When do you want to go?
In many cases, the dates you choose to go on vacation may have a bearing on how much you will spend. For example, summer time is peak season and more popular than spring and fall months.
Going to cruise during spring or fall may save you money on cruises, flights, hotels, rental cars and other ancillary expenses, but bear in mind, the weather is more uncertain. The Mediterranean for example is a lovely place to visit during the summer and shoulder seasons, but can be very cold and windy during winter. And because the seas are usually rough for this time of year there is an increased chance of missing one or two ports of call due to bad weather. However, you may consider this to be a small price to pay for a cheaper cruise.
You can also get good deals by booking well in advance, or if you have the flexibility and do not mind the limited cabin options, you can grab even better bargains by booking within a week or two of sailing. This may be more challenging for a family with children, but if possible this can be a great way to get a fantastic discount; often up to half off the original price, and some times more.
Some destinations have limited seasons. For example, the larger cruise lines only send their ships to Alaska and northern Europe between May and September, and the Mediterranean between April and November (Although becoming more popular year round). South of the equator, like Australia, New Zealand, Asia and South America are popular November through March.
The Caribbean is a little easier to plan for, with ships going there all year round. In fact it is surprising to note that deciding when to cruise is one of the most overlooked areas of cruising … yet it can have the biggest impact.
For example, cruising in Alaska at the start of summer is very different to the end of summer. There are more snow peaks, stronger waterfalls and a better chance of seeing wildlife at the start of the season. However, due to all the ice in the water your ship will have less chance of getting up close to the glaciers.
By the time summer finishes, more of the ice has melted and your ship can usually get closer to the glaciers for a spectacular view and a great time in a life time experience.
Cruising the Caribbean during Spring Break is often regrettable overlooked by first time cruisers. Spring break is at different times from state to state within the US and Canada, and spans from the start of March to the end of April.
There are two ways of looking at cruising during the Caribbean hurricane season from June 1st to November 30th. On one hand, the ship can easily change its itinerary, and often does, if the destination port is in the path of a hurricane. If this happens, your vacation continues as planned but with a change of itinerary, or an additional sea day. For some this is not a problem. But on the other hand, if you are really looking forward to swimming with dolphins in Cozumel, or scuba dive in Belize, a pending hurricane could see you miss this port altogether.
Additionally, if you are on a 3 day cruise, missing one or both of the port days can be very disappointing and poor value for money … an important point to keep in mind.
Another point to note is the possible disruption to getting to and from the ship. It is not the change in the ships' itinerary but the flights in and out of Florida and surrounding states that often experience delays and / or cancellations.
So as you can see, planning your perfect cruise takes more planning then you might first think.