The Best Time to Cruise to the Mexican Riviera

Best Time to Cruise the Mexican Riviera Cabo

Wondering about the best time to cruise to the Mexican Riviera? We’ve got the best, and the worst time to cruise!

If you live in the Western Half of the United States or Canada, and you love to cruise, a visit to the Mexican Riviera may make GREAT sense for you. Short flights to port and warm winter weather make escaping to Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan a great vacation idea for west coasters and cruisers worldwide looking for a unique cruise experience, that provides a total departure from the Caribbean cruise experience. 

There are SO many reasons to venture to the Mexican Riviera. The food (oh, the food!), the value, whale-watching, and SO much more!

Best Time to Cruise the Mexican Riviera Food

The Mexican Riviera (referred to affectionately as the “MR” by cruise enthusiasts) invites cruise travelers from all over the world, especially those excited about a trip to California to start their voyage (Disneyland, anyone?). You can cruise to the Mexican Riviera from San Diego, Long Beach, San Pedro – also known as the port of Los Angeles, and even San Francisco. 

Cruise lovers venture to these ports to experience a taste of Mexico, epic whale watching, and a wonderful warm-weather cruise experience. While you CAN cruise to the Mexican Riviera year-round, we’ll share the best and worst times to experience this destination, based on three factors – weather, wildlife and crowds!

Before we get started, we want to clarify that we’re referring to the Pacific Coast of Mexico, also known as the Mexican Riviera, and NOT the Caribbean port cities in Mexico – like Cozumel, Costa Maya and Progresso, which can be experienced on a few different Caribbean cruise itineraries. In fact, the Mexican Riviera cruises we’re talking about today features the same ports that became popular on the iconic cruise TV show, The Love Boat.  

Mexican Riviera Weather

Best Time to Cruise the Mexican Riviera Weather

Weather can have a huge impact when it comes to choosing the best time to cruise. Year after year, we see people packing the WRONG clothing and gear for this region, and we want to help avoid common Mexican Riviera cruise packing blunders! We’ll link to LOTS of packing videos in the resources section at the end of this article, so you’ll know exactly what to pack.

You can cruise to the Mexican Riviera year-round, but some would argue that the best time to cruise Mexico is during its dry season, November through May. However, it’s a popular destination even during the more rainy summer months while kids are on school break, and the summer travel season is in full swing. 

The hottest months are August and September – and TRUST me- they can be QUITE hot and humid, and accompanied by some dramatic rain, thunder and lightning storms. But, if you plan accordingly, pack cool & light clothing and stay hydrated, these late summer months can offer a less crowded experience. Be aware that many of the cruise lines visiting the area don’t actually visit year round. Instead, they send their ships to Alaska from about May to September, and cruise back down to the Mexican Riviera from about October through April, hitting the California and Pacific coastal cities in between the Alaska and Mexico seasons. 

It’s important to know that if you’re cruising during the winter months, plan for the first and last few days of your cruise to mirror California weather, not the balmy, tropical weather you’ll experience once you’ve reached the warmer areas of Mexico. Watch the weather from the California port you’re departing from, and pack some cozy clothes like sweaters, jeans and maybe even a light jacket for the days when you’re making your way up and down the coast.

Contrary to stereotypes, the coastal port cities in California are NOT 75 degrees year round, and those cool ocean breezes can take first time cruisers by surprise as they make the journey up and down the Pacific coast. But don’t worry, it will warm once you arrive to your Mexican Riviera ports! Never forget about whether when considering the best time to cruise to any location.


Best Time to Cruise the Mexican Riviera Whales

When we weigh the best time to cruise to a particular region, wildlife spotting is a BIG factor for some cruisers. There’s one BIG wildlife attraction that makes this region of the world special. Whales! Many people flock to the Mexican Riviera for a chance to see whales, but it’s important to plan your cruise for the correct whale-sighting season, or you may be disappointed.

Whales are ONLY in the area from mid-December to April each year, and you have your best chances of seeing them between January and March. A quick tip about whale watching. While you MAY see whales from the cruise ship, it’s best to book an organized whale-watching excursion to up your chances. Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta both offer incredible whale-watching options, and you won’t regret adding whale-watching to your excursion list! Don’t count on seeing them from the decks of your ship, especially considering the organized tours offered by many resorts in Puerto Vallarta.


Best Time to Cruise the Mexican Riviera crowds

There are a few times when there will be more ships, and more travelers in port in the Mexican Riviera. If crowds are a factor for you when it comes to picking best time to cruise, here’s what you need to know. Christmas, Thanksgiving and Spring break tend to be the most crowded, but shouldn’t discourage you from a visit if those weeks work well for your schedule. Check out our Thanksgiving vlog series from Royal Princess to get a feel for what it can be like to cruise to this area over a holiday. These holiday cruises will generally run FAR more costly than other weeks as well, so if price is a factor, skip the big holiday periods.

Oh, and back to wildlife for a moment…be aware that during the Spring Break period, certain ships and certain spots can feel more like a party than a relaxing cruise. For example, Cabo San Lucas’ Medano beach attracts the Spring Break party crowd, so if that’s not your jam, you may want to plan a different type of activity for that port day. 

Best Time to Cruise the Mexican Riviera Crowds on beach

Onboard the ship, during the Spring Break period, the mass market cruise lines attract lots of families with children and teens.  Great if you want to make new friends on your school break. HOWEVER, if you’re looking to cruise in a more adult environment, you may want to consider a premium or adults-only cruise line, OR, choose another time of year to visit this area.

We hope these tips on choosing the best time to cruise to the Mexican Riviera helped you to feel prepared and excited to plan your cruise vacation. Want to learn more about cruising to the Mexican Riviera? We’ll link to our cruise vlogs, pack with me videos, our outfit of the day series and 10 tips for cruising to the Mexican Riviera in the resource section below. Go check them out, and let us know how you enjoy your cruise to the “MR”!


Packing for a cruise to the Mexican Riviera.

Pack with Me Video Series.

Royal Princess Vlog Series.

Carnival Splendor Vlog Series.

Carnival Miracle Vlog Series.

Star Princess Vlog Series.

10 Essential Tips for Cruising to the Mexican Riviera.

10 Reasons to Cruise to the Mexican Riviera.

What I Wore on My Cruise. Outfit of the Day Videos.

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