Updated: Jan 1
We are all captive to allocate leave and to make the most of our hard earnt time off you need to understand the seasons in the industry. Too often people see a super low price and book a cruise and don't discover they have booked slap bang in the middle of the wet season. Don't be that person. Plan your holidays around our recommendations to ensure you cruise in the optimum months for each destination.
October to April - Prime for Australia/NZ
Europe all but shuts down from November to March except for Christmas Market River Cruises. The world fleet returns to Australian waters during this period in late October with our local season running until April.
NOTE that a few brands, namely Carnival, P&O and Princess have transferred a few ships to their bare-bones Australian fleet that operates year-round. These are almost universally substandard dirty old ships and should be avoided, even if some of the deals look attractive. To avoid disappointment wait for the world fleet to return.
Avoid 2/3/4 night cruises that attract the Kuta beach crowd, buck, and hen nights.
Transpacific: March/April - October/November
Ships are like migratory birds and follow the sun. They head south to our waters from either the Med, Hawaii, or Asia every year in October/November and return north again every March/April.
And as such these are the only months that transpacific voyages to and from Hawaii operate. These go via exotic pacific islands such as Bora Bora or the Cook Islands. They used to be incredibly cheap, but as Australians are now savvy cruises, these routinely sell out. So don't expect any last-minute discounts - you need to lock these in well in advance.
There is only one ship based in Hawaii due to the archaic Jones Act requiring that all cruises between U.S. ports be on ships that are U.S. flagged, built, and mostly owned and crewed by Americans. Only one line can meet that criteria and they use a dirty old ship which is to be avoided. This is such a shame as everyone wants to cruise the Hawaiian islands. The next best options are Trans-Pacific voyages to and from Australia or LAX/SFO. These we highly recommend, however they are not really ideal for first-time cruises due to a large number of sea days - which many love, but some do not. As they have to cover such a large body of water they are also generally longer at up to 16 - 18 nights.
Suez Transits: April - October/November
The ships repositioning to the Mediterranean from Australia will generally go via the Middle East and Suez canal which are exotic adventures I can't recommend more highly.
Repositioning cruises offer some of the best value deals, these are when cruise ships reposition from one part of the world.
Europe - April to December
The Nile - October, and April
Mekong - November to May
River cruises are the next big thing in the industry and these should be on your radar as they are not just amazing experiences - There is no better, cheaper or stress-free way to see Europe. Unpack once and say goodbye to days wasted at airports. The Christmas market voyages are as unique as they are sensational.
They are inclusive of all meals, beer/wine, and all shore excursions.
Bucket List Adventure Cruising
Antarctica - November, January, and February
Kimberely - June to October
Galapagos Islands - December to May
The Nile - October, and April
Mekong - November to May
If you want something truly epic, look to the expedition segment which is hurting big time as almost a dozen new ships have created an oversupply. As such we have pricing we have never seen before. These can sell at full retail for $78K per person but we currently have over a dozen options at about $10000, and even cheaper for airline employees.
Europe - March to November
This is the prime Mediterranean and Northern cruise window. If you travel during the shoulder period at either end, both the ships and ports will be less busy and prices will be lower. August and September will generally have the highest prices.
If the Kimberley region is on your bucket list, our waitlist for interline rates is also now open.
Tahiti - March to October
Tahiti should be on everyone's bucket list and is almost a year-round destination, provided you avoid the brutal wet season which runs from November to February. The shoulder season months of March and early October offer the best chance for heavy discounts. If you are keen to cruise in March we should have great discounts available in early 2023.
Alaska - May to September
Alaska has a very short cruising season; ships traverse its northern waters only between May and September. The months of June through August offer the warmest weather (10 to 20 degrees Celcius) in this chilly state and are therefore the best and most popular times to cruise. In May and September, you'll find some closures and a bit more chill in the air (between 10 and 15 degrees Celcius), but you'll also find the best prices. In addition, May is the driest month of the Alaska cruise season, so you're less likely to be rained out of your flightseeing tour, glacier walk or other shore excursions.
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.
Canada/New England: September and October
Canada and New England sailings depart from May through October. You've got a better chance for warm weather if you travel from late June through early September. However, if you prefer more crisp weather or you're interested in fall foliage viewing, you'll need to go from late September to mid-October.
May and late-October sailings will offer the lowest rates, but don't expect to be using the onboard swimming pool much. Meanwhile, the summer months are ideal for exploring some of Canada's most intriguing cities in milder temperatures.
Caribbean: December Through Mid-April
You can sail to the Caribbean year-round, but the best time to go is when it's coldest in the Northern Hemisphere. Not only is the warm Caribbean climate a welcome respite from bad weather, but December through April are the driest months in the islands as well.
The cheapest times to cruise are typically in the late summer and fall because of hurricane season, but you can often find patches of bargain sailings, especially during the early weeks of December and in the spring. The timing of spring discounts isn't always consistent, so it's best to keep an eye out and book when you see a low rate. If you dislike crowds or large numbers of children, avoid sailing late June through August or during school break times (late December, early January and March through mid-April).
Mexican Riviera: February Through Mid-April
You can cruise to Mexico year-round, either as part of a Western Caribbean itinerary or as a dedicated Mexico voyage. The best time to visit Mexico is during its dry season, November through May. However, it's a popular destination even during the rainier summer months. You'll find the best deals in the fall, between the two high seasons and during hurricane season.
In early spring, the weather is dry, with temperatures in the late 20s and early 30s, making it a popular escape for Northerners, and February and March are prime whale-watching months. On the negative side, college-age youths often cram into port destinations like Ensenada and Puerto Vallarta at this time, creating a wild and boisterous atmosphere. During off-peak months, there are fewer crowds and a more adult atmosphere, but the weather can also be unpredictable, with temperatures dropping as low as 5 degrees Celcius.
South America: November - March
The high season (November through March) occurs during South America's summer but be prepared for varied climates that can change rapidly wherever you go. The warm mid-20s temps you're enjoying could drop down to windy, rainy single digits in the blink of an eye. Plus, when it's steamy in Buenos Aires, it can be quite chilly in ports like Punta Arenas and Ushuaia. Although you can expect crowds of South Americans on vacation, you can find high-season bargains in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
High season is pretty much year-round in the Galapagos Islands, where the warm and tropical climate is relatively unchanging. However, those prone to seasickness should avoid August and September, when waters can be choppier.
Read the next post in this series. The cheapest cruise may not be the best value
FAB - Step by step guide to find your perfect cruise
FAB Last Minute and Interline Cruises