How to do a child-free cruise in the Caribbean

Dave Monk
A Caribbean holiday can offer couples precious time to reconnect - Marco Bottigelli

Much as we love our children - and even tolerate other people’s - it’s good to explore the islands of the Caribbean in grown-up company.

Some of the following cruises are adults-only and others tend to be child-free because of the type of ship, length of voyage or time of year - though you may still encounter the odd youngster on board.

Here’s what the major cruise lines offer adults in the Caribbean, split by theme:

Luxury

Both Seabourn Cruise Line and SeaDream Yacht Club offer caviar and champagne served by uniformed waiting staff in turquoise waters off white-sand beaches.

They are also among cruise lines that have watersport marinas at the back of the ships, which allow guests to try out kayaks, banana boats, water skis and paddle boards.

Whereas Seabourn ships carry up to 600 guests, the two SeaDream yachts are a fraction of the size, with only 112 passengers each.

However, vessels of both companies - and others such as Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises - are small enough to visit boutique ports and hidden harbours where larger rivals cannot go.

Treat yourself to butler service in the Caribbean with Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Luxury lines are also more likely to offer all-balcony rooms, butler service and all-inclusive prices. Regent’s complimentary shore excursions include tandem parasailing in Key West, Florida, sampling Cuban cigars and rum in Havana and learning about chocolate in Cozumel, Mexico.

A 10-night round trip from Miami leaving on December 6, 2018 on Regent Seven Seas Voyager, calling at ports including Key West, Havana and Roatan, costs from £4,529pp including return flights and shore excursions (02380 682 280, rssc.com).

Food

Oceania Cruises prides itself on ‘the finest cuisine’ at sea and also offers extensive vegan and vegetarian meals.

Crystal Cruises is also famed for its dining, with dishes from master chef Nobu Matsuhisa among its offerings, along with private wine-themed dinners.

Toscana is one of the refined dining venues on board Oceania Cruises' fleet

On the December 15 sailing with Windstar Cruises, chef/restaurateur José Mendin will be showcasing his love for big flavours on board Star Pride and sharing his favourite restaurants with guests in San Juan.

Many lines invite a select number of guests to join the chef in buying food from local markets and preparing it on board. On St Maarten, passengers with Celebrity Cruises can visit a Dutch cheese shop for a tasting with wines before the chef guides them round stalls in the island’s French capital of Marigot.

After a gourmet lunch in a renowned restaurant, the guests return to the ship for a galley tour and a chef-hosted dinner of the day’s purchases.

Viking Cruises also offers the chance for passengers on the West Indies Explorer itinerary - sailing round trips from Puerto Rico - to browse the market in Castries, St Lucia, with the chef before they learn to cook their own three-course meal on board.

It's not hard to find some alone time in the Caribbean Credit: Getty

A 12-day voyage on Oceania Cruises’ Riviera leaving Miami on November 27, 2018 and calling at destinations including Aruba, Bonaire, Grenada, St Lucia and St Kitts, costs from £3,309 per person including return flights (0345 505 1920, oceaniacruises.com).

Fun and nightlife

It tends to be the larger - and family-friendly - ships that offer the liveliest clubs and entertainment at sea. But by choosing cruises during school term time on lines such as Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line, you lessen the chances of being overrun by children on board.

Marella has an adults-only transatlantic crossing on new ship Marella Explorer on April 28, 2019, starting in Barbados and sailing to Southampton on a 19-night voyage via the Caribbean, Azores, France and Belgium. The all-inclusive ship features Indigo - a flagship bar, club and casino - 10 restaurants, and the first Champneys Spa at sea.

Two P&O Cruises ships - Arcadia and Oriana - are adults-only, and will be joined in April 2019 by Aurora. Oriana has a 28-night round trip from Southampton to the Caribbean and Azores leaving on November 11, 2018 and Arcadia is doing a similar voyage on December 9.

Arcadia's Palladium Theatre shows West-End style performances

However, you’ll have to wait until 2020 for an adults-only cruise on Aurora to the Caribbean, starting with a hefty 55-night return voyage from Southampton.

Oriana has a cinema, theatre and a show lounge. Arcadia has West End-style performances and night clubs. Both offer comedy shows, live music, tribute bands, dance classes and pub quizzes.

Guests on a seven-day Norwegian Cruise Line’s Western Caribbean cruise on the Norwegian Getaway from Miami on November 25, 2018 can go river-tubing or zip-lining at the new island resort of Harvest Caye in Belize. Premium all-inclusive prices start from £1,555 per person, including flights (0333 2412319, ncl.co.uk).

Learn Caribbean recipes like spicy jerk chicken with Saga Cruises

Enrichment

Saga includes a talk by a famous author, a book club, Caribbean cookery classes and a marine biologist on its Tales of the Caribbean trip leaving Southampton on January 5, 2019 on Saga Sapphire.

Azamara Club Cruises is renowned for its ‘Destination Immersion’ programme, which allows guests on Azamara Journey to dive into culture in Havana on a 15-night Cuba and Caribbean Holiday Voyage leaving Miami on December 21, 2018. The trip also includes the ABC Islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao and the private retreat of Labadee in Haiti.

Time on board features seminars and lectures, historical talks on the ports of call, culinary demonstrations and wine tastings hosted by the sommelier.

Willemstad in Curacao Credit: Getty

Fred Olsen ships offer talks, lectures and cultural shore excursions. On an intensive Caribbean voyage in January 2019 Braemar’s passengers will explore Unesco-protected Willemstad on Curacao, a near-carbon copy of Amsterdam with its narrow-gabled, 18th century pastel-coloured houses. You can also visit the Turks and Caicos National Museum, built with timbers salvaged from ships wrecked on coral reefs, and Brimstone Hill Fortress in St Kitts.

Guests on Star Clippers enjoy the authentic sailing experience of a tall ship complete with ropes, sails and winches. Daily activities can include climbing the rigging, star-gazing or taking a Zodiac boat to a deserted beach.

Fred Olsen Cruise Line’s 14-night Islands of the Caribbean on Braemar, departing Barbados on January 3, 2019, costs from £2,099pp, including flights (0800 0355 242, fredolsencruises.com)