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At play on one of Curacao's many beautiful beaches.

Courtesy of Curaçao Tourist Bureau

At play on one of Curacao's many beautiful beaches.

Our 10 favorite spring break cruises for 2017

Splash 'n' dash to Caribbean? Cultural oases? We've got you covered

March may be the month known for March Madness, but it's also the time of year for the annual ritual known as spring break! Time to trade the cold and snowy winter days for a week filled with sun, sand and relaxation.

For college students, StudentCity has put together a resource page to let you know when your school's spring break will be. Some breaks start as early as this week while others run the week of March 11 or 18 or later. 

Spring break isn't just for college kids, though. Younger kids get a week of school off around now, and their families often use it as an ideal time to take a family vacation to warmer climes.

Our 10 favorite spring break cruise vacations

There are two ways to do spring break as a cruiser: Find a cruise geared to the younger crowd during a spring break week. Or spend some time at a spring break destination before, during or after your cruise — most are near a cruise port.

Among the most popular hot spots: Ft. Lauderdale, Daytona Beach, Panama City Beach, Key West and Miami Beach in Florida; Santa Monica and Venice Beach (both part of LA metro) and San Diego in California; Cabo San Lucas, Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and the Bahamas, Jamaica and lots of other islands in the Caribbean. 

If it's too late for you to plan a spring break getaway for this year, it’s the right time to start planning one for 2018. In our opinion, a spring break cruise is far preferable to a “traditional” island resort. That's why we've put together this list of our 10 Favorite Spring Break Cruise Vacations.

Water sports, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and parasailing are all part of the action at Labadee, Royal Caribbean's 260-acre private beach resort on the north coast of Haiti.
Michel Verdure / Courtesy of Royal Caribbean InternationalWater sports, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and parasailing are all part of the action at Labadee, Royal Caribbean's 260-acre private beach resort on the north coast of Haiti.

Sail to the Caribbean on Harmony of the Seas

Enjoy a City on the Sea on board this sweet Royal Caribbean ship

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Back when I was a young college student, I took a weeklong spring break cruise on Carnival Triumph with three friends. It was a fun-filled week spent exploring the Western Caribbean, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

For those skeptical travelers who aren’t sure whether a spring break cruise is right for them, we suggest Royal Caribbean’s new ship Harmony of the Seas (or her sister ships Allure of the Seas or Oasis of the Seas). Now the world’s largest cruise ship, Harmony offers seven different themed neighborhoods. Stroll the outdoor Boardwalk complete with a carousel and Aqua Theater or enjoy a quiet lunch in Central Park, a secluded green space in the center of the ship with boutique shops and restaurants. (See? There's more to spring break than Jägermeister and jello shots!)

Harmony and her sister ships offer a variety of dining options and Broadway entertainment. College kids, young adults and families will find something to enjoy on this ship, whether it's dancing, enjoying the nightlife at more than a dozen bars or hanging out with the DreamWorks characters. With the ship's itineraries to popular Caribbean ports in both the Eastern and Western Caribbean, travelers will also have plenty of onshore options. You can visit St. Maarten and San Juan, kick back at Royal's private island of Labadee or explore ancient Mayan ruins while docked in Cozumel. See Harmony of the Seas' itineraries

 

Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas beach resort offers three vacation towers, plus reef and harbor side accommodations for your Caribbean vacation getaway.
Courtesy of AtlantisAtlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas beach resort offers three vacation towers, plus reef and harbor side accommodations for your Caribbean vacation getaway.

Get your party on with Norwegian Sky

Mingle with singles on 3- and 4-day escapes to the Bahamas

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For those who are looking to let loose, the three- and four-day Bahamas cruises on Norwegian Sky offer one of the best values in cruising. Perfect for any young adult looking for a party scene, the base fare for all Norwegian Sky cruises include Norwegian Cruise Line’s Ultimate Beverage Package. Yup, for as little as $150 a day, you have an open bar to enjoy (don't abuse it!) while sailing the waters off the coast of Florida. This ship also features Norwegian’s signature Freestyle dining, meaning no set dining times or table assignments at one of seven restaurants.

When traveling to the Bahamas, you can spend a day at the luxury resort Atlantis or swim with the dolphins at the Blue Lagoon. Four-day cruises on Norwegian Sky also stop at Norwegian Cruise Line’s private island, Great Stirrup Cay. Here you can snorkel, parasail or just relax with a drink in your hand as the open bar also includes this private island. See Norwegian Sky's itineraries. Other Norwegian ships hit Cancun, Cozumel, Puerto Rico and destinations throughout the Caribbean. 

 

Play on Bermuda's beautiful beaches when you cruise the Caribbean on a  Norwegian Cruise Line ship.
Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise LinePlay on Bermuda's beautiful beaches when you cruise the Caribbean on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship.

