10 Pros and Cons of a Fall Cruise and a Winter Cruise

There are many pros and cons of a fall cruise or a winter cruise. No matter the season, you’ll be guaranteed a fabulous time on your cruise vacation.

The shoulder season is the period between the high and low seasons when tourism slows down. This time frame offers lovely weather and smaller crowds. And, if you’re looking to save money on your next cruise, sailing during the shoulder season is the way to go.

The shoulder season is one of the best times to vacation, and we take advantage of the off-peak seasons to travel. Many people don’t realize that shoulder season can be a great time to plan a cruise.

Advantages of cruising in the shoulder season include:

  • Fewer crowds
  • Cheaper rates
  • Better weather

The main disadvantage of cruising in the shoulder season is that fewer itineraries are available. So, if your heart is set on a specific cruise line or itinerary, you may have to wait until the high season to sail.

If you’re looking for a fall cruise or a winter cruise, here are some of the best shoulder season cruises:

  • Alaska cruises in September or October
  • Caribbean cruises from September to March
  • Mediterranean cruises from September to October
  • Asia cruises from September to December
  • Australia and New Zealand cruises from October to April
featured blog image | fall cruise or winter cruisePin

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But then there are a few destinations we have yet to experience because summer would be the best time. Eventually, we will shuffle around our vacation time. For now, a fall cruise is our favorite time to vacation.

Although we recently enjoyed our first summer cruise to Bermuda on the Norwegian Joy. Which was fabulous, yet we still discussed many reasons we prefer fall cruises.

So, if you’re contemplating a vacation off-season, here are some pros and cons of a fall cruise and a winter cruise to mull over.

10 Pros and Cons of a Fall Cruise and a Winter Cruise

1. Summer is Over

Pros: Summer vacation is over!

Children are back to school, meaning fewer kids are on the ships. Take my word for it – this makes a huge difference. The ships are quieter than they’ve been in a while.

Families are back to work and traveling less. The summer crowds have dispersed. You’ll have an easier time getting around and enjoying the ship, making restaurant reservations, and booking excursions.

Ports are less crowded as well. Imagine walking around and exploring without being jostled by crowds.

Cons: The weather is cooling off in some destinations. Pack a sweater for evenings or excursions in cooler climates.

2. It’s Cheaper

Pros: Airfare and cruise prices are cheaper in fall and winter. You can save a significant amount of money by traveling in the off-season.

Cons: In the same token, prices will be higher if you decide to take a fall cruise or a winter cruise during the holidays. Traveling during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s can be expensive.

3. The Weather is Better in Some Destinations

Pros: The weather is cooling off in some destinations, making it perfect cruising weather. The Caribbean is warm year-round, but the humidity decreases in the fall months, making it a more pleasant experience.

alaska cruise pool view
You won’t be able to enjoy this Alaskan view from a cruise ship after October.

Cons: In other destinations, the weather is not as ideal. Alaska is beautiful but much colder in September and October than in the summer. This is the time to take advantage of thermal spa passes and indoor pools.

New England is gorgeous in the fall, but you risk getting caught in a Nor’easter.

If the weather isn’t cooperating, that most likely means rough seas. It’s not fun for anyone.

Read more: Alaska Cruise – What To Pack

4. Newer Ships

Pros: The newest ships debut in the spring, so most of the kinks have been worked out by the fall season. You’ll likely have a smooth sailing experience on a newer ship.

Cons: You’ll find better deals on older ships if you want a bargain.

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5. Experience the Magic of the Fall Season

Pros: Depending on where you’re cruising from or to (Canada or New England), you’ll be able to experience the fall foliage in all its glory. Think of all the beautiful colors of fall.

Cons: You may have to deal with some chilly weather, but it will be worth it when you see the leaves changing color.

6. Experience the Holidays at Sea

Pros: On a cruise ship, celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s. What could be more festive than surrounded by family and friends while cruising to amazing destinations?

Imagine the magic of the holiday decor around the ship! The Christmas trees, the massive gingerbread houses, and full spreads of delicious foods without having to lift a finger in the kitchen. I don’t know about you, but not having to bust my behind in the kitchen is a plus!

Ringing in the New Year with family and a new set of friends in the middle of the ocean with some bubbly and the band playing in the background. It’s a new set of fun and cruise activities to look forward to.

After reading about the festivities on the ships, it is on my bucket list, and you should add it to yours too.

Cons: If you have young children, they may be disappointed not to be home for the holidays.

7. Fewer Crowds

Pros: Since it’s the off-season, fewer people are traveling. This means shorter lines, less waiting, and more personal attention from the staff.

