Not sure what time of the year you can get good discounts on group cruise rates without having to sacrifice great weather.
In this article, you’ll learn about different group cruise destinations and the best seasons to travel to them.
High Season – February-April (Spring break), July-August (Family reunions), Christmas/New Years
The Caribbean islands are a popular attraction for all kinds of groups including corporations, family reunions, weddings, and class reunions.
Cruises run full during high season so plan your group cruise a year or two out if you intend on booking (We would not recommend it though). Lines are long at ports of call and service can be delayed at times.
If you can book during the shoulder months of May and September through January (Excluding Christmas/New Years), you’ll find group cruise rates that are almost 50% less than peak rates. The week after Labor Day is generally a great week to get bargains for group cruises.
High Season is June through August.
If you are looking to book your group cruise to Alaska during peak months, make sure to book at least a year in advance.
Cruises, as well as excursions to Alaska during peak season are packed due to strong demand. If you’re planning a cruise with younger kids (Family reunion cruises), then we would suggest avoiding the peak season altogether and going with the shoulder or low season (May and September)
High Season is June through August
Bermuda provides some great weather and tons of water based activities for kids and adults alike.
Located in the Atlantic Ocean, this little island is famous for its pink sand beaches. Groups based in the Northeastern part of the US will find Bermuda very accessible as ships sail out of Boston, Baltimore and New Jersey.
Traveling during peak season will yield near capacity ships and fairly humid weather. Prices tend to be lower during the shoulder months of April, May, September and October. Book your group cruise during these months to get better pricing and less crowded ships.
Canada/ New England
High Season – September through October
Fall foliage is in full swing during these two months and is a popular attraction for many adult (non-kid) groups.
Wedding cruises, in particular find this cruise to be very romantic as the New England/Canadian backdrop makes for some great landscapes.
While the cruise ships are busy during the peak periods, they are not always full so booking a group should not be a problem. The shoulder months of July and August are better suited for cruises that involve kids (Family reunions) as there are many water based activities on port and the temperature is still above 70 degrees.
Peak Season – March, April, June, July, And August (plus holidays)
Cruise lines that go to Hawaii tend to be populated with couples, reunion groups, and weddings.
While the cruise itself is very romantic, the length of travel on sea makes it a bit daunting for most groups. A limited amount of cruise ships travel to Hawaii on a regular basis so get the research done early and book well ahead of time.
Due to limited sailings, the cruise can be fully booked during peak season. If your group is interested in whale watching then sailing during slow season (Winter months) will work out great as the weather is still warm. Group cruise rates will be cheapest in the slow season as well.
Peak Season – January through April, and June through August
Mexico is a popular destination for college spring break cruises during the early part of the year.
If you’re looking to avoid spring break, then select early January or one of the shoulder months.
Also, avoid holiday weeks like Christmas and New Years as those tend to be crowded as well. Reunion groups (Family, class, military) will find the summer months filled with activities and excursions that everyone can enjoy so long as you don’t mind crowded cruise ships.
October through November is the slow period for trips to Mexico. Many a wedding cruise group is planned during these months. The warm weather and romantic backdrop make it a great option for couples.
Peak Season – September through March
Cruising to Australia and New Zealand are generally 12-16 days long and include several ports of call in both countries.
In addition to the time to cruise, you should be ready to spend some additional days on land before and at the end of the trip.
This cruise has been popular with all group types include student groups, reunions, and weddings. Princess cruises is a cruise line that has a long history of operating here.
Peak Season – Depends on the country but you can go from November to February.
A South American cruise offers ports of call in countries like Peru, Brazil and Chile.
Some companies even offer cruises that traverse the Panama Canal (Holland America is one). South American cruises are generally adult oriented with lots scenic, eco tourism themes.
Click for group cruise rates to South America
Peak Season – May through early September
The Mediterranean offers a great option for family reunions, weddings, and group travel in general. Destinations like Turkey, Morocco, Malta, Tunisia, and Egypt comprise some of the exotic locations you can travel to. Also, the mix of Middle Eastern, European and American passengers makes for a great cultural hotpot. Summers are busy and prices will be high. If your group is looking to save, then consider booking during the shoulder months of April and late September.
Peak Season – Depends on the country you are looking to visit
Summers cruises are great for just about any destination in Europe. Many cruise ships have itineraries to Norway and Finland just for the summer months. Fall and winter months comprise of cruises to southern Europe to cities in Spain, Italy and Greece. Avoid long holidays, spring break Christmas and New years if you’re looking to book any kind of group cruise. Sailing in the fall season will yield the best mix of prices, and activities along with still decent weather.
If you have to sail during peak season…
Sailing during peak season for any destination requires that you plan well ahead of time. Booking your group cruise a year or more out is common and recommended if you want to get any perks of traveling as a group. Booking early during peak season will also assure that you get preferred group dining times, and the required staterooms (Rooms that fit 3, 4, or 5 people).
Another factor to consider when traveling during peak season is whether there are any kids (e.g. Family reunion cruises) in your group. A lot of cruise lines will limit the amount of kids allowed on any ship so if you do not book ahead of time, your group won’t be able to secure enough rooms.
Booking a cruise that departs on a weekday (Monday through Thursday) as those experience less traffic (Not much less, but any little bit helps).
Regardless of cruise line, avoid spring break, and graduation periods as those tend to be filled with party going college kids.
Lastly, booking your group during a shoulder month will get you a better group cruise rate and ships that aren’t so crowded.
What’s a shoulder month?
A shoulder month is generally considered the the first and last month of the peak season. While trafiic is still heavy during those times, it isn’t quite as crowded and the group cruise rates you will get will be somewhat cheaper. Keep In mind that cruise lines want to book groups during shoulder months as well so you may be able to score some additional amenities.
The guidelines above give a general idea of the best times to sail to a particular cruise destination. For more information, visit each destinations official visitor website to learn about weather trends, busy seasons, local events etc. Once you have finalized a location and know how many cabins you need, it’s time to get group cruise rates.