More travelers are opting to go on a cruise. By 2020, it’s predicted there will be over 27 million cruise passengers. Cruises offer convenience for all travelers.
Most are all-inclusive, including food, lodging, activities, and excursions. There are also so many types of cruises that hit many different destinations. With the options available, anyone can find a cruise that will interest them.
While a cruise always seems like a great idea, there are certain times and seasons to embark on a cruise for the best experience.
When is the best time? This question isn’t easy to answer — there are so many factors that influence the time you cruise, and every cruise line and destination have different peak seasons. Here is the best time to take a cruise:
What to Consider
While there are general peak and off-seasons for cruises, every passenger will have their own preferences. Here are a few factors to consider.
Certain seasons are cheaper because they attract the smallest crowds. However, your availability may benefit a busy season. This is true if you have children or if you have the most luck taking off during the summer months.
You may also have a better chance of taking time off of work during an off-season. These months, such as the fall months, offer some of the best cruise deals.
Your Weather Preference
Do you prefer the warm summer months or the cool fall months? No matter what you prefer, there’s a cruise for you. But you should be selective when booking your cruise, including the destination and the season. Other weather factors to take into consideration include storm risks and severely dry or humid weather.
Some passengers want to cruise during the holidays. For example, the idea of taking a holiday cruise in Europe is appealing for many. But other passengers would rather avoid holiday vacations.
Best Cruise Times By Month
Each destination has different peak seasons. The best way to identify a peak season is by looking at each month and what cruising during that time entails.
January and February
Are you worried about the cold weather interfering with your trip? This should be no concern if you’re cruising to a country with warm temperatures year-round, such as Mexico.
Cruises during this time of the year are cheaper and still offer the beautiful weather you desire. January and February cruises are a popular option for northerners who want to escape the blistering cold.
But you should still research the warmest destinations during this time. The last thing you want is to look forward to a beach cruise, only to endure chilly temperatures while you’re trying to sunbathe.
Many travelers also love cruising in January and February for the peace and quiet, away from the crowds the spring and summer months bring.
While March is spring for those in the Northern Hemisphere, many travelers prefer cruising during the Southern Hemisphere’s off-season.
If you’re planning on cruising in Southern Hemisphere locations, such as South America and Australia, you’ll love cruising in the last month of their peak season.
March is the end of the summer. When April hits, the temperature decreases. Many travelers from the north hit these destinations in December and January to escape their winter.
Since the weather warms up in the north during March, travelers can expect beautiful weather yet smaller crowds in the Southern Hemisphere.
The cruise is also calm during this time of year. With few storms, those who suffer from seasickness will have an easier time cruising.
Keep in mind, the changing weather can still be unpredictable. It’s not surprising to endure rainy and windy days and colder temperatures, especially at night.
Cruising in the spring months are popular for many tourists. College- and school-aged young adults are on spring break. Many families also cruise during this time of the year (but mainly cruise during the summer).
This is inconvenient if you’re not a fan of crowds during your vacation. There’s another reason why cruising is popular during the spring months, specifically April.
For many countries, this is a dry month. They experience summer showers and increased risk of hurricanes (especially for the islands), so many travelers cruise in April to avoid these interferences.
Unfortunately, this is when the prices start increasing. You can still find cruise bargains and deals, especially last-minute ones.
May enters the summer season. The prices and crowds increase. It becomes more difficult to find a great cruise at an affordable price. Is there an exception? Yes — river cruises and European cruises.
While many travelers are busy soaking up the sun in the Caribbean, May is also Europe’s peak season. The spring flowers are still in bloom. The rain starts to decrease, causing a low chance of flooding that can interfere with your cruise.
May also welcomes beautiful weather. The temperature starts increasing drastically in July and August, making cruising uncomfortable. The weather will be warm but comfortable in many countries, especially in the Mediterranean. One of the main reasons why travelers love European cruises is they’re diverse.
You can soak up on the beach on a French Riviera cruise or you can embark on a river cruise in Austria or Germany, gazing upon castles and cathedrals. The latter doesn’t require picture-perfect weather, making them perfect for the off-season.
Are you concerned about crowds? While American summer vacations start earlier, European summer vacations start later. Kids are still in school during this time, meaning there’s little chance you’ll experience large crowds.
While June begins the height of the summer crowd, some destinations aren’t worth it unless you cruise during the warm summer months.
This is also one of the most expensive times to cruise. But because you’ll experience beautiful weather in a variety of different countries, cruising in June is worth it for many passengers.
Keep in mind, you can still find affordable cruises with fewer crowds. If your schedule is flexible, book a cruise that runs during the weekdays. Certain routes are also cheaper; examples include cruises going north, such as an Alaska cruise.
July and August
Now we enter the peak season for many cruise lines and destinations, specifically the Caribbean and other beach destinations. This is when you’ll experience the largest crowds and the most expensive cruises.
Many passengers aren’t a fan of high crowds, especially if there’s a waiting list for activities and if your relaxing beach vacation is interrupted by other passengers.
July and August also bring a major risk: hurricanes. Destinations such as Puerto Rico and the Bahamas are major victims of devastating hurricanes.
