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Vitesacd

How risky to cruise in January?

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The one thing that I love in January.  It may or may not be *hot*, but there is a lack of humidity during those months on the islands.  I found the air to be very comfortable during that time.  In the evenings, it may get a little cool where you might need a jacket, but i personally find that wonderful.

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I live in Boston and have done a couple of cruises in January.  

 

1. Weather in FL/Caribbean - it *can* be chilly in Florida, and by "chilly," I mean bring a jacket.  The parka you won't need.  I've had that happen one day - ever.  Once we sailed into the Caribbean, the weather warmed right up.  Don't let that deter you from going.  Those chilly days are by far the exception rather than the rule.  Generally, it's warm enough for shorts and T-shirts.

 

2. Weather in the Northeast - ok, you'll have to be strategic about this.  I get nervous about snow and flight cancellations.  So, when I book my flights, I book the first flight out the day before the cruise, and I have a back up airport.  I generally fly out of Boston, but I can go to Providence or any of the NYC airports, if necessary.  This is also why I book the first flight of the day.  If necessary, I can have the airline rebook me for later in the day, and I can drive myself to a backup airport.  Still get the flight, still on the ship.  Also by trip insurance.  If you legit can't do it, at least insurance will cover it.

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One thing to consider is where are you traveling from.  I have only traveled on a cruise one time in the winter months, in February (2010).  I live in Baltimore and I decided to take a cruise from Baltimore to the Caribbean.  It was leaving on a Sunday.  We had back to back blizzards with the first one coming in the day and two days before and the next one arrived two days after we left.  We had to go to plan D to get from home to port!  Option A was a friends mini van which was a no go in snowy blizzard weather.  Option B was a friend in a 4 wheeler two blocks away who was snowed in thanks to all the wonderful people who dumped their snow in the middle of the road, option C surely could have worked with a large Ford Expedition except he was snowed in too!  Option D....we drove ourselves in my small SUV (AWD) in two trips.  It was a miracle my street was plowed.  We came back and thanks to a neighbor who shoveled our parking spot.  What a doozy!  I swore to never travel in January or February again!  

 

If you live in snowy weather, always fly in a day or two ahead of schedule.  However, I know a few folks who wanted to arrive on that Friday and Saturday of the blizzard.  They were not able to arrive until the day of the cruise.  It was nuts.

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My experience lines up with what others have mentioned.

1) Before DW's employer changed and January because part of their "peak" season, we actually went out of our way to cruise in January.  Prices are great, most people have family vacation fatigue so the youngsters are back home in school. A winner all around.

 

2) Anyone with a gripe about the weather in the port city must not be coming from someplace with "Real" winter. Florida is freakin Florida, and while you might want something with sleeves in the evening I've had zero issues with the weather.  The trip out of New Orleans had more issue with a little rain, but the temps were fine.  As for Galveston, the Florida rules seemed to apply. I wouldn't do shorts and a t-shirt 24/7 in January at any of them, but you can leave the parka packed once you get to the airport for departure.  Basic logic here: where I'm GOING beats where I LEFT.

 

3) For inbound travel we always do a day in advance when things-with-wings are involved.  That's January, July or June.  You cede too much control over your destiny to the carriers and whims of the weather.  One hub airport far away sneezes and the whole system catches a cold.  We'll gamble a little more with a drive, so long as the local weather or TxDOT construction isn't doing anything feisty we'll head out before dawn and be at the coast by lunchtime, and that usually includes a break or two. 

 

So at the risk of sharing our secret, ABSOLUTELY go in January but make a plan and use your head.

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On 7/28/2019 at 11:08 AM, mafig said:

If large groups bother you, check for that in January.

Did I miss something about large groups?

 

21 hours ago, maggieq said:

If I were going out of Florida, I would wait until February.  We have boarded ships in January and the sail away was chilly.   I want the sun when I cruise so we will go out of San Juan or wait until feb/mar for our winter cruise. 

This isn't very often and if you are coming from the north our "chilly" weather is someone else's warm weather. I would just layer some clothes in case it's a bit cool for you. I wear shorts and shirts almost year round including early in the year. 

 

If I lived up north I would fly out 2 days prior if possible. It's probably not necessary 99% of the time, but all it takes is the one time to ruin a great vacation. Trip insurance is q very good thing, but read the policy thoroughly as soon as you get it and a third party is better than Royals.

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If you can go down 2 days before the cruise, go for it.  In Feb or March, we go down 1 day before.  Always worried about one of those noreasters coming in.  Have a wonderful warm cruise!

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10 hours ago, island lady said:

 

Actually February can be even colder than January in Florida.  Really hit and miss.  

Totally agree..Febraury is a mixed bag sometimes cold and wet.

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Most of the cruise is Bahamas and Mexico so hopefully Bahamas isn't too bad. I'm planning on booking a flight first thing Saturday morning so hopefully that leaves enough time. Anyone try driving?

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Rather than stress about potential flight delays consider sailing Anthem out of Bayonne.  Might be cold the first 1 1/2 days, but you save the airfare and if you can drive to port there's no danger of missing ship.  We once sailed on day NJ received 10" of snow.  EWR was closed for 3 days but ship sailed on time.

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10 hours ago, island lady said:

 

Actually February can be even colder than January in Florida.  Really hit and miss.  

Totally agree..Febraury is a mixed bag sometimes cold and wet.

