Certain times of the year are more popular for cruising and summer is one of them, if not the most foremost. Many families with children plan their vacations during the summer to accommodate school schedules, and even those without children try to get away during the summer months. Some might avoid summer cruises to tropical destinations thanks to high temperatures and the possibility of major storms, but drawbacks aside, the summer is actually a great time to take a cruise almost anywhere in the world.
Cruises to the Caribbean are the most popular in the world – even in the summer months, when temperatures soar. If the heat is a real concern for you, avoid itineraries that take you to Mexico. Sailings to the eastern Caribbean, though, are generally popular. Visiting islands like the Bahamas, St. Thomas and St. Maarten are always a hit and a bit cooler during the summer months. If you’re traveling with the kids, consider a family-friendly Disney cruise to the eastern Caribbean; if you have older kids, try one of the other cruise lines that offer kid-friendly activities, like rock walls and waterslides.
In the later summer months – particularly the dog days of August – look for an itinerary in the southern Caribbean visiting islands like Dominica, Aruba and the Virgin Islands. While the temperatures will still be rather warm, the chances of encountering a hurricane are somewhat less prominent.
Summer is prime cruise season in Alaska, America’s last frontier, and ships generally visit this northern outpost from May through September. And really, this is the best time to capture the natural beauty of Alaska. Most ships travel past stunning glaciers and offer excursions that allow passengers to get up close and personal with wildlife, both on land or in the sea. Consider taking a train tour into Denali National Park to see the highest peak in the U.S, or explore the populous seaside cities of Juneau and Anchorage. No matter what line or itinerary you choose, a summer cruise to Alaska will offer a respite from the sweltering temperatures found elsewhere in the U.S.
If time or budget constraints keep you from Alaska and the Caribbean is just way too hot, consider a cruise to New England and Canada. Several lines offer cruises from New York or Boston, and visit ports in Maine, and New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada. For example, explore the cobblestone streets of Portland (and enjoy a traditional Maine lobster roll) and then sail north to explore the charming seaside towns of the Canadian Maritimes. The ships traveling north are as large and luxurious as those traveling south, full of amenities such as fine dining and onboard entertainment. Just pack a sweater and seasickness pills – the water tends to be a bit rougher in the North Atlantic than in the Caribbean.
While Mediterranean cruises have had a bit of bad press in recent months, they are still a popular option for summer travelers. The Greek Islands, for example, are warm and sunny in the summer months and travelers enjoy exploring the port cities during the mild summer months. The summer is also the best time to cruise to some of the northern European ports; some lines cruise to Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea in the summer, a trip that is impossible in the cold winter months.
Another option to explore Europe by boat is to take a river cruise. Itineraries include a sailing from the North Sea to the Black Sea through seven countries, sailing along the Rhone River and barge tours throughout the French countryside along the historic canals and waterways. Ships range from luxury vessels to self-piloted barges, giving you plenty of options to select from.
Taking a cruise in the winter months is a great way to get out of the cold and snow and escape the dreariness of the season. Cruising in the summer months, though, gives you more options, and with all of the options available in 2012, it’s nearly impossible not to find a cruise that appeals to you. Whether you want fun in the sun or total immersion in another culture, there’s a cruise for you, somewhere!