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Royal Caribbean cruises in May 2023: What to expect

27 Apr 2023
Matt Hochberg

Taking a Royal Caribbean cruise in May opens the beginning of the summer cruise season.

Symphony of the Seas in PortMiami aerial

If you have a cruise planned in May, this article is aimed at giving you a preview of what to expect for sailing this month, as well as helpful tips.

With spring break over, May is generally a slower month in terms of demand (with the exception of Memorial Day Weekend) because school is in session, and most families either just took vacation over spring break, or are about to take vacation next month when school is out.

It's also the month when Royal Caribbean's European cruise season begins in earnest with all the ship that will sail from the region in place to start service.

The Memorial Day holiday in the United States can see a bit more demand for cruises, although primarily for weekend cruises.

Certainly there is less demand for cruises in the first three weeks of May.

The Alaska cruise season will also fully start up in the month of May. Royal Caribbean will have four cruise ships sailing to Alaska in 2023.

Read moreComparing the Royal Caribbean ships sailing in Alaska 2023

May weather on a cruise


It's going to get warmer in May in the Caribbean, so expect high temperatures to reach the high 80s and low temperatures not getting below the 70s.

In terms of rainfall, the wet season will resume in some areas. You will see lots of passing showers in places like San Juan, Puerto Rico or Antigua.

Over in Europe, the sun will be shining in the Mediterranean without the larger crowds that will come later this summer. May is the best time for a Greek Isles cruise because there is very little rain combined with temperatures in the high 60s and 70s.

The one downside of May in the Mediterranean is sea temperatures tend to be still chilly. If you want warm ocean temperatures in May, the Caribbean is the place for you.

Read moreWhat is the best time to cruise the Mediterranean?

If you're cruising to Alaska in May, expect less rain than normal. May is one of the driest months of the season, with just a 25% chance of rain. 

The average high in southeast Alaska is 54 degrees and the average low is 39 degrees.

Read moreWhen is the best time to cruise to Alaska?


Sailings to the Mexican Riviera, expect more rain in the forecast. The months of May to October are the wettest months of the year (same for Eastern Mexico).

The eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and ends November 30. 

Is May a good month to cruise the Caribbean?

St Lucia

May is a great month to sail as it offers warm weather without the crowds that you'll find later in the summer.

Because May is a month where most kids are still in school, demand for cruises is less than April or June.  After all, families either just took a spring break cruise last month or are about to take their summer vacations next month.  So why take the kids out of school for a vacation in May?

The result is demand is generally lower, and prices tend to be lower for May cruises compared to other months of the spring and summer.

Read moreThe best time to go on a Caribbean cruise

St Kitts scenic overlook

May is also the last month before hurricane season begins, so tropical disturbances are not a factor for cruises in May.  Between the lower prices and comfortable weather, May is one of the best months of the year to take a Caribbean cruise.

May is referred to as the shoulder season for both Alaska and European cruise season. This means it's a time just before the peak of the cruise season commences, and it's an ideal time to get a good price for a cruise to either destination.

Harmony of the Seas in Barcelona

Moreover, May is a month where the weather is warm without being sweltering hot.

In Alaska, May can still be on the chilly side, but when the sun shines, you should feel the warmth.  Likewise in Europe, May is a month where it's quite comfortable to be outside.  

Are cruises crowded in May?

Jogging track

In general, Royal Caribbean cruises are almost always sailing full, but demand for cruises in May is usually less than other months of the year.

Your ship may or may not be completely full, but one of the best chances for a few leftover cabins to be available would be in May.

The lessened family travel demand means potentially less cabins with third and fourth passengers, and that could make the ship feel a bit less crowded than if you sailed next month.

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.

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