Best Time to Go on a Cruise Alaska vs Australia vs Bermuda ... and 9 more
Edited by Kathy McGraw, Maria Quinney
Whether you want to sail away on the Caribbean Sea, thread your way through the fjords in Scandinavia or Alaska, or enjoy the warmth of the Mediterranean Sea, cruises offer a fun-packed, entertaining, and relaxing vacation for the whole family. When is the best time to go on a cruise vacation depends on your priorities: if your main concern is the price of tickets and you don't mind tricky weather or fewer options, then cruising during low season for the region is best for you. However, if you want to experience the most options and the best weather, and you don't mind paying top prices, then high season is an optimal time for you. Here, we'll lay out the high and low seasons for the most popular cruising destinations worldwide to help you decide the best time to cruise for you.
Method 1: Alaska
Alaska has a short cruising season that lasts from just May through September. Cruise ships don't risk the frigid and frozen waters outside of those months.
- 1During these months, temperatures are at their warmest and there are more cruise ships to choose from. In addition, most sights and ports are open for the season and the risk of port closure due to inclement weather is at its lowest. However, expect to pay premium pricing and more crowds.High season:June through August.
- 2Low season for Alaska cruises is at the beginning and the end of the cruising season, when the weather is either just warming up or starting to chill. Cruise tickets will be cheaper, or course, but in May, some areas may not be open yet because of remaining snow and ice, and in September, there is a risk of snow and the weather is turning chilly. However, there are fewer crowds and fewer children, since most will be in school.Low Season:May and September.
Method 2: Australia
Since Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons there are reversed, with the height of summer occurring in December and January, while the months of July and August fall in the depths of winter. However, Australia's climate is not extreme, so even off-season travel can be quite pleasant.
- 1Expect cruises to be crowded during the summer months because you'll be joining the Aussies as they take their summer holidays. You'll pay top price for cruise tickets, too.High Season:Late November to March.
- 2Since the Australian climate is mild, the only downside to sailing during low season is that there might be more rain in parts of the country, but other than that, you'll pretty much have the same options as you would during the summer, minus the crowds. Cruise ticket prices will be lower, as well.Low season:May through September.
Method 3: Bermuda
Sultry Bermuda is a popular cruise ship destination for those who enjoy the surf and sandy fun, and while the weather is good all year, the water temperatures turn chillier during the low season.
- 1Water temperatures are ideal during these months, but high humidity can turn the weather hot and sticky. You'll have a variety of East Coast ports to depart from at this time of the year, too, but expect to pay premium prices and for the ships to be quite crowded.High season:June through August.
Method 4: Caribbean
The tropical weather in the Caribbean makes for pleasant cruising all year around, so cruising during the off-season when people are back at work and school will save you money without sacrificing options for things to do or the best weather.
- 1At this time, expect the most crowds and highest prices.High season:June through August, Holidays,and February to mid-April.
- 2The only drawback to sailing during the low season is the increased risk of a hurricane from September through November. If a hurricane affects the part of the Caribbean you are cruising to, there are other ports of call that you can be diverted to. The weather is still great, you will have fewer crowds to contend with, and best of all, you can save hundreds of dollars on cruise tickets.Low season:Late April to May and September to early January, excluding the Holidays.
Method 5: Southern Europe/ Mediterranean
Whether you're cruising in the south of Spain, the French Riviera, or in the Greek Isles, cruises in the Mediterranean Sea offer spectacular sights and plenty of sunshine to enjoy the beaches and the blue waters. The seas become rougher in the northern Mediterranean during the winter months, but there are fewer crowds.
- 1Expect to pay top prices for cruise tickets and airfare during the high season because people from all over Europe and the rest of the world flock to the Mediterranean for the summer holidays. The weather is at its best, but the temperatures can get a little hot, and the humidity is higher, as well.High season:May to September.
- 2Low season gives you the best value on cruise tickets and airfare, as well as fewer crowds, but the downside is that the weather is wet and the seas are rough.Low season:October through April.
Method 6: European River Cruises
European river cruises offer a unique experience for sight-seeing in the middle of the European continent. River cruises operate all year except January and February and are carried out on boats specially designed to navigate the rivers and locks of Europe.
- 1River cruises remain a niche travel-specialty, and most are designed as an all-inclusive touring vacation of the continent. You'll get more options during the high season, and the boats will be more crowded since more people take their vacations during this time of year. The weather is at its best, during this time, too.High Season:April to October.
