When is the Best Time of Year to Take a Cruise?

 
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Picking the best time to go on a cruise can make or break a vacation. But when the best time is depends both on your destination, as well as your vacation priorities. The fluctuation of cruise prices, the season’s effect on the weather, and the amount of other tourists visiting are a few reasons that can determine when you should book your trip. The key is understanding when tourism peaks and when the weather is the best for your vacation goals. Do you want to find the best price possible? Or are you more concerned about going when the weather will be warmest?

Caribbean

A bay full of ships in Antigua

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Peak season for Caribbean cruises runs from December to April. This is largely because people are escaping colder weather up North and using their holiday vacation time during the winters. Once spring hits, a rush of spring breakers comes, extending the busy season through April. As a result, many of the best events and festivals will be going on during this time. This is also when you will experience the best weather. If you go during the summer months, the climate will be much hotter, and if you go during the fall, you risk having your trip canceled due to hurricane season. 

If your priority is to get the best deal and/or to avoid the crowds of the busy season, then your best bet is to book a trip the month before or after the busy season, which is known as the shoulder season. A cruise to the Caribbean during May or November is likely to provide good weather for your vacation, while not suffering from the crowds, as well as increasing the chance that you will get a good deal on the price!

Mexico

Three crusie ships docked at a Mexico port

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The best time to cruise to Mexico is the same as the Caribbean, during the dry season from December to May. This is when you are most likely to have clear skies and no rain, but you will also have to deal with bigger crowds and higher ticket prices. If you are looking to get the best deal possible and are okay with taking a bit of a risk, you can book a ticket during hurricane season from June to November. Book a voyage around the start or end of the season, just before June or at the end of November, in order to have the best odds of avoiding bad weather while also taking advantage of the lower prices. 

Alaska

Two friends admire the Alaskan landscape

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The Alaska cruise season runs from May through September, when it is warm enough in the North to visit. Unfortunately, Alaskan weather is notoriously unpredictable, so which month is the best to go is a little tricky. July and August are the months that attract the most travelers, so a May or September voyage would be better for avoiding crowds. September is also the best time to spot humpback whales and spawning salmon, while the spring is the best time for spotting wild moose. Avoiding summer may mean that the weather is a little colder and wetter, but you will have less crowds to deal with, you will likely get to see different wildlife, and you won’t have to worry about never-ending daylight messing up your sleep schedule. 

Mediterranean

A cruise ship in a Mediterranean bay

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The best time to take a Mediterranean cruise is outside the winter season, as many locals close up shop for the winter, meaning you will miss out on some of the experience. Summer is the best time to go if you are primarily interested in visiting the beaches, whereas spring and autumn make for more comfortable sightseeing and hiking. September and October, when kids resume school and people are less likely to be on vacation, are the optimal months for enjoying the Mediterranean without as many crowds, while also reducing the cost of your cruise ticket.

Antarctica

Penguins posing with a cruise ship in the background

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Being in the southern hemisphere, Antarctica’s experiences winter while it is summer in North America. During winter in Antarctica, the sun doesn’t rise, it will snow for days on end, and it is extremely cold. Unsurprisingly, cruise ships don’t sail to Antarctica during this time, making the best time to cruise to Antarctica rather obvious. Summer in the South Pole occurs from November through March, with December to February being the busiest time. Being a desolate snow-desert, you won’t have to worry much about crowds, but you’ll likely get a better deal if you go towards the start or end of the season.

Hawaii

A couple watching the sunset over Hawaii

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Hawaii has the benefit of having pretty consistent temperatures, making it a viable destination any time of year. However, the rainy season is from October through February, so many people avoid those months. If your priority is to spend time on the beach or to attend big events with lots of people, the high season from March until September would be the best time to go. If you are trying to get the best deal or avoid crowds, then a voyage during the rainy season might just be the ticket. Fortunately, Hawaii is rarely ever hit by hurricanes, so you won’t have to worry too much about your trip being canceled due to weather.

Australia & New Zealand

A cruise ship departing from Sydney

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For Australia and New Zealand, it is generally advisable to visit during the temperate seasons of spring and autumn. Being in the southern hemisphere means that Spring is from September until November, whereas Autumn is from March to May. Furthermore, tourism in the region peaks around the middle of summer, meaning December and January. To both avoid the crowds, as well as to experience the best weather, a trip during either Spring or Autumn is your best bet.

Northern Europe

A cruise ship docked at an Icelndic port

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The best time to cruise to Northern Europe is really going to depend on what kind of cruise you are taking. If you want to enjoy warm weather, summer festivities, and local businesses, then the best time to go would likely be May, as it is just before the busiest time (from June to August). However, if you are taking a cruise to get a clear view of the Northern Lights, then a September or October cruise would be your best bet. Whatever kind of Northern Europe cruise you want to take, avoid the height of summer if you want a better deal and less crowds.


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