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Couple holding hands in the Caribbean Ocean.

Best Time for a Caribbean Cruise

Welcome to the Caribbean. Brilliant blue seas, powdery sands, and shimmering reefs are year-round delights and so the best time of year for a Caribbean cruise is…anytime. Consider what’s important to you. Is it the weather, the crowds or the price?

If you want to avoid the hurricane season, aim for the dry season from December to April. However, if you prefer more budget-friendly options and don't mind some rain, you can consider cruising during the shoulder seasons. The best time for a Caribbean cruise can also vary depending on the specific region you plan to visit within the Caribbean.

Our Caribbean cruises offer plenty of options, from three-day and week-long voyages to holiday cruises and ambitious expeditions. And we offer cruise deals year-round, so rest assured that you can find great value at any time.

When is the Best Month to Cruise the Caribbean?

In general, mid-December through mid-March is the best time of year, weather-wise

The Caribbean dry season is mid-December through mid-March and the high tourist season is from mid-December to mid-April. Caribbean weather is at its peak, and many are trying to escape brrr-utal winters. Expect little rainfall and average lows in the 70s, highs in the 80s. 

Remember, Caribbean weather varies by region. Aruba is outside of the hurricane belt and doesn’t have a monsoon season.  The best time to cruise the Western and Southern Caribbean is winter, as the waters are warm, and the temps are comfortable. The Western Caribbean’s rainy season starts in May. Spring is a great time to take an Eastern Caribbean cruise as the cooler waters near the Bahamas heat up. 

What is the Best Time to Avoid Crowds?

Late spring or fall, May or October/November. The off-season, also known as the hurricane season, in the Caribbean typically occurs from June to November. This period is also associated with higher levels of rainfall and humidity. While not all days are rainy, you can expect more frequent and intense rain showers, particularly in the afternoons.

If you want to sidestep the hordes of sunscreen-slathered vacationers that descend on the islands each year, consider the shoulder season in late spring or fall, May or late October-November. You can bask in the warm temps and sunshine and won’t have to duke it out for a beach lounger. If you want a romantic getaway in relative quiet, plan your cruise for when school is in session to avoid noisy kiddos and raucous spring breakers. Every one of our Caribbean cruises stops into Half Moon Cay, our top-rate private island, so you will enjoy some seclusion no matter when you go. Rent a private cabana or get a massage to unwind in tranquility. 

That said, if you are planning a family cruise, our Club Hal youth activities program can keep the kiddos entertained so parents can relax. 

Featured Caribbean Cruise Itineraries

woman in sun hat relaxing on Caribbean beach

10-Day Southern Caribbean Seafarer

Embark on a Heritage Cruise to Half Moon Cay, Curaçao, and Oranjestad, where you can explore ports steeped in historical significance. Enjoy nostalgic games and a Retro Happy Hour featuring early menu pricing.

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A view of Lake Panama near Port Gatun Greenland

12-Day Panama Canal Sunfarer

Panama offers a blend of historical marvels and tropical biodiversity just waiting to be explored. Take in the stunning sights during a scenic cruise across Gatun Lake, immerse yourself in Costa Rica's lush woodlands, and revel in the refreshing waters of Jamaica's waterfalls.

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A sloth hanging from a tree in Port Limon San Jose Costa Rica

21-Day Panama Canal Sunfarer / Southern Caribbean Seafarer

Combine two back-to-back voyages into one remarkable expedition. Explore the scenic wonder of navigating the Panama Canal and Gatun Lake, explore Aruba and Half Moon Cay for a double dose of excitement, and luxuriate on the blushing beaches of Bonaire.

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St. Maarten

When is the Best Time for an Eastern Caribbean Cruise?

The Eastern Caribbean, which includes destinations like St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and the British Virgin Islands, is typically best from December to April. This period offers several advantages for cruising to the Eastern Caribbean:

  • Ideal Weather: The Eastern Caribbean experiences pleasant and relatively dry weather during the winter and early spring. Temperatures typically range from the mid-70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit, providing comfortable conditions for outdoor activities and beach visits.
  • Low Rainfall: These months tend to have lower rainfall and a lower chance of encountering tropical storms or hurricanes. This means you can enjoy sunny days and clear skies for most of your cruise.
  • Clear Waters: The waters in the Eastern Caribbean are crystal clear during this time, making it perfect for snorkeling, diving, and water sports. You can explore vibrant coral reefs and marine life with excellent visibility.

Keep in mind that the specific destinations within the Eastern Caribbean may have some variation in weather patterns, but overall, December to April is a reliable and popular time to visit this region.

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Colorful boats on the water in the Western Caribbean.

When is the Best Time for a Western Caribbean Cruise?

The Western Caribbean, which includes places like Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Belize, also has its peak season from December to April. This region may be more humid, but it generally sees less rainfall during these months.

