Island Vibes: New Itineraries and Ports of Call

The Caribbean provides a tranquil, tropical respite for those looking to return to travel in 2021 and beyond. // Photo: Getty Images

While luxury cruise lines have not yet restarted cruising from U.S. ports, many will be back in Caribbean waters by winter 2021-2022 and in 2023. Here’s a sampling of new itineraries, new ports of call and new home ports.    

Small-ship Windstar Cruises recently announced that its updated-and-stretched 312-passenger Star Breeze will not operate the previously announced 2021 voyages focused on Alaska and Mexico. The good news is that the all-suite yacht will spend this summer in the Caribbean. The line said Star Breeze will return to cruising on May 15, 2021, with a new “Beach Fun & Sun — A Remote Caribbean Getaway” itinerary, departing from St. Martin. 

The ship will call at Norman Island, Prickly Pear Beach on Virgin Gorda, and Soper’s Hole on Tortola, all in the British Virgin Islands. Three departures of that Caribbean itinerary will feature adventurous activities, secluded beaches and water sports. The ship’s watersports platform opens directly into the sea for snorkeling and kayaking, while the watersports crew will also assist with water skiing and exploration by small boats to remote beaches.

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Star Breeze will remain in the Caribbean and operate various itineraries through August 14, it will then call at Colombia and transit the Panama Canal and head to Tahiti. Look for the updated ship to field two new dining concepts, new suites and a spacious spa/fitness center.

Operating a new circuit from the Greater Antilles to Lesser Antilles in 2022 is Ponant’s 184-passenger Le Dumont-d’Urville. A new 12-night “Santo Domingo and Caribbean Treasures” itinerary departs January 4, 2022 from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Luxury travelers will go ashore on calls at Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands and St. Barthelemy. 

Highlights during the Ponant voyage for eco-adventurers include the possibilities of navigating mangroves and hot springs on Dominica, snorkeling at Pompierre Beach and scuba diving in St. Kitts and Guadeloupe’s Deshaies.

Paradise Beach at Soufriere Bay in Saint Lucia. Seabourn and Oceania Cruises have itineraries that will take guests to the island nation in winter 2021-2022. // Photo: Getty Images

In winter 2021-2022, three new Caribbean ports of call — Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe and both Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic — are on tap for Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Founded by Bartholomew Columbus, Christopher Columbus’ brother, Santo Domingo is the oldest capital of the New World. Its Zona Colonial, the old city center, is an enticing UNESCO World Heritage Site with 16th-century ruins as well as restored colonial-era buildings. 

Santo Domingo is one call on the 490-passenger Seven Seas Navigator’s seven-night “Islands in Bloom” voyage from Miami to San Juan. Departing on January 6, 2022, the ship will call at George Town, Grand Cayman; Port Antonio, Jamaica (overnight); and Santo Domingo.

On January 3, 2022, Silversea Cruises’ 608-passenger Silver Spirit will sail on an 11-day roundtrip voyage from Port Everglades (Greater Fort Lauderdale), FL. Port calls include Key West, FL; Santo Tomas, Guatemala; Roatan Island, Honduras; Belize City; and Progreso (overnight) and Cozumel, Mexico.  

In Cozumel, Luxury Travel Advisor suggests active travelers dive into Cozumel’s eco-beauty in an athletic way by heading out on Silversea’s half-day “Triathlon of Fun: Bike, Snorkel & Kayak” shore excursion. Guests will depart the pier via bike for a 30-minute guided ride to Playa Uvas. 

Upon arrival at the Uvas Beach Club, they’ll then embark a two-seat kayak and begin a 30-minute guided kayak adventure and look for coral beds, tropical fish and marine life. Next up, cruisers will don a mask, snorkel and fins to begin a guided snorkeling session at one of Cozumel’s reefs inside the underwater national park. Finally, the tour ends with free time for swimming and sunning at the beach club. 

A big plus for all 2022-2023 itineraries? For the first time in its history, Silversea’s guests on all 10 ships will enjoy at least one complimentary shore excursion, from a range of experiences in every port of call, plus cruise fares will include roundtrip air and transfers.

With a fleet of “tall ships,” Sea Cloud Cruises will return to the Caribbean in winter 2022-2023 with three ships — the lovely Sea Cloud, built in 1931 and once owned by Marjorie Merriweather Post, as well as the newer Sea Cloud II and the new Sea Cloud Spirit, launching this year. 

A three-masted, fully rigged sailing ship, the 136-passenger Sea Cloud Spirit will have more than two dozen sails covering 44,100 square feet of canvas, in addition to its two diesel-electric drives. Cruisers who so desire can participate in the supervised onboard adventure of helping hoist the sails — a throwback to the past. It’s fun bonding experience for guests and crew. 

Guests on Sea Cloud Spirit will discover a full-service spa, onboard exercise room, fitness studio with sea views, fine dining restaurant and casual bistro. This is the line’s first new build with balcony accommodations. 

Starting in November 2021, Seabourn’s 458-passenger Seabourn Odyssey is scheduled to sail on combinable seven-day, winter season voyages either roundtrip from Bridgetown, Barbados (a new itinerary for the ultra-luxury line) or between Bridgetown and Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, which has been popular with guests in the past. 

