Visitors flock to Florida for its palm-flanked beaches, tropical vibe, epic theme parks and action-packed cities – but it’s also a stone’s throw away from such captivating hot spots as the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Mexico, The Bahamas and Aruba. This perfect combination draws international vacationers seeking to both enjoy the wonders of Florida and an adventure-packed cruise to the Caribbean. From weekend getaway cruises and last minute cruise deals in 2022 or 2023, to longer sailings that let you linger in paradise, there’s truly nothing like sailing from The Sunshine State. So go ahead, pack some shorts and sunscreen – we’re about to go island hopping!
To picture St. Thomas – one of the most gorgeous islands in the eastern Caribbean – imagine brilliant indigo bays, emerald hills and soft golden beaches. Fans of buccaneer lore should head straight to Blackbeard’s Castle, built by the Danes in 1679 and later, according to local legend, taken over by the infamous Edward Teach (Blackbeard himself!) for nefarious pirate business! At this National Historic Landmark, you can browse the world’s largest collection of life-sized pirate statues and take in the beautiful panoramic views from the top of Government Hill and Drake’s Seat on Skyline Drive. If the beach is calling to you, you’re in luck — St. Thomas boasts some of the most picturesque stretches of coastline in the tropics. Head to the aptly named Sapphire Beach for amazing snorkelling in pristine blue waters, or opt for romantic Magen’s Bay if you’re after rest, relaxation and chill vibes.
Oozing colonial charm and a storied history, as well as wonderful shopping and delicious local cuisine, this Dutch island is a favourite stop on many cruises out of Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Tampa. Start your visit with an easy stroll through Willemstad, the capital city, soaking up the open air cafes, bustling markets and quaint colonial buildings painted in bright rainbow colours. Then head over to Shete Boka National Park, an adventurer’s dream and home to an underground cavern, limestone bridges and the stunning Boka Tabla, where waves spray up like geysers as they pound the rugged limestone cliffs. You may even get a peek at sea turtles laying their eggs, as 3 species call Shete Boca their nesting grounds. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, you’ll find that Curaçao is known for its mouth-watering global cuisine, which highlights ingredients and dishes from Africa, India and more. Two must-try local specialties are the savoury meat-filled ayakas and kabritu, a fragrant curried goat stew.
Royal Caribbean’s private island destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay, is brimming with off-the-chart, next level experiences exclusively conceived for our guests. Score ultimate bragging rights at Thrill Waterpark tackling the tallest waterslide in North America, a towering beast not for the faint-hearted. Or make a splash in the largest wave pool in the Caribbean getting in touch with your inner child. When ready to chill, head for the first floating cabanas in The Bahamas and rent your private piece of waterfront paradise. On Perfect Day at CocoCay, you’ll find ziplining, helium balloon rides, a sprawling freshwater lagoon, Splashaway Bay℠ for young adventurers, and even a private club. At Coco Beach Club®, you’ll enjoy the dreamy private beach, an infinity pool with views of the crystalline Caribbean waters and a clubhouse serving such lunch-time treats as succulent lobster and fork-tender fillet mignon. Whatever kind of vibe you’re going for — from adrenaline-amping thrills to laid-back beach lounging, and tropical pool parties to yummy eats with harbour views – Perfect Day at CocoCay is the perfect way to level up your cruise. This fan-favourite destination can be visited on Florida cruises sailing from all of the state’s major cruise ports.
Bon bini (meaning “welcome”) to Aruba, a southern Caribbean gem measuring only 32 kilometres in length but huge in natural beauty and amazing sights. At this island, you’ll find rich Dutch heritage interlaced with bold Caribbean vibes, along with experiences for every kind of traveller. If you love the outdoors, take an off-road excursion past natural rock formations to the desert-like Aruba Arikok National Park where the dramatic landscape includes cacti-studded hills. Top off the adventure with a dip in Conchi, a natural pool carved out by crashing waves and surrounded by rugged terrain. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience you won’t forget. In Oranjestad, the island’s postcard-pretty capital, tuck into delicious dishes with Argentinian, Venezuelan and Dutch influences, then take advantage of duty-free shopping at Royal Plaza Mall and Renaissance Mall, which are also great places to pick up traditional Dutch souvenirs. You’ll find that getting around is a breeze with free trolleys running between the port and downtown areas. There are plenty of Royal itineraries cruising from Miami, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale to Aruba, so if the tiny but spectacularly striking island is on your bucket list, you’ll have no trouble crossing it off!