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As a former Accredited Cruise Counselor with CLIA, I was asked this question all the time: when is the best season to cruise? My answer is still the same today - whenever you've got vacation time, there will be a great cruise waiting for you no matter the season!

But if you’ve got a particular cruise destination in mind, there are some optimal times to visit throughout the year to ensure the best possible cruise experience overall. Generally this means the best chance of having great weather, with no rough seas in sight.

However, if saving money means the 'best season to cruise' for you, then taking a shoulder season cruise (at the beginning or the end of a season) may be an idea worth considering, bearing in mind the weather or water conditions may be less ideal.

Let’s take a look at the best season to cruise according to the North American weather patterns.

Spring Cruise

Besides enjoying a cultural experience filled with fun in the sun, a springtime cruise to the Mexican Riviera can also offer views of the majestic humpback whales during their migration period. Imagine hearing them vocalize as they communicate with each other! It’s a wonderful educational opportunity for cruising families, even though your kids may not know it.

April and May are the best months to escape on a tropical Bahamas & Florida cruise vacation, as you'll be ahead of the summer crowds. You can go kayaking or paddle boarding at Great Stirrup Cay, and sip cocktails with those cute little umbrellas while laying under the shade of a swaying palm. Sounds heavenly, doesn’t it?

Bahamas & Florida cruise

Summer Cruise

If you’re locked into taking a summer vacation like many of us are, you’ve got some amazing cruise destinations to choose from.

Alaska is one of the prime destinations for cruisers during July and August when the weather and wildlife view opportunities are at their best. Be sure to take a dome rail car ride along the Alaska Railroad or visit with an authentic sled dog musher!

Alaska cruise

The summer season is also an ideal time to cruise to Bermuda. If you've never been, this British island with an American vibe offers excellent water activities including swimming, sailing, scuba diving and snorkelling. And of course, golfing!

Northern Europe and the Mediterranean have always been popular vacation destinations. But during the summer, festivals are in full swing, flowers are in bloom and sidewalk cafes pop up everywhere.

Fall Cruise

With the kids back in school, September has always my favourite time of year to take our kids on a combo Disneyland/Pacific coastal cruise! The weather is still great and the theme park attractions have little to no line-ups.

But the quintessential fall cruise experience has to be Canada & New England. Picture the dazzling fall foliage where the trees are seemingly painted with striking crimsons, tangerines and golds. It’s an impressive site for adults and kids alike!

Winter Cruise

Sinking your toes in the warm sands of a Caribbean beach is a wonderful way to break up a cold winter, don’t you think? With a touch of humidity and year-round temperatures in the mid-80s, the Caribbean is inviting during any time of the year but particularly so when we’re locked into winter season.

Caribbean Cruise on Norwegian Escape

Or maybe the allure of the Land Down Under is more to your liking? Cruising to Australia & New Zealand during our winter season means you’ll actually be visiting during their summer season when the weather is generally drier and storms are less likely, especially along the northeastern coast.

Hawaii is another popular winter vacation destination. If you’ve visited before and are having trouble deciding which island to visit, why not take a cruise to several? And just a note, if you postpone your Hawaiian cruise until spring, you’ll be able to enjoy humpback whale watching!

See Hawaii on a Hawaii Cruise

South America is a destination that many of us dream of visiting someday, but this winter is the perfect time to discover these unfamiliar destinations and make them your own. And if you’d like to be back in time for the holiday season, there’s a 20-day cruise sailing from Buenos Aires on December 3.