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4 best Caribbean family cruise holidays with TUI this December

A TUI Caribbean cruise holiday with the family is a glorious way to escape to sun, sea and sand and ensure everyone, big and small, gets the break they deserve. Even better, there are plenty of great deals to snap up this winter.

Panama beach caribbean cruise UnSplash

Escape to sun, sea and sand with Marella Cruises’ Caribbean offerings this winter.

Caribbean cruises take in a wealth of exotic shorelines, ancient cities and fantastic cuisine without you ever needing to unpack more than once.

Come the winter, such holidays are longed for by many a sun-starved Briton – but help is at hand.

TUI cruise line Marella Cruises has a brilliant selection of voyages this December to help you recharge for the year ahead.

Whether you want to visit lesser-visited spots such as Belize or Guatemala, or you prefer to call at Caribbean classics such as Jamaica and St Lucia, there’s a TUI family cruise for you in winter 2022.

What’s more, every Marella Cruises holiday is all-inclusive so the little ones can hoover up as many pizza slices, lemonades and ice creams as they like and you can hit the cocktails without worrying about the bill.

Flights, transfers and tips are also included to help take the stress out, so you really can just lie in the sun and relax!

We’ve rounded up four of the best Caribbean cruises for the family this December to help you get inspired. Total prices are based on a family of four.

Roatan Honduras port bar caribbean cruise UnSplash

Roatan, Honduras is an exciting Central American port of call on Marella’s Caribbean cruises.

Exotic Explorer

This TUI Caribbean cruise includes a £374 discount and calls at an exciting selection of Central American ports such as Honduras and Guatemala for a Caribbean cruise with a difference.

When: December 6, 2022 Duration: 7 nights Where: Montego Bay, Jamaica | Roatan, Honduras | Santo Tomas De Castilla, Guatemala | Belize City, Belize | Costa Maya, Mexico | Montego Bay, Jamaica Ship: Marella Discovery 2 Flights from: London Gatwick Price: From £1,032pp | Total Price £4,127

Book this cruise here

Flavours of the Caribbean

This sailing has an even bigger discount – £459 – so you know you’re bagging a great deal with this Jamaica, Mexico, Cuba and Cayman Islands cruise.

When: December 13, 2022 Duration: 7 nights Where: Montego Bay, Jamaica | Cozumel, Mexico | Havana, Cuba | Georgetown, Cayman Islands | Montego Bay, Jamaica Ship: Marella Discovery 2 Flights from: Manchester Price: £1,118pp | Total Price £4,472

Cartagena Colombia colonial buildings square caribbean cruise UnSplash

Cartagena, Colombia is a lesser-visited Caribbean hotspot on Marella’s itineraries.

Pride of Panama

Thought the savings couldn’t get any greater? Wrong! This TUI Caribbean cruise holiday includes an amazing £1,501 total discount and packs in some more unusual Caribbean hotspots such as Costa Rica and Panama.

When: December 20, 2022 Duration: 7 nights Where: Montego Bay, Jamaica | Port Royal, Jamaica | Cartagena, Colombia | Colon, Panama | Puerto Limon, Costa Rica | Montego Bay, Jamaica Ship: Marella Discovery 2 Flights from: Manchester Price: From £1,402pp | Total Price £5,608

A Taste of Paradise

It’s Christmas but not how you know it on this December cruise. You’ll celebrate the prime festive week in the sun ticking off a wealth of classic Caribbean destinations from Barbados to Grenada. Oh, and it includes a mind-boggling total discount of £2,093! Talk about happy holidays.

When: December 22, 2022 Duration: 7 nights Where: Bridgetown, Barbados | St George’s, Grenada | Castries, St Lucia | St John’s, Antigua | Roseau, Dominica | Fort De France, Martinique | Bridgetown, Barbados Ship: Marella Discovery Flights from: Birmingham Price: From £2,063pp | Total Price £8,253

Want to find out more about Marella Cruises Caribbean cruise holidays or explore other exciting voyages? Head to the TUI website for inspiration.

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Our TUI Discovery Caribbean Cruise Review for 14 nights

Having been on only one cruise in the past we decided we wanted to do one with multiple islands and as little as possible sea days as we like to get off and explore. We decided on Thomson Discovery as they offered 12 islands and 1 sea day, perfect for us.

We booked on to the seven shores followed by paradise islands cruise and got a free all inclusive drinks package. The cruise was a back to back cruise consisting of 12 eastern Caribbean islands starting from Bridgetown Barbados.

caribbean cruises tui

Flying with TUI to the Caribbean

We were told we would be flying on the Thomson Dreamliner only to find out when we boarded it was the Boeing 767 which was disappointing as we were looking forward to flying on the Dreamliner.

Paul and I are terrible flyers we are just petrified! My fear of flying started when I was a child and I’ve never really got over it. I don’t let it stop me flying and actually prefer long haul flights which makes no sense at all I know!!

Paul was a great flyer until he met me and I’ve put the fear in him sadly. We don’t want Brody to be like us and I supposed that’s why we were determined to travel as much as we could with him when he was young so it is a normal thing for him. It seems to be working he loves flying, which is great as the The flight took approx 9 hours from Manchester.

When we landed Brody shouted ” yeah we made it let’s go back up again” clapping so enthusiastically, the whole plane burst out laughing. We are so very lucky he loves flying and keeps us both distracted from our fear of flying.

The route over the Atlantic is know for turbulence and to be honest we have never not had a bumpy ride so I did expect it. We had an amazing day time flight over but the flight home was another story!! 8 hours of severe turbulence! My nerves were shot to pieces, It was awful! I was so thankful that Brody slept the whole way home, not a peep!

The staff were amazing and asked someone if they wouldn’t mind moving so we could have an extra seat for him to lie down which is just such a huge help when you have a little one on a flight, I’m sure most parents will agree! Paul wasn’t well at all and the staff couldn’t do enough for him on the flight, they even got authorization from the captain to open a doctor’s kit to get ambasol out for him. We couldn’t the praise the staff enough.

TUI Discovery Ship

We disembarked the plane in Bridgetown Barbados, went straight to a bus and off we went to the ship, all so organised which was amazing after a 9 hour flight. Embarkation was quick and efficient then we went straight to our cabin.

We booked an outside cabin as I really don’t like the idea of not having a window in a room and didn’t like the idea of a balcony with a 3 year old, I know I’m a worrier but I doubt I’d have slept a wink knowing their was a balcony!!! The cabin was spacious and the window was huge much to Brody’s amusement.

We had only every been on one cruise before and that was a 4 day Bahamas cruise on the outstanding Disney Magic. I had it in my head when we booked the Thomson cruise that there was no way it could live up to Disney, just no way at all! Well I was quite presently surprised!!!

We took a walk around the ship and it was absolutely beautiful. The Thomson Discovery had previously been the Royal Carribbean’s Splendor of the seas and has undergone a huge renovation before becoming Thomson discovery.

Food on board

We were on an all inclusive basis and did not make use of the extra cost restaurants ( Kora la, surf and turf steak house and sushi bar) we instead ate mainly at the buffet restaurant “Islands” mostly because its so convenient with kids.

After a long day out sight seeing its so much easier and quicker to eat at the buffet. Brody is not a child to make a fuss but for some reason on this trip he got quite fed up at dinner time so “ Islands’ was a great option for great food quickly!! Perfect for families.

We also ate at 47degrees, which Is the main service eatery. The food here was delicious to say the least. Brody’s favourite place to eat was definitely the “shake shack” a fast food outlet styled colorfully with British style beach huts.

I myself cannot eat wheat so I find eating on holiday can be quite difficult. Unlike the vast majority of people I end up loosing weight on holiday!! However I didn’t find it difficult on this trip as Thomas cater well for allergies and intolerances, which made my life so much easier.

TUI Discovery for kids

I can’t comment on the kids club as I’m not one for leaving my son in kids clubs, I’m a worrier and much prefers him to be with us. We did however go to see the kids clubs that cater for 3-11 year olds and they looked great. The staff were all very attentive with Brody and he loved getting his chocolates on his pillow every night along with a towel animal.

Excursions and best things to do on TUI Discovery

Click the button below to read the full list of tours, prices and things to do in all of the destinations!

Tinkers Tips

If you prefer seeing lots of places and spending most of your days on land Thomson is the ship for you. They tend to visit a lot of places and have fewer sea days then other cruise companies. If you prefer sea days this is not the cruise for you.

Eat earlier with children to avoid the glares from fellow passengers, especially when the restaurants are crowded. This happened a few times with us so we switched to eating earlier when other kids were around. With Thomson there is no set dining, you can eat when you like which we loved.

Be prepared, the ports that Thomson use aren’t all in the main cruise ports. We docked at many freight ship container docks, which thought was a little strange but we had already booked our excursions so it wasn’t a big deal for us.

Make sure you book all excursions BEFORE you cruise. We have another post with all our excursion operators.

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Marella Cruises

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Marella Cruises fleet

Marella voyager, marella discovery, marella explorer, marella discovery 2, marella explorer 2, review of marella cruises.

Marella Cruises (renamed in 2018 from "Thomson Cruises", tui.co.uk/cruise) is a "TUI Group"-owned and "TUI UK and Ireland"-operated British cruise line, that offers low-price voyages in Europe, Caribbean, and Asia. The company's older vessels are chartered from Holland America Line and Celestyal Cruises . Marella's new fleet consists of TUI-owned ships formerly owned and operated by Royal Caribbean and TUI Cruises .

In late-April 2020 was officially announced that the liner Marella Celebration will be retired (either sold or scrapped ) after 15 years of service with Thomson-Marella UK. The ship was scheduled to be homeported in Dubrovnik Croatia (June through October 2020, and May through October 2021), in Limassol Cyprus (Nov-Dec 2020, and March-April 2021) and in Dubai UAE (Dec 2020 through March 2021). All these voyages (which are still listed at CruiseMapper) were canceled.

In mid-October 2021, TUI announced that Mein Schiff Herz will be transferred in 2023 to Marella's fleet. Following a drydock refurbishment, the boat will be renamed Marella Voyager , starting operations for Marella on June 3, 2023.

Company history and changes

Initially, Thomson Cruises (UK company) started operations in 1973, but due to rising fuel costs, its passenger shipping operations were terminated in 1976. Thomson restarted cruise shipping in 1995. Marella Cruises is a very popular brand on the British travel market. It was established in 1965 as a division of the UK's largest tour operator and travel agency Thomson Holidays (now TUI UK). Thomson Holidays was a subsidiary of Thomson Corporation (1989-2008 defunct). Marella's parent company (TUI Group) owns hotels, the companies TUI Cruises, Marella Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises , and the travel brands International Expeditions and Zegrahm Expeditions. The company also owns aircraft and the airlines Corsair International (France), TUI Airways (UK), TUI fly Nordic (Sweden), TUI fly Belgium, TUI fly Deutschland, TUI fly Netherlands.

