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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.
New Zealand Cruise Tips
Although many people think that Australia and New Zealand are the same, the island nations coexist in the South Pacific as close neighbors with completely different personalities. Aussies and Kiwis enjoy a healthy sibling rivalry on the sporting field, but New Zealand has its own distinct offerings that cannot be compared to Australia's. The Maori culture is one of the strongest in all of Polynesia, and if you've seen the breathtaking, sweeping vistas portrayed in blockbuster movies like "Lord of the Rings," you won't be disappointed; this is where they were filmed. The early Polynesian inhabitants called New Zealand "Aotearoa," which means "The Land of the Long White Cloud." Ever since European traders and whalers arrived in the late eighteenth century, it has retained a reputation for being ruggedly beautiful and mysterious, a land of geysers and glaciers that's a fusion of Maori and British. The country is neatly packaged up in two halves. The North and South islands are separated by the Cook Strait, which is just more than 19 kilometers wide at its narrowest point. The North Island is more heavily populated, featuring bigger cities that include Auckland and the nation's capital, Wellington. The South Island is the true star of the show, with its wide-open spaces, spectacular mountains, lakes and glaciers. From the Bay of Islands at the top of the North Island to dramatic Fiordland in the far south, cruising New Zealand opens up a world of natural wonders and reveals a vibrant culture. It's also one of the safest countries in which to travel, with efficient airline networks, generally good roads, and excellent healthcare, and emergency and hospital facilities.
Australia Cruises to Nowhere
A 'cruise to nowhere' -- with no ports of call -- used to be a big party cruise. The ship departed Sydney on Friday afternoon and returned to shore 72 hours later after a wild weekend of dancing, drinking and eating. These no-stopping cruises do not exist in the United States anymore, but they are going strong in Australia, with cruise lines now calling them 'sampler' cruises or 'short breaks'. Several of the offerings are themed around topics such as food and wine or comedy. Typically, they depart from and return to the same port and spend three days cruising up and down the coastline, far enough out to sea to legally operate the casino and duty-free shops. Other short cruises depart from one Australian port and cruise for one to two nights to another port for disembarkation, with no calls in between. While a record number of Australians are cruising, there are still many Aussies who have never taken a cruise, and it's those people the cruise lines are targeting. Sampler cruises are a way to test the waters and allay the fears of non-cruisers who are turned off by the thought of seasickness or being trapped on a ship with thousands of people. Most sample cruise itineraries operate on weekends with Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at sea. However, there's also a sprinkling of three-night Thursday-to-Sunday cruises, while Royal Caribbean has two- and three-night cruises that run over weekdays.
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.
Kimberley Cruise Tips
Cruising the Kimberley is an experience that features highly on bucket lists, whether it's a Kimberley coast cruise, taking a smaller ship down shallow rivers or a cruise and land combination. This untouched wilderness area, in Australia's north-western corner, covers more than 423,000 sq. km. From thundering waterfalls and dramatic tidal flows, to saltwater crocodiles, mighty boab trees and red plains that seem to stretch on forever, there are incredible sights (and photo opportunities) at every turn. As one of the first parts of the globe to be inhabited thousands of years ago, the region also has great cultural significance and extensive Aboriginal rock art. Unfortunately, the other thing that is incredible about cruising the Kimberley is the price -- you won't get much change from $10,000 per person, with luxurious trips costing even more. But for those who can afford it, a Kimberley cruise will not disappoint.
10 Reasons to Cruise Across the Ditch With Princess Cruises’ Overland Tours
Australians heading to New Zealand with Princess Cruises can now take advantage of its expanded shore excursion program of overland journeys, including the opportunity to spend a night off the ship. With so many new land and sea tours of Australia and New Zealand available, the cruise line’s Across the Ditch program has exclusive Princess land tours such as an industry-first trip from Tauranga to Great Barrier Island. Princess Cruises off-the-beaten-path excursions give passengers the chance to stargaze while listening to Māori legends, to learn about sustainable living at a farming co-operative or to visit heritage sites with a local expert. Here are 10 reasons why Princess Cruises could be the right choice for you in New Zealand.