Cheap Cruises to the Bahamas
Pale white sand, frothy blue surf, and shady palm trees ... what more could a cruiser want in a sunny vacation? The Bahamas has it all — including frozen drinks with paper umbrellas, great snorkeling, and conch fritters — in close proximity to the U.S., too. Here's how to make sure you're getting the best deal possible on a sailing to this sandbox to the south.
Everything You Need to Know About Cheap Cruises to the Bahamasby Donna Heiderstadt | August 16, 2016
The Bahamas is an appealing cruise destination for many reasons: clear, calm water and white sand, close proximity to Florida, and bargain fares on itineraries ranging from a few nights to more than a week. All of these things and more make the Bahamas popular with both first-time and last-minute cruisers seeking sun, fun, and affordability. Here are answers to all of your questions about cheap cruises to the Bahamas.
Which lines offer cheap cruises to the Bahamas?
You’ll find the best fares — less than $500 per person (and as low as $169) — on five lines. Carnival Cruise Line has 11 ships in the region, making it a key player in the Bahamas. Royal Caribbean International has eight ships providing three- to nine-night sailings. And Norwegian Cruise Line has five ships running three- to seven-night sailings.
Celebrity Cruises has a smaller presence, sailing three ships with three- and four-night cruises. Disney Cruise Line's Disney Magic also cruises here and, although not “cheap,” fares on Disney’s three- and four-night Bahamas cruises can fall below $600, making them a great way to experience Disney for less.
Where can you embark?
You can cruise to the Bahamas from 10 ports all along the Eastern Seaboard, ranging from Charleston, South Carolina; Norfolk, Virginia; Baltimore; and New York, all the way down to the Florida options: Port Canaveral, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami.
How long are cruises to the Bahamas?
They can be short and sweet or long and leisurely. Two- or three-night sailings from Miami or Fort Lauderdale are ideal for weekend getaways or for first-timers looking to see if they like cruising — with fares from $169 to $279 per person. Four- or five-nights sailings are available from all ports south of Norfolk, and these cruises typically cost $189 to $449 per person. Six- to nine-night sailings depart from New York, Cape Liberty (New Jersey), Baltimore, Charleston, and New Orleans, with cruises priced from $409 and up.
Which ports will you visit?
Depending on the cruise length and port of embarkation, you could call on Nassau (known for duty-free shopping and beautiful beaches), Freeport (Grand Bahama’s main port is on many four- and five-night sailings), the cruise line’s private island (resort area exclusive to the line), and Bermuda or Grand Turk farther south. The ship may also call on Charleston or Port Canaveral on the way down.
How can you find the cheapest cruise fares?
Do research during wave season (January to March) when cruise lines offer promotional fares. Also, be willing to cruise during low season (July to October) or the first two weeks of January. And look for last-minute deals from drive-to ports. Do all three of these things, and you’re sure to get a deal.
Can you book a balcony cabin for less than $500?
On shorter sailings (four nights or fewer), yes, but on longer cruises, most fares less than $500 are for inside and, sometimes, ocean view cabins.
What are the ships like?
They vary greatly. Royal Caribbean, for example, cruises to the Bahamas with its oldest ship (1,602-passenger Empress of the Seas) and its newest (4,180-passenger Anthem of the Seas). And Carnival’s itineraries are on ships launched from 1990 to 2008 — although most have been refurbished. In general, older ships have cheaper fares.
What’s the onboard vibe like?
Expect a lively party atmosphere — especially on shorter sailings — since Bahamas cruises tend to attract passengers seeking fun by day (DJ by the pool, buckets of beer) and night (buzzing casino, pulsing nightclubs).
Donna Heiderstadt is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Coastal Living and Islands.