Enjoy a Small Ship in the Caribbean
Since the beginning of the cruise industry, the Caribbean has remained cruising's quintessential destination. Popular with travelers in both summer and winter, there is no shortage of itineraries or ships in this relatively small geographic area. Barbados is a port routinely visited by larger ships, but the smaller cruise ships will provide you with the full immersion experience.
While cruise lines around the world frequently send their newest, biggest and best ships for a season of sailing the Caribbean's most popular ports, it is the experience onboard a smaller ship that presents a world of difference. To start, many smaller vessels are ultra-luxury ships, expedition type vessels, or mega-yachts that recall the glory days of sailing, but in a more modern way. Not only are you assured a top-notch onboard experience, but their relatively small size allows them to call on ports that are unavailable to the big megaships.
Many of the luxury lines and small-ship operators offer voyages departing from non-US ports like Philipsburg, St. Maarten or Bridgetown, Barbados. As a matter of fact, the beautiful and sleek sailing yachts of Windstar Cruises do not sail roundtrip from any U.S. ports. By starting their voyages at alternate ports, these smaller ships spend less time traversing the Caribbean Sea and more time allowing their passengers to bask in the glory of what makes the Caribbean so special.
Because of their size, these ships can berth where huge ships cannot and tender passengers ashore to islands that simply would not or could not accept a larger ship. You cannot find fault in any Caribbean port, but it is the intimate smaller islands where the true Caribbean lifestyle shines through.
Some favorite ports to travelers on small-ships are Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. With just over 4,000 inhabitants, Bequia is just seven square miles across. It redefines the word idyllic, and you won't find Diamonds International or Starbucks here. What you will find are quaint cafes, beautiful palm trees, and a laid-back island lifestyle. There are no crowds disembarking the ship. It's just you and the locals. At certain ports, there are fewer inhabitants than some of the larger megaships carry.
Other small slices of paradise include Gustavia, St. Barts, Basseterre, St. Kitts, Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands; Monserrat and St. George's, Grenada. The list goes on and on. Actually, the number of small, out-of-the-way Caribbean islands vastly outnumbers the major and more frequently visited Western and Eastern Caribbean ports, allowing small ship lines to create a stunning array of itineraries.
If you have never been to the Caribbean before, you might want to try the megaship experience that calls at the more popular ports like Philipsburg and St. Thomas in the Eastern Caribbean or Belize City and Cozumel in the Western Caribbean to start with. Once you're ready for the full immersion experience, then you can seek out the smaller ships operating diverse Western, Eastern and Southern Caribbean itineraries.
Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, Azamara Club Cruises, Seabourn and Windstar Cruises are just some of the lines operating smaller ships in the Caribbean. Our Experts can give you information on these and other cruise lines sailing the beautiful Caribbean.
There is no right or wrong way to experience the Caribbean. Exploring the hidden gems this sun-splashed region has to offer has proved to be one of the most enjoyable cruising experiences for those who have tried it.
Find a travel agent who specializes in this
Videos & Articles
Reviews, Tips and Insights about All things Travel