The Caribbean is home to some of the top destinations for family vacations in the world, and there is no better way to tour The Caribbean than by boat – a cruise ship, to be exact. Caribbean cruises for families embark nearly year-round from various locations like the New York cruise port, the Port of New Orleans, and PortMiami, and stop in several ports throughout the region.
These ports of call offer breathtaking views and weather that is almost always pleasant and suitable for outdoor activities, leaving a plethora o options available for you and your family to enjoy together. The following are some of the best Caribbean cruise excursions that the whole family can enjoy.
#1. Visit Ancient Ruins
For an adventure that’s both educational and exciting, be sure to visit at least one ancient Mayan ruin site during your cruise through The Caribbean. Some of the sites featured include Tulum, Chacchoben, Nim Li Punit, and Chichen Itza.
The Tulum ruins sit on the beautiful Caribbean Sea coast and include a stone watchtower and pyramid temples that date as far back as the 13th century. Chacchoben is situated south of Tulum and features towering Mayan temple pyramids, while Nim Li Punit sits in Belize and includes a forty foot step pyramid and carved stone monuments of ancient Mayan kings.
Chichen Itza is the most iconic Mayan ruin site that is recognizable to people all around the world. This site features fascinating structures such as the Temple of the Warriors, the Great Ball Court, and most famous of all, the Temple of Kukulcan. Guided tours or independent exploration through these sites offer once-in-a-lifetime experiences that everyone in the family will remember forever. These shore excursions can be found on most Western Caribbean cruises.
#2. Go Snorkeling
Snorkeling excursions provide some of the most impressive wildlife encounters and can be found on every Caribbean cruise. Unlike scuba diving, people of all ages can get into the water and snorkel without prior certification or extensive training.
One snorkeling hot spot is Belize, home to the world’s largest living barrier reef and at least five-hundred species of fish. Snorkelers in this reef also have the chance to spot sea turtles, rock lobsters, and manta rays in addition to puffer fish and other fish of a variety of sizes and colors. This excursion can be found in Western Caribbean cruises as well as Caribbean and Panama Canal cruises.
For those who are traveling with very small children or aren't interested in snorkeling, the Atlantis Submarine offers a stunning way to view coral reefs and marine life from a safe and dry enclosure. Snorkelers and submarine riders should remember to bring an appropriate camera to capture the views of the diverse marine life living below the surface.
#3 Have Fun at a Theme Park
No matter where you go, few excursions are more fun for families than visiting theme parks. Several exciting theme parks are available in The Caribbean including Maya, Lost Mayan Kingdom, and Atlantis Aquaventure Water Park.
Maya, Lost Mayan Kingdom is situated in Mahahual, Mexico and offers eight big water slides, two ziplines, a zip-coaster, a river tubing ride, a relaxing pool, and a special zone for kids complete with shallow pools, slides, and tunnels. The Mayan themed water park complements the surrounding jungle where animals like howler monkeys and iguanas naturally reside. Maya, Lost Mayan Kingdom excursions are available to cruisers traveling through the Western Caribbean.
Atlantis Aquaventure is located on Paradise Island in The Bahamas and is home to eleven stunning pools, river tubing rides, at least eight water slides, and a play zone for small children. While the resort park is famous for many things, its most famous ride is its Leap of Faith slide which sends riders down a majestic Mayan temple and through a clear tunnel in a shark-filled lagoon. This park is accessible to passengers on Eastern Caribbean cruises.
#4 Experience an Animal Encounter
Cruising through the diverse Caribbean gives travelers ample opportunities to have encounters with wildlife. In addition to interacting with marine life on snorkeling excursions and submarine rides, travelers visiting Coral World Ocean Park in the Southeastern Caribbean have the chance to swim and interact with sea lions.
The sea lion swim excursion allows people to touch, pet, and play with these friendly mammals as well as view other marine animals while there. For those who love dolphins, Balmoral Island in the Eastern Caribbean offers a dolphin encounter where participants can interact with these intelligent creatures right on the beach.
A dolphin encounter is also available on Paradise Island near the Atlantis Aquaventure park. For more diverse encounters, the Ardastra Zoo and Gardens in the Bahamas houses over two-hundred birds, reptiles, and mammals and is home to several endangered species. Visitors can observe and interact with these exotic animals with the safety and guidance of handlers while on their cruise.
If you’re extra adventurous, consider the Hato Caves and Ostrich Farm Adventure on Curacao Island near Venezuela. This adventure leads travelers through underground caves and passages and then takes them on an ostrich encounter on a real safari truck.
#5 Go on an Outdoor Adventure
Nature-loving families should make sure to book an outdoor adventure while cruising through the Caribbean. These excursions include nature parks, ziplines, and jungle trails that are unique to the tropics. For example, in the Western Caribbean, Xcaret Eco Park offers underground rivers, jungle trails, natural pools, a coral reef aquarium, a butterfly pavilion, and more to visitors. These attractions are appropriate for travelers of all ages and are perfect for families and groups whose members have varying interests and hobbies.
Ziplining opportunities also abound throughout the Caribbean, allowing people to sail over jungle landscapes at high speeds. The Flighthouse Zipline in Harvest Caye, Belize is one of the more popular attractions, which takes adventurers from the top of a lighthouse to the ground with stunning views of the beach in the premier island destination below.
Xplor Park in Mexico also offers ziplining, rafting, and jungle driving in various natural settings and is an ideal place for encounters with the region’s flora and fauna.
In the Eastern Caribbean, another type of adventure exists that feeds the fantasies of travelers young and old. The Schooner Sailaway and Swim excursion allows cruisers to not only ride on the schooner Eldorado through Caribbean waters but to also help set the sails and even take the helm.