With fewer people on board, the vibe on the ship is more relaxed. You can take your time and enjoy the amenities without feeling rushed.

Cons: If you’re looking for a party atmosphere, you may be disappointed. The ship will be more subdued than it is during the peak season. At least, this is what we experience during our fall cruise on the Celebrity Equinox to the Southern Caribbean.

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Packing for a cruise? Here are some items not to forget and add to your cruise packing list.

8. Explore the Mediterranean in the Off-season

Pros: Like a land vacation, a fall cruise is the best time for a Mediterranean cruise. The weather is still warm, but the crowds have dispersed. You’ll have a more authentic experience without the hustle and bustle of peak season.

Cons: Some ports may be closed due to the off-season. Check with your cruise line or travel agent to find out which ports will open during your sailing.

9. Best Time to Take a Cruise to Australia & New Zealand

view or auckland newzealand cruisePin
View of Auckland, New Zealand from a cruise ship.

Pros: The weather is perfect for taking a fall cruise or winter cruise Down Under in the fall. You’ll avoid the crowds seasons in Australia, and New Zealand are opposite from ours here in the US. Therefore, our Fall is their Springtime, and our Winter is their Summertime.

Time to take a winter cruise through the New Zealand Fjords!

Cons: Possible long flights to those home ports to take these cruises.

10. Hurricane Season

rainy day in roatan hondurasPin
Rainy day in Roatan

Pros: Since it’s still hurricane season until the end of November, the prices for fall cruises to the Caribbean drop due to a lack of demand because summer vacation is over.

You can take advantage of cruise deals in the Caribbean. Just make sure to get “cancel at any time” cruise insurance.

It happened to us, and we had the wrong cruise insurance to protect us. We lost a lot of money and had to rebook a last-minute cruise – which turned out to be one of our favorite cruises – but we still learned a valuable lesson.

Cons: The risk of bad weather. But as I mentioned, you can get “cancel at any time” cruise insurance allowing you to cancel your trip if a hurricane is approaching your destination.

Keep up to date with hurricane season forecasts and news: here.

– Don’t Miss: How to Prepare for a Cruise

Have you decided which type of cruise is better for you- a fall cruise or a winter cruise?

Both offer unique advantages and disadvantages that are important to consider before deciding. Hopefully, the information we’ve provided has helped you decide.

What season do you love to cruise?

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Other related cruise reads not to miss:

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What Not to Pack for a Cruise?

What is Included in a Cruise Ship Vacation?

What Cruise Clothes to Pack for Women

What NOT to Wear on a Cruise: Dos and Don’ts

The Pros and Cons of Cruise Roll Calls

Kathy Ava

Meet Kathy Ava, a food, travel, and cruise writer based in Los Angeles/Pasadena, and the owner and main writer of Tasty Itinerary. With over 20 years of experience planning trips and logistics at her full-time job and for herself, she's become a pro at crafting unforgettable tasty itineraries. She's always on the hunt for delicious, fun travel destinations and cruise itineraries. She firmly believes that life is short and we must make the most of it, so always say yes to dessert.

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  1. Wonderful post! Cruise is one of the things I would love to try at some point, so thanks for sharing that. Fall sounds like a perfect time for this.

  2. We are very similar travelers. I like traveling in the shoulder season: you start to get the better or end of the better weather and the prices still tend to be pretty low. You just beat the massive crowds, and usually, things that are seasonally closed start opening again. Heck if you visit places like Iceland off-season, you catch the northern lights and no people at all (but risk tanking off the road lol).

    Prices for anything south of us Americans drop in the fall, like you said. I don’t cruise to Central or S. America because, well, boats make me feel icky, but like you mention, prices are a steal then. I definitely know part of it is hurricane season (ok, maybe not the best for cruises like you mention lol), but you save like 60-70%. And you are right, if you don’t like to gamble, going in the winter is still a good option.

    Great that you point out and remind people of the different hemispheres too. We forgot this for Brazil–and it was our summer. Yup, I was very cold. Oops.

    Loving the holiday decorations example–and I totally agree. Some places are way more special with decorations and foliage. I love visiting my family in NE in the fall–it’s literally the definition of fall. Disney decks out their resorts for Xmas to the nines, which are fun to see. I am sure their cruises are just as fabulous. I cannot remember. Have you cruised with Disney? I’d have to go back and look.

    P.S. OMG one of your ads is showing me DRAMAMINE and Bonine spreads. I LOVE IT SO MUCH lol. It knows me so well. That, my friend, is a right on targeted ad.

