The question on the lips of many cruise travellers when considering a destination is, “when is the best time to visit?” With cruises travelling across the globe through different seasons, you’ll want to know what to expect.
A lot of it depends on the type of holiday you’re looking for. Each part of the world has a peak season when you’ll see the better weather, or have the chance to try out more excursions as certain attractions are open, but there are still a range of advantages to low seasons too, so it really is up to you.
For example, if you want to head to the Mediterranean then you’ll get the most sunshine between May and September, and a warm sun beating down on the Greek Islands or along the French Riviera really does help you unwind. However it’s an extremely popular destination so the major cities will be much busier, and prices may be higher, so it might be worth considering a cruise in March, April or October, when the weather is still mild and crowds are much smaller.
It’s a similar story with northern Europe, although temperatures are lower so the hottest months are between June and August, and you’ll risk cooler temperatures in May and September. However you’ll also have the chance to see the Northern Lights if you book a cruise in the winter for Norway and Iceland, although the weather at those times can sometimes be more of a hindrance.
The Caribbean enjoys tropical weather throughout the year, and you’ll find this reflected in the availability of cruises at all times. The busiest times are generally the winter months, which avoid the hurricane season which lasts from June to November, although the summer months are still popular.
The beaches of the Caribbean are rarely overcrowded, so if you don’t mind busier cruises and bustling towns then the winter is the perfect time to experience the region. If you want to see the Caribbean at a quieter time, you’ll want to plan a cruise for the late spring – while you may risk having your itinerary altered by a storm, you’ll find crowds are much smaller.
Of course when booking a cruise you’ll also want to consider the ship you’ll be travelling on. While both the Caribbean and Europe have some ships that remain in the same place throughout the year, many others alternate, taking advantage of the European summer months and the dry season in the winter around the Caribbean, with repositioning cruises across the Atlantic Ocean from February to March and again in October and November. So you’ll have the most choice if you’re looking during the appropriate season, including the chance to sail on the bigger resort ships. At other times you may only find smaller ships from the major fleets are cruising the respective regions, although these may be better suited to a quieter holiday out of season.
One of the greatest shows in the entire world is the Rio Carnival, a stunning show of dancing, parades and more. Taking place every February it’s the perfect reason to indulge in a cruise to South America with the opportunity to spend a couple of days sampling the samba rhythm of Brazil. It’s worth visiting South America during its summer season from November to March to get the best weather, although the milder temperatures of the surrounding months of October and April are usually quieter.
Similar to South America, Australia has its summer from November to March so if you want to enjoy the most sun in the major eastern ports of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane along with the western city of Perth then this is the optimal time to cruise. The rest of the year is much milder, although you won’t often experience really cold temperatures, and there are numerous year-round cruises available including those exploring the Great Barrier Reef.
With the Far East, you’ll want to avoid typhoon season. The typhoons in Asia can be particularly disruptive, and while they can occur any time between May and November they are most likely from June to September, particularly in August. Most cruise lines operate itineraries at all times of the year to the Far East, but for the best weather you should aim for a cruise sailing around March, April or towards the end of the typhoon season in October or November.
You’ll find that many of the top cruise lines offering voyages to each of these destinations throughout the year, so ultimately the choice is yours when you travel, but using these tips you’ll get the most out of your holiday.
By Ian Lewis