You are currently viewing Best summer cruises to beat the heat: Check out these 5 cooler-weather destinations

Best summer cruises to beat the heat: Check out these 5 cooler-weather destinations

Every time summer nears, I brace myself for sweltering days when I sweat just walking to my car and sticky nights when mosquitoes attack. So, as I plan my cruises for next summer (since options for this year are scarce), the last place I’m thinking of going is somewhere even warmer and stickier.

If you’re in the same boat — er, cruise ship — I’ll share the destinations I’m considering. Some are known for cold-weather cruises year-round; others are experiencing winter when we here in the U.S. are dealing with oppressive heat.

Here are five summer cruise destinations that are ideal for escaping to cooler climes.

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Alaska

A harbor seal lying on a piece of floating ice in Alaska
A harbor seal lying on a piece of floating ice in Alaska. BRETT MONROE GARNER/GETTY IMAGES

Although the weather in Alaska can vary day by day and stretch into the 90s in summertime, you’ll generally find temperatures in the high 60s to low 70s, even during the hottest months.

Alaska can be cumbersome to navigate if you’re planning to visit multiple locations, but cruises provide an excellent way to explore the 49th state. Depending on the itinerary, you can enjoy a hike in the serene Tongass National Forest, surrounded by conifers that keep the area cool; book a salmon fishing excursion to take advantage of the brisk morning weather on the water; or pull on a sweatshirt and head out on deck to enjoy chilly breezes as you sail past glaciers on sea days.

If you still need convincing, several lines offer pre- and post-cruise land tours that you can tack onto one-way Alaska voyages. Extend your trip, and stay at properties that put you in view of snowcapped Denali, the highest mountain in North America, or the charming town of Dawson City in Canada’s Yukon Territory, where the Klondike and Yukon rivers meet. Plus, beginning in mid-August, you can try to catch a glimpse of the glowing, mysterious northern lights.

Related: The best Alaska cruises for every type of traveler

The Arctic

A cruise ship docked in the Lofoten Islands in the Arctic
A cruise ship docked in the Lofoten Islands in the Arctic. MARCO BOTTIGELLI/GETTY IMAGES

Imagine glaciers so compact they look bright blue; when they calve, the chunks are pure enough to bring back on board your ship to use in cocktails. As you pull your hat down over your ears, you look to your right and catch seals lazing on a nearby iceberg in hopes of snagging some lunch.

The Arctic cruise season runs from May to November, making summer a great time to venture north — so far north, in fact, that you’ll cross into the Arctic Circle. How would you like to soak in an outdoor hot tub as your ship positions itself just a couple of hundred miles from the literal top of the world or wake up to find yourself in the middle of an ice field that will take your breath away?

Cruises to the northern polar region range in length from a week to two weeks and often include ports in Norway’s Svalbard, as well as Greenland and Arctic Canada. These voyages are prime for bucket-list activities like polar bear spotting and, of course, polar plunges, where passengers jump off the sides of their vessels into waters with temperatures around 28 or 29 degrees. Instead of baking on a beach in the Caribbean, you’ll be diving into your own private slice of near-freezing ocean.

Related: The best Arctic cruise itineraries, from someone who has tried them all

Australia and New Zealand

A cruise ship sailing past the Sydney Opera House in Australia
Silversea’s Silver Muse sailing past the Sydney Opera House in Australia. SILVERSEA CRUISES

If you miss winter so much, why not go back to it? Seasons in the Northern and Southern hemispheres are opposite; if you visit Australia and New Zealand during June, July and August, the region will be experiencing winter. Temperatures in Australia during those months range from the high 40s to the low 60s. You won’t have to pack for blizzard conditions, but you also won’t have to worry about intense heat.

Australia and New Zealand cruises range from weeklong voyages that sail exclusively around Australia to two-week sailings that depart from Australia and sail to New Zealand and back. Some sailings even include islands in the South Pacific. Super-long cruises, such as round-Asia and world cruises, might also call in ports Down Under.

In Australia, check out the winter night market in Melbourne. Water babies have plenty to enjoy, too; divers won’t want to miss out on excursions to the Great Barrier Reef during this time of year. If New Zealand makes up the bulk of your itinerary, perhaps you’d like to do a wine tasting in one of the perfectly chilled cellars in Picton. Or, if you’re a “Lord of the Rings” fan, visit the hobbit holes in Tauranga.

Northern Europe

Tivoli Gardens at night in Copenhagen
Tivoli Gardens at night. WALTER BIBIKOW/GETTY IMAGES

The air in Scandinavia is just different. It’s crisp, clean and fresh in a way you won’t experience anywhere else, and it stays on the cool side year-round (think: mid-60s to mid-70s), even in summer.

Take advantage of the weather by visiting Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens amusement park (one of the oldest in the world), or learn about Denmark’s history at Den Gamle By, an open-air museum in Aarhus. Pull up a chair at a cafe in Sweden’s Gothenburg to try one of its famous cinnamon buns, or check out the Vasa Museum in Stockholm to see a nearly intact Viking ship.

And let’s not forget about Iceland, which has seen a surge in popularity among travelers over the last few years. The jumping-off point for these sailings is usually Reykjavik, where temperatures hover in the mid-50s during summertime. For a fun way to spend the day, head to the Blue Lagoon for a soak in the relaxing heated waters. Make your way to the botanical gardens, or enjoy whale watching if your ship calls on Akureyri.

Related: Best European cruises: Ships that stand out across the pond

The Norwegian fjords

Cruise ships in Geirangerfjord, Norway.
Cruise ships in Geirangerfjord, Norway. PETER ADAMS/GETTY IMAGES

For one of the most scenic itineraries ever, book a Norwegian fjords cruise. Take a tour of Norway’s bustling Oslo, stroll Bergen’s iconic Bryggen shops and take your pick of excellent fish restaurants in Tromso.

However, you’ll want to hold your breath for Geirangerfjord, where huge mountains striped with cascading waterfalls rise up on either side of your ship as it sails in to dock in the fishing village of the same name. Be sure to make your way to the top for phenomenal photos — and to enjoy average summer high temperatures in the mid-60s.

Bottom line

If you’re someone who hates the heat, a sailing to a cool-weather destination might be for you when the thermometer readings start to climb.

Whether you keep it domestic with an Alaska voyage or venture farther afield to Australia, where the seasons are flipped, you’ll find plenty of options for summer cruises to keep you cool.

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