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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. Fall foliage enthusiasts, for instance, will find September and October the best time to take that Canada/New England cruise, whereas water sports-lovers (and families) much prefer to sail the region in the summer when school is out and 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.
7 Places to Cruise Without a Passport
You've decided you want a vacation, but there's a problem -- you don't have a passport. Maybe you've never had the time, money or desire to travel abroad previously, or perhaps your old passport has expired. Whatever the reason, you still have choices. One option is to take a closed-loop cruise -- a round-trip sailing that leaves from and returns to the same U.S. port. For that, you need only a birth certificate and a driver's license (or other acceptable, government-issued photo ID). You can't cruise just anywhere on a closed-loop sailing, but the choices are more interesting than you might expect. Below, we've compiled a list of seven places to visit without a passport, from scenic Alaska to the beachy Caribbean.
Cruise Pricing by Destination
You've decided it's time to take that cruise to Alaska (or the Caribbean or the Mediterranean) you keep hearing about. But you're not sure how much it's going to cost you. The Mediterranean sounds awfully expensive, but what about Alaska? Perhaps a New England and Canada cruise would be more affordable? Cruise pricing is never static; no matter which region you choose to sail, prices ebb and flow. Cruise line (and even the specific ship within the line, since newer vessels tend to command more), time of year, length of trip and, of course, cabin type are all factors that affect the price of a cruise. Plus, what's included -- or not included -- determines the overall affordability of any given sailing. But some destinations are generally more affordable than others.
Canada & New England Cruise Tips
Colonial history and rugged coastlines, craggy seaside villages and opulent mansions -- these are just a few of the things that make a Canada & New England cruise so appealing. Each northern Atlantic port offers a glimpse into the past, as well as present-day natural beauty. You can learn about America's forefathers in Newport and Boston, while Bar Harbor is known for its stunning rocky shores and towering cliffs. In Atlantic Canada, Halifax and Saint John offer a glimpse into a different kind of city life, one where voices are quieter, the pace is slower, and a city library takes up prime real estate, overlooking Saint John's harbor from a wharfside mall. More than ever, many itineraries are venturing down the Saint Lawrence Seaway and into the heart of Canada's francophone province, Quebec. Known as "La Belle Province" (The Beautiful Province), cruises are calling on some of the region's most picturesque and historic ports of call, from tiny Saguenay to picturesque Quebec City and cosmopolitan Montreal. Cruising Canada and New England is not only about what you can see and learn, though. These itineraries offer a wealth of opportunities to pedal, paddle and hike -- in national parks, along coastal roads and through color-filled forests. Speedboat rides in the Bay of Fundy, whale-watching excursions and white-water rafting are all available, too.
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.