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Travel guide

Where in the world to cruise by season – complete travel guide

Where to cruise in what month is a conundrum many globetrotters face when planning their getaway – our handy travel guide will help advise and inspire.

Where to go on vacation is an exciting topic to tackle – there’s such a wide, beautiful world out there jam-packed with possibilities.

Of course, it’s crucial to ensure you’re travelling at the right months, whether that’s steering clear of rainy seasons, crowds or searing heat.

Sailawaze has compiled a cruising guide for all the seasons to help you plan your next vacation – and even spoke to the pros at cruise line MSC Cruises for expert guidance on the best destinations.

Should you fancy a summer vacation south or a winter sojourn north, we’ve got your back.


March, April & May
Gran Canaria Canary islands Masaplomas Dunes

Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria, in Spain’s Canary Islands, is reliably over 20°C in March with more than seven hours of sunshine so you can expect pleasantly warm temperatures as the UK continues to yo-yo.

The island is ideal for a wellness break thanks to the plethora of beaches plus excellent hiking trails. Popular cruise port Las Palmas is best for sand and city life while Puerto Mogán boasts a picturesque harbour.

Shore excursion

For a spot of adventure head to Maspalomas Dunes – a wild place home to a great beach, a dynamic sand dune system, a palm grove and a brackish lagoon – which you can explore by foot or on a camel ride.

Flaam, Norway

Amongst some of the most beautiful, remote and unspoiled landscapes on Earth, the Fjords must be visited at least once in a lifetime. The small picturesque village of Flaam is nestled deep within the Aurlandsfjord.

As you travel through this quaint village, you will come across dramatic nature, steep hills, majestic waterfalls, and stunning viewpoints, showcasing Norway’s reputation as one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

“The breathtaking Fjords are an absolute must-see at least once in a lifetime and one of the best ways to see them is on a cruise ship as it offers unbeatable panoramic views,” Antonio Paradiso, Managing Director for UK and Ireland at MSC Cruises, told Sailawaze.

Shore excursion

Embrace the Norwegian air and superb fjord views on a guided bike tour. Take in Flaam’s spectacular scenery along the region’s central valley, through soaring mountains and past plunging waterfalls, before continuing alongside the Flaam River.

Norwegian fjords
Galapagos tortoises

Galápagos Islands

May is a great time to combine a cruise and stay trip to Ecuador and the Galápagos. In the latter, at this time of year, you can savour cooler temperatures and the water at its clearest (ideal for snorkelling with penguins, sea lions and marine iguanas!). You’ll also be timing your visit with turtle-hatching and blue-footed booby mating seasons.

Shore excursion

Join a guided hiking adventure to be in with the best chance of spotting wildlife here. Keep an eye out for land and marine iguanas, remarkable Giant Tortoises, Galápagos penguins and waved albatross.

Set Sail

Northern Europe

Duration: 7 nights
Where: Southampton, UK | Haugesund, Norway | Olden, Norway | Flaam, Norway | Kristiansand, Norway | Southampton, UK
Ship: MSC Virtuosa

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June, July & August

Bora Bora

Early summer is Bora Bora’s balmiest season. June marks the start of the driest season in French Polynesia so you can expect plenty of clear, calm, sunny days – perfect for ogling the many dazzling blues of the Pacific Ocean in this beauty spot.

Shore excursion

Snorkelling or diving is an absolute must during a Bora Bora cruise – swim over coral gardens and say hi to sharks and rays.

Bora bora
Mykonos Greece

Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos is known for its romantic Greek Island glamour, beautiful beaches, turquoise waters and picturesque whitewashed villages.

This cosmopolitan town draws visitors from all over the world and is known for its winding narrow streets built to thwart pirate attacks and world-famous Venetian windmills.

“Our Mediterranean cruises are one of the firm favourites amongst our British guests, especially during Summer. These itineraries feature spectacular locations such as Valencia, Cannes, Naples, Istanbul, Dubrovnik, the Greek Islands and more,” said Paradiso.

Shore excursion

Meet the friendly locals and embrace the vibrant nightlife on a visit to the old port. Enjoy an evening of Greek hospitality, tuck into a light dinner in a restaurant and finish with a folkloric show.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, the largest metropolis on the Mediterranean Sea, boasts thousands of years of history and culture, a world-class drinking and dining scene, and architecture that’s recognised globally.

Did you know that Barcelona became the only city to be awarded a Gold Medal for Architecture by the Royal Institute of British Architects? The charming constructions can be found in the ‘Eixample’ district alongside the extraordinary Art Nouveau buildings.

Shore excursion

For a trip ashore with a difference, why not tour the city’s streets with those who sleep in them? Hidden City Tours tap into Barcelona’s booming tourism as well as its homeless problem.

All the guides have been recruited from social services, soup kitchens and homeless charities, and are coached by Hidden City Tours to share their incredible knowledge of the city and its hidden secrets. After the tour, visit the famous Boquería Market to taste tapas and some local food.

