THE BLOG

15 Best Caribbean Cruises for Winter 2016

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

This winter, why not trade snow and cold for sun and sand as you sail around the Caribbean? Pristine beaches and bustling ports await when you disembark, while the ships themselves offer thrilling water slides, cozy reading lounges, and so much more. Whatever your idea of relaxation, and whatever your budget, these winter cruises offer the best floating getaways you can find right now. --Zachary Laks

ROYAL CARIBBEAN
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean InternationalCruise: 7-Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise on Allure of the Seas. Itinerary: Round-trip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Nassau, Bahamas, to Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, to Philipsburg, St. Maarten. Dates: Select dates in January and February 2016. Price: Starting at $878.50. A behemoth so big it encompasses seven distinct “neighborhoods,” Allure of the Seas is the world's biggest cruise ship. With capacity for up to 6,296 passengers, families enjoy this pristine ship for its world-class amenities: two FlowRider surf simulators, a zip line, an ice-skating rink, a carousel, and more. Entertainment is second to none onboard Allure, with dazzling water shows in the Aquatheater and performances of the just-added ABBA musical Mamma Mia!Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Royal Caribbean International Guide
PONANT
Courtesy of PonantCruise: 7-Night Grenadine Islands Cruise on Le PonantItinerary: Round-trip from Fort de France, Martinique, to Soufrière, St. Lucia, to Marigot Bay, St. Lucia, to Bequia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, to St. George’s, Grenada, to Carriacou, Grenada, to Tobago Cays, Grenadines, to Grande Anse d'Arlet, Martinique, to Fort de France, Martinique. Date: February 13, 2016 Price:Starting at $5,520. If you’re looking for a more intimate experience at sea, Le Ponant is the luxury yacht of your dreams. Welcoming only 60 guests on each sailing, Ponant is notable for cruises featuring decadent French service. Le Ponant stands out for its ability to reach ports that are inaccessible to larger ships, offering passengers the chance to experience a less commercial side of the Caribbean. And when it comes to cuisine, the ship brings the best of French cuisine to the seas with its two onboard restaurants serving multi-course meals with complimentary wine. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Ponant Guide
CRYSTAL CRUISES
Courtesy of Crystal CruisesCruise: 7-Day Voyage from Miami to San Juan on Crystal SymphonyItinerary: Miami, Florida, to Turks & Caicos to St. Barts to St. Kitts/Basse Terre, West Indies, to Tortola/Road Town, British Virgin Islands. Date: December 12, 2015 Price: Starting at $2,045. A gem of the high seas, Crystal Symphony is one of three ships in the Crystal Cruises fleet, and it delivers the line’s signature indulgent onboard experience. Far exceeding expectations, Crystal Symphony offers eight dining venues, including a Nobu Matsuhisa outpost; unlimited premium spirits and all gratuities are included in your booking rate. Improve your golf game with onboard lessons led by PGA-certified instructors, and then relax in the first and only feng shui–inspired spa at sea. For an even more relaxing evening, the ship offers the option to “order in” from any of the restaurants and dine alfresco on your balcony. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Crystal Cruises Guide
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE
Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise LineCruise:7-Day Eastern Caribbean from Miami on Norwegian EscapeDates:Select dates in January 2016. Itinerary:Round-trip from Miami, Florida, to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, to Tortola, British Virgin Islands, to Nassau, Bahamas. Price:Starting at $749. Following its inaugural sailing last month, Norwegian Escape is the newest ship setting sail in the Caribbean this winter. Expect a party scene on this ship thanks to fleet firsts including Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville at Sea, serving up dozens of flavored margaritas; The District Brew House, with a variety of craft beers; and Tobacco Road, Miami’s oldest bar, recreated at sea. Music fans, too, will rejoice as Broadway favorites After Midnightand Million Dollar Quartet keep the ship rocking. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Norwegian Cruise Line Guide
WINDSTAR CRUISES
Courtesy of Windstar CruisesCruise:7-Day San Juan & the Virgin Islands on Star LegendItinerary:Round-trip from San Juan to Isla Culebra to Gustavia to Little Bay to Marigot, St. Martin, to Jost Van Dyke, Great Harbour, to Virgin Gorda. Date:January 9, 2016 Price:Starting at $2,199. Having undergone a stem-to-stern refurbishment, Star Legend debuts its newly outfitted interiors this season. As with other smaller cruise ships, the unique ports called on become a major selling point of this journey, with stops at coveted beaches in paradise including Isla Culebra and Jost Van Dyke. Two important things to note: Windstar offers a low-key, small-ship cruising experience where casual dining is preferred, and rates aren’t all-inclusive, unlike many other lines in its class. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Windstar Cruises Guide
