The island of Jamaica is one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean. After all, Jamaica gave us reggae, Bob Marley, jerk chicken, and Blue Mountain coffee. A number of cruises go to Jamaica, and the island is unique in that there are three main cruise ports: Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Falmouth. In addition, there’s Port Antonio on the northeastern coast — although it’s not suitable for most large ships, boutique cruise lines and private yachts stop there. By Patricia Doherty
There’s something for everyone in Jamaica, whether their interest is discovering the island’s pirate history or British colonial past, rum tasting, or exploring rivers, waterfalls, and rainforests. From hiking to relaxing on a white-sand beach, cruisers can find their happy place in Jamaica. James Bond fans might be interested to know that author Ian Fleming wrote his novels in Jamaica, and that scenes in the first 007 film, “Dr No,” were filmed in Kingston.
Whatever piques your interest in Jamaica, a day on the island can be the highlight of a Caribbean cruise. We have checked out some cruises to Jamaica, and here are just a few of the many options that vary in length, price, ship, departure point, and date.
Viking Ocean Cruises
Panama Canal and Central America Cruise
This 15-day cruise is a round trip from Fort Lauderdale, near Miami, with visits to seven countries. The first stop is Key West, the southernmost point in the United States of America, before the cruise continues through the Gulf of Mexico to Cozumel. There, guests explore the Mayan and colonial past of the island, located off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.
The ship arrives in Belize for a day and then cruises on to Roatán off the coast of Honduras. Puerto Limón in Costa Rica is the next port before the ship arrives at Colón near the entrance to the Panama Canal. A partial transit through the 1914 canal is a thrilling experience, and then the ship spends a day at sea before arriving in Montego Bay, Jamaica where guests can experience a rainforest, waterfall, rum tasting, or high tea at a historic estate.
With two days cruising the Caribbean Sea before returning to Fort Lauderdale, guests have time to relax and enjoy the ship. Viking Orion and her sister ships of Viking’s Ocean Fleet carry up to 930 guests and offer cooking classes, a spa, a fitness centre, and a variety of dining venues.
Carnival Cruise Line
Western Caribbean Cruise from Miami
This five-day cruise aboard Carnival Sensation departs from Miami for a day at sea before arriving in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. There, guests can swim with dolphins, hike up to a waterfall, zip through a forest, go horseback riding along the shore, or just relax on the beach. After a day at sea, the ship arrives in Nassau, the Bahamas for a catamaran cruise, snorkelling, swimming, or partying. The ship returns to Miami the next day.
Onboard, dining options include a steakhouse, Italian restaurant, Guy’s Burger Joint, Chef’s Table, Cantina, pizza, and sushi. Adults can find a quiet spot in the Serenity Adults Retreat or spa, or they can get together in a pub, lounge, or piano bar. For kids, Seuss at Sea provides an onboard character parade, interactive story time, arts & crafts activities, and a character breakfast. Camp Ocean offers supervised activities like games, songs, dancing, movies, video games, and kids’ meals for age-based groups.
12-night Idyllic Islands Cruise
The cruise departs from Miami aboard Sirena and arrives the next day at Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas where guests can relax on the beach, enjoy a spa treatment, and dine at the Jumby Beach Grill buffet, food truck, or taco bar. The next day is spent at sea on the way to Port Antonio in Jamaica, where guests can swim, snorkel, climb Somerset Falls, or take a rafting trip on Jamaica’s Rio Grande.
Another day of cruising takes the ship to Oranjestad in Aruba. There, white-sand beaches, island tours, an ostrich or butterfly farm, coral bays, a casino, and golf are options. It’s a short walk to downtown for restaurants and duty-free shopping. The next day, the ship arrives in Willemstad, Curacao where guests are greeted by pastel-coloured houses, and they can visit Seaquarium Beach, snorkel, dive, sample genuine Curacao liqueur, tour art galleries, or learn about the island’s culture and history at The Museum Kura Hulanda.
Next is a half-day at Kralendijk, Bonaire, home to pink flamingos, sea turtles, and donkeys that flourish on the island in sanctuaries. The ship stops at St. Georges in Grenada before a day at sea on the way to St. Kitts. White-sand beaches, restaurants, and artisan shops with colourful batik cloth souvenirs are some things to look for. The next port is Guadeloupe where guests head for fresh seafood, Creole dishes, and excellent French cuisine.
During days at sea, Sirena offers a pool bar, piano bar, casino, spa, shopping, and enrichment opportunities as well as a wide variety of restaurants and afternoon tea. The cruise ends in Bridgetown, Barbados on the easternmost island in the Caribbean, home of Mount Gay Rum, beautiful beaches, and delicious food.
Royal Caribbean Cruises
Six-night Western Caribbean and Perfect Day Cruise
This cruise leaves Miami and heads to CocoCay in the Bahamas for a day at Thrill Waterpark, with North America’s tallest waterslide, wave pool, Oasis Lagoon freshwater pool, beach cabanas, and Coco Beach Club. There’s Chill Island for quiet relaxation and hot air balloon rides for panoramic views. The next day is spent at sea where guests can enjoy the spa, fitness centre, ice skating, and activities for kids.