Thomson Marella Cruises logo

Two Greek ocean liners were chartered by Thomson in 1973, but the company failed to capture the audience, like other cruise lines of the 1970s. Operations were restarted in 1995 after Thomson chartered the liner Sapphire (originally named MS Italia, built 1965, scrapped 2010) from Louis Cruise Lines (now Celestyal Cruises ). Soon the company chartered other ocean liners, among which Island Breeze (RMS Transvaal Castle, 1961-2003), Topaz (RMS Empress of Britain, 1955-2008), The Emerald (SS Santa Rosa, 1958-2012).

Thomson Cruises aimed an effect on the British market just like Carnival did in the USA. Package holidays had already been very popular in the UK, and the company wanted the same for cruising. Despite the aging ships, Thomson Cruises attracted an ever-increasing number of first-time UK cruisers with affordable fares and presence of the company's travel agencies across Britain. In the 1990s, Thomson started operations as a budget cruise line and improved its product becoming more successful in the UK by improving amenities, ships and services, and introducing a wider range of itineraries.

Royal Caribbean sold its stake in Island Cruises to TUI Travel (Thomson's parent company) in 2008. In 2009 Island Star left the fleet and joined the Spanish brand of Royal Caribbean - Pullmantur. Island Escape joined Thomson fleet in 2009 and continued to offer informal cruises to the UK source market. Thomson Dream (Marella Dream) joined the fleet in spring 2010 being long-term chartered from Costa Cruises .

In March 2015, Royal Caribbean International (RCI) announced they had agreed to sell Splendour of the Seas to TUI in the second quarter of 2016. TUI would lease the vessel to Thomson Cruises in order to replace Island Escape. In May 2015, TUI Group announced plans for Mein Schiff 1/now Marella Explorer and Mein Schiff 2/Herz/now Marella Voyager to be transferred to Thomson UK over the next few years. Shiff 1 (renamed Marella Explorer ) entered Marella's fleet in 2017. In October 2015, Thomson's Island Cruises brand was discontinued after its only ship MS Island Escape (now Ocean Gala ) completed its last voyage with Thomson.

For FY2017, company's turnover was GBP 502 million, with EBITA (earnings-before-interest-taxes-depreciation-amortization) GBP 86,5 million and total number of served passengers 308,000 (101,7% occupancy). For FY2018 (fiscal year), TUI Group's earnings (from the 3 cruise brands - TUI, Marella, and Hapag-Lloyd) increased by 10,7% - to EUR 901,9 million. The company's turnover was EUR 324 million (26,8% increase over 2017). Group's average daily rates increased to EUR 178 euro (TUI, up from EUR 173), EUR 141 (Marella, up from EUR 131) and EUR 615 (Hapag-Lloyd, up from EUR 594).

In March 2018, TUI Group announced that to Marella's fleet will be added Marella Explorer 2 (formerly SkySea Golden Era, initially Celebrity Century), with scheduled delivery in December 2018. The liner was previously operated by SkySea Cruise Line - Asian joint venture company (owned by the RCCL-Royal Caribbean and Ctrip International). SkySea was the first contemporary brand developed for the Chinese market. Operational between May 2015 - September 2018, the new cruise line handled nearly 300 voyages and around 0,5 million passengers.

Marella "cruise and stay" holiday package deals include hotel or apartment at the beginning or at the end of the voyage.

Onboard cuisine offers everything you can think about - from healthy options to exotic local specialties and culinary choices on offer. Daytime entertainment with Marella cruises is great for all members of the family. There are also different activities for children onboard and special children's menu for junior diners. You can relax each evening in the wide range of bars and lounges or enjoy first-class entertainment with singers and comedians.

Marella fly-cruise deals from the UK to the Caribbean are served by regional TUI Airways flights from UK airports ( Cardiff , Doncaster Sheffield, East Midlands, Greenock-Glasgow , Newcastle , Stansted, Birmingham, Manchester, London -Gatwick). Flights are to the company's Caribbean homeports Bridgetown Barbados and Montego Bay Jamaica . In 2019 were introduced "cruise-only flights" to Malaysia from Manchester Airport. The TUI Airways service (via Boeing 787 aircraft) connects to Langkawi Island - homeport for Marella's Far East Asia voyages. Such direct flights (TUI Airways) are also offered from London-Gatwick and Birmingham.

On select cruises, Marella offers free all-inclusive upgrades on the fleet's older liners. The new vessels ( Marella Discovery and Marella Discovery 2 ) offered these all-inclusive packages as standard fare inclusion. Since summer 2019, TUI's Marella brand operates with all-inclusive cruise deals fleetwide.

Since November 2022, Marella UK (via partnership with OneSpaWorld Holdings/health and wellness company) provides ocean-inspired wellness products and services on all its ships. The range of OneSpaWorld's services includes Ocean Body Treatments (massages and polishes), Ocean Facial, Ocean Salon Services. On Marella ships, OneSpaWorld uses premium beauty brands like Elemis, L'Oreal, Kerastase. The brands owned by OneSpaWorld include Mandara Spa, Bliss Spa, Chavana Spa, Glow Spa.

(Coronavirus crisis) passenger shipping pause 2020-2021

Due to the COVID pandemic, Marella UK suspended its entire fleet's passenger shipping operations (all liners) by canceling all voyages with pre-scheduled departures in the period March 14, 2020, through late-June 2021.

Next are listed all Marella ships and their first departure dates/regions/homeports in 2021-2022 - DISCOVERY (Sept 3/Mediterranean-Greece from Corfu/"Aegean Discovery"), DISCOVERY 2 ( April 5, 2022 /Mediterranean from Palma de Mallorca), EXPLORER (June 25/ UK from Southampton ), EXPLORER 2 (July 10/ UK from Newcastle ).

  • Marella's Caribbean 2021 program was canceled, which affected the ships DISCOVERY (from Montego Bay Jamaica) and EXPLORER 2 (from Bridgetown Barbados).
  • DISCOVERY 2's Mediterranean 2021 program (Adriatic and Greek Islands from Corfu) was canceled, and the ship restarted in April 2022.
  • DISCOVERY's 2021 homeporting in Palma de Mallorca was replaced with Corfu Greece.
  • Two Marella ships (Celebration, Dream) were sold and left the fleet. Marella Dream was originally planned to restart voyages on May 4, 2021. Marella Dream was originally planned to restart voyages on May 4, 2021.

All affected bookings received full refunds (100% monetary) or 110% in FCC (future cruise credit), including on prepurchased through Marella (TUI UK) packages and services. With rebooking, the fare paid is transferred to FCCs (110%). Holiday package bookings (cruise and land vacations) receive 120% refund (in FCC) or 100% cash refund. All refunds are received within 4 weeks prior to the original departure date.

Itinerary of Marella Cruises

With a large selection of destinations and itineraries, Marella Cruises may show you the whole world. With a variety of UK cruises with departures from Southampton , Newcastle and Harwich , fly-cruise holidays from a large number of airports (available departures from over twenty UK airports), Marella Cruises sail in the Red Sea and the Canary Islands during winter, the Mediterranean in summer. There are about a hundred different destinations to explore aboard Marella ships.

Marella's UK-Caribbean fly-cruise deals are via TUI Airways (sister-company, part of TUI Group). The packages include direct flights from the UK (London-Gatwick and Birmingham) to Melbourne Orlando Airport. Marella optionally offers "cruise and stay" packages with a choice of 18 different hotels in the Caribbean.

Marella cruise itinerary changes

Following the Coronavirus crisis, in mid-April 2021 Marella announced a new ex-UK 2021 summer program with itineraries leaving roundtrip from UK ports and mainly coastal cruising along Britain's coast.

Marella Explorer 1 was homeported in Southampton (starting June 25, 2021).

  • The 3-night "Sail the South Coast" (mini-cruise itinerary from Southampton) visits Dover and Portland.
  • The "Sail the Irish Sea" itinerary (starting August 2021) from Southampton visits Liverpool, Dublin, Cobh.
  • Scottish itineraries out of Southampton visit Invergordon, Leith (Edinburgh), Newcastle.
  • "A Taste of the West Coast" itinerary (one-way Southampton to Portland) visits Greenock, Belfast, Holyhead.

Marella Explorer 2 was homeported in Newcastle upon Tyne (starting July 10, 2021).

Marella Celebration (1984-built, former ms Noordam and Thomson Celebration) joined the fleet in 2005. During summer, the ship operated Adriatic Sea roundtrips out of Dubrovnik Croatia. During winter it offered Persian Gulf cruises from Dubai . For summer 2018, the ship was relocated to homeport Dubrovnik for an adults-only cruise program with full-day port stays in Bar, Korcula, Zadar, Venice, Trieste, Split. The ship also introduced 2 new 7-day itineraries, themed "Sail Three Seas" (Valletta Malta, Messina Sicily, Cephalonia Island, Igoumenitsa, Kotor) and "Greek Mystique" (Chania Crete, Piraeus-Athens, Kalamata, Corfu Island, Kotor).

  • In late-April 2020, Marella announced that the Celebration ship will be retired after 15 years of service with Thomson-Marella UK.
  • Marella Celebration was scheduled to be homeported in Dubrovnik Croatia (June through October 2020, and May through October 2021), in Limassol Cyprus (Nov-Dec 2020, and March-April 2021) and in Dubai UAE (Dec 2020 through March 2021). All these scheduled departures were cancelled. Among those were two repositioning cruises (via Suez Canal ) visiting Singapore . Both relocation voyages ("Wonders of the Far East" and "Flavours of the Far East") were planned as 14-day itineraries featuring a late-night stay in Singapore.
  • Marella Celebration had also planned 3 new itineraries from homeports Limassol, Dubai and Dubrovnik. The 6-night "Ancient Adventure" (from Dubrovnik) visits Piraeus-Athens and Rhodes Island. The relocation voyages between Limassol and Dubai ("Continental Crossing" and "Arabia Awaits") visited Aqaba-Petra (Jordan) and Salalah (Oman).

Thomson Majesty (1992-built) joined the fleet in 2012 and operated roundtrips to Madeira and Canary Islands with departures from Tenerife and Gran Canaria. In 2018, the ship was sold to Mano Cruises and now operates as Crown Iris .

