This year the cruise industry has embraced a seriously exciting new trend that sees ships dock in pot overnight, or depart far later than usual. These scheduled stays have started to pop-up in itineraries across all the leading lines and are a fantastic chance for passengers to really soak up the after-dark ambience of a destination. Celebrity Cruises is at the forefront of the movement having recently announced that 43 of its 2016 cruises will feature overnight stay in a selection of six Caribbean ports. Dondra Ritzenthaler, Celebrity’s senior vice president of sales, trade support and services boasts that “This gives us the ability to say we have more overnights in the Caribbean than any cruise line in the industry,”
So what late-evening port calls and overnight stays have caught our attention this season? Read on for some of our top picks that are guaranteed to have you enamoured when the sun goes down.
Cozumel with Celebrity Cruises
This refreshingly underdeveloped Mexican island is perched in the Caribbean sea and is famous for its spectacular underwater dive scene. Marine life lovers will swoon at the diversity of Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, the colourful Mesoamerican Reef and the mesmerising submerged sculptures at the Museo Subacuático de Arte. Ritzenthaler certainly thinks passengers will appreciate the extra hours in this tiny Caribbean port, saying “While overnights have been a trend in the marketplace in Europe and Asia, there really hasn’t been a movement [in the Caribbean], and we believe we are a leader in this initiative.”
Nassau with Carnival Cruise Line
What better way to soak up the breezy vibes of the Bahamas than with an overnight stay in Nassau? By day passengers can explore the pristine beaches and kaleidoscopic coral reefs, then watch the sun set while sipping on a fruity cocktail. The city’s iconic pastel-coloured British colonial buildings are a great place to visit on a night walk while the main strip plays host to plenty of tiki bars and dance clubs.
Curacao with Carnival Cruise Line
Sailing out of the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao at 11pm gives passengers plenty of time to get a feel for the paradisiacal scene. As well as exploring the gorgeous coastline by day the island boats a lively nightlife scene that’s considered one of the best in the ABC islands! If you happen to catch Curacao during Carnival expect to be blown away by the intense high energy celebrations.
Aruba with Princess Cruises
Perched just off the coast of Venezuela, Aruba has a colonial Dutch feel with a charming island twist. The 11pm departure time leaves a handful of extra hours to hit up the beachside bars, wine and dine at the upmarket resorts or simply enjoy the last rays of sunlight before heading back to the cruise ship for the buffet dinner.
Venice with Azamara
Venice is lovely by day but when the sun goes down the canal city takes on a new kind of ethereal beauty. Spotlights highlight the ornate architecture, strings of fairy lights illuminate passing gondolas and the chance to soak up the evening ambience at one of the city’s many fine dining restaurants is a must.
The verdict is in and passengers LOVE the flexibility of overnight stays and extended departures. “Consumer and trade research indicates this is something they desire,” says Ritzenthaler.
Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credits: Daniel Dudek-Corrigan, David Stanley, Kevin Dinkel, Lee Crowley