The ship arrives at Falmouth, Jamaica, located between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, for options like horseback riding, river tubing, duty-free shopping, hiking to a waterfall, or high tea at historical Good Hope Estate. The next day is spent at Labadee in Haiti where activities range from riding an alpine-style coaster to relaxing on a sandy beach. There’s an over-water zip line and Arawak Aqua Park.
After another day at sea where guests can choose from a variety of restaurants and activities, the ship returns to Miami.
Disney Cruise Line
Seven-night Western Caribbean Cruise from Port Canaveral
The cruise departs from the home of the Kennedy Space Center where guests can take a tour before boarding Disney Fantasy. During the next day at sea, the ship’s entertainment, freshwater pool, kids’ clubs, restaurants, and games provide much to do on the way to Cozumel, Mexico. There, guests can snorkel or dive among coral reefs, shop for handmade Mexican souvenirs, or relax on the beach.
The next port is George Town on Grand Cayman, where guests can explore a botanic park, swim at Seven Mile Beach, or visit the town’s shops and restaurants. In Falmouth, Jamaica, the next day, optional activities include a zip line adventure, waterfall hike, catamaran cruise, horseback ride, or dolphin encounter. The next day at sea is a time to enjoy the many amenities of Disney Fantasy while cruising to Disney Castaway Cay.
On this private island reserved for Disney Cruise Line guests, there’s a water park, white-sand beach, walking trails, snorkelling lagoon, boat rentals, teen hideout, and adults-only Serenity Bay. After a day of fun, the ship cruises overnight for the return to Port Canaveral.
Mexico, Jamaica, and Grand Cayman Cruise
Departing from Fort Lauderdale, Celebrity Reflection makes her first stop at Key West where guests spend the day among Old Town’s restaurants, bars, and shops. The next day is spent at sea on the way to Cozumel, Mexico. While cruising, there’s time to enjoy the ship’s restaurants, casino, cocktail lounges, and entertainment.
In Cozumel, the coral reef is ideal for snorkelling and diving, and there’s deep-sea fishing or time to enjoy a sunny beach. Guests can take a ferry to Playa del Carmen and visit Tulum, shop for artisan-created souvenirs, or dine on fresh seafood and Mexican specialities. The next port is George Town on Grand Cayman, with world-class restaurants, boutiques, and duty-free shopping. Other options are a catamaran cruise, snorkelling, and sampling the island’s cuisine, including conch.
Falmouth, Jamaica is the ship’s next destination, where guests can tour the historic town, take a trip to the Green Grotto Caves and Dunns River Falls, ride a horse along the beach, swim with dolphins, or go tubing or ziplining. During the next day at sea, it’s time to relax at the spa, pool, or Solarium while the kids play at Camp at Sea. The ship arrives back at Fort Lauderdale the following morning for disembarkation.
Six-day Western Caribbean with Bahamas Cruise
The cruise to Jamaica departs from Fort Lauderdale, where opportunities to explore before boarding include a trip to the Everglades, a boat ride through the Intracoastal Waterway, or a visit to Flamingo Gardens and Wildlife Sanctuary. The next day, the ship arrives in Princess Cay Bahamas for a day at the private resort on the island of Eleuthera with sandy shores, shops, dining, water sports, and a private beach party.
The next day is spent at sea, and the Caribbean Princess features personalised MedallionClass conveniences with a wearable device that enables touch-free boarding, keyless stateroom entry, enhanced services, and more. A spa, freshwater pool, sports court, entertainment, and Camp Discovery for age-based kids’ activities offer lots to do while aboard the ship.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica is the next port, where options include a rainforest tour, dolphin encounter, beach club, and river tubing. At Grand Cayman the following day, guests can choose from excursions that include a trolley tour of George Town, rum distillery tour, Atlantis Submarine tour, and scenic bike ride. After cruising for a day, the ship returns to Fort Lauderdale.
14-day Caribbean and Bahamas Cruise
Departing from Miami, MSC Divina first cruises to Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, exclusive for MSC guests, with more than two miles (three km) of white-sand beaches, snorkelling, paddle boarding, jet skiing, spa, bars, and dining. After a day at sea, the ship arrives in Ocho Rios, Jamaica and then another day cruising the Caribbean takes guests to Oranjestad, Aruba.
From there, the ship cruises to Cartagena, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with cobblestone streets and pastel-coloured buildings. The next port is Colón, Panama, home of the canal, and then on to Puerto Limón in Costa Rica. Guests have a day to explore and take a boat adventure through the jungle, looking for crocodiles, monkeys, and manatees.
From there, two days at sea takes the ship back to Miami for a day before heading to Nassau, Bahamas and then back to Ocean Cay for another day of fun on the exclusive MSC destination. While at sea aboard MSC Divina, guests enjoy the modern, elegant ship with world-class entertainment, casino, spa, kids’ and teens’ clubs, restaurants, bars, and lounges. The ship returns to Miami the next day for disembarkation.