Thomson Spirit (1983-built, former ms Nieuw Amsterdam , ms Patriot, ms Spirit), joined the fleet in 2003. The ship offered year-round European itineraries - Western Mediterranean (from Malaga and roundtrip Madeira) and Canary Islands (departures from Tenerife and Gran Canaria). Thomson Spirit's last cruise for Marella was scheduled for October 21, 2018.

Marella Dream (1986, fka MS Homeric, ms Westerdam , Costa Europa, Thomson Dream) joined the fleet in 2010 and left the fleet in 2020. During summer, the ship offered Eastern Mediterranean roundtrips from Corfu Greece. During winter it offered Caribbean roundtrips from Jamaica (Montego Bay), with Transatlantic repositioning crossings between the Caribbean and Europe.

  • On October 1, 2020, was announced the r etirement ( end of the charter ) of the 34-year-old Marella Dream - after 10 years of service with Thomson-Marella UK (2010-2020). All Marella Dream cruises scheduled between May 4 and December 30, 2021 (37x itineraries) were cancelled. All Marella Dream Mediterranean 2021 voyages were transferred to Marella Discovery 1, which was rescheduled for homeporting in Palma de Mallorca Spain (instead of Port Canaveral USA ). As a result of the redeployment, Discovery 1's summer 2021 Caribbean voyages were all cancelled.

Marella Discovery 1 (1996, former "Splendour of the Seas" and "Thomson Discovery") joined the fleet in 2016. The ship offers year-round Western Mediterranean roundtrips from Palma de Mallorca .

Marella Discovery 2 (1995-built, fka "Legend of the Seas" / Royal Caribbean and "TUI Discovery 2"), joined the fleet in Spring 2017. The ship operates Mediterranean cruises (leaving from Malaga Spain) and Canary Islands cruises (out of Tenerife to ports in the Canaries, Morocco, and Madeira).

Marella Explorer (1996-built, fka Mein Schiff 1 , initially "Celebrity Galaxy") started operations in 2018, with 7-day Western Mediterranean cruises leaving roundtrip from homeport Palma De Mallorca Spain and visiting popular French Riviera ports in France .

Marella Explorer 2 (1995-built, fka "SkySea Golden Era", initially "Celebrity Century") started operations in April 2019 with 7-day Mediterranean itineraries leaving roundtrip from homeport Naples (Italy) .

Marella Voyager (1997-built, fka "Mein Schiff 1" and "Mein Schiff Herz", initially "Celebrity Mercury") joins Marella's fleet in June 2023. Following a drydock, the boat's Maiden Voyage leaves on June 3, 2023, from Palma de Mallorca (Majorca Island, Balearic Spain) .

  • Out of Palma/homeport are visited large port cities in Italy, Spain and France. The 7-day itineraries are themed "Mediterranean Secrets", "Highlights Of The Mediterranean", "Highlights Of The Med", "Magic Of Spain", "Cosmopolitan Classics", "Mediterranean Secrets".
  • Marella Voyager's winter 2023-2024 program is in the Caribbean, based on homeporting in Bridgetown Barbados and offers 3x 8-day itineraries - "A Taste of the Tropics from Barbados", "Paradise Islands", and "Tropical Delights". The ship's winter schedule will be open for booking from July 21, 2022.

Itineraries 2024-2025

Marella returns to Dominicana in winter 2024-2025, after a 7-year hiatus (since 2017 under the Thomson Cruises brand).

The adults-only ship Marella Explorer 2 is homeported in La Romana (starting on Christmas Eve/Dec 24, 2024) for a series of Caribbean roundtrips. The itineraries visit destinations in Grenada, Barbados, St Lucia, St Kitts, Dominica, Antigua, St Maarten, Tortola BVI, and Samana Dominicana (new port for Marella).

Additionally, a third itinerary visits the Netherlands' ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao).

Marella's winter 2024-2025 Mediterranean schedule features two shorter itineraries. Marella Explorer ship starts from Malaga (on December 9th, 2024) heading towards Tenerife Canaries via Gibraltar UK and Casablanca Morocco , with one day at sea. The Marella Voyager ship departs from Palma de Mallorca (on November 2) visiting Spain's ports Alicante , Almeria , and Malaga.

New winter itineraries include 6-night voyages leaving from Marmaris Turkey , Corfu Greece and Malaga.

Marella's summer 2025 itineraries incorporate 10x cruise-and-stay/cruisetour packages.

Marella Discovery 2 is homeported in Limassol Cyprus (commencing May 7, 2025) for the summer, marking the brand's return to Limassol since the winter of 2017 (under the Thomson brand). The liner will operate two different itineraries - "Aegean Gems" ( Kusadasi , Mykonos , Piraeus-Athens , Souda Crete , Rhodes ) and "Grecian Discovery" (Piraeus, Santorini , Crete, Rhodes).

Simultaneously, Marella Voyager (inaugurated in June 2023) is homeported in Palma during summer 2025, introducing 4 different itineraries: "Magic of Spain", "Treasures of the Mediterranean", "Mediterranean Secrets" and "Mediterranean Medley".

Marella's summer 2025 program also introduces 10x cruise-and-land packages providing access to 200+ hotels in destinations like Palma, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Cyprus. These packages allow selection between pre-cruise and post-cruise hotel stays.

Marella Cruises to Cuba

Marella Explorer 2's 7-night itinerary "Flavours of the Caribbean" visits Cuba with an overnight in Havana . The 7-day roundtrip from Jamaica ( Montego Bay ) also visits Mexico (Cozumel), and Grand Cayman Island (George Town).

Marella offered roundtrips to Cuba out of Jamaica ( Montego Bay ) with Marella Dream . Itineraries started in 2017. The maiden voyage was on January 31 (7-night to Grand Cayman, Havana, Cozumel). In 2020, two Marella ships (Celebration, Dream) were sold and left the fleet.

Marella Cruises related cruise news

Marella UK unveils summer 2025 itineraries, incorporating 10 cruise-and-stay packages

Marella UK unveils summer 2025 itineraries, incorporating 10 cruise-and-stay packages

Marella Cruises UK unveiled its summer 2025 itineraries, incorporating 10 cruise-and-stay packages into the offerings. Marella Discovery 2 ship is...

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Trimline rebrands 5th Marella Cruises UK ship

Trimline rebrands 5th Marella Cruises UK ship

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9-month-old baby medevaced from Marella Explorer cruise ship

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Marella UK cancels current and next cruise on Marella Discovery ship due to engine fire

Marella UK cancels current and next cruise on Marella Discovery ship due to engine fire

Marella Cruises UK has decided to cancel the remainder of its ongoing voyage and the upcoming departure of the Marella Discovery cruise ship due to a...

Marella Cruises returns to Dominicana after 7-year absence

Marella Cruises returns to Dominicana after 7-year absence

Marella Cruises UK will be making a comeback to the Dominican Republic in the winter of 2024-2025, marking their return after a hiatus since 2017...

Marella UK’s 5th cruise ship Marella Voyager starts operations

Marella UK’s 5th cruise ship Marella Voyager starts operations

The TUI AG-owned and TUI UK-managed Marella Cruises is launching its 5th ship - Marella Voyager, on Saturday, June 3rd as she begins Mediterranean...

VIDEO: Marella Discovery begins first cruise from Port Canaveral/Orlando (Florida USA)

VIDEO: Marella Discovery begins first cruise from Port Canaveral/Orlando (Florida USA)

Marella Cruises UK has started a series of 26 weekly sailings from Port Canaveral's Terminal 5, which will run until November, with the Marella...

51 cruise ship calls scheduled for 2023 at Port Ancona (Italy)

51 cruise ship calls scheduled for 2023 at Port Ancona (Italy)

51 cruise ship calls are scheduled so far for the 2023 season at Port Ancona (Italy), of which 30 calls from MSC Armonia opening the season on...

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Where does Marella Cruises sail in the Caribbean & what’s included?

Caribbean cruises are hugely popular with UK holidaymakers eager for sun, sea and sand – but it can be hard to know which line to cruise with and where to go.

Caribbean cruise holidays whisk travellers off to a plethora of gorgeous beaches glittering under a cobalt sky.

Fancy languishing on a sun lounger with a pina colada in hand? Want to go scuba diving to admire glorious sea life? The Caribbean offers everything, whether you want action and adventure or relaxation and pampering.

Marella Cruises is one important cruise line that offers voyages to this beautiful part of the world.

The TUI cruise line sails to a whopping 23 Caribbean destinations so holidaymakers really are spoiled for choice.

What’s more, all Marella cruise ships are all-inclusive as standard, so you never have to worry about the cost of those Pina Coladas racking up!

So where in the Caribbean will your TUI cruise holiday take you next?

caribbean cruise Jamaica

Where do Marella Cruises sail in the Caribbean?

Antigua Aruba Bahamas Barbados Bonaire British Virgin Islands Cayman Islands Cuba Curacao Island Dominica Dominican Republic Grenada Guadeloupe Jamaica Martinique Puerto Rico St Kitts and Nevis St Lucia St Maarten St Vincent and the Grenadines Trinidad And Tobago Turks and Caicos Islands U.S Virgin Islands

Dominican Republic

Marella all-inclusive cruises: What do you get on a Marella cruise?

TUI cruise holidays include flights, luggage, transfer, meals, drinks, tips and service charges.

What drinks are included in all inclusive TUI?

The standard all-inclusive Marella drinks package includes a selected draught beer and cider, selected wine and Prosecco by the glass, spirits and aperitifs, an array of cocktails and selected soft drinks by the glass, including mocktails and fruit juice.

Are tips included on Marella Cruises?

Are tips and service charges are included in the cost of your Marella Cruises holiday.

What food is included on Marella Cruises?

The TUI cruise fleet boasts seven restaurants offering food from all over the world whether you’re after sizzling steak or tasty Spanish tapas. There are also midnight buffets and food to-go options.

Restaurants are included in the fare but there are speciality restaurants as well which cost extra. There’s pan-Asian cuisine at Kora La, high-quality cuts of meat in the Surf & Turf Steakhouse, and fancy French food at the Dining Club. Simply check what’s aboard your Marella cruise ship when you book.

Marella Cruises food all inclusive cruise

Can you upgrade drinks packages onboard Marella?

If you want to add more drinks, you can upgrade to the premium drinks package.

It includes all of the above plus the following extras:

Upgraded cocktails such as Mojitos and Aperol Spritz’s

All drinks from The Coffee Port, made with premium Lavazza Coffee

Premium gins, vodkas, rums and tequilas including Absolut Vodka, Bombay Sapphire and Captain Morgan

More choice of whiskies, brandies and Cognacs including Jack Daniels

Cans of soft drink

A 1.5-litre bottle of water, per cabin per day

Do you get free Wi-Fi on Marella Cruises?

