Sail for all seasons

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Sail for all seasons
By Rosanne Coloccia,

"When is the best time to sail the Inside Passage and Alaska?" "When will I get the best weather for a cruise in the Caribbean?" "Why are the rates so low if I sail the Mexican Riviera in (insert month here)?"

"Seasons" in the travel business don't fall into simple categories like summer, fall, winter and spring. Instead they have interesting names like shoulder, high and low, just to name a few.

So when is the "best" time to travel to a specific destination? A two-word answer: it depends. Are you looking for "best" as in best weather for shore excursions or are you looking for "best" as in lowest possible price?”

Choosing when to travel is just as important as choosing where you travel. Here are some of the most popular cruise destinations with a few ideas about the "best" time to go:

Blessed with balmy weather year around, except for those pesky hurricanes. The "best" time to go is December through May, but the "best" fares are available August through November when the weather is more iffy.

October to May is the "best" time to do a 3- or 4-night Baja cruise, or the longer Mexican Riviera sailings, as you'll have comfortable weather. Summers can be very hot and surprisingly expensive - most of the ships are sailing Alaska at that time, leaving only one major cruise line doing the longer sailings. One cruise line doing an itinerary = high prices. You'll find the "best" prices in August and September, once the kids go back to school.

Another year around cruise destination, with October, November, March, April, May and June offering the "best" weather overall. December and January can be cool in the mornings - although you'll be swimming by 10:00am. August and September are typically the hottest months. You'll get good sale rates after Spring Break and before the end of May when the high season kicks off. You'll also find some great deals in the fall.

With such a short season - May through September - this is fairly easy: work from the outside in. May and September offer the "best" rates with the "best" weather in July and early August. One big plus for this destination: all that summer sunshine (15 to 20 hours) makes for long days of sightseeing!

Panama Canal
The trans-canal repositioning cruises are in the spring and fall - as the cruise lines move their ships to and from Alaska. The "best" weather will be April and May - before it gets warm - but you can find the "best" rates when the temperature goes up.

Bottom line, with any cruise destination, you'll find the best rates when you book in advance, with prices increasing as the sailing gets closer and as various cabin categories fill up. Unfortunately, the weather doesn't offer such certainty, but a cruise vacation does offer one big advantage over the land-based resorts: these large, lovely floating hotels can sail around the storms.

Even storm clouds have a silver lining!


There are some terrific rates for July and August in Cancun and the Riviera Maya! This is a wonderful family vacation area, so if you’re looking for things to do before the kids head back to school, check these out.

The rates below include round trip air from Phoenix, six nights accommodation as noted, airport transfers and your tips at the resort. The properties themselves are all all-inclusive resorts, so your meals and beverages – including alcohol – are included, too!

Occidental Grand Xcaret Resort
Deluxe Room
$919.00 per person, double occupancy
Beautiful property with huge pools and lots of amenities! Located adjacent to the Xcaret Eco Park, too!

Gran Royal Solaris
Run of House Room (best available view at time of check in)
$899.00 per person, double occupancy
Right in a peaceful part of Cancun’s popular Hotel Zone!

RIU Playacar
Run of House Room
$989.00 per person, double occupancy
Terrific property in my favorite resort area! Playacar reminds me of the Biltmore – beautiful homes and beautiful hotels! You’re also right by Playa del Carmen!

Barcelo Maya Beach Resort
Run of House Room
$1029.00 per person, double occupancy
Located on one of the most beautiful beaches in the Riviera Maya, this popular resort has tons of activities and amenities!

The rates are best for midweek travel, but weekend to weekend rates are available, too. Check your calendar, find your passport and give me a call.

By land or by sea, we're planning your next great vacation at TravelationOnline! Give us a call at 602-252-1140, or if you're outside the Metro Phoenix area codes of 602, 480 and 623, call toll-free at 888-751-2032. You can also reach me directly via e-mail at I look forward to hearing from you!