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6 Reasons to Take a Winter Cruise

Ditch boots and winter layers for sun and splendor on a relaxing sail.

U.S. News & World Report

6 Reasons to Take a Winter Cruise

Beach, Seas and Ship

Few crowds, pleasant temperatures and discounted prices are just a few draws of planning a cruise vacation this winter.(Getty Images)

Come winter, it's easy to see the allure of taking a cruise. In the U.S., East Coast dwellers and Midwesterners are itching to escape the winter doldrums, and the sun is still shining in warmer locales across Mexico and the Caribbean. Aside from the chance to escape to tropical destinations on a floating vacation, there are plenty of other enticements to cruise in December, January and February. From fewer crowds to cheaper prices than the spring and summertime, here are six top selling points for setting sail this winter.

Because Winter Prices Are Cheaper

Remember this rule of thumb before booking your cruise: Prices are cheapest when school is in session. After all, families make up a large portion of the market. When the kids are in school and can't leave to go on a cruise, mainstream cruise lines often offer discounted rates to fill empty cabins. Prices for sailings during the winter, especially voyages departing after New Year's Day, are among the lowest of the year. In fact, fares for these trips can be as low as a third of the standard cruise fare during the height of summer and popular spring break travel period.

Because Cruise Ships Are Less Crowded

In the wintertime, ships are still typically less crowded than the peak spring and summer seasons. While it's unlikely your ship will be completely empty, with fewer passengers onboard, you'll have the advantage of shorter lines at onboard restaurants, better seating at evening shows and a hassle-free experience snagging poolside chairs.

Because Passengers Are Tamer

If you're looking for a mellow time to cruise, winter is your best bet. With school in session, you won't find many families or college students onboard. That means your fellow passengers are likely to be an older, sophisticated crowd who are either retired or can take time off to set sail. So, if you're looking to relax poolside and dodge rowdy kids or college students, winter is a smart time to cruise.

Because You'll Battle Fewer Tourists at Top Ports of Call

Apart from cruising with fewer passengers, the ports on your itinerary will be less crowded than at other times of year. So, if you're the type who enjoys exploring port cities without having to fight throngs of visitors, this is great news. Plus, you'll likely find secluded spots along the beach without hordes of tourists at your side.

Because You Can Enjoy Milder Weather Conditions

Caribbean islands are characterized by their sunny climates, white-sand beaches, swaying palms and warm, tropical waters. What you might not realize, however, is that wintertime brings milder weather conditions across the Caribbean, too. Unlike the height of summer, when heat and humidity spikes, winter ushers in cool breezes and comfortable temperatures, making the season an ideal time for swimming, sunbathing and embracing the outdoors.

Because You Won't Have to Worry About Hurricanes Affecting Your Trip

Following in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, which wreaked havoc on many Caribbean islands – and cruise schedules – hurricanes are a top concern for many people interested in setting sail to the Caribbean, Bermuda and Mexico. But if you sail in the winter, you won't have to worry about severe weather putting a damper on your trip since hurricane season runs from June to November. So, if you want to dodge the chance of unforeseen weather conditions diverting your vacation plans, plan a relaxing, headache-free trip in winter.

About En Route

Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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