Winter is cruise season. Fed-up northerners hop the boats like there’s no tomorrow. And summer is cruise season. Retirees hit the rivers of Europe and sail the Inland Passage to get a glimpse of killer whales and calving glaciers.
Spring? Not so much.
While there is a blip around Spring Break, as alt-breakers take a boat instead of camping out on South Padre and families crowd the Disney ships, in general spring is a slow season for cruises.
(And regardless of what the view out the window tells you, when March comes spring has sprung. There’s no turning back.)
What is bad news for cruise lines is good news for cruisers. There are good deals and interesting cruises to be found, once you start looking.
Lucky for you we did the looking and came up with these five fabulous cruises for you to try. (Note: All these cruises go better with ExactCare, from Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection. It’s affordable, complete protection for cruises and other big trips. You get it right here.)
Eight-night eastern-Caribbean cruise on Carnival Cruises‘ Carnival Conquest, departs April 4 and May 10 from Fort Lauderdale: This colorful, fun ship almost borders on the wacky, but it has tons of food options, a 270-foot LED screen by the main pool area, a comedy club, and lots of other after-hours attractions. But it’s the itinerary that sells this cruise. It hits all the places in the eastern Caribbean you want to visit: St. Maarten, St. Kitts, San Juan, and Grand Turk Island. It’s an altogether delightful way to bridge the gap from winter to summer.
Seven-night Mexico cruise on Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Norwegian Star, departs from Los Angeles March 22 and 29, and April 5: The fact that everyone goes to Mexico in late winter/early spring is well-documented. John Denver even wrote a song about it. Some people spend a week in Cabo San Lucas or Puerto Vallarta. Other people cruise to these places, get all the sun and food they can handle, make a bonus stop in Mazatlan, and save about 50 percent on the package. The Norwegian Star has spaces and tastes for every type of traveler, so you’re sure to find something you’ll like.
Seven-night Mediterranean cruise from Venice to Istanbul on Costa Cruises‘ Costa neoClassica, departs April 20, May 4 and May 18: If we’re going to cruise Europe in the spring, we insist on a cruise that includes Istanbul, since Istanbul is so seductive this time of year. But better still, this cruise gives us Split, Croatia, Santorini (our favorite Greek island), Corfu, and Venice in addition to the Turkish capital. Give yourself a day in Venice on one side of the cruise and a day in Istanbul on the other, and you’ve created the perfect springtime vacation.
Six-night Pacific Coast cruise from San Diego to Vancouver on Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas, departs May 16: A great springtime cruise does not require any encounters with the exotic whatsoever. Sometimes just seeing familiar sights from new vantage points is all you need to change your outlook. That and a whole buncha sun. This cruise delivers on both counts, with stops at sunny Catalina Island as well as San Francisco, Vancouver, and Victoria. Just a heads-up: Victoria is going to be splendiferous in May.
Fifteen-night Hawaii cruise from Vancouver on Princess Grand Princess, departs March 22: If you have a little time and the predilection to see nothing but broad, calm expanses of ocean for a while, this is the cruise for you. Build yourself a day to commune with nature in Vancouver — or better yet, go three days early and ski at Whistler for a couple before embarking — then hop the Grand Princess and chill on the adults-only Sanctuary sundeck as you speed your way first to Hilo, then Honolulu, Nawiliwili, and Lahaina before heading back to British Columbia. And spring, safe in the knowledge that winter is behind us. At least for a little while.