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Best Time to Cruise
It's one of the most common cruising questions: When is the best time to cruise Alaska, Australia, the Caribbean, Canada/New England, Hawaii, Europe or the South Pacific? The answer depends on many variables. For example, fall foliage enthusiasts will find September and October the best time to cruise Canada/New England, whereas families prefer to sail in summer when temperatures are warmer for swimming. The best time to cruise to Alaska will vary depending on your preferences for viewing wildlife, fishing, bargain-shopping, sunshine, warm weather and catching the northern lights. For most cruise regions, there are periods of peak demand (high season), moderate demand (shoulder season) and low demand (low season), which is usually the cheapest time to cruise. High season is typically a mix of when the weather is best and popular travel periods (such as summer and school holidays). However, the best time to cruise weather-wise is usually not the cheapest time to cruise. The cheapest time to cruise is when most travelers don't want to go because of chillier temperatures or inopportune timing (too close to holidays, the start of school, etc.). But the lure of cheap fares and uncrowded ports might make you change your mind about what you consider the best time to cruise. As you plan your next cruise, you'll want to take into consideration the best and cheapest times to cruise and see what jibes with your vacation schedule. Here's a when-to-cruise guide for popular destinations.
11 Best Cruise Destinations for Active Cruise Travelers
You can get a workout on pretty much any cruise, but to maximize your adrenaline-pumping options, it's best to find the right combination of cruise ship and destination. Active cruise travelers will usually turn up at least a handful of shore experiences to whet their appetites for adventure, but if you're cruising with a sedentary lot, that city bike tour or rainforest hike might get canceled due to lack of interest. Likewise, certain ports simply don't lend themselves to athletic adventures, while others have so many active choices, it's hard to make up your mind. Below, we have listed our picks for the 11 best adventure cruise destinations for those who are active travelers, as well as our suggestions for the cruise lines that make the best matches. Just don't forget to pack your running shoes and snorkel gear.
Galapagos Islands Cruise Tips
Be you bucket-lister or wildlife buff, the idea of the Galapagos pulses with animal magnetism. A visit to the Ecuadorian islands is a science fiction adventure -- ship as time machine visiting a prehistoric land of volcanic eruptions, alien cactus trees, swimming iguanas, flightless birds and tortoises of lumbering immensity. A cruise, which lets visitors efficiently trace remarkable evolutionary variations from island to island, is the most immersive way to see the destination in a three- to 14-night stretch. Given the Galapagos National Park's "sunrise to sunset" rule, the cruise experience is highly structured, almost military-like (though you can opt out of any activity without threat of pushups). Wake up: 0700\. Breakfast: 0730\. First landing: 0830\. And so forth until you hit the pillow after a post-dinner briefing and pisco sour. There are typically two excursions per day, and if you participate in every hike and snorkel, expect limited down time -- and expect to be enthralled but slightly exhausted by debarkation day. It's a sacrifice worth making.
Cruise Your Way Into the Travelers' Century Club
Obsessed with "country counting," the practice of tabulating your travels to see how many places you've been? Take it to another level by cruising your way into the Travelers' Century Club. The Travelers' Century Club is a real organization, with local member chapters, social gatherings and a website with a member forum. Founded in 1954 -- when "overseas leisure travel was still a rarity" -- TCC has a list of 325 territories (the world's 195 sovereign countries plus additional territories and islands) that would-be members check off, bucket-list style. Once you hit 100, you're in. Whether you actually want to be a club member or are just trying to see as much of the world as possible, we think reaching 100 countries on the Travelers' Century Club list is a milestone worth celebrating -- and why not do it all by cruise? Here are our continent-by-continent tips on how to get there, both by maximizing itineraries that get you lots of countries in one trip and by highlighting places you might not have known you could cruise to.