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We are thinking of booking a Western Caribbean cruise, but I am not sure when the optimal time of year is to visit the Caribbean. Which month would you choose, based on temperatures, potential for bad weather, etc? We're in Minnesota, so the idea of getting away from winter in January is appealing; however, I'd hate to go all the way to the Caribbean and discover that the water is not warm enough for swimming! Also, we'll be bringing our teen & tween kids along - are there likely to be other kids onboard for them to connect with during the school year?
October is Hurricane season, and the number of ships present is pretty small. July is summer, very start of hurricane season, smallest number of ships present. Generally, both July and October are hot and humid.
January is most popular month. Many ships. Milder (but not cool) weather. The water in the Caribbean is swimable all months, and kids aren't that picky.
Largest kid times would be July. Number of kids present varies by cruise line at all times. Some lines are kid intensive, some not kid popular, many in the middle.
Last edited by CruiserBruce; April 30th, 2012 at 10:11 AM.
If I was going to base this just upon weather.... it would be January based upon there are no hurricanes in January. But that being said, there is never any guaranty that the weather is going to cooperate. My second choice would be October - but again - no guaranty on the weather. The water should be fine at all three times you suggest sothat would not be a concern. My suggestion is to check the local weather for your ports and see if the moisture and temps are acceptable to you. There will not be a large amount of kids sailing, but should be enough for them to have a few to pal around with. Be sure to purchase incsurance and to arrive in your departure city a day early so you do not miss the ship. Regardless of which one you choose, you are gonna have a great cruise!
Laurie and JP
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We've done the Caribbean twice in January - loved it. Warm enough to swim and wear shorts. We did fly to the port the day before in both cases because even if it's not winter weather where you're flying to (Miami, San Juan, Tampa, etc.), one snowstorm in another part of the country can screw up flights. That'd be my only advice - go a day early.
But I loved the Caribbean in January - pricing is decent and there's not too many kids, because they're just back in school after the December break. But we sailed the Epic in January with our kids and there were enough activities to keep them busy onboard and they loved the ports.
Prior Cruises Monarch of the Seas - 10/96 - Honeymoon Serenade of the Seas - 1/17/09 - Southern Caribbean - cabin 7600 Norwegian Epic - 1/15/11 - Eastern Caribbean - Courtyard 2BR Villa (S4) 16016 Norwegian Gem - 10/2/11 - Bermuda - cabin 11024 (SC) Norwegian Epic - 2/16/13- Eastern Caribbean - Haven 2BR Villa (S4) 16016 Norwegian Breakaway - 10/13/13 - FL/GSC/Nassau - cabin 11910 (B1 Aft Balcony) Norwegian Sky - 12/5/14 - 3-night to Bahamas & GSC - cabin 9058 (BC) Adventure of the Seas - 2/1/15 - Southern Caribbean - cabin 9640 (D2)
I sailed from New Orleans to the Western Caribbean during the week of Jan. 20-28. NOLA was chilly with temps in the low 50's, 1st day at sea it warmed up to low 70's. Cozumel and Grand Cayman was warm enough to swim in the sea.
I would try to sail from Miami or Fort Lauderdale the last week of January and you should be okay weather wise. Make sure to fly 1 day early into the cruise port in case of bad weather in MN.
I would probably pick October. In January, you have to deal with the potential for major snowstorms disrupting the airline network; and also, you have to lug around all those heavy coats. In July, it's HOT HOT HOT! In October, it's still plenty warm enough in the Caribbean, but not quite as oppressive. Plus, you can travel lighter because it's still warm enough where you live that you don't need the heavy coats.
That said, there will be lots more kids in July than in October. January can go either way; earlier in the month will have more kids than later, but still not all that many.
I wouldn't worry too much about hurricanes. Their presence is known well in advance, so if one is coming, the ships will simply steer out of the way and go somewhere else. It's not like the entire Caribbean Sea is blanketed by hurricanes all at once! You simply have to be prepared for the possibility of missing some ports and having other ones (or extra sea days) substituted. Granted, that can happen any time; but it's probably more likely during hurricane season than during other times of the year.
Incidentally, hurricanes peak right around late August-early September. Though October is still in the season, they're less likely during that time, especially toward the end of the month. (That said, when I sailed the Caribbean in mid-October, we had to keep a wary eye on Hurricane Paula. She actually did us a favor by blocking the path of other ships approaching our area; we were able to make our ports while others weren't, and we had them to ourselves!)
Oct. 2005 -- Grandeur of the Seas -- Bermuda
Jan. 2006 -- Enchantment of the Seas -- Western Caribbean
May 2010 -- Grandeur of the Seas -- Western Caribbean
Oct. 2010 -- Radiance of the Seas -- Western Caribbean
Apr. 2012 -- Disney Magic -- Eastern Caribbean
Apr. 2014 -- Navigator of the Seas -- Western Caribbean
I have done 3 cruises in the last 3 years, all in January. The Bahamas sea can still be a bit on the cool side (mainly in the morning, afternoon will be fine for us), but once you get to the Caribbean zone it was nice. We were at Grand Cayman early January this year and day time high was around 84F. But as PP mentioned, because we were flying in from Ontario Canada, we had to deal with the more likely uncertainty of the flight, and have to fly at least one day prior, if not more.
We did Eastern Caribbean in early August a few years back and it was hot and humid, but was tolerable because it was already very hot and humid at Miami and getting further down to San Juan was just a bit more humid. I thoink it was about 103F at Labadee.
We will try cruising the Caribbean in late October next year.
