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Where to go in September – 10 best cruise destinations

September cruises are perfect for exploring European destinations without heat and crowds while there are plenty of fabulous long-haul vacation options to enjoy as the kids go back to school.

September cruises throw up plenty of globetrotting options depending on what you’re after. Diving in the Caribbean? Wine-tasting France? Rainforest trekking in Papua New Guinea?

There are a plethora of advantages to travelling as the British summer ends and we’ve rounded up 10 of the best options for cruises in September.

These are the best September cruise vacations to choose from…

Tavertet-Catalonia Spain

Natural adventuresCatalonia, Spain

Barcelona often hogs the glory when it comes to Catalonia in northeastern Spain. Numerous cruises start and end in the Catalan capital so why not add on a post- or pre-cruise stay to your vacation so you can explore the region around the city?

If you cruise in September you’ll be greeted by great weather (think average highs of 25°C) perfect for outdoor adventures. Catalonia is nestled between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean so there’s oodles to do for fun al fresco here.

Hike the 200 or solaces or Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park, climb the sheer rock face of Val d’Arran, kayak between the 500m-high walls of the Mont-rebei gorge (keep your eyes peeled for autumn migrant birds) or bike the volcanic environs of La Garrotxa on your September cruises to Catalonia.

Which cruise lines sail to Catalonia?

MSC Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Virgin Voyages, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Disney Cruise Line and Holland America Line all cruise to Barcelona.

Seafood crazyBohuslän Coast, Sweden

Feeling shellfish this September? The month marks the start of lobster season on west Sweden’s Bohuslän Coast. The area (studded with pink granite rocks) produces the country’s finest seafood thanks to the 8,000 odd islands and rocky islets along the coastline. Tuck into prawns, oysters, mussels, local langoustines and, of course, lobsters, on vacations to Sweden.

If you want to catch your own, join a seafood safari with fishermen with Smögen or hire a canoe and paddle among such colourful fishing villages as Fiskebäckskil, Käringön and Gullholmen.

Your jumping-off point on September vacations here will be Gothenburg, just south of the Bohuslän Coast, where cruise lines call. Don’t forget to try fika during your time here – Swedes love coffee and cake pauses!

Which cruise lines sail to Gothenburg?

Princess Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, Seabourn, MSC Cruises, Ponant, Norwegian Cruise Line, Silversea, Carnival Cruise Line all cruise to Gothenburg.

Budapest-church Hungary

Bit of everythingHungary

Take a Danube river cruise in September and you’ll discover a Hungary blessed with mild weather and fewer tourists.

Your river cruise will no doubt visit Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, known for its stunning landmarks such as the Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion and the iconic Hungarian Parliament Building. The city’s thermal baths, like the Széchenyi and Gellért Baths, also offer a unique relaxation experience.

However, don’t miss the chance to explore further afield on your September cruise jolly. Northeast along the Danube is pretty Szentendre, holy Esztergom and medieval Sopron. South you’ll find Lake Balaton (still warm enough to swim in during September) and Pécs.

Travel east across the Great Plain to the Bereg region, home to rich folk traditions, and the vineyards of Tokaj before heading southwest to Eger where you must check out the hilltop castle and sample (if you dare) a glass of local Bull’s Blood wine.

Which cruise lines sail to Hungary?

Emerald River Cruises, Scenic, Avalon Waterways, AmaWaterways, Uniworld, Riviera Travel, Viking River Cruises cruise to Budapest.

Delectable watersJordan

Diving fans will love Jordan’s Red Sea come September thanks to hot but bearable air temperatures and crystal clear waters of around 26°C. Marine wildlife here includes eagle rays, moray eels, seahorses, turtles, lionfish and a plethora of other vibrant fishes.

There are more than 30 dive sites along the Aqaba coast, many of which are great for snorkeling as well. You’ll find yourself swimming among shipwrecks, gaping canyons and shallow coral gardens. You could even learn to dive here – lessons are generally good value!

Be sure to visit Petra while you’re in Jordan. The UNESCO-listed archaeological wonder is renowned for its extraordinary rock-carved architecture and historical significance. Often referred to as the “Rose City” due to the color of the stone, Petra was the capital of the Nabatean Kingdom in ancient times and boasts an intricate network of tombs, temples and structures carved into the red sandstone cliffs. No doubt you’ll recognize Petra’s most famous structure, Al-Khazneh or “The Treasury” – it’s an iconic symbol of the ancient city.

Which cruise lines sail to Jordan?

Celebrity Cruises, MSC Cruises, Seabourn, Marella Cruises, Silversea, Azamara, Holland America Line, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Windstar Cruises and Explora Journeys all cruise to Aqaba, Jordan.

lionfish red sea

Delicious dropBurgundy, France

Burgundy in France is bursting with wonderful wine country and on a September cruise you’ll experience the grape harvest in progress. Weather-wise, you can enjoy an average high of 20°C which is super for making the most of the hiking and hiking trails between wineries.

The Route des Grands Crus (the road of ‘great wines’) runs 60km from Dijon and Beaune to Sautenay; along the way you’ll meet 38 picturesque villages and around 1,250 vineyard plots. Fun fact, the world’s most expensive red wine comes from tiny domain Romanée-Conti.

Elsewhere, Beaune has myriad wine merchants’ houses, cellar doors and Michelin-starred restaurants – just the ticket for sampling a glass of Côte de Nuits Pinot Noir or a buttery Chardonnay.

The best way to explore Burgundy by ship is by taking a Saône river cruise – the waterway flows through the Burgundy and Rhône-Alpes regions, connecting with the Rhône River in Lyon. The route often includes stops in such notable places as Chalon-sur-Saône, Mâcon, and Tournus.