Wi-Fi is not included as standard on Tui cruises but it is available at a cost on all Marella ships.

Internet access is charged to your cabin account at the rate advertised onboard.

A Taste of Paradise with Marella Cruises

Duration: 7 nights

Where: Barbados | Antigua | Dominica | Martinique | Grenada | St Lucia | Barbados

Flights: Flights included from London Gatwick

Ship: Marella Discovery

Price: From £1,334 pp

caribbean cruises tui

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Sail from sun-soaked tropical islands to the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans on this 49-night Central American cruise.

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The 12 best all-inclusive cruises for 2024.

When most of the extra costs are paid before you sail, you can truly enjoy your cruise.

The Best All-Inclusive Cruises

Man pouring his partner a glass of champagne at sunset on a cruise ship

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Sit back and relax on an all-inclusive cruise vacation.

When it comes to all-inclusive cruises, there are a few different options:

  • Luxury cruise lines: All-inclusive cruise rates are available on luxury lines like Regent Seven Seas and Silversea. While more expensive than traditional cruise rates , the fares cover nearly everything, including door-to-door transfers, luxurious suite accommodations, specialty dining , premium alcoholic beverages and excursions. Plus, you don't need to show your cruise card every time you order a latte or a pre-dinner cocktail. You'll disembark the ship with very few, if any, additional charges on your final bill.
  • Cruise lines with inclusive pricing: Alternatively, you can consider an upscale cruise line like Viking, which offers fares with more-inclusive pricing and some of the amenities found on board the fully inclusive lines. However, you'll still have to budget for a few expenses, such as immersive excursions and alcoholic beverages beyond wine or beer at lunch and dinner.
  • Packages and add-ons: Other cruise lines like Oceania, Windstar and Norwegian offer add-on drink packages and other promos so you can create a more all-inclusive experience.

After comparing the costs between a truly all-inclusive cruise and a sailing with package pricing for the extras, the total price may be closer than you think.

Find your perfect cruise

All-Inclusive Cruises

Regent seven seas cruises.

The Regent Suite Bathroom on the Regent Seven Seas Grandeur ship

Courtesy of Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Regent Seven Seas touts its six ships – with the newest vessel, Seven Seas Grandeur , which debuted in late 2023 – as "the world's most luxurious fleet." The line's intimate ships accommodate up to 750 guests. They feature all ocean-view suites, prestigious museum-quality art collections (including a prized Fabergé egg on the new Grandeur), and itineraries that call on more than 500 destinations around the world.

With Regent's "every luxury included" philosophy and 2-for-1 all-inclusive fares, passengers receive round-trip airfare and transfers between the airport and ship, as well as unlimited shore excursions, two- or three-night land programs (based on the itinerary), and a complimentary pre-cruise hotel package for concierge suites and higher. On the ship, enjoy a fully stocked in-suite minibar; specialty dining; unlimited fine wines, spirits and other beverages; prepaid gratuities; unlimited Wi-Fi; and free valet laundry service.

On top of personalized service, guests sailing on Regent Seven Seas cruises will enjoy immersive exploration ashore – with overnights in some ports of call – and enrichment programs. Top-notch dining includes French cuisine at Chartreuse (on select ships), Pan-Asian fare at Pacific Rim (also on select ships) and Italian fare at Sette Mari at La Veranda.

Cooking classes in the Culinary Arts Kitchen (available on Grandeur, Splendor and Explorer ), some tours and bespoke excursions, spa treatments, unique offerings, and certain wines and top-shelf liquors come with an additional cost.

Explore Regent Seven Seas Cruises on GoToSea, a service of U.S. News.

Silversea Cruises

Living room of the Grand Suite on the Silversea Silver Wind ship

Courtesy of Silversea Cruises

Sailing on board one of Silversea's 13 ultra-luxury cruise or expedition ships commences with the line's new chauffeur experience. This door-to-door service transports guests from home to the airport and back home on the return trip. The line's all-inclusive pricing also encompasses international or domestic flights (with business class upgrades in certain destinations), pre- and post-cruise hotel accommodations, butler service in every suite, all gratuities, gourmet dining, and complimentary alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, including Champagne.

Guests will also enjoy a staff-to-guest ratio of nearly 1-to-1 – and with no more than 728 guests. Other all-inclusive perks include at least one shore excursion in each port plus onboard lectures and programming. On expedition sailings in destinations like Antarctica , all guided Zodiac tours and landings are included in the fare.

When it comes to dining on Silversea ships, gourmet options feature French, Asian and Italian cuisine along with other international fare. For a special evening, S.A.L.T. Kitchen is a new destination-focused concept on Silver Ray, Nova , Moon and Dawn . This immersive dining experience, Sea And Land Taste, was developed in partnership with the former editor-in-chief of "Saveur Magazine," Adam Sachs. The culinary offerings with S.A.L.T. also include shore excursions, where guests can tour a 500-year-old family winery and vineyard in Croatia, visit an organic farm in Denmark, or learn to make gelato in Sicily.

Expenses not covered in Silversea's fare include salon and spa services, personal training sessions, select excursions, upgraded internet packages, and special bottles of wine or liquors.

Compare Silversea Cruises deals on GoToSea.

Seabourn Cruise Line

Pool deck at sunset

Courtesy of Seabourn Cruise Line

Seabourn's seven purpose-built expedition vessels and intimate luxury cruise ships accommodate between 264 and 600 guests. The club-like atmosphere on board its ships comes with highly intuitive and personalized service with about a 1-to-1 staff-to-guest ratio. Each suite also has a dedicated personal suite host and a suite attendant that will cater to your every whim.

All-inclusive fares include oceanfront suites with walk-in closets, living areas and luxurious bathrooms. All Seabourn Encore and Ovation accommodations feature private verandas, while 90% of the suites on Seabourn Odyssey , Sojourn and Quest have balconies. Premium and penthouse suites offer additional amenities and perks.

While aboard Seabourn Cruise Line , guests will enjoy complimentary fine wines and premium spirits, welcome Champagne, and a fully stocked in-suite bar with your personalized selections. Dining is a real treat, with several venues in partnership with renowned chef Thomas Keller, such as the line's signature restaurant, The Grill by Thomas Keller. Seabourn is also a member of the prestigious Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, an international association of gastronomy.

Other complimentary amenities on Seabourn's cruise ships include special evenings with dinner and live entertainment; a marina and complimentary water sports; "Caviar in the Surf" on select voyages; movie nights; a chance to shop with the chef at local markets; personal valet luggage shipping service; enrichment lectures; and more.

Additional expenses include a wide selection of epicurean, mindfulness and wellness excursions as well as cultural and historical bespoke tours. You can also book the ultimate underwater adventure on one of the line's high-tech submarines on the two expedition vessels, Seabourn Venture and Pursuit. Programs and treatments at Seabourn's Spa & Wellness are also at an additional cost.

Find a Seabourn Cruise Line cruise on GoToSea.

Atlas Ocean Voyages

Atlas Ocean Voyages features "always included" cruise fares on its two purpose-built yachts, World Navigator and World Traveller. The line recently welcomed a third ship to its fleet for the 2023-24 Antarctica season, World Voyager. Atlas' high-end boutique ships cater to just 198 passengers and feature spacious staterooms and suites with panoramic windows or private balconies and beautiful public spaces and lounges. These small ships also have several options for dining, depending on the sailing and destination.

The all-inclusive fares cover complimentary dining; unlimited wines, craft beers and spirits; 24-hour bar service with canapes; a free in-room minibar; afternoon high tea; fresh-pressed juices and specialty teas and coffees; butler service; 24-hour room service; prepaid gratuities; cultural immersion in every port; and other perks.

Polar expedition fares cover private charter jet service, group transfers from the airport to the yacht, an Atlas Ocean Voyages parka and vest to take home, Zodiac sightseeing safaris, expert guided shore landings, and destination lectures and briefings.

If you're on one of the line's Epicurean Expeditions, the cultural immersion program offers complimentary special tastings, market visits and cooking demonstrations. In addition to use of the marina's water toys (on select sailings, weather permitting), guests can enjoy an authentic Portuguese dinner and an alfresco Josper Grill dining experience at 7-AFT Grill. On select voyages, culinary presentations, wine tastings and other special events are hosted by an expert.

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More-Inclusive Cruises

Cruise fares with these lines include many of the amenities and perks that you'll find with the all-inclusive cruises. However, you'll still need to budget for some expenses, such as alcoholic beverages, excursions and specialty dining, depending on the line.

Covered main pool on a Viking ship

Courtesy of Viking Cruises

Viking's ocean fleet of nine 930-passenger all-veranda ships offers a nearly all-inclusive experience for guests. The upscale Scandinavian-inspired ships feature king-bed staterooms and suites with many amenities, including luxurious linens and plush robes, 24-hour room service, and free Wi-Fi – plus an in-room minibar with soft drinks, water and snacks. Higher-category staterooms on Viking Ocean Cruises come with additional perks like priority dinner and spa reservations, early stateroom access, and a welcome bottle of Champagne.

Cruise fares also include complimentary dining at all the venues; one free shore excursion in every port; beer, wine and soft drinks at lunch and dinner; specialty teas, coffee and bottled water; access to the spa; lectures and performances; port taxes and fees; and more.

Viking also has two 378-passenger Polar Class 6 expedition vessels, Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris. These ships also offer a mostly all-inclusive experience with the same amenities as their oceangoing vessels. Pricing on the expedition sailings includes Zodiac safaris, the use of kayaks, a keepsake Viking jacket, and essential gear for excursions and landings.

Select excursions, pre- or post-dinner cocktails, spa treatments, special bottles of wine, and other optional purchases come at an additional expense.

Book a Viking cruise on GoToSea.

Private balcony with table and two chairs on an Azamara ship

Courtesy of Azamara

Azamara's four upscale boutique ships carry a maximum of 702 guests and offer immersive experiences around the world, calling on many smaller, lesser-known ports. The line also boasts more than 380 overnights and 850 late nights in port, so guests can have dinner in town and experience more of the destination's local culture and cuisine.

Azamara's cruise fares include all meals (other than the specialty dining restaurants) with water, tea and coffee. A selection of complimentary wine, sparkling wine, beer and spirits is available throughout the voyage. Cultural evenings ashore or on board the ship and gratuities are also included in the basic cruise fare.

