A Caribbean cruise vacation conjures up images of swaying palm trees, sun-warmed beaches, aqua waves, and frosty tropical drinks. These pristine islands are one of the most traveled cruise destinations for first-time and seasoned cruisers alike, and knowing the best time to cruise to the Caribbean is crucial to experiencing those enticing visuals.
The Caribbean is a cruiser’s dream vacation in every season. The key is knowing which area to cruise to and when to get full enjoyment out of every moment of your cruise vacation. The best time to cruise the Caribbean for you can depend on your schedule, whether school or work, your travel budget, and your travel desires.
What is the best month to cruise the Caribbean?
You can sail to the Caribbean year-round, from January to December. Cruises from Florida to the Caribbean depart from Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Tampa, or you can sail from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
If you’re looking for optimum weather and reduced fares, one of the best months to cruise to the Caribbean is May, the beginning of shoulder season. Shoulder season is that time just before and just after peak or high season, from December to April.
During this time, you can find some terrific Caribbean cruise deals for longer cruises of 10 to 12 days to the Southern Caribbean and for shorter cruises of 5 to 7 days to the Bahamas or Mexico as peak season has just ended and the summer vacation travel rush hasn’t kicked in yet.
One reason May is one of the best times to visit the Caribbean on a cruise is that the weather is still near perfect, particularly in the Southern Caribbean islands, with lots of sunny days and balmy evenings perfect for a sunset catamaran cruise or a moonlit stroll on a ship’s deck.
May weather on Mexico’s east coast, where the island of Cozumel sits, is also still hot and dry with temperatures in the 80s and over 11 hours of sunlight daily. Sunbathe on pristine white-sand beaches or get active with watersports like jet skiing and parasailing over the beautiful blue Caribbean Sea.
Scuba diving, reef snorkeling, splashing around with dolphins, and deep-sea fishing for marlin, mahi-mahi, and sailfish are more ways to enjoy Mexico’s beautiful weather, clear blue waters, and vibrant underwater marine life.
October, the later part of shoulder season, is also one of the best months to cruise if you’re looking for good deals. You might also find special offers for packages and perks, such as beverage packages and onboard credit.
What is the best time of year to go to the Caribbean?
December through April is the peak season for Caribbean cruising. During this time, you’ll experience the best weather and some of the most entertaining holidays and festivals.
If you have a sudden impulse to travel, enjoy a flexible schedule or no schedule at all, and are not picky about stateroom selection, you might be able to snap up a last-minute cruise deal.
If you’re looking to book your vacation at a specific time of year, here are some of the highlights of traveling to the Caribbean during different seasons.
Winter cruises to the Caribbean
Cruising to the warm, sunny Caribbean during the winter months, when the weather up north can be cold, gray, and snowy, is a terrific way to beat the winter blues.
Read: Best Winter Cruises
During the months of January through March, you’ll find idyllic tropical weather with temperatures in the mid 70s to low 80s and low humidity. January also marks the beginning of the Caribbean dry season, which greatly minimizes the chance of rain during your cruise vacation.
Another perk of traveling during the winter months (outside of December) is that the high-peak holiday cruise season has just wrapped up. Cruises sailing during early January and February dates are often offered at a great price point since most travelers have headed back to work.
Spring cruises to the Caribbean
During the months of March and April, the best beaches in the Caribbean attract a rush of spring breakers and families looking to take advantage of school breaks.
If you’re thinking of taking a Caribbean cruise during the spring, we recommend booking your vacation as early as possible, since prices tend to go up and cruise ships often sell out during this popular travel season.
Of course, it’s no surprise why travelers flock to the Caribbean during the early spring months. The weather is often blissful, with temperatures fluctuating between the mid-70s to low-90s. Plus, March and April are still well within the dry season, so you won’t have to worry about rain or storms during your trip down south.
Summer cruises to the Caribbean
Looking for an antidote to a too-crowded summer vacation? A summer cruise to the Caribbean may be just the ticket. When you cruise the Caribbean during June, July, and August, you’ll enjoy less crowded beaches and restaurants, and you may be able to find a great Caribbean cruise deal too.
The Caribbean is one of the most fun places to go in the summer with your family since the kids are out of school. While the weather can get quite hot and humid during this time of the year, with some islands reaching 90 degrees on average in August, temperatures tend to cool down in the evenings, when they can hit a comfortable range within the low-70s.