  • Ideal Weather: The Western Caribbean enjoys pleasant and relatively dry weather during late fall through early spring. Temperatures typically range from the mid-70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit, providing comfortable conditions for outdoor activities and beach excursions.
  • Low Rainfall: These months generally have lower rainfall and a lower risk of encountering tropical storms or hurricanes. This reduces the likelihood of weather-related disruptions to your cruise itinerary.
  • Clear Waters: The waters in the Western Caribbean are known for their clarity during this time, making it perfect for snorkeling, scuba diving, and water sports. You'll have excellent visibility to explore underwater ecosystems and marine life.

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Colorful buildings in the Southern Caribbean.

When is the Best Time for a Southern Caribbean Cruise?

The Southern Caribbean, encompassing destinations such as Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, has a more stable climate throughout the year. You can visit the Southern Caribbean year-round, but the peak season is still during the drier months from December to April.

  • Ideal Weather: The Southern Caribbean enjoys pleasant and consistent weather during the late fall, winter, and early spring. You can expect warm temperatures, with highs in the mid-80s to low 90s Fahrenheit, making it comfortable for outdoor activities and beach outings.
  • Low Rainfall: These months typically have lower rainfall and a lower risk of encountering hurricanes or tropical storms compared to the summer and early fall. This means you're less likely to experience weather-related disruptions during your cruise.
  • Clear Waters: The waters in the Southern Caribbean are known for their clarity and offer excellent conditions for snorkeling, scuba diving, and other water sports.

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Colorful exotic fish and coral reefs in the Bahamas.

When is the Best Time for a Bahamas Cruise?

The Bahamas is located in the Atlantic Ocean rather than the Caribbean Sea, but it's a popular cruise destination. The best time to cruise the Bahamas is also during the dry season, from December to April.

  • Ideal Weather: The weather in the Bahamas during the winter and early spring is generally mild and pleasant, with temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to low 80s Fahrenheit. This provides comfortable conditions for outdoor activities and beach visits.
  • Low Rainfall: The winter and early spring months are relatively dry in the Bahamas, which means you're less likely to encounter rain or storms during your cruise. This is essential for enjoying outdoor excursions and water sports.
  • Clear Waters: The waters around the Bahamas are crystal clear during this time, making it excellent for snorkeling, scuba diving, and other water-based activities. The visibility is typically at its best.

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When is the Cheapest Time to Cruise the Caribbean?

Late summer and fall, a.k.a. hurricane season. The Caribbean weather is mid-to-upper 80s and June is one of the wettest months in the islands. Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. In general, September and October are considered the worst months to cruise the Caribbean, as it is peak Hurricane Season.

September is often the least expensive month for Caribbean travel and early October can offer budget-friendly options for travelers willing to take the risk associated with the tail end of the hurricane season. November is a transitional month as the Caribbean exits hurricane season, and prices may start to rise, but early November can still offer some lower rates.

However, keep in mind that some Southern Caribbean cruise destinations, such as Bonaire, Aruba and Barbados are rarely threatened by hurricanes as these islands are closer to the equator.

If you're looking for affordability without the hurricane risk, late April and early May can be a good choice. This period marks the transition from the high season to the off-peak season, and you may find deals before the summer crowds arrive.

Before booking a trip during the cheapest months, it's essential to research the specific destination's weather patterns, and be prepared for potential itinerary adjustments. Traveling during the shoulder seasons can offer a balance between affordability and favorable weather conditions.

What Are the Best Months for Caribbean Festivities?

The Caribbean is full of festivities all year, but holiday cruises to the Caribbean really rev up the excitement on ship and ashore. Barbados has a well-earned reputation for a proper New Year’s blowout and many Caribbean islands celebrate Carnival with live music, parades, and feathery garb. You can find a Carnival celebration almost any time of year. 

The best time to cruise the Caribbean is now. Enjoy an enriching experience, fine dining and world-class entertainment on our dream Caribbean cruises. Read all our Caribbean cruise tips and travel articles.

Add to Your Caribbean Cruise

Lobster and steak.

Exquisite On-Board Experiences

Experience world-class dining on our cruise ships with a variety of restaurants led by celebrity chefs. From casual poolside bites to Pan-Asian flavors at Tamarind and fine dining at Pinnacle Grill, our menus offer a culinary adventure. Let us satisfy your cravings as you explore the Caribbean and Bahamas.

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Find Flights

Book flights that depart and arrive in time for Caribbean cruises with Holland America Line Flight Ease®. Find low prices, loads of options, and enjoy flexibility and support should plans change.

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Add A Hotel Package to Your Caribbean Cruise

Add a hotel package to your Caribbean cruise and indulge in a convenient, comfortable overnight in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida before or after your cruise.

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Celebrations On Board

While on your dream cruise to Caribbean islands, celebrate special moments in life. Let us plan the perfect event while you relax and soak up the sunshine.

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