If you'd like to enhance your onboard experience, Azamara offers inclusive "Experience More" packages that are discounted and based on the length of the voyage.

For example, on a seven-day or shorter sailing, solo travelers can add a package for $799 that's valued at $1,114 (a savings of 28%). This value-add bundle includes $350 of onboard credit to use for shore excursions; unlimited Wi-Fi for one device; a drinks package featuring premium wines, spirits and bottled water; a $150 spa credit; and a dinner at the Chef's Table or a total of three nights of specialty dining at Prime C or Aqualina. Three bags of laundry are also included.

Guests can book similar packages for double occupancy staterooms and longer voyages. You can also choose individual beverage, dining or internet packages if you don't need the extra amenities or features of the bundled options.

Compare Azamara cruises on GoToSea.

Virgin Voyages

Pool deck on Virgin Voyages ship

Courtesy of Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages' four superyacht-inspired ships are designed with adults in mind and feature 1,330 cabins (most with balconies) and 78 RockStar Quarters suites, where guests have access to Richard's Rooftop, an exclusive outdoor deck space. Pricing with the adults-only cruise line includes stateroom or suite accommodations and meals at more than 20 eateries serving up international cuisine and dishes created by Michelin-starred chefs. Guests also have access to complimentary Wi-Fi; unlimited group exercise classes; nonalcoholic drinks such as water, tea and coffee; and plenty of lively entertainment.

Virgin does not offer beverage packages, but the line at times advertises special promotions that include voyage credits to cover expenses like airfare and drinks. Shore excursions and spa treatments – including skin care offerings on board Scarlet Lady in partnership with Jennifer Lopez, Virgin's chief entertainment and lifestyle officer – are some of the additional expenses not covered in the base fare.

Find a Virgin Voyages deal on GoToSea.

Add-on Packages and All-Inclusive Fares

These five cruise lines offer basic cruise fares that cover accommodations and some amenities – and you can typically find special pricing and promotional deals throughout the year.

With the optional packages, guests can create a mostly all-inclusive voyage with bundles of add-on extras, such as shore excursions, beverage packages, specialty dining, Wi-Fi, gratuities or shipboard credit to cover miscellaneous personal expenses such as spa treatments or a bottle of wine for a special celebration.

Oceania Cruises

Oceania's eight small luxury ships carry between 648 and 1,238 guests. The line's newest ship – Vista , the first Allura Class vessel – debuted in Rome in May 2023. The beautifully appointed vessel features four new dining concepts, spacious standard staterooms at 290-plus square feet in size, new Concierge Level veranda accommodations for solo cruisers, an elevated mixology program and more.

Oceania's culinary program is touted by the line as "The Finest Cuisine at Sea" under the tutelage of Jacques Pépin, executive culinary director and master chef. Complimentary specialty dining is included in cruise fares on Oceania sailings. Pricing also covers airfare, still and sparkling water, specialty teas and coffees, soft drinks, and Wi-Fi on the ship.

Oceania's "OLife Choice" package provides additional value to your cruise with 2-for-1 cruise fares, free round-trip airfare and airport transfers – plus one free amenity you'll choose out of eight complimentary shore excursions, a beverage package or up to $800 in shipboard credit.

Explore Oceania Cruises on GoToSea.

Celebrity Cruises

Luminae restaurants on Celebrity Cruises ship

Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity offers special rates and packages throughout the year that save money over a la carte pricing – and elevate your onboard experience to be more inclusive. You'll be able to access the best deal on the added perks if you book the upgraded package before you sail, saving up to 40 to 50 percent of the actual cost.

The line's "All-Included" package bundles the most popular add-ons for cruisers: a standard beverage package for alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks, unlimited basic Wi-Fi, and gratuities for the staff and crew. Pricing depends on the stateroom or suite category and sailing.

There are other options when booking a cruise with Celebrity to create a more upscale and all-inclusive experience. Guests staying in all-suite The Retreat have exclusive access to a sundeck (on select ships), a lounge and Luminae – a private restaurant that features Global Culinary Ambassador Daniel Boulud at the helm. Guests of The Retreat booking the "All-Included" package receive a premium beverage package, premium unlimited Wi-Fi, gratuities and an onboard credit.

If you book AquaClass accommodations, you'll also have access to complimentary amenities and perks, such as unlimited access to the SEA Thermal Suite, discounts on spa treatment packages and complimentary fitness classes. In addition, you'll also find a bottle of sparkling wine upon arrival (by request) and two bottles of water refreshed daily in your room. AquaClass guests also have exclusive access to the restaurant Blu. You can add the "All-Included" package to your booking, which will include the Classic Drinks Package, basic Wi-Fi and gratuities.

Passengers who want to book this "All-Included" package and are sharing a stateroom or suite will need to book the same package.

Compare Celebrity Cruises on GoToSea.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Bliss Haven Courtyard Penthouse on Norwegian Cruise Line ship

Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian also offers promotional fares and special deals throughout the year that feature similar amenities and perks to what you'll find on an all-inclusive cruise. The "Free at Sea" deal bundles discounts on the cruise, free specialty dining, unlimited open bar privileges, shore excursion credits, savings on Wi-Fi access, discounts on the third and fourth guests in the stateroom, and a 2-for-1 deal on airfare.

"Free at Sea Plus" takes the package up a notch with a more comprehensive beverage selection, including top-shelf cocktails, Champagne by the glass, bottles of select premium wines at dinner and signature Starbucks coffee drinks. This option also includes unlimited Wi-Fi, additional nights of specialty dining and shore excursions.

Prices for both packages on Norwegian Cruise Line will depend on the dates, length and destination of the cruise.

Book a Norwegian Cruise Line cruise on GoToSea.

Holland America Line

Retreat with raised hot tub on Holland America Line ship

Courtesy of Holland America Line

Holland America Line's "Have It All Premium Cruise Package" is available to book for cruises six days or longer, excluding the line's Grand Voyages. The benefits vary depending on the length of the trip but include credits for shore excursions; the Signature Beverage Package; specialty dining at Tamarind, Pinnacle Grill or Canaletto; and a Wi-Fi Surf Package. The cost starts at $50 a day per person. 

An early booking bonus for this package includes an Elite Beverage Package upgrade, covered crew appreciation charges and a premium Wi-Fi upgrade. Holland America has other special promotions throughout the year. One of these is an early booking bonus of up to $400 in onboard credit per stateroom for Mariner Society members.

Find Holland America deals on GoToSea.

Princess Cruises

Pool deck at sunset on Princess Cruises ship

Courtesy of Princess Cruises

"Princess Plus" and "Princess Premier" packages offer guests two options to upgrade their onboard amenities from the standard Princess Cruises plan, which covers accommodations, dining, entertainment and the line's signature MedallionClass experience.

"Princess Plus" perks include a beverage package with drinks up to $15 each, Wi-Fi on one device per guest, gratuities for the crew, two premium desserts a day (think hazelnut gelato at the onboard gelateria), two fitness classes per cruise (such as Pure Barre or YogaSix) and unlimited trips to the juice bar. The cost is $60 per day per person for this middle-tier package.

Additional benefits of the highest-tier option, at $80 per person per day, include the Premier Beverage Package, which covers drinks up to $20 each, and Wi-Fi for up to four devices per guest. Other features of the "Princess Premier" upgrade are two specialty meals, a photo package, Princess Prizes, reserved theater seating and a Medallion accessory.

Explore Princess Cruises on GoToSea.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Gwen Pratesi has been an avid cruiser since her early 20s. She has sailed to destinations around the globe on nearly every type of cruise ship built, including the newest megaships, luxury yachts and traditional masted sailing ships. Most recently, she traveled on a small expedition vessel in Antarctica and crossed the notorious Drake Passage twice. She covers the travel and culinary industries for major publications, including U.S. News & World Report.

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Press release

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TUI and Royal Caribbean are significantly enlarging their TUI Cruises joint venture to accelerate growth of luxury brand Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

  • Hapag-Lloyd Cruises will be the second pillar of the successful joint venture, providing an ideal starting point for accelerated growth in TUI’s Cruise division 
  • Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is valued at 1.2 billion euros. Faster growth and the envisaged synergies will allow for significant additional value potential 
  • Transaction proceeds used for strengthening TUI Group’s balance sheet and accelerating the digital transformation 
  • TUI CEO Fritz Joussen: “We’re changing the ownership structure behind the brand to facilitate stronger, faster and capital-light growth. At the same time, we use the proceeds to drive TUI’s digital transformation.” 

TUI Group and its longstanding partner Royal Caribbean Cruises are planning to expand their luxury, expedition and premium cruise segment and to attract new target audiences for luxury cruise products. The expansion of the Hapag-Lloyd Cruises brand will be at the core of this strategy. The former TUI Group subsidiary will be integrated into the TUI Cruises joint venture, a successful structure having been established by TUI and Royal Caribbean since 2008. 

A contract signed in Hamburg today values Hapag-Lloyd Cruises at 1.2 billion euros. The closing of the transaction is expected for this summer. Under the joint venture profit-sharing agreement TUI will report 50 percent of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ earnings. With the transaction, TUI and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. have agreed to further expand their partnership by using the proven joint venture structure of TUI Cruises also for the luxury and expedition cruise segment. The transaction is in line with TUI’s previously stated objective to deliver additional profitable growth at a lower level of capital intensity. 

TUI Group’s plans for the expansion of the Cruises segment will be expedited by the transaction. As a result of limited global shipbuilding capacity, TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff fleet are not scheduled for the next three new build deliveries until 2023, 2024 and 2026. 

The integration of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises in the joint venture will allow TUI to participate in global cruise industry growth at a low level of capital expenditure. 

The merger of TUI Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises under the umbrella of the joint venture will create a leading European cruise company with a current combined fleet of twelve ships. TUI Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises will continue to operate their successful product concepts in the future. TUI Cruises will continue to cater to the premium German-speaking segment and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises will continue to have an exclusive presence in the luxury and expedition ship segment. “The ships’ identities, service, quality and customer experience will remain as individual and unique as they are today. This will create significant advantages for the Group, for our expansion and for our investments,” explained TUI CEO Fritz Joussen. 

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is part of the TUI Group’s cruise businesses and is the leading provider of luxury and expedition cruises in German-speaking markets. Its fleet currently consists of two luxury ships within the five star plus category and three expedition cruise ships. A further expedition cruise ship has been ordered and will be added to Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ fleet in 2021 to replace MS Bremen. In light of the transaction it is possible that the luxury and expedition fleet will grow in the coming years. 