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On 7/28/2019 at 9:47 AM, Vitesacd said:

Looking at caribbean cruises leaving from Florida in January and was wondering if the weather is usually warm enough to lounge on the beach? Also, coming from the northeast, I am worried about flight cancellations and missing the cruise. Should I aim to arrive two days earlier or is a day earlier good enough?

Plus third party trip insurance like Allianz. 

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Anyone from the northeast will be fine. The Atlantic ocean is never as warm as the Caribbean or Bahamas. My in-laws pool in south Florida is 85 to 90 degrees so anything cooler is too cold for them. We have been to Florida in February and went to the beach and swam in the ocean. The water temperature in New York is never as warm even in late summer. If it goes down to 70 Florida residents are reaching for a sweater. When it's 100 degrees and it drops to 70 it feels cold to Floridians. On the other hand when you are leaving from an area that's -10 degrees, 70 feels hot.

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3 hours ago, Baron Barracuda said:

Rather than stress about potential flight delays consider sailing Anthem out of Bayonne.  Might be cold the first 1 1/2 days, but you save the airfare and if you can drive to port there's no danger of missing ship.  We once sailed on day NJ received 10" of snow.  EWR was closed for 3 days but ship sailed on time.

If we get hit with a blizzard you won't be able to get there by driving either. 

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Thought about the anthem cruise but the time period is too long and doesnt work with work schedules. Just have to hope theres no blizzard in the day before the cruise 

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On 7/28/2019 at 9:47 AM, Vitesacd said:

Looking at caribbean cruises leaving from Florida in January and was wondering if the weather is usually warm enough to lounge on the beach? Also, coming from the northeast, I am worried about flight cancellations and missing the cruise. Should I aim to arrive two days earlier or is a day earlier good enough?

I’m from New York and understand the concern about flight cancellations. Years back my flight would’ve been canceled due to a major storm. Taking good advice and having left a day early the travel went off with no problem. Miami was a bit chilly for them. 68° or so. The Caribbean was fine. Near normal. Having said that, spending an extra day in Florida in January can’t be a bad thing. Drinking by the pool beats shoveling snow. Have fun ! 

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Had a northeaster in march, was able to change my flight to a day earlier (was only flying in one day before)  for no charge, thank you southwest. I like the suggestions of flying in 2 days early if you can. 

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There is just no predicting the weather. Hurricane season is June through November I think that's more risky for flying to port at that time then it is flying in January or February.  Once in late Sept early Oct we were visiting family in Florida when reports of a category 3 hurricane was going to hit.  It was down graded to a 1 but headed north and picked up speed. New England received the brunt of it. We really didn't have a bad winter last year but the year before there were plenty of snow storms. 3rd party trip insurance is a must if you have to fly to port because the cruise line insurance doesn't cover flights unless you book the flight through the cruise line.

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I agree that the Bahamas are too cold to swim in January and February.  But, you will be able to lay out in the sun.  

 

I do not like the suggestion to leave from Bayonne.  Here is my reasoning YMMV:

 

We do not sail from Baltimore or NJ/NY anymore in the winter.  We have had too many issues with motion of the ocean around the NC Outer Banks.  If you think of the weather map when they describe all of those winter storms. [not all of these are snow]  They sweep across the Appalachians and reform off the North Carolina coast and move North  up the eastern seaboard.  We have found that either coming or going we had this problem.  Not a good way to start or end the vacation.  In the winter we fly to FL.

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2 minutes ago, DragonOfTheSeas said:

  We have had too many issues with motion of the ocean around the NC Outer Banks.

While that is true for Grandeur and Anthem sailings that hug the coast, all of Anthem's January 2020 sailings are to the Eastern Caribbean which takes her way out in the Atlantic.

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1 hour ago, Biker19 said:

While that is true for Grandeur and Anthem sailings that hug the coast, all of Anthem's January 2020 sailings are to the Eastern Caribbean which takes her way out in the Atlantic.

I remember on of Anthems earlier sailing in February. The weather was so bad that passengers couldn’t leave their room. The ship was tossing and turning. They were interviewing passengers who were getting off the sailing on the news. I will risk a flight to Florida before I sail out of the North during the winter. I have even experienced rough seas in May repositioning from San Juan. My wife and I were thrown out of bed on a Caribbean Princess. They didn’t start disembarkation until noon because because the high winds pushed the ship into the dock and knocked out the gangway.

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3 hours ago, Biker19 said:

While that is true for Grandeur and Anthem sailings that hug the coast, all of Anthem's January 2020 sailings are to the Eastern Caribbean which takes her way out in the Atlantic.

Most of the cruises we took were Eastern Caribbean.  

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We are cruising again in February. Our cruise is a short 4 day to Bahamas. It is a Tuesday to Saturday cruise. We are flying in the Saturday before. Giving us a three day cushion. We will be flying in from Boston. 

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We cruise every January before hubby gets swamped during tax season (he’s a CPA). As we live in New Hampshire, I liked the suggestion of flying out first flight of the day one or two days ahead. 

 

If I can’t leave until the day before I only book direct flights (no connection)... from our local airport we can get direct flights to Tampa or Orlando. If I have the option to leave two days early, I’m willing to sail out of FLL, but have to connect somewhere which always feels risky, or drive to Boston, which can be hit or miss as they close Logan Airport before we close Manchester (MHT).


As another CC member said, Southwest is amazing for changing flights at no charge when weather issues emerge. Good luck!

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