Top 5 Caribbean Cruise Destinations, Ranked from Best to Best

Dreaming of the Caribbean? You may wonder what the best Caribbean cruise destination is, but there’s no real answer to that. Each offers an idyllic island escape with its own culture, natural splendors and attractions.

Start with our list of top Caribbean cruise destinations to find the islands that have the most of what you want out of your cruise. And remember, this list is just the beginning. There are many fun Caribbean cruise destinations we left off.

1. Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Half Moon Cay tops our best Caribbean cruise destinations list. Yes, we’re biased, as it’s our private island, but we’re not the only ones who love this crescent-shaped slice of heaven. Porthole Cruise Magazine named it “Best Private Island” twenty years in a row.  

Once you step in the powdery sand or wade into the 700-acre Bonefish Lagoon, you’ll wish you could stay here forever; a feeling so common on Half Moon Cay, it’s the name of the most popular bar on the island.

What to do: Put your feet up and enjoy the view. The sun can be fierce, so plan ahead. Get a clamshell or luxuriate in a private villa with cool drinks, fresh fruit, and misting showers.

Much of Half Moon Cay acts as a nature reserve, so be on the lookout for mockingbirds, wood doves, and Cuban finches. Kayak mangroves, ride through foamy surf on horseback or touch the silky wings of a sting ray. If you’re traveling with kids, a children’s waterpark has bucketloads of aquatic entertainment. 

2. Nassau, Bahamas 

Though it’s not technically in the Caribbean Sea, Nassau, Bahamas is a favorite port on our Caribbean cruises and we had to include it. Nassau bustles with a rainbow of shops, restaurants, and bars. It’s noisy and fast-paced in contrast to the laid-back vibe on the rest of New Providence Island.

What to do:  When you tire of the cacophonous capital, unwind on one of the island’s many beaches or get a day pass and go to Atlantis, a massive casino resort with a sea theme and aquarium. Soak up the sun on Cable Beach, a long stretch with rustling palms. Climb the Queen’s Staircase, a limestone staircase with 65 steps leading to a fort and overlook. See birds of a feather flocked together at the Ardastra Gardens & Wildlife Conservation Centre or take in Bahamian art and history at the National Art Gallery. 

3. Oranjestad, Aruba

Aruba’s otherworldliness secures it a forever-spot on our best Caribbean cruise destination list. It has all the quintessential beachscapes, plus surprising bonuses, such as vast cactus forests, unique rock formations, and wild donkeys. 

What to do: Lounge in the shade of a twisted fofoti tree with a beach book and umbrellaed Aruba Ariba cocktail. Shop Oranjestad’s knot of colorful boutiques and markets. Go deep under the surface on a submarine tour of a shipwreck. Or just unwind and watch waves meet the shore. 

4. Philipsburg, St Maarten 

With a distinct difference between its Dutch and French sides, St Maarten is like two best Caribbean cruise destinations in one small island. Philipsburg, the port and capital of the Dutch side features an array of art galleries, thrumming clubs and lively casinos. Beyond, it teems with beaches and nature conservancies. The French side is where to go for bistros and sidewalk cafes, chilled rosé or to practice your bonjour and merci. 

What to do: Explore Marigot, a French market town with charming European boutiques and pop-in pastry shops. Or take a catamaran to a secluded beach and let the sea lull you into a dream state. 

5. Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos

Grand Turk is one of the best Caribbean destinations for diving, snorkeling and beachcombing. As soon as you wash ashore, you’ll notice palm-fringed beaches along cerulean waters, a postcard come to life. Under the surface, there’s vivid marine life and reefs that draw divers from all over the globe.

What to do: Dive a 7,000-foot wall drop and swim with a kaleidoscope of neon fish. Spend a picture-perfect beach day on the west side, sheltered from trade winds. Get up close to a shipwreck on the soft sand at Governor’s Beach. Zip around the beach on a sand dune buggy. 

Turn your travel dream into travel plans. Explore an array of Caribbean cruises now.