I take my family every year on summer cruises. Here are 10 tips for surviving on a ship in the summer heat.

13 Jun 2024
Matt Hochberg

I'm a year-round cruiser, and taking a summer cruise involves a different strategy than other times of the year.

How to beat the heat

Summer in the Caribbean is actually the off-season for the region. Many of Royal Caribbean's ships head to Europe for the summer, leaving less ships sailing in North America.  Moreover, hurricane season encompasses all of the summer and fall, which adds another factor for lower demand.

Nonetheless, I take my family on summer cruises because the time off from school makes it the perfect time to getaway.

While we do sometimes take cruises to cooler climates, such as Alaska or Europe, the bulk of our summer cruises depart somewhere from Florida.

If you're going to cruise in the Caribbean this summer, here are my best tips for not feeling like a melted ice cream puddle all the time.

Prioritize morning or night activities

Want to get a run in on the jogging track? Or want to explore San Juan? Whenever possible, try to do this in the early morning hours or after sunset.

While the pools aren't open all night, there's usually a pool and hot tub open each evening to coincide with movies shown on the big screen.

Bring extra clothes because of the sweat factor

Clothes in a closet

When you're packing for a summer cruise, assume you'll sweat through your first outfit of the day, especially on days you're in port.

The humidity in the tropics is extremely high, so even just standing around will get you sweaty.

It's a good idea to bring extra shirts and underwear that you can change back into when you get on the ship.  

You could send your soiled clothes out for washing via Royal Caribbean's laundry service, but it's costly.

Read more: 40 essential things to bring on a cruise

You will still need a sweater for indoor venues

Royal Theater

While it will be hot and humid outside, inside the air conditioning will be pumping.

It's common to find the Main Dining Room, restaurants, and theaters chilly. If you're sensitive to the cold, you'll still want to bring a sweater with you.

You'll need shoes for the decks

Pool deck and slides on Harmony

You may not notice it at first, but the pool decks get very, very hot when in direct sunlight.  

Before you kick off your flip flips at the pool, keep them nearby when you want to talk to get ice cream or head to the bar.

Don't overdo it

Horseback riding tour

It's easy to feel compelled to "go, go, go!" every day of your cruise, but the heat and humidity combination will hit you harder in the summer. Your body will struggle to keep up when the sun is bright and the humidity is above 80.

Schedule breaks during the day in port and on shore.  Taking an afternoon nap in your air conditioned cabin can feel so nice.  Or opt for shore excursions that include a beach break in them over arduous city touring. 

Another idea is to switch between "beach day" and "touring day".  Rather than doing a bunch of exploring every day, try to work in relaxing days at the beach to reset your body.

Look for indoor activities on sea days

While your Royal Caribbean ship will have lots of fun activities around the pool deck, you could opt for indoor activities.

Trivia, bumper cars, demonstrations, and bingo are all held in climate controlled environments, and it can make a big difference not being outside.

Hit the water slides as soon as they open in the morning


Going down water slides is fun, but there are two good reasons to try the slides in the morning as soon as they open.

First, the lines will be shorter when they first open.  Most passengers like to sleep in and take it easy, and then hit the pool deck in the late morning. Going on the slides as soon as they open means you can get a few runs in with less of a line.

Second, the sun isn't as strong in the morning compared to later in the day. That means time spent waiting your turn won't be as hot.

Stay hydrated

Water flask

Drinking enough water is a very important step on any summer cruise.

Bring bottled water with you on shore excursions, and drink plenty of water onboard. You can get free water from any restaurant, and there are refill stations around the ship.

Many people will bring their own hydro flask or Yeti bottle with them to ensure they have more water with them at all times.

Read more: 40 essential things to bring on a cruise

Before you go on a shore excursion, be sure to fill your water bottle or bring a couple of bottles of water with you from the ship. 

Prepare for shore excursions

Mayan ruins in Cozumel, Mexico

Before you head out for any shore excursion, be sure to take a few important steps.

  • Wear a hat
  • Wear light colored clothes
  • Wear dry wicking clothes (bonus if it's SPF clothing)
  • Apply sunscreen before you leave the cabin

Some people bring neck fans or cooling towels to wear. I'm not sold on them, but recognize there are people that use them, so it must work for them.

Most shore excursions provide water, but we’ve always appreciated having more with us.

Apply and re-apply sunscreen


Bring waterproof and reef safe sunscreen in a high SPF value to ensure you don't get sunburned (contains affiliate link, which costs you nothing extra).

Not applying sunscreen often is one of the most common cruise mistakes we see others making.

It's a good idea to apply it before you leave the ship so it's working as soon as you step off the gangway.

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 experts on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

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

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