If you're planning a cruise this year, you'll want to take into consideration the best and cheapest times to cruise. From January through March, known as the "Wave Season," most cruise lines put out the most attractive booking promotions, and a large percentage of cruisers book their sailings in the early months of the year. With this in mind, you can find cruise lines competing for your reservation by offering free cabin upgrades, onboard credit and fare discounts.
If you can't book early in the year, 2019 will offer great deals in the autumn months as well. This is when the cruise lines are trying to sell off remaining inventory for the current year and offer big discounts to attract cruisers. If you're looking to sail in the winter, bargain shoppers will want to look at Caribbean deals from September through December when the sea is saturated with ships, and there is less demand. For the best stops, as well as some of the best deals, check out these top cruise destinations for 2019.
After shootings and bomb attacks in Istanbul, an attempted military coup in 2016 and a visa dispute with the U.S., many travelers stayed away and so did the cruise lines. U.S. tourists can once again get visas and visit the colorful markets in Istanbul and Kusadasi and the ancient ruins in Ephesus. Cruise Critic reports that, in late 2019, Istanbul's main cruise terminal expansion will be complete and welcoming major cruise lines. The U.S. State Department encourages tourists to stay alert in locations frequented by Westerners.
Take a step back in time and travel the way we used to in the 1920s and '30s aboard the legendary Cunard, Queen Mary 2. Step back in time and enjoy British White Star Service on the world's only oceanliner for a seven-day journey to Europe. Cunard will offer several seven- and 14-day crossings and round trips in 2019 from New York to Southampton with fares as low as $799 per person.
Alaska has numerous opportunities for cruising in 2019. Sail along the Inside Passage to visit the ice formations of Glacier Bay and Icy Strait, as well popular ports such as Ketchikan, Skagway and Juneau. Royal Caribbean Cruise line offers a seven-night Southbound Alaska & Hubbard Glacier cruise as low as $649 per person in May.
If you're more into river cruising than ocean cruising, one of the top destinations in 2019 is the Mekong. The Lower Mekong River that flows through Vietnam and Cambodia is an ideal itinerary for those who've never been to Southeast Asia. For some of the best deals, try Avalon river cruises or Emerald Waterways.
From the Eastern Mediterranean to the Western Mediterranean you will be sure to find a port that will delight all your senses. If you plan to see Gaudi's unique architecture in Barcelona to the ruins in Rome, some of the best deals can be found on repositioning cruises. A repositioning cruise involves one-way routes that lines sometimes sell at huge discounts as they move their ships for the season.
The Great Lakes
According to Cruise Critic, The Great Lakes are the next frontier of U.S. cruising. Discover small town America from Montreal to the Mackinac Islands. Travel all five of the Great Lakes or sail down the St. Lawrence River to the Atlantic coast. Try these small ship cruise lines for the best deals: Pearl Seas Cruises and Victory Cruise Lines.
You'll find white sands and turquoise water throughout the Caribbean. There are dozens of islands to choose from with lush rainforests, mountain trails and more. Carnival offers a five-day Western Caribbean cruise in May for $579 per person.
Tallinn boasts Old World charm but also embraces the modern; for instance, Skype's software was created by Estonians. One of the safest cities in the world, this hidden gem in the Baltic states is going to be a hot spot in 2019. With cultural festivals like World Music Days (celebrating its 40th anniversary) and cheap beer, it's no wonder this is a top destination. Celebrity Cruise Line offers an 11-night Baltic Sea cruise in June for $1,799 per person.
The new year brings you this spruced up island destination. The port was closed due to Hurricane Irma in 2017, but has since reopened with new landscaping, shopping and dining facilities. This year the homeport facility will be the jumping-off point to other islands in the Caribbean and will host new lines such as Seabourn, Windstar and Star Clippers.
Thanks in part to the book and film "Crazy Rich Asians," Singapore have seen a huge surge in tourism. And the cruise lines are taking note and marketing to millennials with an abundance of itineraries. You're sure to find a good price in 2019 from these lines: Royal Caribbean, Princess, Seabourn and Silversea that depart from Singapore, as well as plenty of impressively long nonstop flights there.
If your goal in 2019 is to relax more and escape the hustle and bustle of mainline vacations, then this is your year to unwind on the river. River cruising in Europe has become a booming destination for 2019. It is the fastest-growing sector of the cruise industry, with new ships being launched each year. This March, Viking River Cruises offer a 14-night cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest for $5,199 per person.
Get a taste of Europe without crossing the pond. If the budget is a little tight in 2019, and you can't sail across the Atlantic, this little city with a huge French influence might just do the trick. Viking Cruises does a 13-day cruise from New York to Montreal just in time for the fall colors with two cruises in September.
Papua New Guinea
If you're an avid scuba or snorkeling enthusiast looking for a pristine, unspoiled diving site, try Conflict Islands off the coast of Papua New Guinea. This is a privately owned coral atoll that is a port of call aboard the Holland America Line. In 2020, Cunard and Carnival Cruise Lines will travel to this exotic destination.
How about a cool mid-summer trip to the Norwegian fjords in 2019? During the summer months, cruising is the best way to see the fjord landscapes come alive. Hotel and food prices in Norway are often high, so a cruise might be the most economic way to take this journey. With a wide variety of itinerary lengths and ship types to choose from, travelers can compare and find a good deal in 2019.
Canada and New England
Check off whale watching from your bucket list in 2019. Try a cruise on the Atlantic Coast, from Canada's small ports and cities to the lighthouses in Bar Harbor, Maine. If you can't catch a whale, you're sure to view some breathtaking fall colors in September and October. In September Celebrity Cruise Line offers a 14 night Canada & New England cruise for $1,599 per person.
Do you dream of seeing the ancient pyramids of Egypt against the backdrop of a golden setting sun? If so, do it now. According to Cruise Critic, river cruise reservations on the Nile increased fivefold in 2018 and are expected to be high in 2019. Celestyal Cruises has announced it will sail into Egypt in 2019, followed by Uniworld in 2020.
This destination gets more popular every year. The breathtaking old city is set against the hillside with fun cliff bars along the city walls and views of the nearby island of Lokrum. The city also is a big draw because it's been a backdrop for many scenes in HBO's "Games of Thrones." AARP reports that the Adriatic Sea is so salty that you can float without even trying.
If you find yourself river cruising on the Rhône in Provence, Arles is a must-stop. This relatively unknown spot is where Van Gogh spent time and painted café themes at night. It also has a Roman amphitheater built in 90 A.D. Avalon Waterways offer an 11-day river cruise in May for $3,748
Around the world
If you have the money and the time, why not spend 113 days cruising the oceans of the world in 2019. Holland America Cruise Lines has a cruise that will take you to 27 countries including exotic stops like the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama and the dramatic Moai statues of Easter Island. The world awaits in 2019.
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