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

Best and Worst Months to Cruise to the Caribbean

© Norwegian Cruise Lines
The best time to cruise to the Caribbean depends on personal preferences for weather, prices and crowds.

The weather is a major factor because rainfall can be 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.

Temperatures also are a factor to consider. People who love beaches may find that winter in the Caribbean brings cooler seawater, especially in more northern destinations.

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

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

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 remain popular because they are easy to reach from the U.S., they are a common stop for Caribbean cruises and because they are 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 early winter because 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, 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

Abaco golf
The Bahamas are popular with golfers especially in the winter and spring. © Bahamas Ministry of Tourism
As 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.

Fall Cruises

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 cooler 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.

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October 23, 2018
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