The Best Bahamas Cruises for Island Hopping and Optimal Onboard Fun

Catch one of these cruises from Miami, Orlando, or even New York City.

Bahamas beach view from the strikingly blue water

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A cruise to the Bahamas is a tempting vacation treat — so close by, and yet so sunny and warm and different from the States. The allure of white sand as soft as powdered sugar and the appeal of pale-blue water is undeniable. Once there, you can snorkel, dive, and admire the fish-filled reefs that are common in this part of the world. Lucky for U.S. residents, these semi-tropics are fairly easy to get to from Miami, Port Canaveral (near Orlando), Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale), and even New York City, all popular embarkation points for Bahamas cruises. (Note that while you might save yourself a flight by departing from Manhattan’s West Side cruise ship terminal, you will likely end up adding several days of boat time onto the trip.)

Another unique appeal of the Bahamas, when compared to other warm and beachy cruise destinations, is the private islands. These “islands” — often just peninsulas or gated-off plots — serve as hotel-less resort areas for cruise ship use only. You’ll find a range of amenities, from cabana rentals to water sports to 5K challenges, BBQ cookouts, adults-only beaches, and yes, even water slides, splash parks, swimming pools, zip lines, and roller coasters. When you visit one of these private islands, you can also sign up for shore excursions like snorkeling and boat rides. Best of all, if you want to just lie in the sand ordering frozen drinks all day, it's often as easy as waving an arm in the air.

Read on for some of the best Bahamas cruises out there.

01 of 08

Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas

Bumper cars on Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas ship
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

This is the second ship in Royal Caribbean’s standout Quantum class, with a capacity to carry 4,180 passengers. On a six- to eight-night cruise from Cape Liberty, New Jersey, down to the Bahamas, you can enjoy some of the floating palace’s over-the-top amenities, such as a skydiving simulator; the North Star, a viewing capsule that extends out over the sea; and bumper cars at the sprawling Seaplex. And once you’re in the Bahamas, you’ll of course call on CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island, where you can snorkel, Jet Ski, or just lounge under the sun.

02 of 08

Disney Cruise Line's Disney Dream

Disney Dream anchored at a beautiful beach in the Bahamas
Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line’s 4,000-passenger ship offers three- to six-night cruises departing from Port Canaveral, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale. Most itineraries include Nassau, the Bahamian capital, and Castaway Cay, the line’s spectacular private island. Even though some sailings are short, Disney packs its itineraries full of activities and amenities, such as a kids club, spa, pub, several pools, teen-centric dance parties, karaoke, and so forth. And the littlest cruisers? They’ll love spending time with Disney icons like Mickey and Minnie.

03 of 08

Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Sky

Great Stirrup Cay beach with blue lounge chairs

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Head up to the Pinnacle Lounge to watch the sun set over the water as you dine on delicious sushi rolls aboard the Norwegian Sky. This 2,004-passenger ship keeps guests entertained with a pool, spa, casino, theater, and 10 dining options as it travels between Miami and the Bahamas year-round. Three- and four-day sailings include calls at Grand Bahama Island, Nassau, and Norwegian's private island, Great Stirrup Cay, where guests can lounge in an oceanfront cabana or snorkel in the Silver Cove lagoon.

04 of 08

MSC Cruise Line's MSC Divina

View of the pool deck on the MSC Divina
Courtesy of MSC Cruises

This ship was the first from MSC Cruise Line's fleet to focus on North American travelers — although, rest assured, it's still full of European flair like upscale Italian ristoranti, a stone piazza, and a gelato bar. Cruises from Miami to the Bahamas range from mini three-night sailings all the way up to 18-day loops around the entire Western Caribbean. The most basic itineraries stop at Nassau and Ocean Cay, MSC's private island reserve. Guests, of which it can accommodate 4,345, are kept entertained with a casino, shows at the Broadway-size Pantheon Theater, family deck parties, and gatherings for solo travelers, LGBTQ+ passengers, veterans, and more.

05 of 08

Disney Cruise Line's Disney Magic

Top deck of Disney cruise ship with water slide
Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Disney Magic is the original Disney ship, these days offering three- to five-night Bahamian itineraries from Florida's Fort Lauderdale and Port Canaveral. Young passengers will love dining at the "Tangled"-inspired Rapunzel's Royal Table or enjoying a slice at Pinocchio’s Pizza. They'll learn from Spider-Man and the like at the Marvel Super Hero Academy, be wowed by fireworks at sea, and get the chance to be made over like princes and princesses at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Adults can claim a moment of alone time at the kid-free piano bar, Keys, or with a treatment at Senses Spa & Salon.

06 of 08

Princess Cruises' Regal Princess

Elegant cruise ship deck with lounge chairs on Regal Princess
Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises offers seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries calling at Princess Cays, the line’s Bahamian Island, departing from Fort Lauderdale. In addition to the Bahamas, passengers get to see either Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos; and Falmouth, Jamaica, or St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and St. Kitts. You can also opt for an east/west grand tour if you have 14 days to spare. On the 3,560-passenger ship, there’s an elaborate piazza with roving street performers, a cocktail bar and club for the adults, a theater, casino, pools, sports courts, and more. Just be sure to book yours early; these fill up fast.

07 of 08

Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Getaway

People on the beach on Norwegian's Great Stirrup Cay

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This ship sails from New York City to the Bahamas and back, calling at Orlando, Port Canaveral, Norwegian's Great Stirrup Cay, and either Nassau or Bermuda, depending on which eight-day itinerary you pick. The Norwegian Getaway, accommodating up to 3,963 guests, features an open-air promenade for strolling in the sea breeze, Broadway musicals, a water park with one of the fastest water slides at sea, and a pirate ship-style plank that puts passengers eight feet over the side of the ship.

08 of 08

Holland America's Eurodam

Inside a Holland America Eurodam stateroom

Courtesy of Holland America Line

This 2,104-passenger Holland America ship is for music lovers, foodies, and beachgoers alike. Between stops, you can venue hop along the Music Walk — featuring Lincoln Center Stage, B.B. King’s Blues Club, and Billboard Onboard — watch a cooking demonstration, or partake in a food and wine tasting. There are nearly a dozen dining options onboard, from New York-style slices to sushi to authentic Italian and Asian cuisine. Eurodam travels from Fort Lauderdale on Caribbean cruises — many of them calling at Half Moon Cay or Nassau or both — lasting seven to 21 days.

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