Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond
Caribbean Cruise

Best and Worst Times to Cruise the Caribbean

Caribbean cruise ship
The best time to cruise the Caribbean is late winter to early summer. © Scott S. Bateman

The best time to cruise in the Caribbean depends on personal preferences for weather, prices and crowds.

But some months are better than others, especially late winter, spring and early summer when temperatures are warm and the risk of rain is low.

For the most part, the best time to cruise the Caribbean is January through April during the dry season, especially in April when temperatures are warmer. The worst time is September and October during the peak months of the Caribbean hurricane season.

May is a brief rainy season for some destinations. December is popular because of families on winter break from schools. March as well as June through August are popular with families on spring and summer breaks. June is the best time to cruise the Caribbean in the summer because it has a lower risk of rain than July or August.

The weather is a major factor because rainfall is often quite heavy in the Caribbean during certain times of the year.

It is especially true during the Caribbean hurricane season, which lasts from the beginning of June to the end of November. During that period, total rainfall rises until it reaches a high point in September and October.

As a result, both months are the least popular times of the year to vacation in the Caribbean. June and November are the least risky months during the hurricane season because they usually have the fewest tropical storms and hurricanes.

Winter temperatures are a factor to consider. People who love beaches may find that winter in the Caribbean brings cooler seawater, especially in more northern destinations such as the Bahamas.

During the summer, people who don’t like humidity and temperatures higher than 90 degrees Fahrenheit will find some destinations uncomfortably hot. They include Cozumel and Grand Cayman.

The most popular times to cruise, such as spring break and summer break from schools, usually have higher cruise prices and more crowded cruise ports. Couples or singles without families should avoid those times.

Each cruise season during the year has a different combination of weather, prices and crowds.

Winter Cruises

Cozumel monthly temperatures
Cozumel temperatures are mild in the winter and hot in the summer. © Scott S. Bateman

Many destinations experience a high point of tourism from December through February because of people fleeing the northern winters. But that period also has the lowest average temperatures for the Caribbean, especially in the islands lying closest to the United States.

The Bahamas, which technically are in the Atlantic rather than the Caribbean, remain popular because they are easy to reach from the U.S. They are also a common stop for Caribbean cruises and a popular golf destination.

But they also have the lowest temperatures of any islands in the Caribbean region. Seawater is usually too chilly for swimming.

Southern Caribbean cruises are a good choice during the winter. They reach the destinations with the warmest temperatures, such as Aruba, Curacao, Panama, Costa Rica, and Cartagena Colombia.

Many of them embark from San Juan Puerto Rico.

Western cruises also become popular in the later part of winter because they go to places that usually have a dry season combined with warmer temperatures. They include Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Roatan, Costa Maya and Belize.

Recommendation: Early winter cruises are best for people who want to escape winters but worst for people who want warm temperatures for swimming. Late winter cruises are best for the western Caribbean.

Spring Cruises

Grand Cayman monthly rainfall
Grand Cayman is one of many Caribbean islands that has a dry season in the spring. But it gets drenched in the summer and fall. © Scott S. Bateman

As the weather gets warmer, eastern Caribbean cruises start to become a better choice. Many eastern cruises begin in Florida and include the Bahamas as a port of call. The Bahamas and the nearby Turks and Caicos islands are among the coolest in the region during the winter.

The Bahamas have average high temperatures in the upper 70s Fahrenheit or mid 20s Celsius from January through March. Nassau is still a good one-day stop for its attractions, but a Bahamas-only cruise is not a good choice during this time of year for beach goers.

Other destinations do better, especially in late spring. Popular cruise islands such as St. Maarten have average high temperatures rise into the upper 80s Fahrenheit or more than 30 degrees Celsius.

Recommendation: Early spring is still best for warmth in the western and southern Caribbean. Late spring is a better time for eastern cruise visitors who like spending time on the beach and in the water.

Summer Cruises

The words “summer cruise in the Caribbean” may bring visions of warm weather and frollicking in the waves. But it’s also a time of high heat and humidity for some islands as well as increasing rainfall for others.

Aruba, Cozumel, Grand Cayman and St. Thomas often have average high temperatures of more than 90 degrees during the day. The heat can make time on the beaches or shopping in the cruise ports uncomfortably hot. Recreational land activities on arid islands such as Aruba are even more uncomfortable.

Dominican Republic and Turks and Caicos have milder temperatures.

Summer also is a popular time to cruise for families because children have a summer break from school. The risk of rainfall rises as the summer advances, so anyone planning a cruise will find that early summer has a lower chance of rain in many destinations than later summer.

Recommendation: Summer cruises are best for people who love heat and worst for people who like moderate humidity and temperatures. Early summer is better than late summer when average rainfall starts to climb.

Fall Cruises

Aruba monthly rainfall
Aruba is one of the few islands that doesn’t have heavy rain in the fall (usually), although it does rain more often. © Scott S. Bateman

Cruise activity takes a big drop in September during the most active month of the hurricane season. It then begins to climb in October and November as weather becomes colder up north and average rainfall begins to lessen.

Many destinations still have above average rainfall during October and November, which makes late fall a risky time to cruise. Anyone who considers going during the late fall may find that cruise prices are lower than average because of lower demand.

It also is a good time of year to look for a last-minute cruise deal if the seven- or 10-day weather forecast shows a low chance of rain.

Recommendation: Fall cruises are best for people looking for great deals but the worst time for rain.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
March 13, 2024

10 Best Eastern Caribbean Ports

Atlantis Bahamas
An eastern Caribbean cruise is an easy choice for someone going on their first cruise. Here are the top 10 ports.

Best Southern Caribbean Ports

Southern Caribbean cruise ports have some of the warmest weather. Winter is a great time to go.

Top Western Caribbean Ports

Western Caribbean cruise ports are all about great excursions in Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Belize.

5 Carnival Cruise Tips to Know Before Going

Caribbean Cruise Weather Forecasts - Monthly Tips

Caribbean Cruise Ports of Call: Eastern, Western, Southern

Western Caribbean Cruise Tips: Ports, Attractions, Weather

Snuba Cruise Excursions Offer Underwater Adventures