When booking a cruise holiday, you either have the dates or a destination in mind, or maybe both? But you also know that the best destinations and time of year don’t always align with your personal preferences. We’ve compiled expert tips on the ideal seasons to explore popular cruise destinations, to ease the decision process when booking your next cruise.
January & February: Celebrate The New Year With A Cruise
At the beginning of the year, cruise ships generally stick to warmer regions such as the Caribbean, the Far East, and the Canary Islands. For adventurers seeking something different to the Australian summer, many cruise lines offer routes between the Canary Islands, Morocco, and Madeira. Other popular new-year destinations include cruises to the Caribbean, Middle East cruises departing from Dubai towards the UAE and Oman, and the southern coast of Africa.
If you really want something off the beaten path and eye opening, then a cruise to Antarctica could also be on the agenda. In the weeks before and after the New Year, visitors can look forward to nearly 24 hours of daylight and a new crop of freshly-hatched penguin chicks. Whale-watching season begins in February, and Antarctic fur seals are also to be found.
If you don’t have a lot of time but are seeking a getaway nonetheless, there are also a number of cruises through the Indian Ocean, like via the Gulf of Thailand or even just at home around the Australian coast.
March & April: Repositioning Cruises
In early March, most cruise ships are still around the warm-weather destinations. However, by mid-March, the first ships are making their way back over to Europe. During this time of year, you can find a wide range of transatlantic and repositioning cruises on offer. Because these cruises don’t bring passengers back to their departure port, they are often cheaper than roundtrip cruises and often stop at interesting ports that are otherwise overlooked during the typical cruise itineraries.
In April, the first ships take off for the Baltic Sea and Norwegian fjords. The weather is often still unpredictable at this time of year and the water is still cold, so you’ll want to pack a jacket if you cruise to northern Europe or Scandinavia in early spring.
If you’re not ready to say goodbye to Summer yet, a South Pacific cruise is probably in order! April to December is typically the best time to visit the Pacific islands, though it varies by island. Earlier in the year, the islands are at risk of being hit by powerful hurricanes.
May & June: Summer Solstice in Scandinavia
If you ever have the chance to visit northern Europe in early summer, it is highly recommended. Despite cooler temperatures, pre-season is the ideal time to visit Scandinavia, the Baltic Sea, western Europe, and the British Isles. In Scandinavia and northeastern Europe, the summer solstice takes place during the night of June 21. It’s a magical experience to spend the longest day of the year by the sea, which is why Baltic Sea cruises are particularly popular at this time of year. The so-called “white nights“ are legendary, and many cruise lines offer overnight stays in ports to allow passengers to make the most of their time there.
July & August: Experience natural wonders in the Arctic and Alaska
The best and warmest months for an Arctic cruise are July and August. By then, the ice has retreated to its maximum distance, and it’s high season to watch for polar bears and seals as they dive and swim by the floating ice. A cruise to the Arctic could also mean that some lucky passengers get to experience the Aurora Borealis.
September & October: Across the Atlantic to the Indian Summer
The second wave of repositioning cruises starts in late September or early October as cruise ships switch regions once again. Passengers can look forward to another round of repositioning or transatlantic cruises, or be the first to explore new regions as they open up for the next season. Northern-latitude destinations such as the Baltic Sea, Europe, the United States, and Canada practically empty of cruise ships, and even the ships in the Mediterranean make a break for the Caribbean. A handful of cruise lines offer Canada and New England cruises so passengers can experience the beautiful Autumn colours.
Another option would be to cruise the Middle East, cruising through the Suez Canal towards Dubai. A handful of ships continue on through the Persian Gulf, while others head towards the Indian Ocean or southeast Asia, making places like Singapore or Hong Kong their seasonal home port.
Keep in mind: July to December is typhoon season in several Asian countries, including China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
November & December: Holiday Season Is Upon Us
The weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year’s Eve are also a popular time to cruise. As holiday cruises fill up fast, it’s best to book early. White palm beaches, turquoise waters, and sunshine seven days of the week are waiting for you in the Caribbean. Many cruise lines offer itineraries to the Caribbean, including Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Cuba. While most itineraries start in Florida, some start in Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic.
In southeast Asia, shimmering skyscrapers in bustling metropolises as well as tropical nature await. November to February offers the ideal time to cruise to Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, not being too far from Australia and offering warm temperatures, you’ll return ready for Summer.
Year-round destinations & ships
One of the most popular destinations to cruise year-round is the Canary Islands. The subtropical climate ensure comfortable temperatures 365 days per year. It’s not without reason that the islands are nicknamed “The Land of Eternal Spring.”
Outside of hurricane season (June to November), the Caribbean islands are the most popular year-round destination. Some cruise lines also sail the Mediterranean year-round, although the number of ships in southern Europe drops drastically from November to March as there’s no way to be sure of sunny weather.
So when is the best season for popular cruise destinations?
Depending on what you consider the best cruise destination this will vary. If you’re looking for an off-season cruise, the Caribbean, Hawaii, and the Canary Islands offer the best year-round warm temperatures, and the Mediterranean, Europe, and South America are all great seasonal destinations. If you’re still not sure which destination is right for you, you can read more about all the destinations offered or call our cruise experts at 1300 325 655 – they’re happy to help!