Sailing through stormy seas and rolling waves is not the kind of thing that the travel brochures talk about when you book a cruise. This simple guide will tell you where and just as importantly when you can expect to hit choppy waters, giving you the facts you need to avoid the worst of the weather.
If you are taking any cruise that crosses large stretches of open waters, like a transpacific or transatlantic crossing, then you will almost certainly hit some rough seas on your cruise. However there are certain times of the year that you should definitely avoid (February-April for the Pacific, while the Atlantic sea is roughest from November-February). Generally the best time of year to take a transatlantic cruise is from May to August and June to August offers the calmest seas for the Pacific.
There are certain areas like the Bay of Biscay and the North Sea where you can expect to hit rough seas at almost any time of the year. However the weather and the waves get significantly worse during the Autumn and winter months. This is especially the case with the Mediterranean, which experiences storms and large swells.
Anybody considering taking a cruise around Africa should be aware that they will be hitting rough seas as they circle the Cape of Good Hope, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean. This will happen regardless of the season. Of course once you circle round into the Indian Ocean rough seas are not the only problem you have to deal with; there’s always the Somali pirates for example
The seas along the coast of South America are generally calm during the summer months (November-March) and deteriorate during the winter months. However the further South you travel the more likely you are to hit rough seas. Cruise around Cape Horn for example and you can almost guarantee that you will hit rough seas. The other place to watch out for is Drake Passage (an area of sea between the Shetland Islands and Cape Horn). Anyone who wants to take a cruise to Antarctica will have to cross this stretch of water.
The obvious time to avoid a cruise in the Caribbean is during the hurricane season, which has traditionally been from June 1 to November 30. However, as a result of changing weather patterns, the hurricane season is no longer as predictable as it used to be. Apart from time of year, there are certain areas that also experience rough seas regardless of the time of year. This happens as ships exit the Gulf of Mexico or the Caribbean Sea.
With a long coastline, Canada offers a great place to take a cruise. As most Canadian cruises occur within the sheltered waters of the Inside Passage, rough seas is not a problem that cruise ship passengers have to deal with. However if you plan to visit Anchorage, Seward or Whittier, you will have to cross the Gulf of Alaska, which can get pretty rough.
From July to November is Typhoon season in the North-West Pacific. This is definitely not the time of year to consider to be taking any type of cruise unless you want to be dealing with rough seas. The strongest typhoons occur in the South China Sea, making a cruise around China, Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines especially dangerous.
If you watch the news then you will know how treacherous the sea between Australia and Indonesia can be. Other areas where the sea is especially rough include the Bass Strait, which is the stretch of water seperating Tasmania and Australia along with the Tasman Sea. The sea is especially rough between July to November, which is during the typhoon season in Asia.