cruisers to a host of delectable destinations. Silverseas offers wine-focused and gourmet food-focused cruises with visiting chefs from top restaurants around the world. Enjoy in-room butler service on all ships from the moment you arrive to find a bottle of chilled champagne waiting in your suite. Your butler will also take care of dinner reservations, laundry and fridge replenishment.
The itineraries for this cruise line include some of the most enticing destinations in the Caribbean with a full roster of activities to boot. Visit 17th century plantations on St. Kitts or bustling seaside marketplaces in Guadeloupe; whale-watch off the coast of Dominica or kayak a tropical lagoon in Antigua; catamaran in the waters off Grenada or go cycling in St. Lucia. Cruises depart from a host of cities in the U.S. including New York, San Diego and Miami, or from the likes of Barbados and Rio abroad.