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    Destinations and the Best Time to Cruise Them


    People often ask me, "when is the best time to cruise?" The answer all depends on where you're going and what you want out of a cruise. There are several variables that go into deciding when to cruise including personal preference, destination climate, best opportunities for viewing prime visitor sites, and more. Here are my recommendations for when to cruise where.

    ALASKA

    High Season: June – August.

    Pros – Temperatures are generally warmer in summer, allowing for best wildlife, glacier and fjord viewing.

    Cons: Higher prices, larger crowds and some port congestion, weather – while generally warmer - can be unpredictable.

    Low Season: May – September.

    Pros – Lower prices, less crowded; more dramatic scenery with snow-capped mountains; best chance of catching the Northern Lights in late September.

    Cons – Colder with possibility of snow and weather-related excursion cancellations.

    AUSTRALIA

    High Season: Late November - March.

    Pros – Optimal temperatures in the western cities of Sydney and Perth; sub-tropical temps in the Northeastern Queensland region.

    Cons: - Typhoon season; large crowds and port congestion – especially December-January.

    Low Season: May – September.

    Pros – Lower prices, especially for year-round Great Barrier Reef cruising; less crowded; weather cooler, but rarely extreme.

    Cons – Expedition and Tasmania sailings can be limited during the rainier months of June, July and August.

    BERMUDA

    High Season: June – August.

    Pros – Water temperature is ideal for swimming and water sports; larger selection of ships from a wider variety of embarkation ports; best time for family cruising, with kids clubs in full swing.

    Cons: Higher prices, larger crowds and some port congestion; normally comfortable Bermuda weather tends to be steamy in summer.

    Low Season: April-May; September-October.

    Pros – Lower prices; less crowded; less humidity with comfortable weather for touring (except for rainier October).

    Cons – Hurricanes can threaten Bermuda in September and October, and since many itineraries consist of Bermuda alone, guests could find themselves re-routed to Canada.

    CANADA/NEW ENGLAND

    High Season: September - October.

    Pros – Colorful autumn foliage, beginning in Northern regions in late September and ending in Southern regions by mid-October; cool nights but mild days make strolling the ports very comfortable; quieter cruising due to fewer families and children.

    Cons: Late October can be colder, both day and evenings; although occurring less frequently than in the Caribbean, hurricanes are a possibility, especially in southern regions of New England.

    Low Season: May – August.

    Pros – Warmer days and nights; most comfortable time of year for touring; ideal weather; best time for whale watching.

    Cons – Southern New England can be humid in mid-summer.

    CARIBBEAN

    High Season: Late June - August; Christmas and New Year’s weeks; school and college break times, February - mid April.

    Pros – Great time to enjoy time with the family and the kids while they’re on school break; opportunity for cruising on ships that normally don’t cater to kids; best opportunity for fully functional onboard kids’ clubs.

    Cons: Higher prices, larger crowds, many more kids and teens; college breakers can get rowdy; weather can be uncomfortably hazy, hot and humid in the Caribbean; hurricane season, though not as prevalent as the fall months, can threaten cruises and cause rough seas, especially August.

    Low Season: April-May; September-January (excluding holiday weeks).

    Pros – Lower prices; fewer families, kids and crowds; more enjoyable, comfortable weather with less humidity.

    Cons – Hurricane season (September-October) can cause weather delays, rough seas, cancellations or re-routes; air travel risks the possibility of weather delays and cancellations during the winter months.

    HAWAII

    High Season: Late December - April.

    Pros – Best selection of ships; best time of year for whale watching.

    Cons: Rainiest weather occurs between December and March; higher prices.

    Low Season: May-June; September-mid December.

    Pros – Great weather; less-crowded ships since kids are in school; best deals, especially weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    Cons – Possibility of hurricanes in September.

    Mexican Riviera

    High Season: Holiday weeks; February – mid April.

    Pros – Mild temperatures with dry and comfortable weather.

    Cons: Holiday weeks and school breaks bring crowded lots of kids, crowded ships and port congestion; during college breaks, ports become wild.

    Low Season: Early January and May; October - November.

    Pros – Fewer kids, more adult atmosphere

    Cons – Unpredictable weather, ranging from hot and humid to chilly.

    MEDITERRANEAN

    High Season: May - September.

    Pros – Best time for beach going and water sports, due to hot and humid weather; lots of families aboard bring the best in onboard kids activities; evenings in European cities are warm but comfortable, allowing for the best lively nighttime experiences and outdoor entertainment and restaurants; avoid kids in the shoulder months of May and September.

    Cons: Higher prices; larger crowds and more congestion, especially July and August family-travel months; summer touring in Europe can be brutally hot.

    Low Season: October - April.

    Pros – More comfortable weather brings more pleasant touring; prices are lower; fewer crowds; warmer regions such as the Canary Islands allow for cruising later in the season.

    Cons – fewer cruise options, especially mid-winter, though warmer regions (Canary Islands, Spain, etc.) will find year-round ships; March and November tend to be rainy.

    NORTHERN EUROPE

    High Season: June – August.

    Pros – Best weather for touring port cities and the fjords, with warm temperatures (occasionally steamy) and generally sunny skies allowing for optimal outdoor activity.

    Cons: High prices.

    Low Season: May and September.

    Pros – Quieter cruising, as kids are in school; comfortable fall-like weather with cool evenings, mild days and colorful foliage.

    Cons – Weather can be brisk.

    SOUTH AMERICA

    High Season: November – March (Year-Round for Galapagos Islands)

    Pros – Widest selection of ships and itineraries; best cruise bargains are the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    Cons: Varied climate changes depending on destination; ships fill up fast with South Americans on vacation; large crowds over the Holiday periods.

    Low Season: April - October.

    Pros – Fewer crowds on ships and at top tourist attractions during the shoulder months of April and October; milder weather.

    Cons – Colder with possibility of snow and weather-related excursion cancellations. Seas around the Galapagos Islands can be choppy during August and September.

    TAHITI/SOUTH PACIFIC

    High Season: May - October

    Pros – Best and driest weather - less likelihood of rain and tropical storms – making the South Pacific the perfect destination for honeymooners and summer vacationers.

    Cons: Strongest trade winds tend to occur during this time.

    Low Season: November - April.

    Pros – Lowest prices; water temperature is perfect for swimming.

    Cons – Wettest time of the year, with more rain and humidity.

    RIVER CRUISES - EUROPE

    High Season: April - October

    Pros – Experience more of Europe’s heartland with port-intensive itineraries; quieter, small-ship cruising for adults seeking cruising without children, though summer months sometimes feature theme itineraries exclusively for families.

    Cons: Heavy rains can cause rising rivers and impassable locks, stopping boats in their tracks, and shifting the guests to bus touring.

    Low Season: March; Late November - December

    Pros – Enjoy the best European sites and cities without the summer crowds; Christmas itineraries are a great way to experience the holiday charm of the city markets during December.

    Cons – Weather can be bitterly cold.

    Contributor: Janice Neves - CruiseCrazies Member and Authorized Agent

    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.

    Please visit CruiseCrazies.com for more cruise news & articles.

    Featured photo credit: Janice Neves

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