When to cruise where – part two

Pick a region you’d like to explore on a cruise and there’s likely to be a ship which goes there. Many regions operate on a seasonal basis, or there’s a time of year which is better for cruising than another. Here’s part two of our A-Z guide to the most popular regions, featuring the best of the rest.

Antarctica

As the year-round the weather here is extremely cold and snowy, and days are very short, the season for cruising is usually no more than three months. Most itineraries operate from late November through to the end of February, each month with different attractions. Early on in the season the birds are mating, while in December and January, you’ll see hatching penguins and baby chicks, and have more daylight hours. Late in the season, however, there are more whales.

Canada and New England

The primary purpose of cruising here is ‘leaf peeping’, so the season begins when the autumn leaves change colour. This is usually a six-to-eight week period between mid-September and the end of October, although the timing and quality of foliage can vary. The best time to go largely depends on weather and conditions beforehand. As most cruises cover a large amount of territory, however, your best bet is the last week of September and/or first week of October.

The Caribbean

As with the South Pacific, cruises operate here year-round, thanks to a climate of permanently warm to hot weather. The winter months have warm days and cooler nights, while the summer months are hotter and more humid, but a key time to be aware of is hurricane season. It runs from June to November, with the highest risk of a storm developing between August and October, producing rough seas, heavy rain and possible disruption to your itinerary.

Mexico

Mexico has two coastlines, the Pacific and Gulf, and the weather on both is warm-to-hot all year. There are two main seasons, a rainy season from May to mid-October, and a dry season from mid-October to April, and a hurricane season from June to November, with most storms developing between August and October. During this time cruises may be cheaper, but there’s also a higher risk of bad weather and disruption to your itinerary.

The Norwegian Fjords

The season here is short, largely from June to August; although the landscape is spectacular, the weather can be unpredictable. Early in the season there tends to be more snow on the mountain, which can interfere with shore excursions, but during the peak summer months of July and August, the temperatures can reach 250C or occasionally 300C. Another bonus is that the days are very long.

South America

Most cruises operate here between October and March, but the region has many climates, from tropical rainforests to chilly highlands. There are also two seasons, wet and dry. You can cruise the Amazon year-round as it’s aways hot, humid and rainy, but most international cruise lines tend to head there between January and March. For southern South America, however, the best time is the summer, although on either side, usually October and March, there are fewer crowds.

World cruises

These epic voyages mostly depart from the USA in January, to arrive in Europe, or the USA by way of Europe, in April or May. In recent years, however, a new trend has developed with a few cruise lines operating world cruises departing from Australia, during the winter months of July and August.

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