The Best Cruise Ports For 2019
A journey isn't all about the destination, but a single great port can turn a good cruise into an amazing one. Here are the destinations to look for on your 2019 itinerary:
Best Caribbean Port: Cozumel, Mexico (4.44 / 5)
Cozumel’s white sand beaches topped with iconic Mayan ruins were finally enough to win it all this year after close second and third place finishes in 2016 and 2017. Mahogany Bay came out of nowhere to place second, and while Roatan is rarely regarded as a top Caribbean island, we’ve read plenty of reviews written by cruisers who were surprised that the friendly locals and beautiful beaches made it their favorite stop on the cruise. Notably absent from this year’s top 5 were the usual contenders of Philipsburg, St. Maarten (winner of the category for the last two years), and Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.
Best Alaska Port: Skagway, Alaska (4.59 / 5)
Skagway’s Tongass National Park and White Pass narrow-gauge railway lead the picturesque Alaskan town to victory for the second year in a row. Juneau and Ketchikan also repeated their 2018 performances, while the iconic Glacier Bay, the undisputed winner of the category in 2016 and 2017, fell to fifth.
Best European Port: Barcelona, Spain (4.54 / 5)
Continuing a trend we saw last year, all top five European ports outscored the top 5 Caribbean ports. Barcelona won the top honors for the second year in a row thanks to its renowned Gothic cathedral, Picasso Museum, and Antonio Gaudi's Church of the Holy Family. This year also marks the first time we’ve had Baltic and Northern European ports finish in the top 5: Amsterdam’s rich history and culture made it an obvious contender, but we were pleasantly surprised by Geiranger, a charming Scandinavian town known for beautiful fjords and stunning views.
Best Private Island: Castaway Cay (4.76 / 5)
This time, we actually did have to double check to make sure we ran the right numbers, because the Private Island category was a complete repeat from 2018. In fact, ever since we started doing these awards in 2015, the top 3 finishers have always been Castaway Cay, Half Moon Cay, and Labadee… in that exact order. Since we don’t think that Castaway Cay — the highest rated port on our site — will suddenly forget how to deliver an amazing experience to Disney cruisers, we expect another repeat in 2020.
Smoothest Embarkation Port: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida (4.44 / 5)
First impressions matter, which is why sailing out of a port known for smooth embarkation is a great way to start your cruise off on the right foot. Fort Lauderdale and Port Canaveral are extremely consistent options, and Galveston showed a huge surge in ratings 2018, a promising sign for cruisers in and around Texas.