The Caribbean still reigns supreme when it comes to cruising, but there’s a whole new world to explore. Classic ports such as the Bahamas are recovering, new itineraries are opening up in Japan for the 2020 Summer Olympics, and luxury options abound in the Seychelles. Here are eight places to prioritize in 2020.


Remember when Olympic organizers in Rio de Janeiro slept on cruise ships and called them “floating hotels”? Tokyo will do the same for its turn in the spotlight. From July 24 to Aug. 9, the city is chartering at least one large ship to serve as a floating hotel in response to a shortage of rooms on dry land. But you’d be better off going a more traditional route: Two of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s Shanghai-based ships, Spectrum of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas, will offer itineraries that overnight at Tokyo’s new terminal. Passengers with tickets can easily get to events and then sail on to other, less frenetic parts of the country.

Windstar Cruises LLC is betting that the summer’s television coverage will drum up tourism interest for Japan in general, so it’s skipping the marquee games and sending its 312-passenger, all-suite Star Breeze to the country for a series of temple- and garden-centric sailings this fall. But the most peaceful way to sail might be a three-night trip on Guntû, a 38-passenger design ship that’s like a floating ryokan on the Seto Inland Sea, complete with traditional open-air onsen baths in some of its suites.

The trip we’re most likely to book: Star Breeze 10-night sailing, from $3,599 per person.

The Bahamas

Typically cruise lines have relied heavily on the Bahamas. Not only is Nassau, the capital, a frequent port of call, but several companies have organized sailings throughout the commonwealth around islands that they own. In the last year, however, the roles have changed. After Hurricane Dorian devastated Grand Bahama (also a cruise port) and the less-visited Abaco islands, cruise companies helped deliver recovery supplies and made major donations. In the storm’s aftermath, they’re helping revitalize the entire Bahamian tourism economy.

Royal Caribbean is opening the second phase of its $250 million Perfect Day at CocoCay island in January. The Coco Beach Club includes the first overwater floating cabanas in the region. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. has boosted the offerings at its Great Stirrup Cay, a chic, South Beach-style beach oasis where you can shell out as much as $1,100 a day for a private, air-conditioned villa conveniently located near a Moet & Chandon bar. MSC Cruises’ recently opened, 95-acre Ocean Cay offers a more tranquil experience that focues on spa treatments and underwater activities in its protected marine reserve. And when adults-only Virgin Voyages debuts its first ship in March, every sailing will stop at a swanky private resort—think Ibiza or St-Tropez—developed by Resorts World Bimini.

The trip we’re most likely to book: A four-night itinerary on Virgin’s Scarlet Lady, from $2,750.

Kinsale, Ireland

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