Break away to the Bahamas

Plenty of activities on a 7-day voyage on Norwegian Breakaway

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If you go to school or live on the East Coast of the U.S. and don’t want to fly anywhere for spring break, then how about making your way to New York for a seven-day Bahamas trip on Norwegian Breakaway? Featuring a ropes course, a water park and an adults-only Spice H20 area, this ship offers plenty of fun for cruisers of all ages. With 24-hour dining, two Broadway shows, a dueling piano bar and an Ice Bar at sea, you don’t need to even leave the ship to have a good time — and you'll have plenty of snaps for your Facebook feed, Snapchat or Instagram.

If you do decide to venture off the ship in Nassau, you can relax at some of the best beaches, including the public Junkanoo Beach, within walking distance from the pier. Families can explore the amazing Ardastra Gardens and Zoo, where your kids will get to interact with the animals or take an island tour to see historic forts and the famous Queen’s Staircase. Here's where Norwegian Breakaway sails.

 

Some of the water activities along the shoreline in Cabo San Lucas, shot earlier this year during a Mexican Riviera cruise aboard Ruby Princess.
JD Lasica / Special to CruiseableSome of the water activities along the shoreline in Cabo San Lucas during a Mexican Riviera cruise aboard Ruby Princess.

Cruise the Mexican Riviera

Visit Cabo, Puerto Vallarta & Mazatlan aboard Ruby Princess

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Do something different and try the Mexican Riviera for your next Spring Break cruise. Princess Cruises’s Ruby Princess takes cruisers to three ideal stops. Nothing says spring break like Cabo San Lucas, filled with miles of beautiful beaches and plenty of outdoor adventures like snorkeling and ziplines. (Cruiseable co-founder JD Lasica is there today aboard Holland America's Westerdam.) Couples will like taking a relaxing stroll along the picturesque Malecón waterfront in Puerto Vallarta. And the kids are sure to love a sea lion encounter at Vallarta Adventures. While in Mazatlán, you can enjoy world-class sports fishing or shop shop shop in the Golden Zone.

Back on board Ruby Princess, enjoy a variety of dining options including the new Share restaurant from Chef Curtis Stone. The nightly Movies under the Stars, complete with popcorn, are a cruiser favorite, so snuggle up with your significant other and watch a movie on the large outdoor screen. Back inside, there are also numerous bars and nightly Broadway-style shows to get everyone in your travel party entertained. Here are Ruby Princess's itineraries

 

Kitesurfing, or kiteboarding, on St. Lucia.
Courtesy of St. Lucia Tourist BoardKitesurfing, or kiteboarding, on St. Lucia.

Prepare for a Latin adventure

Visit beaches, UNESCO World Heritage sites & lush rainforests

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Instead of spending a week on the usual-suspects beaches of Florida, head directly to San Juan for some Latin American flair on board Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas. With four different itineraries beginning in Puerto Rico, you have the chance to visit up to eight different islands, including St. Lucia, where you can gaze at the Pitons or go kitesurfing, or St. Kitts, where you can zipline through the jungle. Other stops include Barbados, Antigua and more. Reserve some time to explore Puerto Rico as well, including the historic El Morro and La Fortaleza. Nature lovers can hike El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest overseen by the U.S. Forest Service.

In between these port-intensive stops with UNESCO World Heritage sites, beautiful beaches and lush rainforests, take in an ice show at the indoor skating rink or enjoy a parade down the Promenade, lined with shops, restaurants and bars. Mount the rock climbing wall or challenge the family to a round of mini-golf. During your cruise, don’t miss the adult game show the Quest and the Dancing Under the Stars pool deck party, complete with dancing, music and a midnight buffet. Here are Adventure of the Seas' upcoming sailings

 

An experienced windsurfer catches some air on Aruba.
Courtesy of Aruba TourismAn experienced windsurfer catches some air on Aruba.

Head to Aruba & Curaçao

Take part in Carnival Vista's first spring break

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For spring break 2017 and 2018, Carnival's newest ship, Carnival Vista, offers cruisers eight-night cruises to the Southern Caribbean. Featuring some firsts at sea like an IMAX theater, the Skyride (a bike ride suspended over the pool deck) and the first brewery at sea for a contemporary cruise ship, Carnival Vista itself is a worthy destination. With Serenity, the adults-only retreat area, and its multifaceted kids programs, this ship caters to young and old, couples, singles and families. With Carnival’s recently upgraded Cheers program, cruisers can now pay one flat fee for unlimited alcoholic beverages, making the ship a great choice for those 21+.

Carnival Vista offers Caribbean itineraries that are as unique as the ship herself. Travel to the beautiful beaches of Aruba or take advantage of some of the world's best scuba diving off the coast of Bonaire. Swim with the stingrays or explore the historic downtown of Grand Turk and become engulfed in the local culture in La Romana, Dominican Republic, as you tour the countryside. See all of Carnival Vista's itineraries. Don't forget to send us photos!

 

Viking Star sits dockside, right in the heart of historic Kotor, Montenegro.
JD Lasica / Special to CruiseableViking Star sits dockside, right in the heart of historic Kotor, Montenegro.

