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Caribbean Cruise Weather Forecasts - Monthly Tips

Caribbean cruise photo

Cruise Weather Forecasts

Caribbean cruise weather has three seasons every year: dry, rainy and in-between.

The dry season and most popular time to cruise is January through April. The rainy season is part of the annual Caribbean hurricane season. It officially begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30. But rainfall historically is moderate in June and climbs steadily until reaching a high point in September. It declines a bit in October for most destinations and declines even more in November.

The “in-between” seasons with moderate rainfall are usually the months of May and December.

Cruise weather is an important factor in deciding which months are ideal for going on a Caribbean cruise and which months are riskier for weather.

Although the dry season is a popular time to cruise, the rainy season has some appeal for budget-minded travelers because prices are usually lower.

Caribbean Temperatures

Daily temperatures are mostly predictable and stay within a fairly narrow range throughout the year. They make any month good for someone who doesn’t plan to swim or spend an afternoon cruise stopover on a beach. But water temperatures especially in the winter make swimming too chilly for many people.

Beaches off the eastern coast of Mexico are cool during the winter and suffer from strong breezes and cool waters.

If a winter cruise sounds appealing, try the southern Caribbean because destinations such as Aruba are closer to the equator and warmer as a result.

A bigger challenge than water temperatures for Caribbean cruise weather is rainfall because of the annual hurricane season, which officially runs from the beginning of June through the end of November.

Rainfall is especially heavy in September and October.

Caribbean Rainfall by Month

The chart below shows the historical average number of rainfall inches for 15 major destinations by month.

Source: World Meteorological Organization. Locations: Ant - Antigua; Bah - Bahamas; Bar - Barbados; Bel - Belize; Can - Cancun; Cay - Cayman Islands; Cos - Costa Rica; Coz - Cozumel; Dom - Dominica; DR - Dominican Republic; Jam - Jamaica; Mart - Martinique; StL - St. Lucia; SJu - San Juan; USV - U.S. Virgin Islands
Average Storm Activity
  • June - 1 tropical storm  
  • July - 3 storms, 2 become hurricanes  
  • August - 3 storms, two become hurricanes  
  • September - 4 storms, two become hurricanes  
  • October - 4 storms, few rarely become hurricanes  
  • November - infrequent storms

Rainfall spikes from late summer through November for many destinations.

It especially climbs for the Central American nations that face the Caribbean Sea, which makes a western Caribbean cruise for that time of year less appealing.

Despite a hurricane season that runs from June through November, in reality many cruises avoid bad weather for two important reasons:

  1. Hurricanes and tropical storms don’t sweep through the entire region but rather only part of it, some many areas see a much lower impact.
  2. Ships can change course to avoid the worst of the weather.

The biggest advantage of a fall Caribbean cruise is price. One search of prices on the Web site of a major cruise company showed that six-day western Caribbean cruises were as much as $200 less expensive per person in August as the same cruise in July and another $100 cheaper in September.

A southern cruise has the best chances of avoiding bad weather, but it isn’t guaranteed.

Cruise Weather Tips

Tip #1: If you like to swim, avoid cruises during the winter in the northern destinations such as the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos.

Tip #2: The best Caribbean cruise weather months are early spring to mid-summer, but you will pay extra as a result.

Tip #3: Take a Caribbean cruise in the fall to save money, but expect the odds of rainfall to increase, especially at ports of call.

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.
June 17, 2020

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