Less than 200 miles off the coast of Miami is Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. Ubiquitous with cruising, the Bahamas offers up its tropical ports and private islands on short cruises or part of longer Caribbean itineraries, nearly year-round.
Deciding the best month to go to the Bahamas by cruise ship can be tough, due to its long cruise season. Vacationers might wonder: Will it be too crowded in the summer or rainy in the winter? When is the cheapest time to sail to the Bahamas?
We took a look at the calendar year to determine when you can find the best weather conditions, hurricane season storms and a not-to-miss festival -- all to help you decide the best month to cruise to the Bahamas. But first, here's our pick:
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Verdict: The Best Month to Cruise to the Bahamas is January.
Rain is fleeting in the Bahamas, and the sun shines more than 80 percent of the year. While you might want to exercise additional caution during the months of hurricane season (June through early November), the Bahamas is a great destination to cruise year-round.
Given seasonality, rainfall and price, the month of January gets our vote for the best month to go to the Bahamas on a cruise.
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January and February
You might want to start off your year with a warm-weather cruise, because January and February are some of the best months to go to the Bahamas. The islands' trade winds ensure warm temperatures all year long (even for swimming). In winter, cruisers can expect highs in the mid-80s that never dip below the mid-60s.
January is the beginning of the dry season, with very little rain in Nassau, the nation's primary cruise port. Outside of New Year's (the end of the local Junkanoo winter festival), the first few months of the year are relatively quiet, with children back in school.
March and April
Springtime is also a prime time to visit the Bahamas. The change of seasons signals warmer temperatures (by a handful of degrees), but March and April promise the mild weather conditions and warm breezes that cruisers can expect outside of hurricane season in the Caribbean.
If you're not interested in crowds, beware of spring breakers; they typically head out between March and April -- in droves -- in search of sun and fun.
May and June
The months of May and June usher in steamier temperatures that can reach into the 90s. Along with the heat of summer comes the start of the rainy season in the Bahamas.
The plus side of May is that it also welcomes the "offseason" in the Bahamas, meaning fewer tourists around to take your hammock if the weather holds out.
The official start of the Atlantic hurricane season is June, though it is historically not an active month for storms. You might begin to find cruise deals on Bahamas sailings that encourage vacationers to spend their summer holidays at sea.
July and August
The peak of summer is probably not the best time to head to the Bahamas, though the allure of a cheap cruise and an afternoon on a beach will still appeal to many -- especially families.
Known for crowds and congestion almost the world over, the months of July and August are busy in the Bahamas -- be sure to book choice shore excursions well in advance.
In July and August, tropical storms can reach this part of the world. August is wet in the Bahamas, so there is a chance that your excursion might get rained out -- unless you don't mind a few drops on your head.
Summertime marks Bahamas Independence Day (July 10), as well as Emancipation Day (first Monday in August). If you're lucky enough to be in port for either, you will encounter parades and picnics across the islands.
September and October
By September, summer is winding down and the fall is usually a great offseason time to travel. However, the months of September and October mark the height of hurricane season in the Bahamas, which means potentially discounted cruises for those willing to take a chance or purchase insurance.
September and October are also some of the most humid months, on average, in the Bahamas. If you're worried about having a bad hair day, keep the moisture in mind.
November and December
By mid-November, hurricane season ends and the high season begins for cruising in the Bahamas. Humidity also drops, on average.
The Bahamian street parade known as Junkanoo is held on Boxing Day (Dec. 26) as well as New Year's Day each year. Consider the celebration to be Bahamas' version of Carnival.