5 reasons to cruise in winter
Surely, when you think about going on a cruise, the image of summer vacations, swimming pools, cocktails and the sun comes to mind. However, it is increasingly common for many to choose the winter season to embark on a new adventure. That is why more and more ships are staying in places like the Mediterranean all year round, while others are looking for warmer areas to explore new destinations.
From my experience, I would tell you that every time someone asks me for advice for their first cruise, one of the first things I tell them is to avoid critical months like August for the Mediterranean, and it's not that it's a bad option, but for the past couple of years I have been mostly interested in travelling off-season. Spring and fall are usually my favourite seasons to travel, but today I will focus especially on cruising in winter. Let's go with those five reasons:
Reason #1: the price
The first reason and perhaps the most obvious and important is the price. It's no secret that travelling out of season will lead you to spend much less, not only on cruises but in general. It is very common for companies to offer considerably low prices to encourage travel during the colder months, and that is why you will find many options and a lot of competition for the lowest price. Just look closely and compare. In addition, not only is the price lower but there are also many offers that appear throughout the season. Some more global ones can be Black Friday discounts, January sales and similar. Then, there are other promotions that companies push by themselves, such as free drinking packages, offers for solo cruisers, or direct discounts for booking certain specific weeks. Without going any further, an itinerary that costs €400 in February can cost even around €2,000 in August. We are not talking about a small difference but really about travelling for much less.
TIP: Most cruise companies' websites include filters to find exactly what you are looking for. It is a quick way to isolate the cruise you want and compare its price in different months.
Reason #2: less people
The second reason is that even though the price is much better, there are much fewer people. It is quite rare to find a boat with full capacity during the winter months, and this is especially important because more and more new ships fit more people into less space. This during peak season translates into queues at the buffet, slower service in restaurants, crowded pools and even theatres and other halls full. With fewer people on board, you'll be able to enjoy the ship and its facilities more, and still find people to socialize with. I think of all the reasons I'm going to give you, this is probably one of my favourites. In addition, beyond the cruise, the cities you visit will also be less crowded and it will be much easier for you to move around them, you will avoid queues when visiting monuments and in general, you will appreciate feeling less overwhelmed. This relates very much to our next point.
Reason #3: temperature?
This is very personal, but I want to give you my perspective on why you are going to enjoy a cruise even if it is cold. To start, the ship temperature is controlled. In fact, it is usually colder inside in summer than during winter, due to AC. The biggest issue is the outdoors. It is true that on the high seas, it is windy and cold, there are fewer daylight hours than in summer and the ship is more likely to move more. However, visiting the cities is much more pleasant.
If your intention is to visit places like Rome or Barcelona, the experience is better. At least it was for me. If I think of the times I have visited Rome, I remember that when I did it in July it was truly sweltering. I spent the whole day buying cold water and looking forward to getting back to the ship since the walking distances are considerable and there is little shade in many places. Something similar happens in Barcelona. Tourists usually choose summer to enjoy the sun and the beach but, if you think about it, on a visit of about 8 hours I doubt that you are going to swim on the beach. Surely you will be more inclined to visit monuments or walk around the city, and with a lower temperature accompanied by fewer people and the fact that in Barcelona it does not usually rain much in winter either, the visit becomes something very positive.
Something also to comment on is that, if your trip does not need flights, you will have no problem taking warm clothes in your suitcase, since there are no luggage restrictions on board as there are on flights.
Reason #4: unique seasons
Perhaps the most popular cruises during winter are for Christmas and New Year's Eve, and contrary to what they may seem, they are quite cheap. In addition, it is a good option to be able to visit cities with a different look from what we have always seen, either because of their Christmas decorations or because of the appearance of their streets or citizens. For example, something that I loved about my recent cruise through New England, even though it was in autumn, was enjoying the season itself, the fall of the leaves from the trees and, in this case, living Halloween in the United States. I think each city in every season offers different plans, and taking advantage of that can be a good opportunity to discover something different.
Reason #5: new destinations
Por último, llegamos a una razón muy interesante, y es el hecho de explorar otros destinos. Me he centrado bastante en la temporada de invierno en el Mediterráneo, pero esta época es fantástica también para lanzarse a otros lugares. Un crucero por los Emiratos Árabes por ejemplo es una buena forma de visitarlos sin tener que soportar las temperaturas extremas del resto del año, y luego está el destino estrella del invierno que es el Caribe. Como el resto de la zona, cuando aquí es invierno allí es verano y es la mejor opción para escapar del frío. Además, los precios no suelen ser muy altos, aunque sí lo son los vuelos, con lo que si vas a ir te recomiendo que cojas un puerto de salida con una conexión en avión fácil y que te permita asegurarte un buen precio para no acabar pagando más de traslados que de crucero.
Finally, we come to a very interesting reason, and that is the fact of exploring new horizons. I have focused a lot on the winter season in the Mediterranean, but this time is also fantastic to get into new adventures. A cruise through the UAE, for example, is a good way to visit them without having to endure the extreme temperatures of the rest of the year, and then there is the winter top destination: the Caribbean. Like the rest of the area, when it is winter in Europe, it is summer there, and it is the best option to escape the cold. In addition, prices are not usually so high, although the flights are, so if you are going to go I recommend that you take a port of departure with an easy plane connection and that allows you to ensure a good price so you do not end up paying more for the flights than for the cruise itself.
What about you? Have you already tried travelling off-season? Follow me on Instagram to join my adventures and journeys.