Planning your next cruise
Planning a cruise requires two major considerations: when to go and for how long. Cruises can be planned for any season and length of time, so you must establish when the cruise will begin and when it will end. Generally, the cruising season in North America runs from April to November. But be sure to check your insurance policy to see if there are limits on where and when you can travel.
Take weather into consideration when planning a cruise
Weather is also a major consideration. In the spring and fall, winds are stronger and, consequently, choppy waves abound. If you are sailing, those may be the best months to travel, although you may have to wait for favorable conditions. Powerboats may have to travel in weather windows. So when you plan your cruise, allow additional time for days spent in port.
You’ll also need to consider adverse weather, tides, currents and winds. The longer the cruise, the greater the chance of encountering bad weather at least one day per week. If the extra days aren’t needed, the cruise can be extended.
Match your cruise duration to a destination within reach so you can set approximate departure and return dates. To quickly show whether the trip is feasible within the allotted time, make an analysis of the proposed cruise route on a chart.
Give yourself and your crew ample time to relax
Plan on an average cruising speed that’s about 70 percent of your usual cruising speed. For example, if your powerboat typically cruises at 15 knots, plan your average speed to be closer to 10.5 knots. A good rule of thumb is to limit your travel to five to six hours per day, particularly with family. This gives the crew ample time to relax and rest during the cruise.
Plan to be in an anchorage close to home port for at least a day before the end of the cruise to give yourself time to clean the boat and rest. For many, taking a day to unpack, read the mail and relax after a cruise is essential before returning to a regular routine.
Look at alternative ways of cruising
If you’re crunched for time, it’s possible to cruise for a while, store the boat, fly home and resume the cruise later. Cruising the Great Loop or the Intracoastal Waterway from new England to Texas could be broken into smaller cruises. You can arrange for the boat to be stored in the winter or hauled. Many find this to be a pleasurable way to explore an area without having a strict timetable for returning to home port. After you return to the boat, you can cruise the area with renewed interest.
Another alternative is having your vessel transported to another location for local cruising. Some trucking companies will transport large boats for you, and professional boat transporters can haul surprisingly large boats overland on special trucks adjusted to the configuration of the boat’s hull design. You can also have your boat transported by ship from port cities to various destinations, opening up new possibilities for cruising anywhere in the world.
To learn more about cruise planning, take our Cruising and Cruise Planning course.