When to Cruise – The Basics

The best time to cruise and the least expensive time to cruise are not always the same. The best time to be on the water is often when the weather is nicest or when you have time off. These sailings are often the most popular, but you face high prices and large crowds.  The least expensive time to cruise is often when most travelers don’t want to go. You may find less ideal weather, but the idea of lower fares and less crowded ports might make you change your mind about what you consider the best time to cruise. As you plan your next cruise, you’ll want to take the above into consideration and see what works best with your vacation schedule.  The following is a when-to-cruise guide for some popular destinations.

Alaska has a very short cruising season…only between May and September. The months of June through August offer the warmest weather and are therefore the best and most popular times to cruise. In May and September, you’ll find it to be a bit chiller, but you’ll also find the best prices. In addition, May is the driest month of the Alaska cruise season, so you’re less likely to be rained out of your flightseeing tour or glacier walk.

Bermuda – Cruises sail from April through mid-November, mostly during the high or “beach” season. Most people travel during the summer months, making those voyages pricier, but you’ll find deals on spring and fall departures. Bermuda has temperate weather year-round and is less affected by hurricanes than its Caribbean neighbors (Bermuda is located in the Atlantic Ocean.)  If it’s too chilly for the beach in the shoulder season, you can always try out the islands many golf courses and spas.

Caribbean – Sailings are year-round, but the best time to go is when it’s coldest in the Northern Hemisphere.  Not only is the warm Caribbean climate more enticing, but December through April are the driest months on the islands as well. The least expensive times to cruise are usually in early December, after the New Year and in September. Spring discounts are not always consistent, so it’s best to have your Cruise Planner book when a low rate is offered.

EuropeThe Mediterranean cruise season runs from April through November. Northern Europe and Baltic cruises have a shorter season running from May to October, while the warmer Greek islands and Canary Islands see cruise ships between March and December.  Most tourists come to Europe in the summer, but the late spring and early fall have more pleasant temperatures and not as many crowds. You’ll find the lowest cruise prices at the beginning and end of each season; prices are considerably higher for the summer months.

HawaiiNorwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) Pride of America offers year round cruises through the islands from Honolulu for 7 nights.  The best time to go is during the summer and fall when the island gets the least amount of rain. Summer tends to be the most popular because of school vacation and Honeymoon season.  Hawaii cruises are less expensive from November through February, with the exception of holiday cruises.  A 14 night round trip cruise from Los Angeles or San Diego is the other option for a Hawaiian cruise from the United States.

MexicoYou can cruise to Mexico year-round, either as part of a western Caribbean itinerary or as a dedicated Mexico voyage. The best time to visit Mexico is during its dry season, November through May. However, it’s a popular destination even during the rainier summer months. You’ll find the best deals in the fall, between the two high seasons and during hurricane season.

New England and CanadaNew England and Canada sailings depart from May through October.  There is a better chance for warmer weather if you travel from late June through early September. However, if you’re interested in foliage viewing, you’ll need to go in early to mid-October. May and late-October sailings will offer the lowest rates, but expect much cooler weather.

Ultimately you will have to decide if lower rates or time of year dictates when to cruise.  As a general rule of thumb, when school is out, prices are higher.  If you have the ability to travel during a shoulder season, chances are you will still experience warm weather plus smaller crowds.  Regardless, when you are ready to travel – be sure to call us!


About Michael

I am an avid traveler. I own and operate Elite Travel Planners, a Cruise Planners franchise. I pride myself on providing personalized service to each of my clients.

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