8 Destination Cruises to Escape Winter
As we emerge from our winter selves – many of us having a long winter of cold and dreary weather, it is a joy to hear the birds chirping, see a peep of blue skies, or catch a glimpse of the first flowers opening. The urge to get out of the house can be pretty strong. Remember how desperately you wanted to get out of the house by the end of last winter? Plan ahead and be ready. Have something to look forward to during those gray late winter days. Where shall you go? Weather still dictates many U.S. cruise itineraries, but we’ve got some ideas to inspire you for traveling this coming Spring:
In February and March, set your heart on a trip to San Francisco Bay. Spend a week cruising the rivers that lead to this beloved bay encircled by hills, islands, and a stunning city that sparkles at night. Head up the Sacramento River to the state’s capitol and up the Napa River to California’s famous wine region. In mid-March, visit the San Francisco Botanical Garden which opens in Golden Gate Park. Find out more about this San Francisco Bay cruise getaway!
February and March are also a great time to visit the southern charms of the south Atlantic coastline and Low Country. Perfect weather usually accompanies you before summer’s heat and humidity arrive. Gardens will be blooming and blue skies will greet you on a trip where you’ll discover history, architecture, gardens, a unique cuisine, and great sandy beaches. In March, the trees and shrubs are all in bloom including the famous camellias, azaleas, magnolias, wisteria, and rhododendrons. A colorful time indeed! Find out More.
January through April is a wonderful time to visit the Lower Mississippi. Temperatures are mild, blue skies are shining, and the spring flowers are blooming. The Garden District of New Orleans is a must-see when visiting the city. Of course in New Orleans, the Mardi Gras festival often falls in February and can be as wild and thrilling as you want, or just be there to enjoy the ambience and celebration. Just be aware that it is high season in New Orleans and crowds will be at their peak. If you can time it, arrive a week after Mardi Gras and you’ll see beads still dangling from the trees that line the parade route and decorations everywhere, but without the crowds. The date of Mardi Gras fluctuates much like Easter does – upcoming dates include February 21, 2023; February 13, 2024; March 4, 2025; and February 17, 2026. Click here to find a Lower Mississippi cruise and laissez le bon temps rouler! (Let the good times roll!)
Just a short hop south of the U.S. you can cruise to San Juan and the Virgin Islands. The cruise season here runs November through March aboard the Star Pride. You can enjoy 8 days of Caribbean splendor bypassing those overcrowded big ports and seeing the area more as a local. Small ship cruising brings the Caribbean life to you without the crowds. Find out more about this Caribbean cruise.
Baja – cruise the Baja peninsula south of California and into Mexico where cruises run January through June. If you love marine life, you’ll love the chance to snorkel with sea lion pups and the colorful fish that live on the reefs. The Spring months are a perfect time to visit before the summer heat and hurricane season arrives. In January, several whale species begin arriving to give birth, leading to a peak month in February for viewing. Temperatures are mild and comfortable for visitors in the mid 70s. In March, many of the whales have moved on, but is a good time to see whale sharks or for birders to see a large number of different birds including blue footed boobies and red billed tropicbirds. Find out more about a Baja adventure cruise.
Starting in February and March, you can hop aboard a small river boat cruise that cruises out of the Jacksonville Florida area towards Lake George and the Ocala National Forest. Bring your camera for plenty of wildlife viewing. You can also choose a cruise that will take you to the Kennedy Space Center, the cobblestone streets of Savannah, Georgia, or to St. Augustine to see the Fountain of Youth! Click here to find a cruise to Florida.
If you want to explore Hawaii without the crowds, arrive early Spring after school has started but before spring breaks arrive in mid-March. Cruising the Hawaiian Islands in January and February, you will enjoy great mild weather as well as amazing local foods and culture. Crowds may increase a little around Valentine’s Day, but who can blame them, as it is one of the most romantic places for a getaway! In Hawaii, humpback whales frequent the islands and sightings peak in February. On the Big Island, it is time for an annual Cherry Blossom festival. On Oahu, the surfing tournament season continues into February on the north shores of the island. There is a good chance for rain in February, but in Hawaii, downpours usually only last about 10 minutes and then they’re gone. You are in the tropics, after all! Click here to find a dream cruise to Hawaii.
The cruise season begins along the Columbia River in late March. Spring doesn’t really get going until mid-April, when cherry trees and early rhododendrons begin blooming, but prior to that, the lush greenery of this area is still quite impressive set against snow draped mountains. Crowds will be few as you stand at the foot of Multnomah Falls when the water is really flowing at full speed. Summer crowds see a comparative trickle compared to the full force of nature resulting from Spring rains. The Portland Japanese Garden and Seattle Japanese Garden are good places to see blooming cherry trees, as well as along the Portland city waterfront, which was gifted many trees from its sister city in Japan. Downtown Portland also is home to the Lan Su Chinese Garden – a surprising find among the highrises and one filled with peace where you may find magnolias or the chinese fringe flower in bloom. In April, the rhododendrons are in bloom everywhere, and the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens in Portland are a stunning place to view them. Many tower overhead as they can become the size of trees with the Northwest’s perfect growing conditions. Near Seattle, the cruises in the Puget Sound and San Juan Islands usually don’t begin until early April. The unpredictable weather can make for a day full of puffy white clouds and blue skies, or a morning of fog. No matter the weather, you’ll want to add on a trip to the Skagit Valley daffodils and tulips fields when they are in full bloom. Click to find a Pacific Northwest cruise to the Puget Sound or the Columbia River Gorge.