Highlights of Island-Hopping in the Caribbean Aboard the Emerald Sakara

COMING SOON ON SEASON 2! You don’t have to be a billionaire to live the yachting lifestyle in the Caribbean. WATCH THIS VIDEO to see what it’s like to sail aboard the 100-guest Emerald Sakara on a week-long ‘yachtsman’s’ cruise to out-of-the-way islands. 


When you think of cruising to the Caribbean, the first picture that pops into your head might be a mega ship. But think again. The Emerald Sakara lets you enjoy the privileges of yacht cruising – and many advantages over mega-ship voyages through the region. 


Here’s how our Emerald yacht cruise compares to big-ship cruising in the Caribbean: 


Boarding’s a breeze


With only 100 fellow guests, there’s no drawn-out boarding process, meaning you can get on board – and get your vacation started - quicker.  


It feels a lot like you’re on your own private yacht and at ports of call, you can stroll on and off the Emerald Sakara as you please. 


No line ups 


That’s right. Not to board… or to disembark ashore… or even on board for dining in the ship’s dining room, getting that refill at the bar on at the pool.  


It’s true guests wait together to board tenders at tender ports, and go in clusters to dinner after the lounge entertainment wraps up after happy hour. But the ample public spaces and few numbers of guests mean you’ll never feel part of a herd. You can simply relax as you make your way to the next part of your holiday. 


No pool lounge hogs


Two pools. One at either end of the ship. And plenty of individual loungers, including luxe clamshells, and resort-chic oversized shared lounge seating that mean you’ll never worry about relaxing over another coffee in the morning for fear of missing out on a spot next to the pool. 


Get to know your fellow guests… 


With only 98 fellow guests, you and your cruise companion will run into the same, like-minded cruise travelers everywhere on the ship. Unlike on big ships where you meet fun people you think you’d like to hang out with – then never see again!  On the Emerald Sakara, you find yourself at the bar or lounge together… on the same tender ashore… entering the dining room at the same time… All of which lending itself to making newfound friends on board.


Or not.


The intimacy of the Emerald Sakara can lead equally to private moments and romantic interludes built for two. The large number of veranda suites make it easy to laze away the day, pre-dinner cocktails, sunsets at sea, alone with your sweetheart, as if you were on a private yacht and entirely on your own. 


A honeymooning couple on our cruise was completely wrapped up in each other, cocooned from any intrusions in the intimate spaces of the yacht.  


Get off the beaten path


Have you been to Tortola or Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands? How about St. John in the USVI? Big ships need big infrastructure, limiting their ports of call, and leading to what I call cruise ship ‘conventions’ with several big ships parked at once at the islands where they can disembark their guests. 


That leaves the lesser-known islands for the small ships. Many are not even served by large commercial aircraft, making a small-ship cruise the most convenient way to get to chic, private yacht-territory like St. Barths. 


In smaller, often more exclusive Caribbean destinations, you’ll get to meet real locals and enjoy an authentic island experience. Not share your port with thousands of guests from your own and other cruise ships that can outnumber residents of many islands!


All Aboard vs. A Beach Resort 


Not only does yacht cruising have advantages over big-ship cruising, it also has some benefits you won’t find at a beach resort, like these: 


Location, location, location(s)


You won’t just see one island – in a week-long cruise on the Emerald Sakara, you could call in a different port every day. That ‘tasting menu’ approach lets you sample the best of many destinations – especially since lots of travelers to all-inclusives never even explore beyond the resort. 


Emerald Cruises offers an included shore excursion in nearly every port of call, meaning you’ll see a whole new side of the Caribbean. 


Water babies


On a resort, you may see the sea… but never get out on the waves. On an Emerald yacht cruise in the Caribbean, you’ll have the daily pleasure of being on the water, watching sun rises and sunsets over the waves, the view of tropical, verdant hills and isolated beaches as you sail by. 


Plus, marina days, when the ship holds position in a secluded cove or bay and deploys water ‘toys’ off the back deck for guests to take full advantage of the yachting lifestyle at sea.


Life’s a beach


But what about the beach? It’s not just the sea views that draw us to the Caribbean, but a chance to spend days on the beach. 


Our Emerald cruise included shore excursions to local beaches in a number of ports, including a hike in the US Virgin Islands National Park, which ended at a stunning beach – only accessible to park goers.


The ship’s crew planned a private beach barbecue day, too (check out the incredible footage of our private beach barbecue site in the video!) We and our fellow guests had a beach all to ourselves with barbecue, bar service by our favorite shipboard staff.

That means we actually spent time on more beaches!  - than many guests at all-inclusive resorts, where you never leave the property – and jostle for space even when the beach is for resort guests only. 


Emerald Cruises’ small ships make it possible for ordinary travelers to live like yacht-owning billionaires.

By: Lynn Elmhirst, cruise/ travel journalist and expert and host of World's Greatest Cruises

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