What You Need to Know About Low-Season Deals

by Aaron Saunders

What You Need to Know About Low-Season Deals

by Aaron Saunders

For every destination that you can cruise, there are two unique seasons. One of these is known as “High Season” – in other words, the time when you (and everyone else) really wants to cruise there because the weather is generally fabulous. Its counterpart is known as “Low Season” – set periods of reduced demand, either due to potential weather issues, or other factors such as school calendars. For those looking to get the most bang-for-their-buck, these low, or shoulder, season departures are a veritable gold mine of savings. Here’s a look at some of cruising’s best low-season values — and what you need to know before you book:

4
Low season cruises can mean big savings / Seabourn
Cruising to Grand Cayman
1 of 4
Caribbean

The Benefit: For the Caribbean, high season is the dead of winter, when everyone wants to escape for some fun in the sun. But cruising the Caribbean in low season — between May and September — can be a very different experience from the winter months. Only a handful of cruise ships stay here year-round, which means less crowded ports of call and fewer tourists jockeying for spaces on the beach. Summertime is hot, but not actually that much hotter, and most cruises come at a lower price point during this time than their winter counterparts. A wide variety of lines — including Carnival, Celebrity, MSC Cruises, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean – all offer summer sailings to the Caribbean.

The Risk: The off-season also coincides with Hurricane Season. Itinerary changes are a possibility if the line has to adjust the schedule to re-route around a storm.

The Benefit: For the Caribbean, high season is the dead of winter, when everyone wants to escape for some fun in the sun. But cruising the Caribbean in low season — between May and September — can be a very different experience from the winter months. Only a handful of cruise ships stay here year-round, which means less crowded ports of call and fewer tourists jockeying for spaces on the beach. Summertime is hot, but not actually that much hotter, and most cruises come at a lower price point during this time than their winter counterparts. A wide variety of lines — including Carnival, Celebrity, MSC Cruises, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean – all offer summer sailings to the Caribbean.

The Risk: The off-season also coincides with Hurricane Season. Itinerary changes are a possibility if the line has to adjust the schedule to re-route around a storm.

Docking in Santorini
2 of 4
Mediterranean

The Benefit: Cruising in the winter months (October to March) is a much less frenetic way to see the Mediterranean. The throng of summer tourists have long since left, and lines for major attractions have dwindled down to nothing. We’ve also noticed we tend to get better service in bigger cities like Rome and Athens in the winter months, when service staff can breathe easier. It’s a laid-back time to visit the Med.

The Risk: The Mediterranean Sea can get positively nasty in the winter. If you suffer from seasickness, consider yourself warned.

The Benefit: Cruising in the winter months (October to March) is a much less frenetic way to see the Mediterranean. The throng of summer tourists have long since left, and lines for major attractions have dwindled down to nothing. We’ve also noticed we tend to get better service in bigger cities like Rome and Athens in the winter months, when service staff can breathe easier. It’s a laid-back time to visit the Med.

The Risk: The Mediterranean Sea can get positively nasty in the winter. If you suffer from seasickness, consider yourself warned.

Taking in Alaska's glaciers
3 of 4
Alaska

The Benefit: For Alaska, high season is the summer months — the time when the weather will be nicest, and when the kids are off for summer holidays. The shoulder months of April, May, and late September are great times to cruise to Alaska. Prices bottom out compared to the more expensive months of July and August, and there’s a much better chance of getting the stateroom (or suite) that you want. To top it all off, the crowds are thinner, and you won’t have to elbow your way through Alaska’s picturesque towns.

The Risk: You might get rained out so you'll need to pack umbrellas and jackets.

The Benefit: For Alaska, high season is the summer months — the time when the weather will be nicest, and when the kids are off for summer holidays. The shoulder months of April, May, and late September are great times to cruise to Alaska. Prices bottom out compared to the more expensive months of July and August, and there’s a much better chance of getting the stateroom (or suite) that you want. To top it all off, the crowds are thinner, and you won’t have to elbow your way through Alaska’s picturesque towns.

The Risk: You might get rained out so you'll need to pack umbrellas and jackets.

Queen Mary 2 in New York
4 of 4
Transoceanic Crossings

The Benefit: These super-inexpensive voyages are cruising’s best value, with rock-bottom prices on trips that generally last 10 to 14 days. Usually offered during the shoulder months of April to May and September to October, these voyages sail between Europe and North America, or between Asia and North America. If you’re really lucky, you can snap up a 14-day Transatlantic voyage for less than you’d pay for a week-long cruise in the Caribbean. Mindful of the fact that most travelers don’t like weeks made up of multiple days at sea, these voyages routinely call on a handful of ports, interspersed with three or four sea days in one stretch. These voyages also provide unique opportunities to see ports of call that would otherwise be difficult to visit, including the Cape Verde Islands in the mid-Atlantic or Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula in the Pacific.

The Risk: Rough seas and high airfare costs can really torpedo the value of these cruises. Make sure you research the latter thoroughly before you book.  

The Benefit: These super-inexpensive voyages are cruising’s best value, with rock-bottom prices on trips that generally last 10 to 14 days. Usually offered during the shoulder months of April to May and September to October, these voyages sail between Europe and North America, or between Asia and North America. If you’re really lucky, you can snap up a 14-day Transatlantic voyage for less than you’d pay for a week-long cruise in the Caribbean. Mindful of the fact that most travelers don’t like weeks made up of multiple days at sea, these voyages routinely call on a handful of ports, interspersed with three or four sea days in one stretch. These voyages also provide unique opportunities to see ports of call that would otherwise be difficult to visit, including the Cape Verde Islands in the mid-Atlantic or Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula in the Pacific.

The Risk: Rough seas and high airfare costs can really torpedo the value of these cruises. Make sure you research the latter thoroughly before you book.  

Up next...

10 Best Ports for Fun Fall Activities

Koblenz, Germany
Go Back
Find The Best Cruises
Find a cruise

Find the best deals!

Click on multiple sites to get the lowest prices

Click on multiple sites to get the lowest prices