Does this mean you shouldn’t cruise during this time? Absolutely not. But be mindful of your destination. For example, Bermuda is a beautiful island and stunning beaches. It also welcomes beautiful summer weather and has a low risk of hurricane damage.
Want to still experience beautiful cruise weather without the large crowds and hefty price? September is the cheapest month for many cruise lines. The weather is still warm for many destinations and kids are back in school.
Many cruises also offer the best deals during this time and into the fall months. September also offers a little-bit-of-everything for many travelers. While many cruise passengers love a summer trip, many travelers also love the beginning of fall.
Many destinations offer beautiful summer weather with decreasing evening temperatures, especially during the end of September.
October is favorable for cruises, for many reasons. The risk of hurricanes and other severe storms decreases. For cruises with tropical destinations, the humidity is usually at the lowest this time of year.
The crowds are smaller and the cruises are cheaper. This is also a popular month for honeymooners, especially since we’re just exiting the wedding season.
November continues the trend that formed in October. In tropical regions, November still welcomes low humidity and low chances of rain. However, the temperature starts decreasing in many regions, even in regions with warmer weather.
Cruise prices are also significantly lower and crowds are smaller in November. As long as you don’t mind the decreasing temperature, you can still have a relaxing and fun cruise trip.
If celebrating Christmas with the family isn’t appealing, many cruise lines offer December cruises. Since December brings blistering cold weather, it’s essential to choose a destination with beautiful year-round weather, such as Hawaii.
As long as your destination doesn’t welcome snow, you can enjoy low prices, moderately cool weather and little rain.
Keep in mind, crowds may be larger than expected. Since adults and children are on Christmas vacation, many may decide to embark on a cruise during their break. You should also avoid cruises marketed as “holiday cruises.” They usually bring higher fares.
The Best Time to Take a Cruise By Destination
Is there one specific destination you’re thinking about visiting? Each destination has its own peak season. Here are a few examples.
The best time to visit this popular island is between April and November. April starts the beginning of the beach season and November is when the temperature starts decreasing.
While the summer months are the most popular, you’ll find the best deals in the spring and fall.
Bermuda also has fewer hurricane risks, compared to other islands such as the Bahamas.
Alaska has the shortest cruising season. Most passengers choose to embark on an Alaska cruise between April and September.
June through August are the busiest months and the months that bring the best weather. These are also the most expensive months to travel. Passengers will find the best deals during the spring months and in September.
Spring showers also hit Alaska heavily. This is the last thing you want to endure when sightseeing glaciers and wildlife.
Europe cruises are some of the most diverse. That’s why it’s hard to identify one peak season. It’s best to separate European cruises into the different regions of the continent.
Mediterranean cruises run year-round. You’ll experience the best weather between June and August, but July and August bring the most crowds. March also brings beautiful weather and the lowest prices.
Northern European river cruises, such as in the Scandinavian regions, have extremely short seasons. Passengers usually embark on these cruises between May and November.
If you love Christmas tourism, holiday cruises are becoming more popular in Europe. They take you to local Christmas markets in a variety of countries such as Slovakia and Germany.
The Caribbean is a popular cruise destination year-round. But passengers can take advantage of the Caribbean’s year-round beautiful weather. This is why many passengers decide to visit during the colder months.
Passengers will find the best deals and the smallest crowds between December and April. You’ll also find great deals in the fall months. However, this is also the peak of hurricane season.
Mexico is also a beautiful year-round destination.
However, most passengers cruise in Mexico between November and May. Mexico attracts a lot of rain during the summer and fall months. Mexico also risks hurricanes and tropical storms during the fall months.
Hawaii is another destination that’s ideal year-round. Since Hawaii has a low risk of getting hit by hurricanes, many passengers choose to travel in the early fall. You’ll also avoid the high summer crowds. Hawaii cruises are cheapest between November and February.
New England and Canada
New England and Canada also offer limited sailing times, usually between May and October. These regions bring blistering cold winter months. Most passengers cruise during the summer months and into September.
The benefit of Canada and New England fall cruise is witnessing the changing of the leaves and other beauty the fall foliage brings. You’ll see this change in October, where rates are also the lowest.
Booking Your Cruise FAQ
Do you have more questions about booking your cruise? See if others have asked your same questions!
Most cruises include your room and board, other accommodations such as food, activities and entertainment (though some are offered at an extra cost), and other factors such as transportation and airfare.
As stated in this article, always research the off-season for each cruise and destination. You can also search for different cruise deals.
It’s easy to be intimidated by all of the cruise options. This is why all passengers should look at their personal preferences. These preferences can include weather, budget, and crowd size.
Interest is also a major factor to consider. For example, if you’re embarking on a cruise with family, you’ll want to choose a family-friendly cruise.
The destination is also a major factor to consider. If you would rather visit the Amazon rather than Alaska, choose an Amazon river cruise.
When Will You Go On a Cruise?
A cruise offers an exciting vacation for all passengers. But when is the best time to take a cruise? There are many factors to consider. That’s why it’s essential for passengers to do their research before booking a cruise. Search for different cruise lines today!