PRINCESS CRUISE LINES
Courtesy of Princess CruisesCruise: 7-Night Caribbean Cruise on Regal PrincessItinerary:Round-trip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Princess Cays, Bahamas, to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, to Philipsburg, Netherlands Antilles. Dates:Select dates in December 2015 and January–March 2016. Price:Starting at $399. Joining the ranks of ships sailing the Caribbean this winter is Princess Cruise Lines’ newest and most-prized ship, Regal Princess. Featuring the largest atrium in Princess’s fleet, this newcomer has a few fun tricks up its sleeve, most notably the pool deck’s WaterColor Fantasy experience, an interactive sound and light show that dazzles the senses. While onboard, you can also enjoy gelato, a seafood bar, and live performances. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Princess Cruise Lines Guide
HOLLAND AMERICA LINE
Courtesy of Holland America LineCruise:7-Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise on WesterdamItinerary:Round-trip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Grand Turks, Turks and Caicos Islands, to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, to Half Moon Cay, Bahamas, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Dates:Select dates in December 2015. Price:Starting at $519. As a cruise line that has been in operation since 1873, Holland America has earned a reputation for its consistent service and comfortable ships, and Westerdamis no exception. Cruisers love the midsize ship’s fun flourishes, which include B.B. King’s Blues Club, The Culinary Arts Center (a demonstration kitchen), and the favorite "Dancing with the Stars at Sea," in which competitors vie to be crowned the best dancer on the ship. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Holland America Line Guide
AZAMARA CLUB CRUISES
Courtesy of Azamara Club CruisesCruise:11-Night West Indies Hideaway Voyage on Azamara JourneyItinerary:Round-trip from Miami, Florida, to St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, to Terre-de-Haut, Îles des Saintes, Guadeloupe, to Roseau, Dominica, to Charlestown, Nevis, to Gustavia, St. Barts, to Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands. Date:January 27, 2016 Price:Starting at $2,799. Azamara Journey is one of two ships in Azamara Club Cruises’ tiny fleet, launched by Royal Caribbean in 2007. The Azamara experience is focused primarily on getting passengers off the ships by visiting exotic, off-the-beaten-path locales and often spending extended time in each port. Six dining options offer a wide variety of flavors and ambiance, from room service to the ship’s specialty restaurants, Prime C and Aqualina (complimentary for suite guests, $25 per person for non-suite guests). Standard spirits, international beers, and wines are included with all fares, along with a generous WiFi internet package that offers 235 internet minutes free. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Azamara Club Cruises Guide
CARNIVAL CRUISE LINE
Courtesy of Carnival Cruise LinesCruise:7-Night Western Caribbean Cruise on Carnival DreamItinerary: Round-trip from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Montego Bay, Jamaica, to Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, to Cozumel, Mexico. Dates:Select dates in December 2015. Price:Starting at $499. Perfect for families seeking value at sea, Carnival Dream is a place where passengers of all ages can have fun. Whether it’s the ship’s new Dr. Seuss immersion area for kids, or late-night cocktails at the BlueIguana Tequila Bar, the party never stops on this vessel. Highlights of the ship also include thrilling water slides, dive-in movies on the pool deck, and Cherry on Top, the ship’s indulgent candy store. When it comes to dining, Mongolian Wok allows you to design your own stir-fry creations, and The Taste Bar offers a fun twist on hors d'oeuvres. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Carnival Cruise Line Guide
CELEBRITY CRUISES
Courtesy of Celebrity CruisesCruise:7-Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise on Celebrity ReflectionItinerary:Round-trip from Miami, Florida, to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, to Philipsburg, Netherlands Antilles. Dates:Select dates in December 2015. Price:Starting at $949. Having sailed the seas for just three years, Celebrity Reflection remains the line’s newest and largest ship, with a capacity of 3,609 passengers. The real highlight of cruising on Reflection is the cuisine, as the ship offers an impressive array of specialty-dining options, available for an additional fee, as well as their signature Blu dining room, an exclusive option available only for passengers sailing in the AquaClass suites. Be sure to make reservations early for the Lawn Club Grill, located on the top deck, as well as a luxurious dinner at Murano, Celebrity’s signature French restaurant. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Celebrity Cruises Guide
