It’s one of the most common cruising questions: When is the best time to cruise Alaska, or Australia, the Caribbean, Canada/New England, Hawaii, Europe or the South Pacific?
Best Time for Cruising in the world
The answer depends on many variables. Fall foliage enthusiasts, for instance, will find September and October the best time to take that Canada/New England cruise, whereas water sports-lovers (and families) much prefer to sail the region in the summer when school is out and temperatures are warm for swimming. The best time to cruise to Alaska will vary depending on your preferences for viewing wildlife, fishing, bargain-shopping, sunshine, warm weather and catching the northern lights.
The first step is to consider the factors that influence your timing. Do you need to schedule around school breaks – or want to avoid kids? Is a holiday week the best time for your cruise? Is your main goal to escape frigid temperatures at home? Or maybe you have lots of flexibility (or a tight budget) and don’t mind making a few tradeoffs in timing for a steal on a cabin. Your answers will influence which sailing season is your best bet.
For most cruise regions, there are periods of peak demand (high season), moderate demand (shoulder season) and low demand (low season). Not so long ago, high season tended to be when the weather was best in a particular area (and when all the Northerners flocked to the sun). But as more and more families take to cruising, the summer months have become a peak-demand period, regardless of the weather (at home or in the region). Families especially need to book high-season sailings as early as possible because some cruise lines limit the total number of children per sailing, and each ship has a limited number of cabins that can accommodate three or more people.
Slow and shoulder seasons yield the most bargain opportunities in year-round destinations. In places like Alaska and Bermuda, where you have a five- or six-month sailing season, the off-season is a few weeks after cruises begin and before they end. For regions like the Panama Canal and Northern Europe, almost all sailings are priced “in season.”