Witnessing a solar eclipse from a cruise ship is certainly possible in both 2023 and 2024. Once thought to be harbingers of doom, total solar eclipses still leave witnesses in awe.
Unfortunately, the best viewing spots for totality are not always easily accessible by land and often come with incredible traffic headaches. So why not try experiencing a solar eclipse by cruise ship instead? After all, a ship can maneuver into just the right spot during a solar eclipse.
The first solar eclipse cruise took place in the 1970s, and people have been chartering cruise ships since then to watch in amazement as the moon blocks out the light of the sun.
For the upcoming 2023 and 2024 solar eclipses, Cruise Critic has the information you need to plan a cruise around the big events. Here’s what we know.
Solar eclipse cruises vary from year to year, based on where the best viewing spots are for totality and how many cruise lines have ships in that area of the world at that time.
Some are hosted by the cruise lines themselves; others are chartered by companies focused on nature-based travel. Other ships may simply be on their standard route and happen to be in a good spot for viewing.
While the goal of serious eclipse chasers is to spend as much time as possible in “totality,” space on cruise ships in that prime zone may be quite limited well in advance. For the average cruiser, though, even being on a ship located in a partial zone may prove to be a moving experience.
Solar eclipse theme cruises will likely have a team of experts onboard to educate cruisers about eclipses and other astronomical phenomena, as well as talk about nature-based subjects related to the cruise area. You can find out which scientists, astronomers and other experts will be on your cruise by looking at the provider's website.
If the cruise is billed specifically as an eclipse cruise, ship operators will likely provide protective glasses for eclipse viewing (but you're welcome to bring your own) and have photographers onboard to help you with eclipse photography. You'll need your own camera and tripod, though.
In 2023, there is an annular solar eclipse on Saturday, October 14 between 9:13 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time and 12:03 p.m. Central Daylight Time across North, Central and South America.
What’s an annular eclipse? It’s an eclipse that takes place when the moon passes between the Earth and sun, but at its most distant point from the Earth. That causes the shadow it casts across the sun to be smaller than the sun. Annular eclipses aren’t known for the depth of their darkness, but rather the size of their “ring of fire.”
Viking Ocean Cruises Eclipse Cruise: Viking Mars is set to be in port in Belize City on October 14. Though not billed specifically as an eclipse cruise, Mars is an inspiring ship to experience an eclipse from -- it even has a planetarium. The cruise departs Fort Lauderdale on an 11-night itinerary, ending in Panama City.
Belize City is positioned for five minutes and 11 seconds of annularity (rather than totality). The eclipse begins at 9:52 a.m., and maximum annularity is reached at 11:34 a.m. with estimated coverage of the sun at 90.68 percent. The complete eclipse lasts three hours and 27 minutes, ending at 1:19 p.m. local time.
UnCruise Adventures Eclipse Cruise: Safari Voyager carries only 66 passengers and will remain at sea off the coast of Belize City for eclipse viewing. The cruise is a seven-night round-trip from Belize City, departing on October 13. The eclipse timing will be approximately the same as provided above for Viking Mars.
Carnival Eclipse Cruise: Carnival Valor gives you an opportunity to experience a fairly extensive partial eclipse while in port in Cozumel. The cruise departs New Orleans on Thursday, October 12 on a four-night round-trip cruise.
The eclipse in Cozumel will not achieve full annularity but will reach maximum coverage of 85.15 percent at 12:30 p.m. local time, which should make for an interesting beach day.
Royal Caribbean Eclipse Cruises: Voyager of the Seas will also be in Cozumel on October 14, on a similar itinerary to Carnival Valor, but departing from Galveston. Allure of the Seas will be on a sea day between Cozumel and Galveston during the eclipse. Cruisers should expect to experience as much as 83 percent coverage of the sun around 1:00 p.m.
American Cruise Line Eclipse Cruise: American Song is scheduled to be positioned on the Columbia River in Oregon on October 14 during a 7-night cruise from Clarkston, Washington to Portland, Oregon. Estimated eclipse coverage should be around 85 percent around 9:19 a.m. local time.