Enjoy some cultural immersion

Voyage on Viking Star to Barcelona, Kotor or Monte Carlo

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If you prefer cultural enrichment over tequila shots, then you should consider crossing the Atlantic. See some of the most historic European cities on a Mediterranean cruise on one of Viking Ocean’s new ships: Viking StarViking Sea or the just-launched Viking Sky (see her itineraries). These premium cruise ships cost more, but they provide all-balcony accommodations featuring some of the largest cabins at sea. Dine at one of 11 restaurants without a fee for specialty dining, including beer and wine at each meal. Be advised, these are not party ships, and they're not suited to kids, but they're great for couples of all ages. These elegant mid-size vessels offer enrichment lectures, port guides and free shore excursions at each port as well as free ship-wide Wi-Fi, which will set you back on most other cruise lines.

While sailing the Mediterranean, you'll visit some of the most iconic and picturesque cities in the world. See the Colosseum and the Vatican during your stop in Rome. Tour wine country and sample some of the great local fare in Tuscany. Climb the ancient steps of Kotor, Montenegro. Gaze at the architectural beauty of the Basilica of the Holy Family in Barcelona or try your luck as you explore Monte Carlo and its famous casino. 

 

A land iguana, yellowish in color, grows to more than a meter in length in the Galápagos.
Christine Loomis / Special to CruiseableA land iguana, yellowish in color, grows to more than a meter in length in the Galápagos.

Venture to another world: the Galapagos

Take a once-in-a-lifetime voyage aboard a Celebrity ship

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Thousands of people discover the amazing Galapagos Islands each year aboard a cruise ship. While pricey, Celebrity Xpedition’s weekly cruises to the Galapagos Islands are an all-inclusive trip, including pre-cruise accommodations, all meals and drinks on board, as well as expert guided shore excursions at the ports of call. A nature specialist holds seminars on the ship to further enhance your experience — this might just be the best classroom at sea. Joining Xpedition in the Galapagos are the smaller Celebrity Xploration and Celebrity Xperience, both of which join the fleet this month. 

Enrichment is the goal of this spring break cruise. Learn about the region's diverse wildlife during the day and enjoy premium dining on this intimate megayacht at night. With only 100 guests, you'll make friends with nearly everyone on the expedition. While the amenities on board are limited, you'll receive five-star service from the award-winning Celebrity Cruises crew. You can unwind at the spa or enjoy some sun and panoramic views on the sun deck for a true spring break cruise feeling.

Other cruise lines that call on the Galapagos, some for lower prices, include Lindblad Expeditions, G Adventures and Silversea and its Silver Galapagos.

 

Kid Rock puts on an annual Chillin' the Most cruise toward the end of spring break.
Kid Rock puts on an annual Chillin' the Most cruise toward the end of spring break.

Catch a spring break music cruise

Rock, jazz, blues, techno & oldies groups perform in 2017-18

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What could be better than listening to live performances by your favorite musical artist during spring break? How about rocking out with them on a cruise ship? During the month of March, lots of musical acts take to the high seas. Music festivals at sea feature meet and greets, trivia, special dining events and other fan exclusives.

Some options include Legends of Rock Cruise 2017, a 7-night sailing to the Western Caribbean on MSC Divina departing March 18; Kid Rock's Chillin' the Most Cruise, a 5-night sailing out of Tampa on Norwegian Jade departing April 4; and the Carnival Live series of ship concerts and acts.

 

Head to Castaway Cay on the family-friendly Disney Magic.
Courtesy of Disney Cruise LineHead to Castaway Cay on the family-friendly Disney Magic.

Let Disney entertain the family

Head to the Bahamas & Disney's private resort on Disney Magic

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If you're not keen on spending the entire week at Walt Disney World parks, then a land and sea vacation package might be the best compromise. Spend three or four days at the park and then head to Port Canaveral near Orlando for a Bahamas spring break cruise on the Disney Magic. Consistently rated as one of the best cruise lines, Disney Cruise Line caters to families. Rotate throughout your cruise through three distinct dining rooms that integrate Disney magic with superb multi-course dinners. The kids will love the children’s programs, and parents will love the alone time so they can relax and enjoy their spring break, too!

The Disney theme continues when you stop at their private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay. Relax in the adults-only Serenity Bay Beach and enjoy a beachfront massage while the kids engage in water sports, table top games and activities all coordinated by the cruise staff. Another option: Charter a boat to get a tour of the surrounding island with the kids. Here's a look at all upcoming Disney Magic cruises.

Pack your bags

Whether it's a spring break cruise to the Caribbean, Europe or Mexican Rivera, you're bound to find something that's in tune with what for you're looking for. Why be landlocked on your vacation? There are spring break cruises geared to college friends, family members or even couples (like us) looking to have a good time.

Want to take a spring break cruise?

Whether you've found the perfect spring break cruise already or need some travel planning advice, one of Cruiseable's travel experts will be happy to help you arrange the trip! Contact a Cruiseable travel advocate by email or call 1-877-322-3773

Have you taken a spring break cruise? Let us know where you went and how much fun you had by posting a comment below. 

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DB & the Princess
Along with my wife, I'm the co-editor of EatSleepCruise.com, helping you sea the world, one port at a time!

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