If you’re contemplating a getaway before all of the activity of the holiday season begins, you can’t go wrong choosing a cruise. Opting for this ultimate care-free vacation takes virtually all of the uncertainty out of sightseeing, dining and entertainment. One price covers not only your transportation and accommodations but also your meals and entertainment. You can make your trip even less stressful by shipping your luggage ahead to the cruise before your arrival. Here are the best places to cruise during the fall season:
A fall cruise is a great way to relax and recharge for the holiday and winter seasons. Shipping luggage ahead to your cruise can help make your voyage even more enjoyable. If you’re considering a cruise this season, select a voyage to New England, Bermuda, the Caribbean or Europe to best experience the beauty of this transitional time of year.
New England/Canada cruises
New England and Canada are the quintessential fall cruise destinations. This is fall foliage country, and there’s no better way to view the changing, colorful landscape than from the deck of a cruise liner. These voyages sail slowly up the Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada and along the St. Lawrence River, with popular itineraries sailing between Boston or New York City and Quebec City or Montreal. Highlights of these fall foliage cruises include calls at Bar Harbor, Maine; Halifax, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Fall is one of the times of year that cruise lines move their ships from one part of the world to another. For example, when the Alaska cruising season ends, cruise lines move their vessels to South America or Hawaii. After the European season wanes, ships relocate to the Caribbean. These fleet shifts present an opportunity for adventurous travelers to experience unique itineraries and ports of call not usually included on the lines’ regular voyages. Repositioning cruises also offer a good value. Often you can get a 10 or 11-day voyage for the same price as you’d pay for a regular seven-day cruise.
There’s really no bad time to visit the Hawaiian Islands. However, during fall, the summer crowds have returned home and holiday travel has yet to begin. This is also the period when the islands get the least rain, so you have less chance of your day’s excursion to the beach, to Pearl Harbor or to the Hawaiian Cultural Center getting washed out. A cruise is a delightful and leisurely way to explore multiple Hawaiian islands. Unlike land tours, you don’t have to worry about all that packing and unpacking, checking in and checking out of hotels. Your accommodations simply travel to the next island while you sleep. Most Hawaiian cruises depart and return to Honolulu and call at Maui, Kauai and the “big” island of Hawaii. Arrive a day early or stay an extra day to explore the many wonders of Honolulu and the island of Oahu.
European River cruises
Another fascinating place to cruise this fall is along the many canals and rivers of Western Europe. Vessels range from small canal boats to larger ships with several hundred passengers on the larger rivers like the Rhine or the Danube. While river cruising is beautiful any time of year, cruising during the fall allows you to see the grape harvest in France and Germany and the changing European leaves (every bit as gorgeous as their North American cousins, if slightly less well known.)
Often overlooked by cruises travelers, Bermuda offers a little slice of Britain with pink sand beaches, world-class golf courses and more than a smattering of history. Bermuda also offers excellent duty-free shopping for British-made consumer goods like woolens, Scotch whiskey and gin, china and glassware. Bermuda cruises depart from Boston and New York City (and occasionally southern ports like Norfolk and Charleston, South Carolina.) Unlike most other cruise voyages, ships on a Bermuda cruise dock overnight at one of the island’s two primary cruise ports–the capital of Hamilton or the Royal Naval Dockyard, which is located on the southern tip of the island near many attractions. The ship acts as both your transportation to and from the island and your accommodations.
The fall is a perfect time to sail around the Caribbean. The heat and humidity of the summer are gone. The peak of hurricane season has passed, and the winter crowds have yet to descend on the islands. For North American travelers, sailing the Caribbean involves less travel time than many other destinations. Most Caribbean cruises depart from south Florida or San Juan, Puerto Rico. Common itineraries include calls at Cancun/Cozumel on the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, Grand Cayman island and Jamaica; St. Thomas, San Juan and Nassau, Bahamas; and the islands of the Lesser Antilles like St. Martin, St. Kitts and Martinique. Cruising the Caribbean allows you to sample a variety of cultures and colonial influences without a lot of hassle.