Which cruise lines sail to Burgundy?

Riviera Travel, European Waterways, CroisiEurope, Avalon Waterways, AmaWaterways all cruise to Burgundy.

Prince Edward Island lighthouse

Peaceful pedallingPrince Edward Island, Canada

Prince Edward Island (PEI) is a charming province located on the eastern Canadian coast synonymous with rolling hills, lush farmland, red sand beaches and cute fishing villages.

The island is most famously associated with the beloved novel “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery, which has contributed to its tourism appeal. Prince Edward Island’s capital city, Charlottetown, is the historic and cultural hub and hosts various festivals and events.

In September summer crowds have left Prince Edward Island and maximum temperatures average 20°C, ideal for exploring. Get active and work off the buffet calories by cycling the Confederation Trail – a 435km well-surfaced network around Canada’s smallest province. Expect plenty of railway history, wildlife-rich woodlands and farmer’s markets. Fuel up and refresh with some tasty COWS ice cream made in PEI.

Which cruise lines sail to Prince Edward Island?

Royal Caribbean, Ambassador Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and P&O Cruises all cruise to Prince Edward Island.

Great gameNamibia

Namibia in southern Africa benefits from a huge stretch of Atlantic coast presenting an extraordinary juxtaposition of stark desert landscapes meeting the ocean – and on a September vacation the country’s big game is, well, big.

Temperatures start to rise at this time of year and a lack of rain means thin vegetation and more wildlife congregating at water sources – ideal for safari. You might spot cheetahs, elephants, rare black rhinos or the long-nosed elephant shrew, to name a few – Etosha National Park is best and can even be self-driven.

Cruises to Namibia often call at the major port of Walvis Bay, known for its diverse birdlife, including flamingos and pelicans – you might even spy seals and whales in September.

Walvis Bay is also a hub for adventure activities, from water sports like kayaking and kite surfing to desert excursions and wildlife watching, making it a popular destination for both nature enthusiasts and adventurers.

The coastal area also features the eerie shipwrecks along the aptly named Skeleton Coast, a testament to the treacherous coastline that has claimed many vessels – we reckon you’re in safe hands with modern cruise ships though!

Which cruise lines sail to Namibia?

Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Cunard, Oceania Cruises, Azamara, Holland America Line, Silversea, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines all cruise to Namibia.

Namibia desert and deer
Kangaroo Island Australia

Local speciesKangaroo Island, Australia

Kangaroo Island, located off the coast of South Australia, is brimming with diverse wildlife and pristine landscapes. Often referred to as Australia’s “zoo without fences,” the island offers a unique opportunity to see kangaroos, koalas, sea lions and a variety of bird species in their natural habitats.

September’s dry and mild weather (average highs of 18°C) makes it ideal for springtime wildlife activity. Baby marsupials begin to emerge from their punches at this time of year and southern right whales can be spotted off the coast.

Kangaroo Island’s rugged coastline, gorgeous beaches and remarkable rock formations also provide a picturesque backdrop for outdoor activities such as hiking, wildlife watching and exploring its many conservation parks. The seaside town of Penneshaw is where cruise ships dock.

Which cruise lines sail to Kangaroo Island?

Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises, Azamara, Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, Silversea, Seabourn and Regent Seven Seven Seas Cruises all cruise to Kangaroo Island.

Greatest showPapua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea exhibits incredible cultural diversity with its tapestry of over 800 languages and a multitude of ethnic groups while the country’s rugged terrain encompasses lush rainforests, towering mountains and vibrant coral reefs, making it a haven for biodiversity.

Admittedly Papua New Guinea is hot, wet and humid all year long but between May and October you can expect slightly drier and cooler climes, plus, in September there’s the Goroka Show. For one weekend (generally mid-month) around 100 tribes head to the highland town of Goroka for a carnival of dance and song complete with amazing costumes.

This time of year is all good for birdwatching as male birds of paradise conduct courtship displays. If you’re feeling active (and brave!) on your September cruise, challenge yourself to hike the 62-mile Kodaka Track through history-filled rainforest.

Which cruise lines sail to Papua New Guinea?

Princess Cruises, Azamara, Oceania Cruises, Cunard, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, Silversea, Carnival Cruise Line, Seabourn, Holland America Line and Regent Seven Seas Cruises all cruise to Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea tribes
Curaçao beach

Underwater wondersNetherlands Antilles

The Caribbean is tricky come September due to hurricane season but the southerly ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao) are fortunately located outside the hurricane belt. Consequently they offer safe, hot autumn vacations at low-season prices!

Bonaire National Park – the oldest marine reserve in the world – is incredible for snorkeling and diving. Visibility is top-notch all year round and its protected reefs attract turtles, fish, rays and squid.

On September vacations you might be lucky enough to see coral spawning when coral colonies, prompted by the lunar cycle and water temperature, release eggs and sperm into the surrounding water creating a cloud-like appearance. It’s a crucial process for the survival and health of coral reefs!

Meanwhile, Aruba is the smallest of the three (although the most tourist-swamped with chain hotels and high-end stores) and Curaçao benefits from one of the most beautiful cities in the Caribbean, Willemstad.

Which cruise lines sail to the Netherlands Antilles?

Princess Cruises, Seabourn, Oceania Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Cunard, P&O Cruises, Marella Cruises, Windstar Cruises, Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, Explora Journeys, MSC Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line and Silversea cruise to the Netherlands Antilles.

Published 08.31.23