During the summer, the chance of rain also increases, so make sure to bring a rain jacket or poncho in case you happen to get caught under some showers. Don’t forget the bug spray either, as high humidity and rain typically mean there are more mosquitoes, too.
Fall cruises to the Caribbean
Hurricane season takes off in September and lasts until early November. If you’re looking for a great deal on a cruise, look for cruises during this time period.
The ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao) are popular destinations with cruise vacationers during the fall, especially during the later part of hurricane season, since they’re outside of the Caribbean hurricane zone.
If you don’t mind a little bit of unpredictability and tropical rain, the early fall season is also one of the best times to visit the rest of the Caribbean because of the cooler but still warm weather, small crowds, and low fares.
Come prepared with a waterproof jacket, in case you do encounter some showers, and don’t forget to pack anti-nausea aids or medication to prevent seasickness in case the weather makes sailing choppier than usual.
Holiday cruises to the Caribbean
Starting in late November, peak season in the Caribbean takes off again. Holiday cruises fill up quickly, so it’s wise to book as early as possible to get the stateroom, dining time, specialty dining reservations, and shore excursions you want.
Even though December is one of the most popular months to travel to the Caribbean, there are still opportunities to find some great deals during the first two weeks of the month before the holiday vacation period begins and when sailings may be offered at discounted prices.
After hurricane season ends in early November, you can expect ideal weather at all Caribbean cruise ports, with average temperatures in the high 70s to low 80s during the day, low humidity, and little chance of rain.
One of the highlights of taking a cruise to the Caribbean during the holidays is celebrating with Celebrity Cruises on board. On Thanksgiving cruises from Florida, you’ll get a traditional feast with all the trimmings.
On Christmas cruises, expect holiday decorations, carolers, and visits from Santa. You’ll find Easter egg hunts and other fun activities for the whole family during spring holiday sailings. Sail with us on New Year’s Eve and party on to midnight and beyond with a sensational champagne celebration.
When is the best time to cruise to the Western Caribbean?
If you’ve always wanted to see Mayan ruins, hike a tropical rainforest, or simply lie on a powdery white-sand beach listening to clear blue water lapping at the shoreline, this is the best time to visit the Western Caribbean on a cruise.
Go biking around Duval Street in Key West with a stop for a refreshing key lime pie ice cream cone. Watch the sunset from your ship after a day of hanging in a hammock on a Cozumel beach. Shop designer and duty-free boutiques in Grand Cayman.
When is the best time to cruise to the Eastern Caribbean?
Whether you’re a sun worshipper who wants to kick back on the powdery white sand beaches of each Caribbean port, passionate about scuba diving or snorkeling, or interested in delving into the history and culture of the places you’ll visit, the weather throughout the Eastern Caribbean during peak season is ideal for all activities.
Book a June cruise to the Eastern Caribbean for a combination of warm temperatures and low rainfall. Hurricane season begins June 1st but doesn’t usually ramp up until mid-August, so you’ll usually have calm Atlantic and Caribbean seas through June.
Cruise Eastern Caribbean itineraries in July, August, and September, the low season, and you’re likely to find discounted fares due to fine summer weather in most of the Western world, high season for Mediterranean cruises, and the unpredictability of hurricane season. With school out for the summer, and a slower pace in general, families are increasingly taking advantage of this time to travel together.
Island weather tends to be more humid during these months, with temperatures still in the 70s and 80s range, and generally rainier. Plan on early morning beach time, fun trips to water parks, swimming with dolphins or stingrays, snorkeling, diving, and other water sports.
This may be the perfect season for you if you prefer not only less crowded Caribbean islands, but possibly a less crowded onboard cruise experience as well.
When is the best time to cruise to the Southern Caribbean?
Book an early shoulder season cruise in May to take advantage of the best weather with fewer crowds. Explore Fort Amsterdam, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Willemstad, Curacao, then shop the vibrant open-air markets and sample the Dutch take on waffles.
Snorkel or scuba on Kralendijk, Bonaire, one of the world’s most beautiful diving spots that’s equally famous for its delightful pastel houses of pink, green and orange.
The best thing about traveling to the Caribbean is that whatever time or season you choose to cruise, there’s a Celebrity Cruises ship and its crew ready to treat you to a luxury cruise experience as you travel to pristine island destinations.
Ready to book your Caribbean cruise? Browse our itineraries online or call one of our expert vacation specialists at 1-800-852-8086 for help planning the perfect vacation.