In addition, the ship will operate two 10-day and 11-day holiday voyages roundtrip from Barbados and a seven-day voyage from Bridgetown to Aruba. We’d suggest checking out the 12-day voyage from Aruba to Miami, as it ends in the U.S. and along the way features such ports as Curaçao, Bonaire, Saint Lucia, Guadeloupe, Antigua & Barbuda, St. Kitts & Nevis, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. 

Between October and December 2021, Crystal will operate a variety of Caribbean voyages on the 980-passenger Crystal Serenity. Among those is a December 22, 2021 holiday voyage. Highlights of that are overnights in both St. Maarten and Barbados. In January 2022 and 2023, Crystal Serenity will sail one roundtrip Miami Caribbean voyage and then kick off its World Cruise from Miami as in past years. 

The Owner's Suite on Silversea Cruises’ 608-passenger Silver Spirit. // Photo: Silversea

Launching later this year, Crystal’s new expedition ship, the 200-passenger Crystal Endeavor, will sail a nine-night “Boutique Caribbean and Panama Canal” itinerary from West Palm Beach, FL, to Panama City, Panama on September 30, 2022. Calls include Harbor Island, Cockburn Town (San Salvador) and Great Inagua Island in the Bahamas; Port Antonio, Jamaica; Cartagena, Colombia; and San Blas, Panama. 

In response to strong demand for its World Cruise itineraries, Viking has introduced a new 2022-2023 Viking World Cruise, which will span 138 days, call at 28 countries and 58 ports, and offer 11 overnight stays. The 930-passenger Viking Neptune will depart December 22, 2022 from Port Everglades and will call in the Caribbean at Cozumel, Mexico; Cartagena, Colombia; and Colon, Panama, before heading through the Panama Canal. Then Viking Neptune will continue to the West Coast of North America, Asia, the Indian Ocean, Middle East and Europe, before the voyage concludes in London.

In winter 2021-2022, Oceania Cruises will operate a 10-day “Atlantic & Amber Gems” itinerary on several dates. Its 1,250-passenger Riviera will sail from Miami to Gustavia, Saint Barthelemy; Fort de France, Martinique; Castries, St. Lucia; St. John, U.S.V.I.;  San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. 

We’d opt for Oceania’s full-day “Best of Martinique” shore excursion at Fort de France. Guests visit the Volcano Museum in Saint-Pierre, Martinique’s former capital, destroyed in a volcano in 1902. They’ll also sample flavored rums made with sugarcane juice rather than molasses and meander through a botanical garden along winding paths lined with blooming plants. Finally, they see Balata Church, a miniature version of Paris’ Sacré-Coeur Basilica. 

In winter 2021-2022, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection’s new 298-passenger Evrima will operate Caribbean sailings. Among those are sailings between Philipsburg, St. Maarten and Bridgetown, Barbados and between Bridgetown and San Juan, Puerto Rico, plus a 10-night roundtrip San Juan voyage. Onboard, the line plans luxurious suites, Ritz-Carlton’s high-level of service and gourmet dining.  

Small-ship SeaDream Yacht Club offers Caribbean itineraries to some less visited destinations. With a yacht-like aura, SeaDream I’s six-day roundtrip Bridgetown departure on January 3, 2022 will call at Man-O-War Bay, Trinidad and Tobago; St. George’s, Grenada; Mayreau, Tobago Cays, Union Island and Port Elizabeth on Bequia, all in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. 

Other Caribbean options include ships simply passing through the region and immediately repositioning elsewhere. For example, small-ship, luxe adventure line Atlas Ocean Voyages offers a 25-night voyage on October 4, 2021 from Lisbon, Portugal to Barbados. Guests embark the new 196-passenger World Navigator in Lisbon and sail to Madeira, the Canary Islands and St. Lucia, before arriving in Barbados. 

El Moro, a Spanish fort in San Juan, Puerto Rico. // Photo: Susan J. Young

At Bridgetown, guests who book this cruise and the next departure on October 19 to Recife, Brazil, will enjoy an included complimentary two-night stay at one of the island’s luxury resorts for a tropical island escape break. That’s part of the new Max Shore program, in which Atlas includes complimentary land tours when travelers book select consecutive itineraries.

We like the appealing line-up of less visited ports of call on Scenic’s 12-night “Caribbean Delight” voyage on the intimate Scenic Eclipse, departing October 5, 2021 from Nassau, the Bahamas to Cartagena, Colombia. These include Great Inagua Island, the Bahamas; Port Antonio and Port Royal, Jamaica; Isla de Providencia, Colombia; Puerto Limón, Costa Rica; Bocas del Toro, Colon and the San Blas Archipelago in Panama. 

For those seeking a roundtrip New York voyage with Caribbean ports and several days at sea, Cunard Line’s flagship the 2,691-passenger Queen Mary 2 will sail a 13-night “Eastern Caribbean” itinerary on November 20, 2022. Calls will include Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Roseau, Dominica; Bridgetown, Barbados; Castries, St. Lucia; Basseterre, St. Kitts; and St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.

Many premium lines also sail to the Caribbean, including the new Virgin Voyages in winter 2021-2022. Voyages will feature a trendy “Bimini Beach Club” experience. Virgin promises an experience that rivals the beach clubs in Ibiza, Spain or St. Tropez, France. Several types of cabana rentals are available.  

On many voyages, guests can go ashore in the early morning and stay late into the night, so they can enjoy a sunset ashore and a fun vibe that includes dance parties and a bonfire.

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