Procrastinators are getting a break.
In a typical year, trying to book a cruise in November for the December holidays would be a task for the Mission: Impossible team. But in 2017, the storms that strafed part of the Eastern Caribbean have left some travelers with the mistaken impression that the islands are still off-limits. (All western Caribbean ports are open, and even the hard-hit eastern ports of the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Maarten and San Juan have reopened or are expected to do so before December arrives.)
As a result, sailings that are usually fully booked may still have space. Here are a few options that will still give you a holiday at sea, where someone else does the decorating and cooking. The gifts are still up to you.
Among the options:
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Dec. 21: Luxury line Seabourn departs Dec. 17 on a 10-day cruise from Miami to Barbados aboard the 458-passenger Seabourn Odyssey. The itinerary includes San Juan, Nevis, St. Kitts, Antigua and Martinique. Rates on the all-suite ship start at $2,999 per person, double occupancy. Some other Seabourn holiday sailings also have space available. seabourn.com
Dec. 23: Norwegian Escape sails roundtrip from Miami for seven nights, calling in Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Mexico’s Costa Maya and the Bahamas. Rates begin at $799 per person, double occupancy and include your choice of one of four free offers: unlimited bar, specialty dining, shore excursion credits or 250 minutes of WiFi. ncl.com.
Dec. 24: Carnival Victory, which carries 2,750 passengers on its family-oriented sailings, departs from Miami on a four-night sailing to Key West and Cozumel. Fares start at $449 per person, double occupancy. For an extra $5, your kids can eat green eggs and ham with the Cat in the Hat. carnival.com.
Dec. 25: After the presents are open, your gang can hop aboard Celebrity Silhouette for a seven-night cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Key West, Mexico and Grand Cayman. The 2,886-passenger Silhouette is part of Celebrity’s popular Solstice class of ships, sophisticated vessels featuring steak, sushi, Tuscan, French, seafood, Asian and the exploratory Qsine restaurant overseen by Michelin-starred chef Cornelius Gallagher. Fares start at $999 per person, double occupancy. Celebrity.com.
Dec. 30: The brand new MSC Seaside sails roundtrip from Miami to Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Cozumel and Nassau on a seven-night voyage starting at $1,138 per person, double occupancy. The 5,179-passenger European-style ship features a seaside boardwalk, top-deck waterslide and state-of-the-art technology facilitated by an app. The fare includes basic internet access and wine or beer with dinner. msccruisesusa.com.
Cruise101 is a monthly column by Jane Wooldridge, a past winner of the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year Award. She is business editor of the Miami Herald.