- 2Although the weather is much colder during the offseason, the chance to see the sights under a layer of snow and to enjoy the holiday cheer can be quite charming to experience.Low season:March, late November and December.
Method 7: Northern Europe/Scandinavia
Like Alaskan cruises, cruising season in Northern Europe is naturally short, lasting from May through September. Outside of these months, cruises don't run because of snow and icy conditions. High season cruises offer the most variety of things to do and places to go, while low season offers the best prices and fewer crowds while sacrificing some variety.
- 1Summer is the perfect time to experience the fjords, lochs, and ports of Northern Europe. The weather is sunny and warm, at times verging on hot, and the ports are thriving with life. However, expect the most crowds and the highest prices for cruise tickets.High season:June through August.
- 2While the weather is iffier and some places might not yet be accessible, the crowds are fewer, prices are lower. Additionally, if you're cruising in the fall, the changing color of the leaves on the trees and plants is a beauty worth seeing.Low Season:May and September.
Method 8: Hawaii
A Hawaiian cruise can actually be an economical way to see most of the islands, but conversely, while the high season offers the most variety of cruise lines in the region, it might not be the best time to see the islands because of rainy weather conditions.
- 1The Christmas holiday season is the most popular time for Hawaiian cruises and the winter months in general are popular because it allows people to get away from the winter weather back home. However, you should be aware that Hawaii does have a rainy season, which lasts from December through March, so while, it isn't ever cold, it can be quite wet.High season:Late December through April.
- Another quirk of Hawaiian cruising is that although the summer months are popular for family travel to Hawaii, only one cruise line stays active there during that time, Norwegian Cruise Line, so expect those cruises to be packed with families and ticket prices to be at a premium.
- 2Low season is an ideal time for cruising the Hawaiian Islands because the ships are much less crowded, with only about a quarter of the passengers as during high seasons, and the ticket prices are correspondingly more affordable. The weather is still awesome, and although there is a risk that hurricanes can affect the seas around the area, they rarely make landfall there.Low season:May and June, September to mid-December.
Method 9: Canada/New England
High season for cruises along the coasts of Canada and New England is in the fall because of fall foliage, and that's when you expect the highest prices and most crowds.
- 1F all foliage is at its peak at this time, and the weather, while cool, is still pleasant for walking along the forested paths and hearing the fallen leaves crunch beneath your feet. But prices are higher and expect more people to be packed onboard the ship.High season:September and October.
- 2Summer is a delightful time in New England and Canada, with mild temperatures and plenty of water activities such as sailing, swimming, and fishing, to do. Families abound during the summer because school is out, and tickets are cheaper.Low season:May to August.
Method 10: Mexican Rivera
The Mexican Riviera which encompasses the Yucatan Peninsula and parts south is a beautiful place to visit, with splashed beaches, tropical temperatures, and the sparkling Western Caribbean to bathe in.
- 1Since it's a popular winter getaway destination for snowbirds and anyone else who wants to get out of the cold, February through April, along with the Spring Break holidays and Christmas are the peak season for cruises.High season:February through mid-April and the Holidays.
- 2The weather remains lovely, but you won't have to contend with the crowds, and the atmosphere may be more adult during this time, too, with fewer children and families about.Low season:early January, May, October, and November.
Method 11: South America
South America, like Australia, is in the Southern Hemisphere, which means that the seasons are the opposite to what they are in the Northern Hemisphere. During the South American summer, the locals also take their vacations, so expect more crowds at this time because of this. However, while the weather varies a lot, it tends to stay mild to hot in the equatorial Amazon region all year around.
- 1These months are high summer in South America, so expect nice weather throughout, although, again, it can vary a lot, depending on where you are. There will be crowds and prices will be higher, too.High season:November through March.
- 2The prime benefit to traveling during this time is the lower cost of tickets and fewer crowds to deal with.Low season:April and October.
Method 12: South Pacific
White sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and warm weather beckon to you to the tropical paradise of the South Seas islands. Except for a lot of rain and a higher risk of typhoons, the weather is warm all year around here, making it a popular winter getaway spot.
- 1May through October. The spring and summer months of the year offer the driest times for cruising the islands of the South Pacific as well as the lowest risk of typhoons. However, more people flock to the region at this time, so expect crowds and higher prices.High season:
- 2November through April. You will need to contend with more rain during this time, though temperatures remain mild. There is an increased risk of typhoons as well, but the trade-off is fewer crowds and lower prices.Low season: