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Cruises to Bonaire

Bonaire (Photo:byvalet/Shutterstock)
Bonaire (Photo:byvalet/Shutterstock)

About Bonaire

Shy pink flamingos, gentle sad-eyed donkeys and elusive sea turtles all share something quite rare in today's world. They flourish on or around Bonaire, one of the ABC isles (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) deep in the Southern Caribbean. Each lives in sanctuaries set up by island residents who boast an awareness and level of conservation that few countries can match.

Though ecotourism is one of the latest buzzwords in the travel world, Bonaire, just 50 miles off the coast of Venezuela, was a world leader in the field of ecology long before the term was even coined. The island's greatest claim to fame is proudly touted on its license plates -- "Divers Paradise." This is no tourist-bureau puffery, although many believe that the license plates should read "Nature Lovers Paradise." Beyond the diving and snorkeling, there's windsurfing, kayaking, bird watching, kite boarding, fishing, mountain biking and horseback riding.

Many Caribbean islands brag about their underwater worlds, but Bonaire has set the standard by which everywhere else in the world is measured -- it led the way by protecting sea turtles back in 1961, banning spear-fishing in 1971, making it illegal to remove live coral in 1975 and establishing the first marine park in 1979. It also helps that the island is outside the traditional hurricane zone and is a desert island with no river runoff into the sea.

It has been called "Arizona by the Sea" for its climate and abundance of cacti. There is no rainy season and temperatures are consistently pleasant with lows in the 70s and highs in the 80s. Unlike its better-known neighbors, Aruba and Curacao, this isle of about 20,000 residents is quiet and laid-back. There are no flashy Las Vegas-type casinos as in Aruba or a showy pastel-colored capital city as in Curacao.

The first recorded Bonaire scuba diving began back in 1962 when Don Stewart, a would-be California actor, dropped anchor on this small, arid boomerang of an island. Considered the father of Bonaire diving, he was the first to use fixed moorings to prevent coral damage and helped set up the Caribbean's first island-wide underwater park. He has received numerous international awards for his conservation efforts. The park is a United Nations Environmental Program Model Marine Protected Area.

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DAY 1: Tampa

14 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
Tampa
Visiting:
Grand Cayman, Aruba ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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DAY 1: San Juan

7 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
San Juan
Visiting:
Aruba, Curacao ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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DAY 1: New York

13 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
New York
Visiting:
Puerto Plata, Bonaire ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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10 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
Port Canaveral
Visiting:
Aruba, Curacao ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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8 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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11 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
New York
Visiting:
Puerto Plata, Aruba ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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117 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Antigua, St. Lucia ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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Cruise Critic Favorite

9 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Grand Cayman, Aruba ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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10 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
Port Canaveral
Visiting:
Curacao, Aruba ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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8 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Aruba, Bonaire ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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Cruise Critic Favorite

11 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Bonaire, Curacao ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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11 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
Tampa
Visiting:
Grand Cayman, Aruba ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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10 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
Charleston
Visiting:
Aruba, Bonaire ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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12 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
Boston
Visiting:
San Juan, Bonaire ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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8 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
Panama City
Visiting:
Gatun Lake, Puerto Limon ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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11 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Aruba, Bonaire ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Aruba, Curacao ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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8 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Aruba, Bonaire ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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11 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
Tampa
Visiting:
Key West, Bonaire ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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56 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
St. Maarten
Visiting:
Antigua, Sopers Hole ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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66 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Puerto Plata, San Juan ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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8 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk ...
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Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
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9 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Labadee, Aruba ...
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Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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12 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Bonaire, Curacao ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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10 Night
Cruise to Bonaire

Leaving:
Tampa
Visiting:
Key West, Bonaire ...
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Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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Why go to Bonaire?

Pros:

Nature lovers will rejoice in the peace and serenity found on Bonaire, which has some of the world's best diving

Cons:

You won't find the typical Caribbean touristy outposts here, which might be a drawback for some

Bottom Line:

Bonaire offers an authentically Caribbean experience for active and laid-back travelers

Bonaire Cruise Port Facilities?

You'll be docked in downtown Kralendijk, the capital of Bonaire, off Kaya C.E.B. Hellmund. Shopping, dining, bar hopping and even snorkeling and diving are within walking distance of the dock. You will pass through Harborside Mall, a small open-air shopping center, to get from the pier to the street. There are public restrooms here, but they cost $1 to use. Just outside of the center, you can find taxi and tour operator stands for independent exploration.

Good to Know?

Bonaire, like Curacao, is known for being a bit windy. Don't expect gale-force winds, but there are ample breezes for excellent windsurfing.

Getting Around?

On Foot: Across from the pier is Wilhelmina Plaza. On cruise days it becomes the Bonaire Arts and Crafts Cruise Market with local artisans offering native foods, handmade wares, original art and clothing for sale. Cultural dance shows, concerts and other entertainment are held here during the day.

It is an easy walk of just a few minutes to shops and restaurants along the Waterfront Promenade and Kaya Grandi, the main shopping street, one block inland.

By Taxi: Taxis are readily available. Rates are set to various destinations, and you can tour the entire island for $40 per person. Local beaches, the Plaza Resort and Harbourside Village are $20 round trip for up to four people. Popular Sorobon Beach (by Lac Bay) is $40 round trip for up to four people.

By Rental Car: There are a number of car rental companies in Bonaire, but roads are narrow and what used to be one-ways are now two. If you plan on leisurely driving, let other vehicles go around you and stay alert for passing cars and motorbikes. Roads are generally well paved and well-marked, but if you will be driving into Washington Slagbaai National Park, you will need a truck or a Jeep since conditions are rough on unpaved roads. Daily rentals are harder to come by, and more expensive, so arrange yours in advance. Motor scooters and motorcycles are also available for rent as well as bicycles.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The U.S. dollar is the island's official currency. ATMs are available at local banks downtown, the supermarket, Harborside Mall and several resorts.

Language?

The official language of Bonaire is Dutch, but Papiamento, the local dialect of the ABC islands, is widely spoken. "Masha danki" means thank you very much in the language. English is spoken by most locals.


Awards and Recognition

Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Destination

  • 2018 Top-Rated Southern Caribbean Destinations
  • 2017 Top-Rated Southern Caribbean Destinations
  • 2016 Top-Rated Southern Caribbean Destinations
  • 2015 Top-Rated Southern Caribbean Destinations

Bonaire Cruise Reviews

Norwegian Gem
Casey2828
Sail Date: Jan 2020
We visited with friends who live in Bonaire.... Read More
Norwegian Gem
beachcomberbill
Sail Date: Jan 2020
After Aruba and Curaçao, Bonaire is kind of redundant... Read More
Norwegian Epic
Still Dreaming
Sail Date: Jan 2020
We had loved Bonaire last year but we decided to stay on the ship this year.... Read More
Norwegian Gem
BWCW3885
Sail Date: Jan 2020
I love Bonaire - we took a cab to a beach and there was a lot of construction going on there....still the water was beautiful and we enjoyed the day.... Read More
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