When is the best time to take a cruise?

best time to take a cruise
Cruisers enjoy Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman - Photo by Ruth Peterkin / Shutterstock

There is no one-size-fits-all answer for when to sail: It depends on your own personal priorities. Whether you’re looking to avoid the rough seas or score a bargain deal, there’s a time of year that’s best for you. If you’re looking for low prices, shoulder season — the time between peak and low season — is a great option, but it may come with trade-offs like rainy weather or fewer wildlife sightings. Check out our breakdown of the best time to cruise based on destination, weather, and price:


ncl norwegian alaska best time book

Norwegian Sun - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

Best Price: Mid-May to early June and late August to mid-September. The trade-off: Cooler weather, less wildlife activity, and (in September) more rain.

Best Weather: For longer days, dry weather, and warm temperatures, the best time to cruise in Alaska is late June through mid-July.

We Recommend: Salmon run season (mid- to late July) is when the bears are most active. If you’re interested in whales, however, August is when you’re mostly likely to spot them.


Alaska deals from $


Australia and New Zealand

new zealand australia best time book

Milford Sound, New Zealand - Photo by

Best Price: November to mid-March, except for holidays

Best Weather: December and January are warm and dry. Avoid cyclone season (early December and late May) in Australia; New Zealand is rarely impacted.

We Recommend: New Year’s Eve is the highlight of the year in Australia; cruise to New Zealand during reliably sunny December and January.


Australia / NZ deals from $



bermuda best time book cruise

A white-sand beach on Bermuda - Photo by SIME / eStockPhoto

Best Price: March, April, and November

Best Weather: Bermuda is often in the path of storms during hurricane season (early June through late November), with the biggest risk from August through October. May through July is usually ideal.

We Recommend: Cruise during Bermuda’s festival season (winter through early summer) for cultural events like the Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts, which draws artists from around the world.


Bermuda deals from $


Canada and New England

canada new england best time book

Annisquam Lighthouse, Massachusetts - Photo by Christian Delbert

Best Price: June through early September, as well as late October

Best Weather: Temperatures are warmer in the summer months, and June, July, and September are driest.

We Recommend: Fall “leaf-peeping" season runs from the second or third week of September to mid-October.


Canada deals from $



caribbean best time book cruise

Photo by Sean Pavone

Best Price: January, May, and September

Best Weather: Hurricane season lasts from June through November, so winter is prime time.

We Recommend: Winter is a no-brainer. (Plus, it’s colder up north and kids are in school, so ships are less crowded.)


Caribbean deals from $



hawaii disney best time book cruise

Disney Wonder off the coast of Kauai - Photo by Disney Cruise Line

Best Price: Between October and early December

Best Weather: The rainy season runs from November through March, so the weather is best between April and October.

We Recommend: Since the prices are stable year-round, choose a sailing between April and October.


Hawaii deals from $



mediterranean best time to book cruise

Carnival Freedom in Venice - Photo by Carnival Cruise Lines

Best Price: October through February, except for holidays

Best Weather: The peak season is May through August; however, if you’re looking at small-ship cruises, beware of the Meltemi winds in the Aegean Sea.

We Recommend: In summer, tourists overwhelm many ports. If you’re looking to avoid the flocks, consider early fall, when the weather is still warm but kids are back in school.


Med deals from $


Mexican Riviera

mexican riviera cruise best time book

Carnival Splendor sails way from Cabo - Photo by Carnival Cruise Lines

Best Price: September and January

Best Weather: Summer is often uncomfortably hot along the Pacific Coast, so sail during late fall or winter.

We Recommend: Score great deals by sailing here in winter, which is more likely to be cold back home.


Mexico deals from $


Northern Europe

batlic best time to book cruise

Seven Seas Voyager in the Norwegian fjords - Photo by Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Best Price: The season is short (May through August), so there aren’t many bargains. Try to snag a deal on the first or last cruise of the season.

Best Weather: Conditions during summer are perfect.

We Recommend: If you want to avoid crowds, cruise in early May or late August.


Baltic deals from $


Panama Canal

panama canal best time book cruise

The Panama Canal - Photo by Heeb Photos / eStockPhoto

Best Price: April, September, and early January. Some lines offer longer repositioning cruises in May and September; if you can spare the time, these are the best per diem deals anywhere.

Best Weather: December through February offers warm temperatures and the least rain.

We Recommend: From December through February, the weather is best, shops stay open later, and street festivals abound.


Panama deals from $


South America

south america best time book cruise

The Cristo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro - Photo by Fuse / Thinkstock

Best Price: November and late April to early May

Best Weather: December and January are typically most pleasant, but the farther south you travel from the equator, the more varied the climate. Seas are rough near Cape Horn and Antarctica, regardless of the month.

We Recommend: December and January offer the best temperatures and the most wildlife. The Carnival of Brazil is the five days leading up to Ash Wednesday.


South America deals from $

Join the discussion

What factors are most important to you in deciding when to sail?

Posted by Patches2

Cruises with no single supplement. No hurricane weather please! :) Cruise for mature adults say 50+

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