What Are the Worst Months to Cruise the Caribbean?

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One of the unique features of the Caribbean Sea is that it is suitable for cruises throughout the year. In fact, that is a significant reason why it is one of the most popular cruise destinations in the world!

That said, there are better times to schedule your trip than others. Like anywhere else, you want to ensure great Caribbean cruise weather and calm sea conditions, and you want to encounter as few crowds as possible when booking your vacation.

The worst months to visit the Caribbean are the mid-summer months of June, July, and August. You might think that these warm, sunny months would be ideal, but June, July, and August are peak hurricane months and the worst months to cruise the Caribbean. Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to consider before booking your cruise.

Avoid disappointment by using this guide to learn which months you should try to avoid. Let’s get started!

What Should You Try to Avoid When Planning a Caribbean Cruise?

Before we nail down which specific months are best to avoid, explaining the factors that could impact a Caribbean cruise is useful. Not only will this help you learn why certain months should be avoided, it will give you a greater understanding of conditions in the Caribbean.

A year in the Caribbean is loosely divided into two primary seasons – the dry season and the wet season. Sure, they still experience the same four seasons that any other region would, but conditions are far less pronounced than what separates the wet and dry seasons. 

As the names suggest, the Caribbean experiences the most precipitation in the wet season, while the dry season is far less rainy. The wet season usually runs from the beginning of May until the end of October. As you’d expect, the dry season runs from November until roughly midway through April.

Caribbean Cruise Destination
Caribbean Cruise Destination (Photo Credit: Iren Key)

Along with more precipitation, the wet season also brings much higher daytime temperatures. While some people might enjoy the heat, it can be uncomfortable if you are not used to it. This is particularly true for the higher humidity levels you usually get during the peak wet season. 

Read Also: When is the Best Time to Cruise the Caribbean?

Assuming you want to enjoy the sunshine and clear skies, the Caribbean is famous for, it only makes sense that you would want to avoid booking your Caribbean cruise during these wet season months. In the Caribbean, peak rainfall usually occurs during mid-summer, so any local would tell you to avoid booking a cruise during these summer months.

Avoiding Hurricanes and Tropical Storms

As more precipitation, higher temperatures, and increased humidity levels were not enough to put you off booking during the wet season, this is also when the Caribbean is under the most significant threat of experiencing a hurricane or major tropical storm. 

Hurricanes and major storms often cause cruise ships to alter their itineraries. While many will try to continue the voyage while avoiding the storm, it is not always possible. Even though it is pretty unlikely, there is always the risk that your cruise vacation will be cancelled or postponed if a major hurricane or tropical storm strikes.

Hurricane in the Caribbean
Hurricane in the Caribbean

Even if the voyage goes as planned, storms can result in port closures, rough seas, cloudy days, heavy rainfall, and many other factors that could impact your cruising experience. Not only that, severe storms and hurricanes can also ground flights for days at a time, which could affect your travel plans. 

While it is true that the severity and timing of hurricanes and tropical storms can vary from year to year, June, July, and August have continually proven to be the months when they are the most frequent and destructive. It is no coincidence that peak hurricane and storm season also lands in the heart of the wet season, another reason these months are best avoided. 

Sea Conditions

While it may sound obvious that the Caribbean Sea would become rougher and choppier during storms and hurricanes, you may be surprised to learn that rough waters are pretty typical throughout the wet season, even without a severe weather event.

While modern cruise ships are designed to be incredibly stable, some passengers will still experience some degree of motion in rough waters even as they navigate rough waters. This is particularly true for passengers who are more sensitive to motion sickness.

Tropical Storm Cruises
Photo Credit: Toni Arsovski / Shutterstock

Not only will the calmer waters of the dry season help you enjoy a more comfortable experience while you are on board the ship, but the tranquil Caribbean Sea is truly a beautiful sight. When you can look out from the ship at calm coastlines and endless turquoise waters that look completely still, you can understand why the Caribbean is one of the world’s premier cruising destinations.

Other Considerations

Since the wet season is less desirable than the dry season, it does mean that fewer cruise lines plan voyages during the summer as it’s not peak tourist season. While the low season can mean fewer tourists and less crowded ports, it also means your options are pretty limited when booking. If there are specific dates that you plan on traveling, you may find it somewhat challenging to find the exact type of cruise experience you are looking for.

Bad Weather at CocoCay
Bad Weather at CocoCay (Photo Credit: dnaveh)

Then, of course, there is also the risk that hurricanes and storms could result in itinerary changes or departure delays. Even on a smaller scale, storms and heavy rainfall can make it far less enjoyable to explore ports of call or sign up for excursions. 

If you book your cruise vacation during the wet season, you’ll have to be flexible and understand that parts of the itinerary can change at the last minute. If this isn’t for you, you’ll want to book during the dry season.

So, What Are the Worst Months to Cruise the Caribbean?

While we have clarified that the dry season (November to April) offers many advantages over cruising the Caribbean during the wet season (May to October), we still have not nailed down which specific months are the worst. 

While everything is subjective regarding traveling, it is clear that peak hurricane season months are the worst months to cruise the Caribbean. This means the mid-summer months of June, July, and August.

Bad Weather in Grand Turk
Bad Weather in Grand Turk (Photo Credit: Lisa Bronitt)

While things vary from year to year, we would highly recommend avoiding these months if you can. Rather than risk disruptive weather, sweltering heat and humidity, and potential itinerary changes, do yourself a favor and try to book during the first months of the dry season. 

That said, it is worth stressing that the Caribbean is a year-round cruise destination. If you want to risk cruising during the worst months for scheduling or financial reasons, there is still an excellent chance that you will enjoy yourself! Even during the least desirable months, the Caribbean Sea can still be a stunning setting for a cruise vacation. You just have to be comfortable with the fact that you are taking a risk. 

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the cheapest time to book a Caribbean cruise vacation? 

Booking during the off-peak season will almost always be the cheapest time to book. For the Caribbean, this means booking between June and September. Unfortunately, these cheaper fares and rock-bottom deals also have a higher risk of rainfall, clouds, rough seas, and hurricanes.

We recommend booking during the shoulder months if you want to save money but still avoid the worst Caribbean weather. Both May and November are beautiful months in the Caribbean, and they are also months when prices tend to be a little lower than they are between December and April. Like any other cruise vacation, there are also ways you can book a Caribbean cruise for less if you know how to check for price drops

How many tropical storms and hurricanes does the Caribbean get each year? 

While the exact number of storms and hurricanes the Caribbean experiences will vary yearly, the region tends to get an average of ten tropical storms yearly. Of these major storms, an average of six will develop into full-blown hurricanes. 

Unfortunately, hurricanes are just a fact of life for those living in the Caribbean Islands. With that said, you can usually avoid running into one if you book your cruise vacation during the dry season (late November to late April).

Final Words 

If we could offer any advice, it would be to avoid booking your Caribbean cruise during the middle of the summer. With that said, you should always weigh up the risks and benefits for yourself. What might not work for some travelers could be the best time for you to travel.

Worth Reading: Are Cruises Safe? What You Really Need to Know

Some people can only get away during the summer months, while others face budget restrictions that prevent them from booking during the more expensive months. 

When booking your Caribbean cruise, just be prepared for that type of weather. More importantly, go into your trip with a positive attitude, and we can almost guarantee you will still enjoy yourself!

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