American Queen Voyages Eclipse Cruise: American Empress, also on a Columbia and Snake River itinerary, will be positioned near Camas, Oregon during the eclipse. You can expect around 85 percent coverage of the sun, maxing out around 9:19 a.m. local time.
MSC Cruises Eclipse Cruise: MSC Seascape will be enjoying a sea day between Cozumel and Miami on October 14, which could put it in position for as much as 56 percent coverage of the sun with the maximum achieved around 9:42 a.m.
The path of the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024 will cover a giant swath of North America, but there’s plenty of ocean and river surface within its path as well. Let’s look at the 2024 solar eclipse cruises that will either be directly in the path of totality or close enough to it to make the experience enjoyable.
Princess Cruises Total Eclipse Cruises: Discovery Princess is hosting a full-on eclipse cruise. It’s a 10-night round-trip cruise from Los Angeles. Unfortunately, it appears to be currently sold out. It wouldn’t hurt, though, to mark your calendar for the first week of January, leading up to the 90-day no-penalty cancellation date of January 9. A good travel professional may be able to keep an eye out for openings for you.
Discovery Princess will be positioned off the coast of Mazatlán where guests will enjoy four minutes and 27 seconds of totality beginning at 11:07 a.m. local time.
Sister ship, Emerald Princess, will be nearby, with guests enjoying a sea day between stops in Cabo San Lucas and Huatulco as part of a 14-night Panama Canal cruise from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale. Depending on the ship’s position, guests might experience as much as 90 percent coverage of the sun or as little as 50 percent.
Holland America Line's Total Eclipse Cruises: Zaandam will play host to expert eclipse lecturers on its 14-night round-trip cruise from San Diego. At the time of this writing, there are still cabins available, but as with Princess, make a note to start checking for possible cancellations in early January.
The ship will spend the morning cruising in the waters off Mazatlán for the two hours and 40 minutes of the eclipse before docking in the city. And, when you do dock in the city, expect it to be both festive and crowded with eclipse chasers from all over the world since good weather for viewing is almost a guarantee in sunny Mexico.
Volendam will be on a sea day on its 14-night Panama Canal cruise from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale. Depending on its exact position, guests might experience as little as 60 percent coverage of the sun or possibly even totality.
UnCruise Adventures Total Eclipse Cruise: Safari Voyager sails a 7-night adventure cruise round-trip from San Jose del Cabo, beginning on April 6, 2024. It will position off the coast near Mazatlán for the full eclipse. The cruise is billed as a whale shark cruise -- a bonus for eclipse watchers.
Ring of Fire Expeditions Total Eclipse Cruise: This eclipse-specific tour company will have chartered space onboard Swan Hellenic’s new ship, SH Diana. The tour group website shows limited availability as of this writing, but it never hurts to check for a waiting list.
The group will be accompanied by Paul D. Maley of the NASA Johnson Space Center Astronomical Society as well as Dr. Michael Shara of the American Museum of Natural History.
American Cruise Line's Total Eclipse Cruises: American Splendor won’t be in the path of totality, but if skies are clear in Vicksburg, Mississippi, guests sailing on this 7-night lower Mississippi River cruise will be treated to approximately 91 percent coverage of the sun during the eclipse, with maximum coverage at 1:51 p.m. local time.
American Glory, one of American Cruise Line’s new Coastal catamarans, will be positioned in Washington D.C. during the eclipse. The cruise is a 10-night round-trip sailing from Baltimore. From D.C., guests should have roughly 87 percent coverage of the sun, weather provided.
Fred. Olsen Cruises' Total Eclipse Cruises: Bolette (formerly Holland America’s Amsterdam) will cross the path of the eclipse near its end in the Atlantic. Bolette is sailing a 13-day round-trip itinerary from Southampton, including the Azores.
Though eclipse viewing is planned into the itinerary, it’s hard to say whether the ship’s route will include the path of totality or only a percentage of coverage of the sun.
If totality is reached, it would last just under two minutes around 6:50 p.m. in the evening. Sunset at that location would be near 8:00 p.m., so with clear skies and a generous captain, guests could be treated to an open-ocean finale to the eclipse, as it will not be visible in Europe.