“Products and brands such as MS Europa and MS Europa 2 have international potential and appeal. Going forward, this will enable us as shareholders to take a capital-light approach to financing the ships and international growth within a joint venture framework. TUI and Royal Caribbean Cruises have developed the joint venture company on the basis of a strong partnership over the past ten years. The expansion decision is the next big step of growth for us – from a strategic and a commercial perspective,” said Fritz Joussen. Each partner will continue to leverage its core strengths: TUI’s strong brand and selling power combined with Royal Caribbean’s shipbuilding, operational and digital expertise. 

TUI Group will use the transaction proceeds to strengthen the Group’s balance sheet and to drive its transformation into a digital organisation. The first stage of the transformation, which began in 2013, saw the company evolve from a traditional tour operator model into a successful developer, investor and operator of hotels and cruise ships, as well as destination activity provider. Now the next phase – TUI’s transformation to a digital platform organisation – has begun. Digital business models, as well as the Hotels, Resorts and Cruises divisions, will be the TUI Group’s mainstays in the future. However, growth and investments in hotels and cruise business will be less capital intensive. This ‘asset light’ strategy was announced in December 2019. Asset light expansion has already been adopted for hotel investments such as the brand TUI Blue and now also for the cruise brands.

HANSEATIC_inspiration_Norwegen

About TUI Group

TUI Group is a leading global tourism group and operates worldwide. The Group is headquartered in Germany. TUI shares are listed on the FTSE 250, an index of the London Stock Exchange, on the regulated market of the Hanover Stock Exchange and on the Open Market segment of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The TUI Group offers integrated services from a single source for its 19 million customers.

The entire tourism value chain is covered under one roof. This includes over 400 hotels and resorts with premium brands such as RIU, TUI Blue and Robinson and 16 cruise ships, from the MS Europa and the MS Europa 2 in the luxury class and expedition ships to the Mein Schiff fleet of TUI Cruises and cruise ships at Marella Cruises in Great Britain. The Group also includes leading tour operator brands and online marketing platforms across Europe, five airlines with more than 130 modern medium and long-haul aircraft and around 1,200 travel agencies. In addition to expanding its core business with hotels, cruises via successful joint ventures and activities in holiday destinations, TUI is increasingly focusing on the expansion of digital platforms. The Group is transforming itself into a digital company.

Global responsibility for sustainable economic, ecological and social action is at the core of our corporate culture. The TUI Care Foundation, initiated by TUI, focuses on the positive effects of tourism, on education and training and on strengthening environmental and social standards with projects in 25 countries. It thus supports holiday destinations in their development.

Kuzey Esener

Kuzey Esener

More information.

  • Website Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

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Icon of the Seas is finally here. Here's what passengers can expect on board.

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The world's largest cruise ship is ready to welcome passengers.

Royal Caribbean International’s much-buzzed-about Icon of the Seas will sail its maiden voyage this weekend, beginning cruises to the Caribbean. But the ship is a destination of its own.

The vessel features a stacked lineup of attractions for every member of the family. The first in the new Icon Class, it made waves even before leaving the shipyard, generating record bookings for the brand – and hot takes online .

“We designed a ship that really hits squarely in what the consumer is looking for, especially the family, multi-generational consumer,” Jason Liberty, president and CEO of the line’s parent company Royal Caribbean Group, told USA TODAY during a preview cruise on Icon over the weekend.

Where will Icon of the Seas sail?

The ship will sail seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries from Miami. Each cruise will visit the line’s private island in the Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay , which also has a new adults-only area, Hideaway Beach .

Icon’s maiden voyage on Saturday will also visit Basseterre in St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Thomas.

How big is Icon of the Seas?

Icon is 20 decks high, nearly 1,200 feet long, and 250,800 gross tons. The ship can accommodate 5,610 guests at double occupancy.

What activities does Icon have?

Icon is divided into eight distinct neighborhoods – five of which are new – each with its own offerings.

The aptly named Thrill Island features the Category 6 water park, which the line bills as the largest water park at sea, and Crown’s Edge, where guests can walk 154 feet above the ocean along the brand’s massive logo. Other options include the FlowRider surf simulator, mini golf and rock climbing.

The three-deck Chill Island, meanwhile, is home to four of Icon’s seven pools along with ample loungers to catch some sun (or chill in the shade).

A towering pink flamingo statue stands at the entrance to Surfside, the line’s first neighborhood designed for young families. Parents can kick back at Water’s Edge Pool while supervising kids at Splashaway Bay and Baby Bay. There’s also an arcade, a carousel (with figurines that kids the line consulted helped choose) and more. If your feet are tired, you can also ride a slide down as you come from another neighborhood, Central Park, one deck above.

By contrast, the Hideaway on Deck 15 is a child-free zone, like the CocoCay area of a similar name. Passengers 18 and over can take in views from a suspended infinity pool at the ship’s aft or relax in whirlpools while a DJ supplies a soundtrack. Remixes of Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” and Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now” both made the cut during the preview cruise.

“It’s almost like urban planning,” Liberty said. “Like, how do you create that perfect city that can cater to all different generations and demographics?”

The AquaTheater in the striking new AquaDome – an enclosed steel and glass structure at the front of the ship – will host the “Aqua Action!: Range of Emotion” show, which combines high diving with aerial dance, skateboarding and more. Other shows include “The Wizard of Oz” in the Royal Theater and “Starburst: Elemental Beauty” in the Absolute Zero ice arena.

What is the food like?

The ship has more than 40 restaurants, bars and lounges, around half of which are new to the line. Those include AquaDome Market, the line’s first food hall serving Mediterranean fare, sweet and savory crepes and more; sushi and street food walk-up window Izumi in the Park; and Empire Supper Club, a 38-seat venue with a multi-course meal, cocktail pairings and live jazz.

Guests will also find new cocktails and mocktails throughout the ship, making their debut at venues like 1400 Lobby Bar in the ship’s Royal Promenade; Rye & Bean, which serves coffee and coffee-infused cocktails; and Swim & Tonic, the line’s first swim-up bar at sea.

Icon features familiar eateries like the Windjammer buffet, steakhouse Chops Grille and Izumi in the Park’s sit-down predecessor, Izumi, as well.

What stood out on board?

Icon’s scale was clear as soon as I arrived at PortMiami, and that translated to many spacious interiors. 

The elevator banks felt roomy even by land-based standards, and the ship’s Royal Promenade offered ocean views through floor-to-ceiling windows. Helping to open up the space, The Pearl serves as part support structure, part art piece lined with thousands of kinetic tiles.

At one point, as I exited Lou’s Jazz ‘n Blues and walked out into the open-air Central Park – with its more than 30,500 plants and walking paths – I briefly forgot I was on a cruise ship.

How much does Icon of the Seas cost?

Amid high demand, Icon commanded higher fares in the run-up to its debut, but prices vary by sailing date, stateroom category and other factors. A seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruise departing Sept. 7 starts at $2,989 per person based on double occupancy for an interior stateroom, according to the line’s website .

The fare includes most food on board, drinks like lemonade and iced tea and more.

Editor’s note: The reporter on this story received access to this cruise from Royal Caribbean International, which is owned by Royal Caribbean Group. USA TODAY maintains editorial control of reviews.

Nathan Diller is a consumer travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Nashville. You can reach him at [email protected].

Thinking of a cruise for spring or summer? We've got some bad news

Gene Sloan

Are you looking to book a cruise departing in the next few months? Here's the bad news: You might have trouble finding a cabin — at least if you're picky about the type of room you get.

With demand for cruises running at sky-high levels, bookings are soaring. As a result, many cruise departures in the next few months are already nearly completely sold out. Space is disappearing fast on sailings for the coming summer and fall, too, even as the imbalance between supply and demand is leading to rising fares.

"Bookings have consistently outpaced last year across all key products and at higher prices," Jason Liberty, Royal Caribbean Group CEO, noted Thursday in a conference call with Wall Street analysts to discuss quarterly earnings. "In fact, the five highest booking weeks in our company's history all occurred since the last earnings call."

For more cruise news, guides and tips, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter .

As a result of the strong bookings, Royal Caribbean Group's brands have just half as many cabins available to book for the first quarter of 2024, compared to what was available this time last year for the first quarter of 2023, Liberty said.

That comes despite a significant 8.5% jump in cabin capacity at the company since last year due to the addition of new ships such as Icon of the Seas , he noted.

Royal Caribbean Group is the parent company of Royal Caribbean , the world's largest cruise line, as well as Celebrity Cruises and luxury brand Silversea Cruises . It's also a part owner of Germany's TUI Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

Liberty's comments echoed an overview of the booking situation presented to Wall Street analysts by Carnival Corporation president and CEO Josh Weinstein in late December.

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Speaking in the wake of Carnival Corporation's release of fourth-quarter earnings, Weinstein said the company had already sold 85% of its cabin inventory for the entire first half of 2024 — a "historical" level, in his words.

"At this point, much of the first half is already behind us," Weinstein said, suggesting that Carnival Corporation had already moved on to selling cabins for the second half of 2024 and beyond.

"For our peak summer period, all major products are better booked at higher prices, benefiting from an improving trend in both occupancy and price during the fourth quarter," Weinstein added.

Carnival Corporation is the parent company of Carnival Cruise Line , Princess Cruises , Holland America and six other major lines that collectively account for nearly half of all cruises taken in the world.

The majority of cabins for 2024 already sold

In a research note to investors in mid-January, leisure industry analyst Patrick Scholes of Truist estimated that Carnival Corporation had already sold more than 70% of its cabins for all of 2024.

In a more typical year, the company would have sold about 60% of its cabins for the year by mid-January, Scholes noted.

The differential of 10 percentage points — a huge amount — is not atypical for the industry right now, according to Truist's analysis of big data on cruise bookings and pricing, and talks with cruise line executives.

Scholes estimated that cruise lines, on average, were running about 7 to 10 percentage points ahead of normal when it came to booked occupancy for all of 2024 as of mid-January.

R ELATED: 26 cruise secrets from an expert that will blow your mind

That's despite an 8% increase in global cruise cabin capacity over the past year due to the addition of new ships.

It's a booked-up level so high that the booking pace at some cruise lines in December and early January started to slow due to nothing more than they were running out of cabins to sell, according to Scholes.

"Why has booking pace in December and early January been negative [year over year], and why should one not be concerned? The answer is that there is simply minimal inventory," he wrote.

Scholes suggested the heavily booked position at many cruise lines for the coming year was the result of cruisers planning their cruise voyages further in advance than they had in the past.

