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When is the Best Time to Cruise?

by cruisecritic.com Photo: Crystal cruises

t's one of the most common cruising questions: When is the best time to cruise Alaska (or the Caribbean, Canada/New England, Hawaii or Europe)?

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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 trade-offs 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." The following is a partial list of cruising regions and the best time to cruise them.

Alaska

High Season: June through August Quirks & Perks of Sailing in Season: Temperatures are at their warmest (highs: 50s to 70s Fahrenheit), plus the further into the summer you are, the better your chances of seeing wildlife on the various expeditions. The downside: Demand is so strong, you need to book months (better yet, a year) in advance to get the best land and tour packages. Keep in mind, with so many ships sailing Alaska now, there can be a tremendous amount of congestion in small-town ports. To minimize joining the masses, select a ship that sails during the week. For a pricing advantage, northbound glacier routes tend to be cheaper than southbound. Low Season: May and September Quirks & Perks of Sailing in the Off Season: Shoulder-season perks include smaller crowds and cheaper prices as a result of the weather gamble (highs: 50s to 60s) and the possibility of snow. May sailings typically encounter less rain than summer cruises, and the scenery is arguably more beautiful with more snow-capped mountains; September cruisers benefit from end-of-season souvenir bargains and a possibility of catching the northern lights. A few caveats: Shore excursions have a greater chance of being canceled than in high season, especially boat

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Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019 issue  

Now in our 17th year of publishing, Canadian World Traveller explores the culture and history of worldwide destinations, sharing the adventu...

Canadian World Traveller Summer 2019 issue  

Now in our 17th year of publishing, Canadian World Traveller explores the culture and history of worldwide destinations, sharing the adventu...

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