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When is The Best & Cheapest Time To Cruise?

If you’re like many, you may be wondering when is the best and cheapest time to cruise.  If you are planning on taking a cruise, you have to be very careful about the seasonality. Most destinations have a particular season, and you don’t want to cruise in the offseason.  On the other hand, if you go on a cruise at the peak of the season, you will also face the highest fare for that journey.  Let’s examine the most popular cruise destinations and their seasonality.

Alaska Is One of The Best Destinations to Cruise

Alaska Cruises are becoming incredibly popular.  For example, some of the best natural wonders in Alaska, like Glacier Bay National Park, can only be reached by cruise ship.  For this reason, almost every cruise line, from mainstream to ultraluxury, offers an Alaska itinerary.  So, the question remains, when is the best time to cruise to go to Alaska?

The Best and Cheapest times to Cruise in Alaska Are:

  • Alaska season runs from the end of April to late September. (Check here Alaska average temperatures)
  • The peak season is in July and August. These are the most popular months and the most expensive as well.
  • No cruise line, so far, offers an Alaska cruise offseason

    Glacier Bay National Park
    Alaska the Majestic Glacier Bay National Park

Said that when is the best time to go to Alaska? In my opinion, May and early June are a great time to go. First of all, in those months days are much longer. Second May and June have less average rain than July and August (May average rain 18mm versus 83mm in August). Third, there are way fewer mosquitos in May than in July and Agust. Forth cruise fares are much cheaper in May, and the availability is much higher. Lastly, in May, there is still snow on the mountain peaks that make it for a better view.

Alternatively, a great time of the year to cruise to Alaska is towards the end of the season. Temperatures can be colder, but the fares are cheap, and you might get the opportunity to see the northern lights. The biggest downside is that the days are shorter and the sun sets early.

Juneau Mendenhall Glacier
Rainbow Falls and Mendenhall Glacier

The Islands of The Caribbean

The Caribbean is another top-rated cruise destination. Islands like St. Thomas, Antigua, St. Kits, St. Lucia, etc. are major cruise ports, and every day, many ships visit these destinations.  Above all, when would be an excellent time to cruise there?

The Best and Cheapest times to Cruise the CarribbeanAre:

  • The Caribbean season is from December 1st to July 1st. This because from July to November is Hurricane season.
  • Hurricane season is also the rainy season. (Average precipitation in August in the US Virgin Island 142 mm)
  • Peak season is around Spring Break. February and March being the most expansive months.
  • Most major cruise lines now days offer Caribbean cruises year-round.

    Ships in Grand Cayman
    Grand Cayman

Consequently, when would it be an excellent time to cruise in the Caribbean? Unfortunately, peak season, which is also the most expensive, is the best time to go.  It’s the best because the weather is the best, the chances of rain are low, and the ocean is the smoothest. If you want to save some money, you can go right before spring break or right after. Also, avoid holidays season and New Year. An excellent cost-saving time, too, is right before Christmas or just after New Year.

Even though cruise lines offer the Caribbean year-round, I would not go in July and August. Firstly, you might face hurricanes, and second, because it is scorching, humid, and rainy.

The Mediterranean – When is the Best & Cheapest Time to Cruise Here?

The Mediterranean cruise itineraries are another popular cruise option. They can be divided into the Western Mediterranean, the Adriatic Sea, and the Greek Islands. Cruise lines offer one or multiple of these itineraries that can also be combined into an extended, epic 21 day Mediterranean cruise. The question is, when is a good time to go?

  • Mediterranean Season is from Mid April to the end of October.
  • Peak season is in July and August when kids are off school.
  • Select cruise lines offer Mediterranean itineraries year-round. (Mostly Costa Cruises and MSC)

    Santorini Caldera - Emerald Princess Cruise ship in the Mediterranean
    Santorini Caldera

So, when is the best time to cruise the Mediterranean?  In my opinion, from the Spring to Early fall is a great time to go.  To be sure, what’s best for you depends on your interests.

  • If you are looking to explore the European Cities in the Mediterranean, you should pick the beginning or end of the season.  During this period, the temperatures will be more comfortable. Also, the cities won’t as packed with tourists.
  • On the other hand, if you’re looking to spend time at the beach, to swim and enjoy the sun, the best time to cruise the Mediterranean is in July, August and the beginning of September.
  • In case you want the best of all worlds, I think the best time would be June and September.

    Palma de Majorca - Cheapest time to cruise the Mediterranean is in the Spring.
    The City from the sea

As I mentioned, a few cruise lines offer Mediterranean Cruises year-round. If you are looking to explore great destinations and astounding cities, this option is excellent. The cheapest Mediterranean cruise itineraries are in the Spring.  And, as a bonus, during this time, the ports are generally not flooded with tourists. The only downside the weather might not be perfect, and the sea can be rough.

Northern Europe Cruise Itineraries

Northern European Cruises are becoming popular.  For example, there are several cruise itineraries, and the most commons ones are the Baltic Sea, British Isles, Norwegian Fjords, and Iceland.

Cruising to these destinations is only possible during the summer months.

The Best and Cheapest times to Cruise Northern Europe Are:

  • The season is from May to the end of September
  • The peak months are July and August. The only exception are cruises to the Arctic Circle (usually part of a Norwegian Fjords) that have their peak for the summer solstice (June 21st)
  • No major cruises line do these itineraries year-round.

Since these cruise itineraries happen in a colder climate, their season is very short.  Like Alaska, late May and beginning of June is probably the best time of the year to take those kinds of cruises.

The Panama Canal: Time and Again, The Best Cruise Itineraries

Cruising the Panama Canal is on many people’s bucket lists. The Panama Canal itinerary is one of my all-time favorite cruise itineraries.  To be sure, routes through the Panama Canal can be full transit, ocean to ocean, or partial transit on the Pacific or Atlantic side. Panama season is very similar to the Caribbean season, especially for the cruises on the Atlantic side.

  • Panama Canal season is from October to April.
  • Peak season is in February and March and during the Holiday season.
  • Only repositioning cruises are going through the Panama Canal offseason.

    Cruise The Panama Canal - Cheapest time to transit is in the shoulder season
    Transiting through the Panama Canal

The best and cheapest time to take a cruise through the Panama Canal is, in my opinion, right before or after peak season. I found the best time of the year to book a cheap Panama Canal cruise itinerary is when it repositions from Los Angeles.  Usually, these cruises reposition in late September or early October, and cheap deals are found up to early November.

Mexican Riviera Cruise Itineraries

Cruises to the Mexican Riviera include ports of call like Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Manzanillo.  Just like the Caribbean itineraries, the Mexican Riviera cruises are usually 7 to 10 days long.   Also, for those who live on the west coast, Mexican Riviera cruise itineraries are one of the best and cheapest winter getaways available.

When is the best time to cruise the Mexican Riviera?

  • Mexican Riviera season is from October to April.
  • Peak season is around the Holiday season and Spring Break.
  • May to September, the weather is too hot and uncomfortable to cruise.

    Cabo San Lucas - Mexican Riviera offers the Best and Cheapest Cruise Itineraries for those who live on the west coast.
    El Arco, Cabo San Lucas Mexico

During the winter months, it is always a good time to cruise the Mexican Riviera. If you’re looking for a cheap cruise, check for itineraries right before or after the holidays or Spring Break. Overall, these cruises are not very expensive anyways.

I hope these few tips will help you book your cruise at the best time possible. I will add more destinations to the list in the future.

-Happy Cruising


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