Does recent stress have you daydreaming about disappearing to a deserted island in the sun? Join the club. Florida-origin cruises have been flooding the usual Caribbean ports, and gone are the cheap prices we'd seen in past years like seven-night voyages from the Sunshine State for under $300.
Most of these Caribbean cruises leaving Florida are selling for an average of $800. The alternative to these inflated prices is embarking from a port in the Caribbean or Central America. The cost to get there is cheaper than you might believe, as more budget airlines like JetBlue launch new Caribbean routes.
In fact, we found fares in March to popular departure ports for as little as $69 each way. Here’s a sampling of weeklong cruises offering colorful itineraries and less-crowded destinations from just $299.
$299 Royal Caribbean from Santo Domingo
This seven-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary comes with a French flair. Departing from Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic, the first stop on this cruise is Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe. This island has often been described as the Caribbean version of Marseille, and is most notable for its bustling outdoor markets.
Next, take in a little coconut palms, rum punch, and calypso music in Fort-de-France, Martinique. After that, visit Bridgetown, Barbados where passengers can take a tram rides along an underground river beneath Harrison's Cave.
The final port before the ship returns to Santo Domingo is Castries, in St. Lucia, where the 18th-century city of Soufriere is a must see. The Vision of the Seas sets sail March 1 starting from $299, with additional embarkation dates available at slightly higher prices.
$399 7-night voyage from Colon, Panama
The Enchantment of the Seas sets sail from Colon, Panama, and sets out for two days of exploration in Colombia, visiting Cartagena and Santa Marta. Sample some rich Colombian coffee, wander through ancient forts, churches and palaces, or explore world-class snorkeling and scuba diving reefs.
Next the ship anchors in Oranjestad in Aruba, an ideal island for kicking back and soaking in some sun, or picking up duty-free souvenirs. After Aruba, the ship calls on Willemstad, in Curacao. The houses on this charming island are all painted in soft pastel colors, making it seem ever-so-inviting.
It's A Snap! Readers' best shotsThe last port of call on this weeklong itinerary is Kralendijk, Bonaire where flamingos inhabit much of the island, and many historical buildings abound. The ship sails on select dates through March starting from $399 for interior cabins, with oceanview staterooms available from just $50 more.
$449 luxury cruise from Barbados
If you are looking for a luxurious cruise at a reasonable price, look no further than this seven-night cruise from Bridgetown, Barbados, starting from just $449. Set sail on the Sea Princess to Kingstown in St. Vincent, an area rich with volcanic black-sand and cobblestone streets. Then, it’s on to Roseau, the capital city on the island of Dominica where passengers can spend the day hiking to hidden waterfalls and pools, or dining on Creole cuisine.
After that it's friendly St. John's in Antigua, a perfect place to explore a museum or art gallery, and to admire the handmade local pottery. Next, it’s on to St. Maarten, where you can head to beaches like Mullet Bay for some relaxation time, or opt to watch the sunset while riding down the beach on horseback. Following St. Maarten is a day spent at sea before visiting Princess Cays, the cruise line’s privately-owned island in the Bahamas. There is only one sailing for this great itinerary departing on May 2.
All prices are per person and based on double occupancy. Accommodations, meals, some beverages, entertainment, and port charges are covered in the cost. Government fees and taxes, as well as off-boat expenditures are extra.
Hunting down airfare to and from the departure ports. Visit our Caribbean flight page for great fare sales.ShermansTravel is a guide to top travel deals and destinations. Sign up for Sherman's Top 25 e-newsletter which features the best editor-screened deals from hundreds of travel providers and is delivered to over 2.5 million subscribers, free, each week. ShermansTravel also publishes trip ideas and travel features to inspire, guide, and go.