Smaller Crowds, Cheaper Fares: the Five Best Fall Cruises
Alaska offers some great cruise bargains this fall, including the option to take a smaller ship through the Icy Strait. (Photo: Ann Rivall/USN&WR)
By Liz Weiss
With crisp air, cool temperatures, and brilliant foliage on display, autumn is an ideal time to cruise. The stretch between summer and winter affords relatively crowd-free ports and fewer passengers on board (kids are back in school), translating to plenty of opportunities to commune with nature. Best of all, many repositioning cruises — ships crossing from one region of the world to another — offer reduced rates and longer itineraries.
So, if you’re one of the nearly 21.7 million passengers projected to cruise in 2014, fall is an ideal time to take in striking backdrops and score significant savings. Decide which sailing is right for you with U.S News’ list of the top autumn cruise destinations and itineraries.
Note: All prices are subject to change and are per person, based on double occupancy.
Alaska is known for its jaw-dropping scenery: Calving glaciers, snow-capped peaks and majestic fjords snake along quaint towns and villages. And in September, the waters teem with humpback whales and sea lions. Many large ships, such as those within the Princess Cruises and Celebrity Cruises fleets, offer travelers the chance to explore the Inside Passage with stops in Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka and Victoria, British Columbia. Smaller cruise ships, such as those operated by Un-Cruise Adventures, navigate the narrower Gulf of Alaska passage. This route takes passengers from Vancouver to Anchorage (or vice versa), making stops in hard-to-reach ports like College Fjord and Hubbard Glacier. Though both routes offer ample nature-viewing opportunities, the latter tends to lure those in pursuit of more immersive offshore experiences and face-to-face wildlife encounters.
Best Fall Bargains
An eight-day trip aboard Un-Cruise Adventures’ Wilderness Discoverer departing from Sitka on September 13 is listed at $1,895 for a Navigator cabin. That’s $700 less than the price advertised for the same cruise (and cabin category) leaving on May 23, 2015. Entry fees to national parks, onboard meals and equipment (like hiking poles and paddle boards) are included in the rate. The price also covers three days in Glacier Bay and expeditions through southeast Alaska’s Icy Strait, not to mention an abundance of wildlife viewing.