MSC CRUISES
Courtesy of MSC CruisesCruise:5-Day Caribbean and Antilles Cruise on MSC DivinaItinerary: Round-trip from Miami, Florida, to Freeport, Grand Bahama, to Little San Salvador Island, Bahamas. Date:January 21, 2016 Price:Starting at $246. Already a well-established operation in Europe, Switzerland-based MSC Cruises entered the Caribbean cruise market in 2013 with MSC Divina, which stands out from the competition with its Mediterranean atmosphere and cuisine. A few of the unique offerings on Divina are Aqua Cycling, a new fitness craze that puts bikes in pools, and MSC’s exclusive Yacht Club, a luxurious area of the ship where a personal butler; complimentary wines and spirits; and an exclusive lounge, restaurant, and pool offer a premium experience. And when it comes to dessert, don’t miss out on the ship’s gelato (additional charge), best enjoyed in the majestic atrium, styled like an Italian piazza. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s MSC Cruises Guide
OCEANIA CRUISES
Courtesy of Oceania CruisesCruise: 10-Day Mayan Mystique Voyage on RivieraItinerary: Round-trip from Miami to Key West, Florida, to Costa Maya, Mexico, to Belize City, Belize, to Santo Tomas, Guatemala, to Roatán, Honduras, to Cozumel, Mexico, to George Town, Cayman Islands. Dates:Select dates in December 2015, and January–March 2016. Price:Starting at $2,999. Offering refined elegance in a low-key atmosphere, Riviera is Oceania Cruises’ largest and newest ship. The vessel features two of Oceania signature components: comfortable lounges for socializing, and an extensive library. When it comes to cuisine, nearly a dozen dining options aim to please any appetite, from a café serving up complimentary cappuccinos to expansive menus at specialty restaurants at no additional cost. Reserve ahead of time to get preferred seating at the two standouts, the Polo Grill steakhouse and Toscana, serving fine Italian cuisine. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Oceania Cruises Guide
DISNEY CRUISE LINE
Courtesy of Disney Cruise LineCruise: 4-Night Bahamian Cruise on Disney MagicItinerary:Round-trip from Miami, Florida, to Disney Castaway Cay to Nassau, Bahamas. Dates:Select dates in January and February 2016. Price:Starting at $1,480. In November, Disney Magic welcomed its newest attraction: Tangled: The Musical, a stage version of the 2010 animated film. As with any of the four ships in Disney’s fleet, a getaway on Magic delivers consistent and attentive service, charm, and a few chance encounters with Mickey Mouse himself. The ship’s Rotational Dining program allows families to change things up nightly at three themed restaurants: Lumiere’s (French cuisine), Carioca's (Brazilian cuisine), and Animator's Palate (Contemporary American). Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Disney Cruise Line Guide
REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES
Courtesy of Regent Seven SeasCruise: 10-Night Exotic Sands & Hidden Treasure Voyage on Seven Seas NavigatorItinerary: Round-trip from Miami, Florida, to Turks & Caicos Islands to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Philipsburg, St. Maarten, to Gustavia, St. Barts, to Tortola, British Virgin Islands, to La Romana, Dominican Republic, to Frinassau, Bahamas. Date: January 20, 2016 Price:Starting at $4,799. Once you board Seven Seas Navigator, it’s advised to put your wallet away and indulge, as your all-inclusive rate offers a premium experience. The midsize ship is one in a fleet of four vessels that pride themselves with an “unusual level of luxury.” Following a decadent meal at one of the eight onboard restaurant (Prime 7 is a standout), enjoy a cigar and fine Port at the Connoisseur Club, or a cocktail at the Stars Lounge, a party spot where karaoke and dancing continue late into the night. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Regent Seven Seas Cruises Guide
SILVERSEA CRUISES
Courtesy of Silversea CruisesCruise:8-Day Caribbean Voyage on Silver SpiritItinerary:Round-trip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Key West, Florida, to Belize City, Belize, to Santo Tomas, Guatemala, to Costa Maya, Mexico, to Cozumel, Mexico. Date:January 7, 2016 Price:Starting at $3,450. A pioneer of all-inclusive cruising since 1994, Silversea Cruises has a fleet of eight midsize vessels, with Silver Spirit ranking as its newest and largest. The ship has only suites, with amenities that include a butler, plush robes, and Pratesi bed linens. When it comes to cuisine, six dining options include the world’s only Relais & Châteaux restaurant at sea, Le Champagne (per-guest reservation fee of $40), and Seishin Restaurant (per-guest reservation fee of $40), where you can dine on Kobe beef and fresh sushi. Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Silversea Cruises Guide

Also on HuffPost:

Stunning Images From Around The World