When you’re thinking about going on a cruise, many factors can govern when you set sail. Weather is a big one, price is obviously important and even the chance to see vibrant, exotic wildlife can dictate when and where you visit. Not to mention, your own schedule is a massively important element, too. It can be tough to strike a balance, you might find a cheap price means a spot of bad weather, so getting it right is important.
Keep in mind that the best cruise does not necessarily mean the cheapest cruise. Similarly, you might also have to deal with high prices and busy ships. In planning your cruise, there can be a lot to take in and consider. Here, we’ll run through the best time to cruise to some of the most popular cruise destinations to make your decision that little bit easier.
- Hawaii: April – June
- Australia: June – August
- Southeast Asia: April – October
- Japan: Mid-July – August
- Dubai & Emirates: Mid-November – Early December
- The Caribbean: January – March
- The Mediterranean: May – June, September – October
- South Pacific: Late August – October
- New Zealand: October – November, April
- Alaska: May or September
- Baltics: June
Winter and summer cruises in Hawaii tend to be crowded affairs. Cruises are more plentiful to deal with the higher influx of people, but the upswing of bodies can be a problem for those who like their cruises quieter and less populated. Between April and the middle of June, ticket prices decrease, the crowds dwindle and you’ll have just missed out on its wet season too.
On the downside, there could be fewer shore excursions, but if putting your feet up in a serene, idyllic atmosphere is what you like, then this is the time to visit Hawaii.
Yes, we realise it sounds strange recommending your own home as a cruise destination, but if you want to explore your own neck of the woods, cruising Australia is well worth doing. Australia’s always busy as a cruise destination, so it depends on how you like your weather really. The winter months tend to be the country’s quietest for cruising. The prices are lower too, which makes exploring some of the places you wouldn’t go in the scorching heat a much more viable, and attractive, option.
Because of its varied weather conditions, pinning down a time when it’s best to cruise Southeast Asia can be difficult. If you’re heading to Indonesia, then go from April to October, as the rainfall is low and it’s nicely hot. Malaysia is hot throughout the year, but go between June and September to avoid the worst of the rain. Thailand’s weather can be unpredictable from day to day at the best of times, but April to September should see decent weather, though not without the occasional shower. Similarly, Vietnam can be just as mercurial but the summer months remain mostly rain-free.
If weather isn’t the major deciding factor but price is, then Southeast Asia’s prices can also vary drastically. Prices are high during the summer season compared to when it’s wet, but the prices for food, entertainment and amenities tend to stay the same, so it’s still worth going when it’s hot.
If you want to avoid crowds of tourists, then off-peak seasons when it’s not rainy will be your best bet. It all depends on the time of year; make sure your trip doesn’t coincide with China’s holiday dates.
Another area with variable weather conditions, even Japan’s summer has its own distinct seasons. Broadly speaking, it’s perhaps best to go through mid-July to August when it’s hot and humid, though early summer means fewer crowds. In the spring, crowds flock to witness its famed cherry blossoms which can make the shore excursions busy.
Japan is a notoriously pricey part of the world to explore, but cruising can shed a lot of the expense which makes it a superb place to visit by water.
Dubai & Emirates
In terms of weather, the Arabian Gulf sailing season runs from December through to March – this means milder heat without losing out on the sun – so you’ll still be seeing Dubai in all its glory. Mid-November to early December has fewer tourists, but the rest of December through to February is the peak influx season, so expect crowds. Even for some locals, the summer season tends to be too hot, so give it a miss if you’re thinking of travelling at this time.
The Caribbean tends to have great weather all year-round, but to experience it at its peak, go from December through to April; more sunny days and less rain compared to the rest of the year. The rest of the year is rainy season, so give it a miss around this time. Also, make sure you take its hurricane season into account before you book. Running from June 1st to November 30th, they occur most frequently between August and October. Though unlikely to affect your cruise, it’s worth keeping in mind.
Unsurprisingly, the hurricane season is when prices are at their cheapest and crowds are at their lowest. So if price is a concern, this might be the time to book. A late-August cruise will also save you more money than a late-July cruise, with fewer crowds still on your ship.
If large crowds are a problem then summer, spring and Christmas are times to avoid, so consider the weeks just after Christmas, that way you’ll get the best of the weather with the least of the crowds.
Unsurprisingly, millions flock to the Mediterranean region in the summer. A trip in the spring or autumn still warrants warm weather and bright sun, along with much fewer crowds than in the middle of summer. Though ports may be quieter, there are plenty of opportunities for excursions and with vivid and vast wildlife to be seen, a cruise through the Mediterranean during this time makes it well worth a visit.
Less travelled areas such Sardinia and Corsica offer up relaxed, warm days while a trip through the likes of Greece, Italy and Slovenia let you gaze at the unbelievable blue hue of the Adriatic Sea.
With its year-round tropical climate, the weather in the South Pacific is warm and humid, but bearable for the most part. May through to October is its dry season, making it a great time to cruise during this time. Constant temperatures and the cool breeze from the sea mean the humidity never gets too much for travellers. July to August brings an influx of tourists, as does late December through January, give it a miss during these times if you’re looking for a more peaceful trip.
New Zealand’s peak summer months (December, January and February) double up as perhaps its best time to visit. Though the cruise season officially kicks off in October until the end of April, when activity gradually winds down in April. July, the first month of winter, has no cruises running at all.
In terms of weather, New Zealand can be wildly unpredictable. Rainfall is common throughout the year, but the weather can change dramatically in a single day, so be sure to pack accordingly. January and February tend to be the warmer months, but this time can also be a major tourist hotspot
If money’s a factor, then October, November and April are a safe bet. They’re out of the peak season but the weather is still relatively warm. Don’t forget to pack layers and rain gear just in case.
For weather, June, July and August offer up the warmest climates, but July and August can be a little on the rainy side. That said, it’s during these months that you’re more likely to see wildlife roaming around during your shore excursions. It depends what you’re looking for from your cruise.
May and September are cheaper and less crowded times to go, but the weather can be touch more unpredictable. If you’re looking to see the Northern Lights, then September offers up the best chances to view this unbelievable spectacle. Plus, you can find better deals and offers round about this time. It’s Alaska, it’s probably not the weather you’re going for.
Since much of the Baltic Sea freezes over in the winter, its season runs from May to September, though temperatures remain on the chilly side in this part of the world towards September. On the other hand, you’ll avoid the crowd.
That’s said, it’s worth visiting in June since you’ll be privy to St. Petersburg’s ‘White Nights’, where sunlight is so intense it stays light well into the night. A trip around the city or on the deck during 11pm daylight is an oddly intoxicating experience and well worth visiting to see for yourself.
Fancy giving globetrotting a go? Head over to our dedicated homepage and get planning your next journey, or give our friendly customer care team a call on 1300 522 460.