As of mid-January, travelers were booking cruise vacations about 210 days prior to sailings, on average, according to Scholes — or about seven months. That means that, on average, cruisers are locking in trips for September now.

Strong bookings leading to higher fares

With bookings strong, cruise lines have been able to raise prices notably in recent months, which means fewer deals available in recent weeks for wave season — the period at the start of the year when many cruisers line up trips for the year.

"At wave season at this time last year, the cruise lines experienced record bookings as they were more focused on just filling ships given the significant amount of available occupancy and much less focused on price," Scholes noted. "This year, that strategy is flipped as the focus is on pricing growth given how well-booked the industry is at the start of the year."

Scholes said pricing for cruises was up by a "low-to-mid teen" percentage level in December into early January.

"Interestingly, in our 'big data,' we see the greatest degree of pricing growth for the periods in which there are the fewest cabins left to sell, namely departures in [the first quarter of 2024] and to a lesser extent in [the second quarter]," he wrote.

Or, as Carnival Corporation's Weinstein put it in December when talking to Wall Street analysts: "By pulling forward all the volume, it gives us better control over our pricing environment and our ability to keep pricing at an elevated level."

Weinstein said Carnival Corporation's brands started 2024 in the best-booked position the company had ever seen both in terms of occupancy and price.

"As we've made our way through the quarter, we've managed to pretty much keep that occupancy advantage, and prices on everything that's booked is now considerably higher," he noted.

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  • Share full article Share free access

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On the World’s Largest Cruise Ship, Thrills and Space to Chill

Our reporter joined thousands of passengers on the inaugural sailing of Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas. Yes, the water rides were wild. But the most surprising thing she found? Some actual peace and quiet.

Ceylan Yeginsu, a reporter for the Travel section, tries out a ride in the sprawling water park on Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas cruise ship. Credit...

Supported by

By Ceylan Yeginsu

Photographs by Scott McIntyre

  • Feb. 9, 2024

One man got down on his knees and kissed the rug emblazoned with the ship’s logo. Another lifted his wife and swung her around, ecstatic to be among the roughly 5,000 passengers to embark on the inaugural sailing of the world’s largest cruise ship, the Icon of the Seas.

For months, the 250,800-ton ship, which can carry nearly 8,000 people, has been making headlines — including some that have criticized its size and potential to damage the environment . But the passengers who plunked down $1,800 to $100,000 and boarded the ship at Port Miami in Florida on Jan. 27, said nothing could have prepared them for the vessel’s sheer scale.

“It’s stunning,” said Christina Carvalho, a 43-year-old accountant from Oakland, Calif., as she stood on the ship’s Royal Promenade, gaping up at “The Pearl,” a gigantic kinetic art installation. “It feels even bigger than I expected.”

While Royal Caribbean has packed the ship with amenities to craft “the ultimate family vacation,” the company’s design team has tried to defy negative stereotypes like crowded decks and long lines. Instead of steel walls, the interior is open and airy, with floor-to-ceiling windows to bring passengers closer to the water and make the central thoroughfare feel less like a shopping mall.

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“Over the years our customers told us that despite being on the ocean, they did not feel connected to it, so with Icon we wanted to bring water everywhere,” said Jennifer Goswami, the director of product development at Royal Caribbean International.

I was on board the Icon of the Seas for five days of its seven-night inaugural sailing to the eastern Caribbean. Here are some of my takeaways:

Passengers board a ship, taking photos with their cellphones.

Embarkation

Embarkation starts through Royal Caribbean’s app. After some glitches, it took me 10 minutes to scan identification documents, fill out a health form and pick a time slot for boarding.

On the day of the sailing, I headed to Port Miami expecting chaos, but as I got out of the taxi, I was greeted by a porter who took my bag and ushered me to the terminal. I scanned my app, showed my passport and went through security in less than 10 minutes. I lingered, waiting to see if others had as smooth an experience as I did, but there was just a steady flow of passengers ascending the gangway.

The ship has the feel of a city, with eight distinct “neighborhoods.” My favorite, Central Park, was filled with 20,000 plant species; it was the perfect place to stroll or read on a bench. The Royal Promenade, with karaoke and a piano bar, could get crowded and noisy at peak times.

The seven swimming pools are designed for different vibes and demographics: The Hideaway is an adults-only infinity pool, with D.J. sets and cocktails; another adult pool has an adjacent children’s splash pool. Empty lounge chairs were plentiful for sunbathers across the ship.

On our first sea day, I was so surprised by the relative absence of crowds that I walked the ship trying to find them. But with so many venues, including 40 restaurants, bars and entertainment spaces, passengers were constantly moving around.

Seeking a quiet space one afternoon, I found the Aquadome , a tranquil lounging area with wraparound windows. Fellow passengers napped there.

Entertainment and activities

From a sunrise surf simulator lesson to late-night dancing in the nightclub, the ship seems to offer something for everyone, most of it free. The water park with six slides was a big draw. One ride, the Crown’s Edge, is not complimentary: Starting at $49, it tosses you (in a harness) above the sea, leaving you dangling.

There is a fitness center, jogging track, a basketball and soccer court, a putt-putt course, pickleball, rock climbing and dancing. A wellness center and spa offers treatments for an additional cost. All can be reserved on the app; for popular attractions like the Crown’s Edge it’s helpful to book ahead because places fill up fast.

For nightly entertainment, “Aqua Action” was a standout, with aquatic entertainers performing under a 55-foot waterfall, as was the comedy club.

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Not surprisingly, some passengers felt overprogrammed. “There’s almost too much to do,” said Nancy Carter, 54, a nurse from Brighton, England. “It’s hard to plan your day and even when you are busy doing something, you feel like you are missing out on something else.”

At the Surfside neighborhood, there are pools and restaurants for both adults and children so that families can spend time together. For parents wanting alone time, the Adventure Ocean child-care facility has play areas and programs for ages 6 months to 12 years that is included in the fare.

There’s a social center for teenagers, too, with games and music. “It’s a great place to meet new people and make friends,” said Madison Foxx, 14, from Morrisville, N.C. Her mother, Ashley, a 38-year-old federal prosecutor, said the ship kept her two children entertained and allowed her both alone time and quality family time.

“I can relax and the kids are happy and busy all day," she said. “Then we have many special moments together.”

One of the biggest surprises was the array of dining choices.

The Windjammer Cafe and the main dining room were the busiest all-inclusive options. My daily go-to was the Aquadome food hall, with crepes made-to-order and a Greek food stand. Another favorite of mine was Pier 7, a restaurant in Surfside that served raw-tuna Buddha bowls, mango-lime shrimp tostadas and other dishes.

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Meals at specialty restaurants, such as Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen and Hooked Seafood, come at an additional cost, or are included in some food and beverages packages that range from $9.99 to $115 per day. Reservations are recommended.

The Empire Supper Club offers an eight-course meal paired with cocktails. At $200, the tasting menu included Wagyu rib-eye, rabbit and sea bass topped with parsnip and red beets.

Cabin prices — which recently increased, because of high demand — range from $2,699 per person for an interior cabin to over $100,000 for a three-story townhouse with an indoor slide and backyard. Some family accommodations have connecting rooms and large terraces.

Though only 204 square feet, my ocean balcony room did not feel cramped thanks to minimalist design and the views.

Environment

Royal Caribbean says it set a new standard for sustainability with this ship, installing advanced water-treatment and waste systems, among other features. But some environmental groups say that building a vessel this size is not compatible with the cruise industry’s long-term sustainability goals.

On board, I saw staff sorting through the trash to take out misplaced items to recycle, and single-use plastic appeared to be minimal; passengers were given reusable cups at drinking stations.

That the water slides remained on, even after they were closed to passengers, caught me by surprise. It seemed like an unnecessary waste of energy. (Royal Caribbean did not respond to a request for comment.)

Passengers I spoke to did not seem too concerned about the ship’s potential to harm the environment, with some arguing that land and air travel are not climate-friendly either.

Our seven-night itinerary started with two days at sea. The first stop was on Day 4 at Basseterre, the capital of St. Kitts and Nevis. Excursions ranged from a hike up Mount Liamuiga to a food-and-rum tour, with prices from $39 to $249. I chose a sailing and snorkeling excursion ($155) and enjoyed the secluded bay, but the beach was crowded and touristy.

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An anticipated excursion for Ms. Foxx, the federal prosecutor, and others was Coco Cay, Royal Caribbean’s private island. When I asked about her visit — I called later, having to disembark before the excursion — Ms. Foxx said her children loved the slides and snorkeling.

And would she sail on the Icon of the Seas again?

“Yes, but I might wait a bit,” she replied. “I want everyone to get a chance to try it out.”

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2024 .

Ceylan Yeginsu is a travel reporter for The Times who frequently writes about the cruise industry and Europe, where she is based. More about Ceylan Yeginsu

Come Sail Away

Love them or hate them, cruises can provide a unique perspective on travel..

Climate-Friendly Cruise?:  The newly christened Icon of the Seas is filled with energy-efficient technology . But some climate experts say the biggest challenge with a ship that can accommodate nearly 8,000 people is its size.

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Dipping Their Toes: Younger generations of travelers are venturing onto ships for the first time . Many are saving money.

A Candy-Colored Cruise Ship: Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas has become an object of fascination and scorn on social media. Some can’t wait to board. Others call it a “monstrosity.”

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The Points Guy

Be warned, cruisers: Cruises aren't as cheap vs. land resorts as they used to be

Bad news, cruisers: The era of the incredible cruise deal is over — at least for now.

Cruise companies in recent weeks have reported sharply rising yields — a measure of the money they are bringing in per day per passenger — and noted that cruises are no longer as inexpensive as they used to be, compared to land-based resorts.

"Last year we talked around having a 40% to 45% gap [in pricing] to land-based vacations," Jason Liberty, Royal Caribbean Group's CEO, noted last week in a conference call with Wall Street analysts. "Our yields in 2023 rose 13.5% ... so we obviously made a dent into that."

For more cruise news, guides and tips, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter .

Speaking with analysts after Royal Caribbean Group reported strong earnings for the fourth quarter of 2023, Liberty said the company expected to close the gap in pricing with land-based resorts even more this year.

"We are obsessed about [it] really," Liberty said. He noted that the company's focus as a business of late is more about competing with land-based resorts than other cruise companies.

"It's more about how do we close that gap — how do we compete with a land-based vacation?" Liberty said.

Royal Caribbean Group is the parent company of Royal Caribbean , the world's largest cruise line, as well as Celebrity Cruises and luxury brand Silversea Cruises . It's also a part owner of Germany's TUI Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

Cruises are still the better value

Liberty didn't give an estimate of what he saw as the differential in pricing between cruises and land resorts. However, in a report to investors in mid-January, leisure travel analyst Patrick Scholes of Truist pegged the percentage at around 25% to 30%.

