Visit our travel agent friends at MEI Travel

Is January a good time for a cruise?

07 Dec 2023
Matt Hochberg

January is the heart of winter in the northern hemisphere, so while temperatures are likely to be at their coldest, is this the right time for a cruise?

Navigator of the Seas in Willemstad, Curacao

Picking the right month for a cruise depends on various factors, but January has its own considerations. It's also not as popular a month to take a vacation because nearly everyone just had time off with the December holidays just a few weeks earlier.

Among the cruise industry, January is actually one of the best months to go on a cruise because it has a few advantages that draw many back year after year.

You might be surprised how good of a time it is to go on a cruise in January.

Lowest prices of the year

Balcony cabin on Mariner of the Seas

Assuming you skip a cruise that goes over the New Year holiday, cruises in January tend to be quite inexpensive and that's because of the lack of demand.

Cruise prices tend to reflect demand, and when there's less demand, prices are usually lower.  In January, kids are back in school and adults are back at work.  It's not very common to take vacation time in January considering the built in time off that comes with Christmas and New Years.

Pool deck

Due to less demand, you will probably have a higher chance at finding a last-minute deal in January than in many other months. Keep an eye out for January cruise deals starting in November each year and check frequently to make sure you’re aware of the best deals being offered.

Read moreUltimate Guide to last-minute cruise deals

Plane landing in Miami

Just like the cruises, flights tend to be cheaper too for a January cruise.  With less people in general interested in a vacation, you may find that getting a flight to your embarkation port isn't as expensive as a month or two later.

A winter escape

Nostalgia for a winter wonderland usually runs out by the time bitter cold temperatures arrive in January, so a January cruise is a great idea to get out of town.

By taking a January cruise, you get to head south and to warmer temperatures.  There’s something extra wonderful about suntanning on a beach when everyone else is freezing back home!

Less kids

Couple in Solarium

If you prefer going on cruises with less kids onboard, then January is the perfect month for you.

With the exception of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, most kids will be in school and unable to cruise. Therefore, far fewer families and children will be onboard your cruise ship.

With school back in session, school aged kids will be far less likely to be on your sailing for the longer sailings.  Three night weekend cruises can still get their fair share of families from driving distance towns, but a seven night cruise should have less.

Of course, toddlers and other young children not yet in the day school system may be there, so don't expect an adults-only sailing.

Perfect outdoor weather

It's warm in the Caribbean year round, but January is one of the most comfortable months to be outside in this region.

January is the start of the dry season in the Caribbean, so you can expect less humidity and more comfortable temperatures than what you’ll find during the summer months. Plus, hurricane season is not a concern during January.

January can also be a great time to book shore excursions you wouldn’t otherwise book during the warmest months of the year. Visiting Mayan ruins in Mexico, hiking in St. Kitts, and exploring downtown Cozumel can be much more enjoyable in January compared to July or August.


The only downside to the lower temperature and humidity is the possibility of a cold front sliding through, especially in The Bahamas.

It’s not uncommon to see January averages in the Bahamas in the low 70s, which can surprisingly feel quite chilly on cloudy and windy days. Ocean temperatures can be colder, too, making swimming less comfortable.

If your cruise is headed further south, east, or west, it should be plenty warm to swim. Remember, ocean temperatures take longer to cool or heat up than air temperatures, so one cold front will not dramatically affect how warm the water is.

Orient Beach

All things considered, weather is unpredictable and, more often than not, you’ll encounter warm, sunny skies on a cruise in January. Regardless of whether the forecast shows 70°F or 85°F, it will almost certainly be warmer than the weather back home!

Best cruises in January

If you're sold on a January cruise, there's plenty of great choices to consider.

In the winter, most Royal Caribbean ships offer cruises from North America. The abundance of ships in North America means there are more opportunities to find last-minute cruise deals and more flexibility over which ship to book.

Here are some ideas for which cruise to pick for a January sailing.

Cruises to Mexico

Ship in Cozumel

What's better than a cruise that gets you warm temperatures, tacos, beaches, and lots to explore?

Royal Caribbean offers a lot of itineraries that visit the Yucatan Peninsula, which means going to places like Cozumel and Costa Maya.

Not only are these ports sufficiently south to almost guarantee warm temperatures, but a visit in January is idyllic because of how less humid it is outside.

Tulum beach in Mexico

Mayan ruins are a favorite shore excursion, but since these ruins are located in the jungle, it can be downright sweaty most times of the year.  By going in January, you could check them out for yourself with far less perspiration involved.

In fact, being outdoors in general is lovely in Mexico, so don't overlook a beach day visit either.

Cruises to Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao

Knip Beach, Curacao

If your goal is to find the absolutely hottest temperatures, you will want a Southern Caribbean cruise.

Cruises that go to the "ABC Islands" of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao are as far south as you can get in the Caribbean, and temperatures in this region rarely change much throughout the year.

The average high temperature in Aruba in the month of January is 86°F and the average low is 76°F. You won't have to worry about being chilly here.

Since these islands are known for their beaches, a Southern Caribbean cruise is perfect for this month.

West Coast cruises

Lover's Beach in Cabo

Have you cruised from Los Angeles yet?

If you take a seven night cruise down the Baja Peninsula, you will get to visit the Mexican Riviera with the best possible weather.

Ports such as Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta are very popular in winter because of how wonderful the weather can be.  By taking a January cruise, you could combine not only a January escape, but also an excuse to try this itinerary.

Read more: Mexican Riviera cruise guide

Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost expert on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

Get our newsletter

Stay up-to-date with cruise news & advice

    We never share your information with third parties and will protect it in accordance with our Privacy Policy