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It’s called shoulder season for a reason

SmarterTravel

Cruise Editor Erica Silverstein is currently sailing the Mediterranean aboard Windstar’s Wind Surf. If you have any questions about Windstar, the ship in particular, or Mediterranean cruising, please email her at cruise@smartertravel.com.

Shoulder-season cruises are some of the best deals around. Travel to Europe at the end of the cruising season, and you’ll often find lower rates, if not downright bargain prices. But, as I discovered, you also take your chances.

On my Wind Surf cruise, we spent the first day in Monaco under overcast skies, and the second in the pouring rain. Most of us returned from our days of sightseeing wet and chilled. But the wild weather wasn’t just uncomfortable. The rough seas and high winds actually prevented the ship from leaving Monaco.

So after two days in the principality, we found ourselves there for a third consecutive day. We missed our call in Portofino, Italy, and our scheduled tours there. We also missed out on that extra night of sailing. The stops in Italy were really the highlights of this tour and most guests were disappointed to miss one of them.

The moral of the story is that you’re truly at the mercy of the elements when you book a cruise, especially early or late in the season. You’ve got to learn to be flexible—otherwise that great deal sometimes becomes less of a bargain than you originally thought.

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