Caribbean cruises can be booked throughout the entire calendar year, but the best time to visit is from December to April. If you’re looking for the best deals, book a cruise between May and November.
This time frame overlaps hurricane season for a few weeks, but if you’re willing to take the risk, you can find significantly more affordable prices for cruises, tours, and on-shore excursions.
Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to know to book your Caribbean cruise at the time that’s best for you.
To understand the best time to enjoy a cruise in the Caribbean, you first need to know how the seasons in the region work. Essentially, this tropical climate experiences two noticeably different seasons – the dry season and the wet season. As you may have guessed, these two seasons revolve around the amount of precipitation the region experiences during different times of the year.
Given the unpredictability of Caribbean weather, the dry season does not have a specific start and finish date, but it generally runs from early November until late April. During this stretch, temperatures tend to be relatively mild, while precipitation is at an annual minimum.
During the first half of the dry season, you can expect daily average temperatures to range somewhere between 70° F and 80° F. This means you can enjoy pleasantly warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine without risking the sweltering intensity of the summer heat.
During the back end of the dry season, meaning January until the end of April, average temperatures rise by a few degrees, but the skies usually remain clear.
When the dry season ends in late April, the wet season begins. May tends to be the informal beginning of the wet season, so temperatures increase alongside humidity levels.
The temperatures vary between the Southern Caribbean Islands, like St Lucia and St Vincent, and those in the Western Caribbean closer to the continental United States, like the Cayman Islands, St Maarten, or Jamaica, but you can expect the average daytime temperature to be around 91° F. As the name suggests, precipitation increases throughout the wet season, but showers are brief and sporadic during the first few months.
Once you reach July, you are at the very peak of the Caribbean’s wet season, which means you can expect high temperatures, plenty of rain, and humidity levels that can be uncomfortable. During these mid to late summer months, the Caribbean is also at the greatest risk of experiencing tropical storms, multi-day rainfalls, and even hurricanes.
Given how the wet and dry seasons pan out, you are always better off booking your Caribbean cruise vacation during the calendar’s shoulder seasons, meaning late fall and early spring.
More specifically, you will want to favor the months of November and April when booking your trip. If you want to avoid hurricanes and tropical storms, we recommend April over November, but remember that November can be a pleasant time to enjoy a cruise in the region.
As you can tell from our breakdown of the wet and dry seasons, conditions tend to be at their most pleasant and calm right before the start of the wet season and shortly after it has concluded.
This gives you that perfect blend of warm and sunny weather while minimizing your risk of rainfall and severe storms. Nighttime temperatures are also pleasant during these months, rather than muggy and humid.
While there is always the risk of the occasional light rain shower when you are in the Caribbean, they tend to be fairly minimal during the late fall and early spring.
Beyond ensuring that you have a high chance of enjoying pleasant temperatures and minimal rainfall, the shoulder seasons are also an excellent time to book your vacation because of the calmer sea conditions.
Even though modern cruise ships are all designed for stability and passenger comfort, it is always more pleasant to be a passenger when traveling through calm seas.
Not only does it minimize seasickness and that unpleasant rocking motion some passengers find irritating, but the Caribbean Sea and its numerous coastlines are most beautiful when the turquoise water is perfectly still.
The Caribbean Sea is usually relatively calm during late fall and early spring. As you can imagine, this helps ensure all passengers enjoy a smoother, more relaxing cruising experience.
While it is possible to enjoy a pleasant cruising experience in the Caribbean throughout the year, it is generally understood that cruising during a summer month is the riskiest.
When you book a cruise that sets sail between August and September, you almost guarantee that you will travel during the peak of the wet season. This is also when the CCaribbean’shurricane season is in full swing.
Temperatures can be warm and enjoyable, but many people find that the humidity can be unpleasant. Rain is also more frequent, which can make excursions and exploring ports of call far less enjoyable.
If you choose to travel during peak hurricane season, there is also the risk that a hurricane or serious tropical storm will disrupt your cruise vacation.
This can mean your itinerary can be disrupted, or the cruise line will be forced to cancel the voyage entirely. While this outcome is fairly unlikely, it can be a concern for those who cannot delay their trip due to work commitments.
This is one of the reasons why Caribbean cruises during the summer tend to be relatively affordable. Not only is there a higher risk of rainfall and high humidity levels, but you also risk trip disruptions due to storms and hurricanes. With that said, due to the lack of demand, fewer Caribbean cruises set sail during this time of year, which can increase costs and level them out.
While it may surprise you, some of the most affordable months of the year to cruise the Caribbean are some of the most pleasant months to travel in the region.
Tickets for cruises that set sail between January and March are usually among the most affordable. This is because these months and those between them are when demand is high enough to warrant an increased number of cruise voyages, but they miss the most pleasant months of November and April.
In other words, plenty of cruise lines offer Caribbean voyages during this period, but demand is lower than during the peak travel months. This increases the chances of scoring an amazing Caribbean cruise deal.
If you want to keep costs to a minimum, it is also worth noting that you should try to avoid booking your trip for days that land near major holidays, like the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. This is because demand increases, which usually translates to higher prices for cruise ship tickets. March break should also be avoided, as many families with children try to book during this week.
Most experienced Caribbean cruisers will tell you to avoid the middle of the wet season. We tend to agree with this advice, as it helps you avoid the most unpleasant Caribbean weather.
Regarding our top picks, we almost always point towards November and April, as they provide the least precipitation, the calmest waters, and plenty of sunshine. These are also some of the most expensive months to travel, so you may want to pick some other time during the dry season.
Ultimately, the best time to cruise the Caribbean depends on your personal budget and preferences. If you hope to enjoy a cruise during a less ideal month to celebrate a particular occasion or life event, book your trip and enjoy yourself!
While it is true that certain months are better than others when it comes to reducing your risk of rain storms and unpleasant temperatures, the Caribbean Sea is a year-round cruising destination. As long as you have realistic weather expectations and are prepared for your trip, you will enjoy yourself!
In other words, don’t get bogged down in the details! Book when it makes the most sense for you and your loved ones.
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