If you want to get away from wintry weather, I would choose January. I cruised in Jan for the first time this year and loved it. We were gone during a major snow/ice storm back home. When I boarded the plane it was 20 degrees outside. 8hrs later we were in 70 degree in Florida. For us, it felt a lot warmer than the locals.
There is no way to predict weather. MIA weather was cooler for us in January than it was when we cruised in Spring/Summer but on all the islands and at sea, we had weather in the high 70's to mid 80's.
Definitely, fly in at least a day or two ahead in case of weather delays. It is okay to fly out the same day as you disembark, but I wouldn't schedule any major appointments or anything the first day or two back just in case there are issues getting back home.
Last edited by tak81288; April 30th, 2012 at 11:12 AM.
We have cruised several times during the periods you have mentioned... I would pick January. Weather is good, prices are good and temperatures sure beat the cold back home..... We do take our kids with us most of the time and they always have fun meeting others on board.
Carnival Magic 8/14
Carnival Sunshine 2/14 BC7
Carnival Magic 9/13
Carnival Magic 5/13
Carnival Magic 12/12
Carnival Magic 2/12
Carnival Triumph 9/11
Carnival Ecstasy 3/11
Carnival Conquest 12/10
RCL Voyager of the Seas 12/09
Carnival Ecstasy 5/09
Carnival Ecstasy 12/07
Carnival Conquest 5/07
Grand Princess 12/05
Carnival Ecstasy 1/05
Carnival Elation 5/04
Carnival Jubilee 5/03
Carnival Celebration 1/03
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July will be miserable -- way too hot. Go to one of your beautiful lakes instead.
October is hurricane season so you will get great prices but it could be hit or miss on the weather. Would you have to pull kids out of school for this?
We usually cruise in Janaury & for the most part have been lucky. Our Western Cruise in 2010 was cool & rainy though. The highs were in the 70s but it was still better than here. That year was very cold -- it snowed in Florida while were there.
Last edited by trish1c; April 30th, 2012 at 12:30 PM.
January - hands down. Good to escape the northern winter - but definitely fly in the day before. October is in hurricane season - although there is small actual chance of your being effected. July is uncomfortably warm in the Caribbean, there are few ships sailing then, and those that are sailing will be crowded with children.
Six US Navy ships, (1960-1970)
20+ cruises: Furness Bermuda (1), Orient (1), Holland America (10), Norwegian (5), Carnival (1), Princess (1), Celebrity (3), Cunard (1), Royal Caribbean (1) - (1953-2014).
We're looking at doing a western caribbean too and I just researched weather, water temps etc. Water temps there don't vary much except within a couple degrees. It stays about 80 degrees year round so definitely warm enough to swim in. Compared to our Pacific Ocean temps of ~ 50 degrees and my husband dives in Monterey Bay all the time.... that's bath water lol
Outside temps don't vary all that much in the Caribbean, usually around 80 to 85 degrees in the winter months and 90 to 95 in the summer months. The biggest factor is rain and humidity. The Western Caribbean's rainy season is June - September and those months have the highest humidity, which can make 90 degree weather horribly uncomfortable. It's a rain forest region, so it will rain year around, but it's "dry" season are the winter months December through March, and far more comfortable. 80 degrees + the tropical humidity is very comfortable, especially if you're coming from winter cold. September through November is hurricane season so you gamble on having your trip disrupted, possibly missing ports. That can happen any time of year, but happens most frequently in fall. January is a great time to go.
Last edited by NoobCruise; April 30th, 2012 at 05:05 PM.
I would pick January, and southern Caribbean out of San Juan, if possible. Go down at least a day or two in advance, just in case of snowstorm interfering with flights.
119 nights at sea (61 with RCI): RCCL Quantum of the Seas (3 day inaugural sampler cruise to nowhere) 11/18/14 Celebrity Summit (7 nights NJ to Bermuda) 8/17/14 Celebrity Summit (7 nights NJ to Bermuda) 8/25/13 RCCL Jewel of the Seas (7 days Southern - Barbados route) 5/25/13 RCCL Explorer of the Seas (9 days NJ to Bermuda, Labadee, San Juan and St Maarten) 5/24/12 RCCL Explorer of the Seas (NJ to Bahamas - New Years cruise) 12/30/11 RCCL Allure of the Seas (Eastern Caribbean) 8/21/11 Caribbean Princess (9 days NY to Bermuda, St Thomas, San Juan and Grand Turk) 7/29/10 REVIEW Caribbean Princess (Canada/New England) 8/24/08 REVIEW RCCL Mariner of the Seas (Western Caribbean) 8/26/07 REVIEW RCCL Mariner of the Seas (Eastern Caribbean) 8/20/06 Carnival Miracle (NY to Bahamas) 6/26/04 REVIEW RCCL Adventure of the Seas (Southern - Aruba route) 8/24/03 RCCL Explorer of the Seas (Western Caribbean) 8/17/02 Costa Riviera (Western Caribbean) 5/90 Cunard Countess (Southern Caribbean) 6/89 Home Lines Atlantic (NY to Bermuda) 7/88
Thanks for all your input! I was leaning toward January, and it sounds like most of you agree. There is typically a week in January when the kids only have a couple days of school, so we would take them out that week. (I've never pulled my kids out of school for a vacation before, but I can't get vacation time over their winter or spring breaks. And honestly, vacation in sweltering hot summer temperatures does not sound like fun to me.) We are thinking January 2014, so now I just have to wait for the school district to finalize their 2013-14 calendar before I can book. That will be my oldest son's last year of high school, and I'd really like to take a trip he'll remember that year.