Barcelona Spain

Set Sail


Duration: 7 nights
Where: Marseille, France | Genoa, Italy | Naples, Italy | Messina, Italy | Valletta, Malta | Barcelona, Spain | Marseille, France
Ship: MSC World Europe

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September, October & November

Nova Scotia, Canada

Autumn is the perfect time to visit North America’s east coast thanks to the gorgeous ‘fall’ colours and warm climate. September and October are when Nova Scotia is at its quietest plus you might sight whales.

Food is also fantastic here at this time of year. Feast on scallops from the Bay of Fundy, lobster rolls and oysters (the Halifax Oyster Festival is held in late September) plus blueberries and apples (often baked in delicious pies). Harvest also brings with it lots of wine-tasting opportunities.

Try to get to neighbouring Prince Edward Island if you can as well – the summer crowds have left at this time of year and the scenery is idyllic.

Shore excursion

Get yourself to Peggy’s Cove, the lighthouse at this vibrant fishing village is arguably the most photographed in Canada and is one of Nova Scotia’s most well-known beacons (there are more than 160 historic lighthouses in the province).


The Caribbean is a dream for every tourist looking to relax in a magnificent setting surrounded by long stretches of white sandy beaches, palm trees, exotic fruit, the coral reef, bustling with multi-coloured tropical fish and a turquoise sea.

A number of cruise lines even have their own private islands in the Caribbean these days including Disney Cruise Line, Holland American Line, NCL, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean.

MSC’s reclaimed private island, Ocean Cay, has eight beaches and a marine reserve in the Bahamas. “We have seen an increase in the number of our UK guests wanting to book a Caribbean cruise,” said Paradiso.”

Shore excursion

Give kayaking a go and take in spectacular views of the coastline and marine life – it’s the perfect way to relax in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

winter sun cruises grenada caribbean
Valletta Malta


Malta’s mild Mediterranean climate means it can still feel like summer on the island in November, with temperatures around 21°C.

Capital Valletta is gorgeous – almost unchanged since the 16th century when it was founded by the Knights of Malta – and is entirely UNESCO-listed. Be sure to wander the city’s streets to soak up the palaces, churches and museums.

Shore excursion

Check out the isle of Gozo – explore its prehistoric temples (including the oldest free-standing monuments in the world), fortified citadel and historic gems – the Ġgantija Temples is Malta’s most important archaeological site!

Set Sail

Caribbean & Antilles

Duration: 7 nights
Where: Point-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe | Roseau, Dominica | Philipsburg, St Maarten | St John’s, Antigua and Barbuda | Basseterre, St Kitts & St Nevis | Fort de France, Martinique | Point-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe
Ship: MSC Seaside

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December, January & February


Dubai is the perfect destination to escape the January blues. Home to the tallest buildings in the world, the most luxurious hotels and the boldest architecture that coexists with the historic palaces and the remnants of the long and rich Arab history.

The gulf region is popular for many reasons, one being the fabulous weather which appeals to British guests who are looking for a winter getaway, plus the incredible contrast of culture and traditions that date back thousands of years.

Paradiso explained: “I consider the gulf region, in particular Qatar and Dubai, to be one of the top places to visit, thanks to a variety of reasons, including the wonderful mix of cultures and traditions you get to experience offshore, but also the fantastic weather. During the winter, this is one of the most popular cruise destinations.”

Shore excursion

Treat yourself to the thrill of a lifetime on a dune-bashing adventure – an exciting rollercoaster ride over Arabia’s golden sand dunes all from the comfort of a modern four-wheel drive vehicle.

Dubai UAE
Palawan Philippines


Palawan on the western edge of the archipelago is the “last ecological frontier” of the Philippines and enjoys dry weather in the winter months. The Unesco Biosphere reserve boasts more than 1,700 islands fringed with coral reefs. Diving is spectacular here – expect marine life galore and even shipwrecks.

Shore excursion

From cruise port and capital Puerto Princesa, head to the Subterranean River National Park to explore a navigable underground waterway and admire amazing karst formations.


A city rich in history and infamous for its exquisite chocolate, Bruges is the ultimate Valentine’s getaway as it’s hailed as one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

The perfect destination for a romantic retreat as one of the most romantic things to do in Bruges is to take a horse-drawn carriage tour. Those travelling with their significant can also take a stroll across Minnewater bridge, also known as the Lake of Love.

Shore excursion

Marvel at the beauties of Bruges and learn about Belgium’s finest export product, chocolate. Visit a Belgian chocolatier’s workshop to see how raw chocolate bars are made into fine Belgian chocolates using only the best ingredients.

Bruges, Belgium

Set Sail


Duration: 7 nights
Where: Doha, Qatar | Dubai, UAE | Abu Dhabi, UAE | Sir Bani Yas Island, UAE | Dammam, Saudi Arabia | Doha, Qatar
Ship: MSC Virtuosa

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Published 02.07.23