Caribbean Cruise: When to Go?

Whether travelers seek an active vacation with sea kayaking, snorkeling, and fishing, or a restful time spent reflecting over the clear turquoise water, a Caribbean cruise offers it all. With an island chain stretching over 2,500 miles long but only 160 miles wide and positioned between 10 degrees and 26 degrees N, the islands of the Caribbean are almost completely in the tropics. This leads to the apt climate description of "endless summer," with temperatures fluctuating between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit from the winter to summer months. Summer months are the hottest and also most humid, while winter months are the driest and sunniest with lower humidity, although short-lived afternoon tropical rain showers can occur all year.

The busiest tourist season in the Caribbean happens from December through May; however this has much to do with weather in North America and Europe in those months since the climate in the Caribbean ranges from sub-tropical to tropical all year round. The ports will be bustling with sun-seekers and vibrant local cultures, with time to explore Caribbean cuisine, art, and island life. While there is not a pronounced "rainy season," the wettest months occur from May to October, which is also considered hurricane season. Therefore the optimal time for a cruise of the Caribbean is outside of these months for clear sailing. Many island resorts close down for part of September and all of October to refurbish and prepare for December. From mid-May to mid-June, a strange phenomenon can occur when Sahara sands from Africa blow across the ocean and create hazy conditions in the normally crystal clear horizon of the Caribbean. Due to these factors, the best time to experience a trip to the Caribbean is from mid-December through the beginning of May. Voyagers embarking on a Caribbean voyage will have the opportunity to view the abundant bird life, perhaps including hummingbirds, herons, snowy egrets, and Caribbean Flamingos, as well as underwater tropical fish, turtles, and stretches of coral reefs. The Caribbean is known as a bone-fishing destination, a feat that can be attempted year round. With water temperatures remaining consistent around 80 degrees all year long, swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking are always in season.