While still notable, the differential is down significantly from just two years ago; back then, some Wall Street analysts estimated that cruises, on average, were priced as much as 50% below the cost of land resorts when comparing similar products.

"We are gaining momentum in our ability to close the unwarranted value gap to land-based alternatives," Josh Weinstein, Carnival Corporation's CEO, recently told Wall Street analysts.

Related: Is a cruise right for you? Start by asking yourself these 7 questions

Weinstein spoke with analysts in late December after Carnival Corporation announced solid quarterly earnings. He suggested the company's success in drawing more first-time cruisers over the past year contributed to closing the differential between cruise pricing and land-based resort pricing.

The increase comes as demand for cruises in general soars .

"In 2023, we captured over 3.5 million new-to-cruise guests and remain well-positioned to continue to take share from land-based alternatives," Weinstein said.

Related: Cruises vs. all-inclusive resorts: Which is the better value?

Weinstein also suggested that because COVID-19 caused land resorts to cut back or eliminate many service offerings, cruise lines might have an edge over resorts in raising rates these days since they provide better service.

"We can further champion the fact that while many land-based alternatives have pulled back on service levels, we still deliver incredible service to our guests, thanks to our amazing crew," Weinstein explained.

Carnival Corporation is the parent company of Carnival Cruise Line , Princess Cruises , Holland America and six other major lines that collectively account for nearly half of all cruises taken worldwide.

Royal Caribbean Group's Liberty says his company's cruise brands are working hard to get people to stay in the Royal Caribbean Group "ecosystem." The goal is to keep them booking again and again with one of the company's brands.

It's something the "land-based [resort world] does very well," he added.

The company is asking, "How do we make sure that focus on a vacation of a lifetime evolves into a lifetime of vacation [with Royal Caribbean Group]?" according to Liberty.

He suggested the recent unveiling of Royal Caribbean's much-awaited Icon of the Seas — the line's biggest and most amenity-packed vessel ever — and an expansion of its private island in the Bahamas , Perfect Day at CocoCay , was helping the company compete with land-based resorts.

"When you think about what we're doing on the destination side with Perfect Day, as an example, when you look at Icon, you can see in that how it's an extremely competitive product — we would probably argue even a better product — to what's happening on land," Liberty said. "And that's by us continuing to dream and innovate and deliver on that. That's going to chip away further and further into that value gap to a land-based vacation."

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

  • The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A beginners guide to picking a cruise line
  • The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • The ultimate guide to what to pack for a cruise
  • A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
  • 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
  • Top ways cruisers waste money
  • The ultimate guide to choosing a cruise ship cabin

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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The Best Cruise Vacation For Teens

How to enjoy the best cruise for teens.

By Mary Luz Mejia | Published on January 29, 2024

For families looking for an easy, carefree vacation, there's nothing like a cruise. And for parents looking for the best cruises for teens — packed with enough activities and entertainment to keep them happy while catering to family members of all ages — Royal Caribbean cruises are tough to beat.

That's especially true of Icon of the Seas ℠. With the largest waterpark at sea and other amusement park-style features, the ship is destined to become one of the best vacations for teens. Sailing seven-night eastern Caribbean and seven-night western Caribbean cruises, the itineraries each feature a stop at Royal Caribbean's private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay®, which also has its own exciting waterpark and other adrenaline-pumping experiences teens are sure to embrace. Read on for everything you need to know about Icon of the Seas , designed to offer the best cruises for teens.

Wow-Worthy Thrills

Icon of the Seas Category 6 Waterpark and Sports Court Render

If you have thrill-seeking adolescents in your family, you know that jaw-dropping attractions make fun vacations for teens. The Category 6 Waterpark onboard the ship is home to a whopping six record-breaking slides, including the Frightening Bolt, a vertical drop waterslide that's the tallest at sea. Teens can also test their courage on the Pressure Drop℠, the first open free-fall slide at sea, for some gravity-defying fun.

Have a teen who is competitive by nature? They'll head directly to Storm Chasers℠, a racing duo slide designed with mats. Even better, wrangle the whole fam together to tackle Hurricane Hunter℠ or Storm Surge℠ together. These two new raft slides are designed to thrill the whole gang.

Teens can further indulge their inner daredevil with the Crown's Edge℠ . This combination of skywalk, ropes course and thrill ride is a test of bravery — and a total rush. Staff strap riders in before they step onto the ship's walkway, where brave souls can look down at the crashing waves below while they walk along. At any time, the floor beneath might collapse and leave adventure-seekers literally hanging over the ocean!

Located near the waterpark, the ultimate rock-climbing expedition — aptly named Adrenaline Peak — awaits anyone who likes to test their limits. The impressive climbing wall offers a craggy course with breathtaking views from the top of the ship. As a bonus, climbers can choose their difficulty level. Then it's all about scaling to the peak at top speeds. With new racing lines, teens can challenge siblings, new friends...or you.

Icon of the Seas Water's Edge Mom and Daughter Swim Time

Fun For The Whole Family

Icon of the Seas  is home to Surfside℠ , a neighborhood designed with all-day entertainment for families to ensure teenage-friendly vacations with a pool. While little ones head to the carousel, teens can make a beeline to the Arcade at Surfside for some retro-style games, a round of air hockey or some fun with the classic claw machine. And, since the best vacations for teens feature a space they can call their own, there's Social 020. This teen-only club is designed for chilling out with new friends and isn't too far from Surfside.

Teens can also round up their crew and head over to their choice of fabulous ocean-view pools . The Royal Bay℠ pool offers plenty of room for a dip as the largest pool at sea. Teens will also love the Hideaway Pool, the first suspended infinity pool at sea. With a resident DJ and waterside day beds, this pool offers the ultimate beach party vibe.

Cruises for teens would be incomplete without the all-important food factor. When they've had their fill of swimming, rock climbing and water slides and are ready to refuel, it's time to head over to Pier 7℠ . During breakfast, lunch and dinner, this restaurant offers a laidback ambiance serving family faves. Take a bite out of comforting classics or twists on tried-and-true favorites. Love brunch? You can enjoy it here all day, every day. Turn any day of the week into your family's own Taco Tuesday with surf 'n turf tacos or mango shrimp tostadas. There's also the Surfside Eatery℠, which serves a bountiful buffet of tasty choices designed to suit kids, teens and parents alike.

On tap at Surfside Bites℠ and Basecamp℠ are the sweet and savory snacks and grab-and-go lunches that appeal to kids — and adults — of all ages. Or you can pick up something refreshing at The Lemon Post℠. While this is an all-ages bar, there are two distinct menus — an adults-only menu featuring creative cocktails for the 21-and-over crowd, and one for teens and kids that offers groovy, color-changing drinks in funky souvenir cups.

If your growing kids have a serious sweet tooth, head to Desserted℠ on Thrill Island for decadent milkshakes. Towers of toppings, delightful drizzles and frosty shake mashups make for Insta-worthy photos. Boozy options are also available there for parents.

Cool Cruises For Teens Include Perfect Day At Cococay

Adventure Pool Thrill Water Park Pefect Day at CocoCay

Fun vacations for teens typically include a new adventure, and an epic day at Royal Caribbean's private destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay , hits the mark. This tropical oasis in The Bahamas offers an incredible vacation day for families with teens. Perfect Day at CocoCay has something for every teen's mood, from chill vibes on white sandy beaches beside calm turquoise water to a day racing down the waterslides at Thrill Waterpark® — including the tallest waterslide in North America.

Extroverted kids can take part in a variety of friendly sports competitions, from volleyball to soccer. Or gather the family for a quiet moment 450 feet above the ground in the Up, Up and Away helium balloon ride. Cool down with an icy drink at the swim-up bar and people-watch at the largest freshwater pool in The Bahamas. Or splurge for the day and soak up the rays in your own private overwater cabana. Whatever you do, don't forget to reapply sunblock during your day at the beach.

Icon of the Seas AquaDome Acrobatics Render

Family-Friendly Spectaculars

The best cruise for teens features awe-inspiring moments that they likely wouldn't come by on land — think world-class shows and spectacles in state-of-the-art venues. Consider the AquaDome℠ , which showcases advanced robotics and a shapeshifting waterfall. Here, AquaTheater performers display feats of agility and strength under a towering cascade of water. Or watch Olympic-style performances on ice in Absolute Zero℠ , the largest ice-skating arena in the fleet. During the shows, high-resolution digital images projected from the ceiling to the rink transform the surroundings and transport viewers into the story. Skaters, take note: While the rink is home to shows at night, during the daytime you can bundle up, strap on a set of blades and make figure eights to your heart's content.

Icon of the Seas Infinity Balcony Ocean View Render

Sweet Dreams Are Made At Sea

When you're making the most of family time, even downtime is important on a vacation.  Icon of the Seas  offers rooms designed specifically for families, featuring options to suit different fams' unique travel styles. The Family Infinite Ocean View Balcony staterooms are a great choice for teens who want their own room with a TV and personal space to unwind. With the push of a button, these staterooms allow you to transform your living space into an extended oceanscape, fresh sea breeze included! Or you can choose to upgrade to a Panoramic Suite, where floor-to-ceiling glass windows deliver the wow factor with a clear line of sight to the dazzling AquaDome. Looking for something even more extra? Consider a Sunset Corner Suite with a wraparound balcony for seemingly endless ocean views.

Other family accommodations to consider include a Surfside Family Suite, designed with a spacious split-bathroom layout plus extra room for your teen. And there's the first-ever Ultimate Family Townhouse, a decadent three-story suite that has a wraparound terrace with a hot tub, a cinema room and direct access to all the memory-making fun that Surfside offers right from your private patio. Other townhouse perks include Royal Suite Class Star status, which provides access to exclusive experiences like your family's personal Royal Genie, priority access everywhere onboard and loads more.

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Written By MARY LUZ MEJIA

Colombian-born, Canadian raised Mary Luz Mejia is a twice NATJA nominated freelance food/travel journalist, Gemini-nominated former food TV producer and Level II Certified Chocolate Taster. Her work has been published in Saveur Magazine, the Toronto Star, The Globe & Mail, The Latin Kitchen, Rodale's Organic Gardening and Toronto Life to name a few. Former Saveur Editor-In-Chief James Oseland calls her "One of Toronto's most passionate food journalists" and her personal goal is to master iconic Latin American dishes, one plate at a time. And por supuesto, se habla Español!

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