    This post is short, sweet, and perfect! You are definitely a cruising expert, and I will point everyone your way.

    1. The shoulder season is the best time to travel. If I had a dog sitter during the holidays, I’d be gone for that time period too since I get 1-2 weeks off of work.

      We have not done a Disney cruise because the price of a Disney cruise works out to be the amount I pay for 2 cruises in a year. We haven’t been able to justify the price yet, but one day, I will find the right price or bite the bullet and experience it.

      Disney is AMAZING at Christmas. It’s the most festive place to be in Southern California, IMO. I bet in Florida too. Such a lovely time of year. They really do know how to celebrate the holiday.

      You’re so funny, I put that ad there for people just like you HAHAHA.

      I wouldn’t call myself a cruising expert yet as I need more cruises under my belt, however, I do like to be well informed before and after cruising. I try to learn everything I can about the most popular lines that I would personally travel. I also need some more time and money or some cruise ships to sponsor some travels so I can crank out more info. 😀

      At the end of it all, I just love sharing my knowledge with people and hope to inspire someone to travel. For some, organizing a whole land vacation is intimidating and so cruising may be the gateway to seeing more of the world, it’s just an easier set-up. Yummy food, a great itinerary and luxury amenities on the ship… it’s a great start, especially if you’re looking to explore and relax at the same time.

    1. Great post Kathy! It’s so helpful to know about all this stuff and take it into consideration before planning a trip like this. A cruise around a holiday does sound like such a fun idea! It would be so festive! Love that idea! Even though I’m still hesitant about going on a cruise, I love reading all your posts on them. It would be a great way to see some cool places and have everything at your disposal. I just have to get over my fear of being on the water for an extended amount of time.???‍♀️

      1. You will get on a boat with your family but not a cruise? I just don’t get it because I think you’re way safer on a cruise ship. Of course, you are normally on a lake, so yeah, I can see the difference.
        I promise you will love cruising. Just have to try it!

    1. Definitely give it a try and see if it makes a difference. I always say the cruise ship and cruise line can make or break your vacation, but so can the season. If you are worried about hurricane season, check out cruises to Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, they are outside of the hurricane belt.

  3. My grandparents went on so many cruises after they retired, and after they came back with so many pictures of the travels, I always wanted to do the same when I grew up! I’d love to be in England during Christmas one year, and since my dream is to get married during December, and England my honeymoon, maybe I can perfectly combine all of that together :’) I’d LOVE to go to NZ when it’s their summer as well; that’s been one of my dreams since falling in love with the LOTR movies as that’s where so much of the trilogy was filmed, and NZ is just gorgeous!

    1. What a beautiful memory of your grandparents. Love how they shared their travels with you.

      I love how you have your future honeymoon planned and I have to say, it’s a solid plan. Christmas in Europe just sounds so ideal for some reason. It’s my hope to experience something similar in the future too.

      When I see photos of NZ, I am simply floored so I get it. I remember the LOTR movies and the film locations are spectacular. I’m not a campervan kind of person but that’s my dream for New Zealand to do a road trip in a campervan. It just seems like one of those countries that you’ll see more of by exploring it via road trip.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

    1. Based out of NY you should look into a Bermuda cruise. Of course, they say that the best time to go there is between May and Sept as it’s the nicest weather. So that’s off from my fall and winter recommendations, haha. Still, though, it’s an easy one to take from NY or Boston. We are going to Bermuda in 2021 – yup, already booked.

      Hope you get to plan that cruise soon. I think it’s a great way to get a vacation in without the pressure of having to do and see everything.

    1. Oh, you can do a Christmas cruise! Then come back to tell me all about it. 😀

      It’s so nice to hear from you! I hope you’re doing well. I had no idea that you are a teacher, which is so awesome! Thank you for teaching our kids.

      1. Sounds a perfect idea! ?

        Been struggling to keep up with blogging and social media – my own blog needs some serious tlc. I have a lot of admiration for the work you put in to yours.

        Ah, thanks! I do love my job really and the long summer break does mean I can travel quite a bit ?

        1. You’ll get back to blogging when you’re ready. Sometimes life happens and that’s okay.

          I’ve been trying to put in more of an effort because I know consistency is key, but it’s hard sometimes with my schedule and other crazy stuff. Also, I like to sleep. Those days of me staying up all hours of the night working on projects just isn’t for me anymore, unless I really have to. It doesn’t help anyone if I’m grouchy the next day at work. HA. So I do the best I can. That’s all you can do, the best you can.

          I wish I had your schedule too! Always loved that about teachers schedules.