Traveling aboard an opulent cruise liner or on a private luxury yacht is the ultimate status symbol of wealth and success. These high-end excursions at seas were largely a playing field for white travelers until the early 90’s when an African American travel industry professional launched what is today a popular trend in cruise ship experiences for the Black traveler. And others have followed her lead creating luxury experiences for the Black yacht enthusiast as well.

Noting some great seafaring vacation opportunities, The Africa Channel offers its list of Top 10: Black Cruises. And with CDC safety measures in place, the seas are reopening to travel.

Festival at Seas Cruise


Top for… Pioneering Achievement

Patricia Nicholson Yarbrough first saw this opportunity in 1992, launching Festival at Sea: Cruising with an African American Twist. Today it’s an award-winning experience attracting new and seasoned guests to full chartered ships of Gospel Brunch, Midnight Soul Food, and Stomp the Deck events. Festival at Sea sets sail for Aruba and Curacao in July 2022 for its 30th Anniversary.



Top for… Empowering Black Sailors

In 2001, in Chesapeake Bay, Marcus Asante, and Michael Campbell founded the Universal Sailing Club (USC), for African Americans to share culture and camaraderie on the Chesapeake Bay. Today the club’s global membership collaborates with other Black boating clubs, supports events like the Volvo Around-the-World Race, and runs Summer Sailing Youth Day Camps to inspire a new generation.



Top for: A Quick Getaway for Busy Professionals

Attracting up to 2000 per voyage, this Mardi Gras at sea hosts a Sail Away Party, Poker Tournaments, Basketball, and more along the crystalline waters, and world-famous coral reefs of Cozumel, and a chill atmosphere for professionals of color to network and mingle.



Top for… Best Vibes

Inspired by the TV sensation, The Soul Train Cruise 2022, is a weeklong Caribbean excursion celebrating musical legends like The Whispers, After 7, and Freddie Jackson on the Holland America Line Nieuw Amsterdam; consistently the highest-rated premium cruise line by Conde Nast Traveler’s “Readers’ Choice Awards” and “World’s Best” by Travel + Leisure.



Top for… Musical Line-up

Expect port-to-port performances from artists like Multi-Grammy Award winner Taj Mahal & Phantom Blues Band, Keb’ Mo’, and Mike Zito’s Band with Tito Jackson. Seasoned musicians and fans can jam together in selective lounges. Artist Workshops, Autograph Signings, and Industry Panels provide a chance to network with the stars. Referred to as the best blues experience on the planet, others have chimed in; “The grand-daddy of music cruises.” and, “This concert-centered cruise is the Vacation of a Lifetime.” -Islands Magazine



Top for… Higher Education

Considered the #1 cruise for professional people of color, the annual Fantastic Voyage raises funds for students attending HSBCU’s with a week of Networking, Educational Forums, Concerts, and stimulating Youth Spaces where kids can have fun and make friends. Departing Miami in November aboard the Carnival Freedom and featuring an A-list lineup, Joyner promises, “the best 8 days and nights of your life Partying with a Purpose”.



Top for… a Vehicle to Freedom

There is a rich history of Africans at sea in America as another avenue of escape to the Underground Railroad. Today, in New London, Connecticut the White Sails, Black Hands boat tour travels the Thames River exploring stories of Black Revolutionary Patriots, Governors and Whalers, the Amistad, and more.



Top for… Cultural Connection

Kelsy Horton put his Lake Michigan sailing experience to use along the shoreline of Tanzania where he bonded with local yacht enthusiasts leading Horton to create Yacht Week East Africa. Guests are immersed in Swahili culture, with excursions to historic sites and colorful local villages, introducing Africa as a hotspot for yachting and a sailing experience for Black people to connect to their history.



Top for… Risk

Howard alum and St Thomas maritime attorney Shelia Ruffin noticed a lack of Black representation in the yachting industry so invested her savings into Soca Caribbean Yacht Charters. Expect luxury from start to finish beginning with limousine transport, private chefs on board, and personalized all-inclusive service.



Top for… Action During the Pandemic

In August 2020, William “Bud” Lee left Chicago for a two-week Tulum vacation that sparked an idea for Black travel along Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. Today he is CEO of a thriving yacht charter company filling a billion-dollar spending gap for Black travelers interested in luxury vacations, like Megan Thee Stallion, Trey Songz, and DJ Kev. Lee partnered with hospitality industry veteran Jon Roberts and H2oh Sun Cruises of Puerto Aventuras for their supply of luxury boats.


For more great Black Travel experiences, check out The Africa Channel’s new series, Escape with Nate: In Search of Black Utopia

Escape with Nate: In Search of Black Utopia

Nate Fluellen, the headliner of TAC’s Telly Award-winning series World Wide Nate is back to host his new show Escape with Nate. Nate will sit down with today’s top Black travel influencers and celebrities and explore how travel opens the doors for people of color.


Tune in Saturdays and Sundays starting at 5 pm Eastern followed by other exciting travel series encouraging connection to culture through travel.