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TravelBest time to cruise to the Bahamas

Best time to cruise to the Bahamas


When is the absolute best time to cruise to the Bahamas? The short answer is that any time you can make it happen is the best time.

The long answer depends on what matters most to you. Are you going to play in the water? Are you averse to the risks of schedule changes or cancellations? Are you cruising to the Bahamas because it’s cheap? Do you want a party atmosphere or peace and quiet? The answers to these questions will determine the best month or season for your Bahamas cruise.

Taking weather, price and crowds into consideration, I’m going with November as the best time to cruise to the Bahamas. Here’s how I came to that conclusion. However, you might decide another month is the best time for you to sail away to the islands.

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The best time based on weather

Although some travelers will tell you January is the best month to cruise to the Bahamas, I personally have experienced chilly weather there in both December and January. Remember, the Bahamas are located in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Caribbean. They’re not truly tropical islands, and most are at more northern latitudes than Key West. Winter temperatures aren’t always balmy.

I’ve had two stops at private islands canceled due to strong winds and temperatures in the 50s and 60s. One ship I was on made an alternate stop at Freeport, which was still chilly, but at least the vessel was able to dock. It was a wasted day for those hoping to enjoy water sports or the beach. Only the shoppers weren’t deterred by the chill in the air.

Don’t get me wrong: January is usually a wonderful time to cruise to the Bahamas, as long as you’re prepared for the relatively rare cold front that blows that far south.

Related: The best time to go on a cruise

Some travelers will tell you to avoid cruising to the Bahamas during the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, which occurs from August to October. Here’s the thing about that: The cruise line isn’t going to put you or their ship in harm’s way.

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Might the cruise line cancel your sailing or switch up your itinerary? Sure. But if you’re able to go with the flow and don’t have your heart set on visiting a particular port, you can often score lower prices during that time of year.

The best month to cruise to the Bahamas, weather-wise, depends on your travel style. Are you stressed by the possibility of cancellations due to hurricanes or by port changes from unexpected cold fronts? Skip January, December, August, September and maybe even October.

Are you only going on the cruise for water sports like diving, snorkeling or boating? Then rule out December, January and possibly February.

Do you avoid high heat and humidity as if it were a plague? Then don’t book a cruise to the Bahamas in July, August or September.

The months we haven’t mentioned are March, April, May, June and November. If weather is your biggest concern, those are the best months for you to hop on a Bahamas cruise.

Related: 6 ways to get a deal on a cruise

The best time based on prices and crowds

It’s no secret that cruises to the Bahamas can be cheap, but they aren’t always so. Here are the averages we found for price per person, per night, across the mainstream cruise lines, along with what kind of crowd you can expect to find on board. Exceptions to these averages are always possible, especially on odd-length cruises like four- and five-night sailings.

Fall

The autumn months can be an ideal time to cruise to the Bahamas if you’re looking for cheaper fares and fewer crowds — especially if you’re not bothered by the increased hurricane risk. (Sept. 10 is the official peak of hurricane season.)

October tends to be the lowest-priced month to cruise to the Bahamas, with many inside, outside and balcony cabins available for less than $100 per person, per night. Even suites tend to be a good deal. October sailings do not usually include very many children or college-age party people, but the lower fares do attract working folks looking to let off steam, especially on three-night sailings.

September runs a close second to October, with fares running a few dollars higher per night. Expect a similar crowd. The shorter the cruise, the louder the party tends to be.

November (before the holidays) is perhaps the ideal time to cruise. We found suites in early to mid-November tend to be less than $200 per person, per night, with other categories running just slightly more than hurricane season rates. You can expect few children on board, other than home-schoolers and preschoolers. With the holidays right around the corner, the ships often will be a bit emptier than usual, making for a quiet cruise.

Related: From Alaska to the Panama Canal: Here are 9 of TPG’s favorite fall cruise itineraries

Winter

Early December cruises cost only slightly more than November sailings. If you love holiday decor (both on board and in a tropical setting) and dressing up in holiday clothes, you can enjoy a relatively quiet cruise early in December. The later it gets, the more the crowds swell.

The absolute most expensive cruises to the Bahamas we found were during the week between Christmas and New Year’s when you can expect to pay more than double what you would during the fall months. This is max-capacity time on board. The best news for those looking for a floating holiday party is that you will find your people cruising during that week.

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January and February cruises to the Bahamas are almost always bargains, with standard cabins running about the same price as in the early fall — less than $100 per person, per night. You’ll likely find it possible to snag a suite for less than $200. These are months between the holiday parties and spring break, so you can usually sit back and enjoy smaller, quieter crowds.

Spring

In March, April and May, you’ll have to shop around for deals or hope for a last-minute special, but you can find lower prices if you look. March cruises will always include spring breakers of all ages, so expect children on board — just not as many as in summer.

You also might find yourself sharing a ship with a spring break party cruise charter in March. Even if your ship is quiet, the ports you visit might be filled with hordes of vacationing college kids, so be prepared for a lively crowd.

Summer

In June, July and August, you should be able to find a standard cabin — inside, outside or balcony — for $150 per person, per night or less. Suites start at roughly $250 per person, per night.

Ships will be loaded with families. Expect children of all ages and maxed-out onboard kids clubs. Fares typically begin to fall toward the end of August, when schools start back up and hurricane season kicks into gear.

Bottom line

The big mainstream cruise lines sail to the Bahamas year-round, so whichever season or month suits your schedule, you’ll find plenty of options departing from multiple ports, including four in Florida; two in New York City; Bayonne, New Jersey; and Galveston, Texas. Even better news is that the abundance of options means an abundance of deals year-round.

The best time to cruise to the Bahamas might vary by traveler, but feel confident that you can’t go wrong with an island vacation, no matter which month you choose.

Have more questions about Bahamas cruises? TPG has answers.

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