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When is The Best Time to Cruise to The Greek Islands? (Month by Month Guide)

** This post is sponsored by Celestyal Cruises, all opinions are my own. **

If you are considering taking a cruise to the Greek islands, you may be wondering when the best time to go is.

I have cruised multiple times to the Greek islands at different times of the year and in this guide, we will look at the benefits of visiting in each month.

When is The Peak Holiday Season in Greece?

The peak season for tourism in Greece is July to August. The temperatures are highest at this time of year and the majority of schools have holidays in July and/or August. May, June, September, and October are also popular times of the year to visit.

It’s important to remember that the ‘peak’ time doesn’t necessarily mean the best, there are a number of drawbacks to cruising at this time of year.

Peak Season (July/August)School Holidays, Temperature, Availability on LandBusy Destinations, Expensive

What are The Benefits of Cruising to The Greek Islands in Peak Season (July/August)?

If you do decide to cruise to the Greek Islands in July or August, you will have the most choice when it comes to cruise lines.

Many large American cruise lines offer cruises to the Greek Islands in peak season such as Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Norwegian Cruise Line.

Cruise lines regularly move their ships where the demand is highest, so a cruise line may choose to place a ship in the Greek Islands during the peak season and then move the ship somewhere else, for example over to the Caribbean, as the temperature decreases.

Celestyal Cruises Olympia Sunset Santorini
Me in Santorini

These types of cruises are called repositioning cruises and they can be a great way to secure a bargain on a cruise. To learn more about repositioning cruises, check out this post: You Need To Take a Repositioning Cruise – 7 Huge Reasons Why.

Most Schools Have Holidays at This Time of Year

Travelling in July and August can often be easiest if you are travelling with children who need to travel within the school holidays.

During this time the ship will be ready to carry many children and as a result, there may be more children’s activities on offer than there would be at other times of the year.

The Temperature is Highest

For those who love warm weather, July and August are good months to cruise to the Greek Islands because sunshine is (almost) guaranteed.

Temperatures regularly reach 30c (86f) on the island of Santorini in August.

Santorini is one of the most popular destinations to visit on a Greek Islands cruise and there are often many ships tendering into the island.

It’s important to note that if you are visiting the Greek Islands on a cruise, you will have to tender into ports. Tendering means using a small boat to get to land because it isn’t possible for the cruise ship to dock alongside the pier.

To learn more about tendering, check out this post: Cruise Ship Tendering – 5 Tips You NEED to Know

Everything Will Be Open

Due to the increased numbers of passengers visiting in July and August, it’s very unlikely that you will find any major tourist attractions closed during these months.

The locals who live in cruise ports are aware ahead of time when cruise ships will be visiting, so the cafes and restaurants will always be open and ready to entertain passengers on the days that ships are visiting.

Celestyal Olympia Cruises Tender Life Boat Mykonos
Me in Mykonos

What are The Drawbacks of Cruising to The Greek Islands in Peak Season (July/August)?

Destinations Can Get Busy

If multiple cruise ships are docking in a port at the same time, that can mean that there are thousands, possibly even tens of thousands of guests arriving to the island at the same time.

Some ports are well set up to deal with this but in many ports, it can feel overwhelming and busy.

It may be tricky to get a seat in a restaurant that you want to go to or you may have to preplan visiting tourist attractions to ensure that tickets aren’t sold out when you arrive.

Most cruise port destinations, particularly in the Greek Islands weren’t designed for tourists in such huge quantities.

The Temperature is Highest

You may have noticed that the temperature is both a benefit and a drawback of cruising during the peak season. For many people, the higher the temperature the better (within reason) but for others, like me, I prefer things to be a little cooler.

It’s important to think about what you would like to do in port before you decide when you would like to visit. If you would like to climb the steps in Santorini for example, it may be a good idea to do this when the weather is a little cooler.

santorini greece

Are There Other Good Months (Outside of Peak Season) to Cruise to The Greek Islands?

Cruising to the Greek Islands in May, June, September and October is very popular. The weather is slightly cooler and the destinations are considerably quieter than in the peak season of August and September. Prices are also lower.

I call these months the ‘shoulder months’ as they shoulder the peak season.

Shoulder Months (May, June, September, October)Lower Prices, Temperature, Quieter PortsLess Choice, Out of School Holidays

I Cruise to The Greek Islands in October

I took a cruise with the Greek cruise line Celestyal a couple of years ago, we cruised in October and visited 7 ports within 4 days.

It was a busy, but brilliant cruise.

For us, the temperature (around 25c) was perfect, and coming from the UK where the average October temperature is 10c, it was amazing to get away for some autumn sunshine.

To learn more about my Celestyal cruise, including what it was like cruising on the Celestyal Olympia, an ex-Royal Caribbean ship, check out my full review here: Celestyal Cruises – Daily Photo Diary and Review

We embarked in Athens (Piraeus) and visited Mykonos, Kusadasi, Patmos, Rhodes, Crete and Santorini, all within 4 days!

We also found that the ports weren’t too busy but that we were able to do everything that we wanted to in each port.

I would definitely recommend cruising in the shoulder months.

What are The Benefits of Cruising to The Greek Islands in The Shoulder Months (May, June, September, October)?

The Prices are Lower Than Peak Season

The prices for a Greek island cruise in the shoulder months can be considerably lower than the exact same cruise in peak season. This is because the demand is highest in the peak season so cruise lines are able to increase their prices.

Cruising outside of school holidays usually does reduce the cost of any cruise.

Ports Are Quieter

Instead of docking in a port with 3 or 4 other cruise ships, there may only be 1 or 2, or perhaps you will be the only cruise ship in a port.

This means that you get a more authentic experience when it comes to the port and will be able to better see what it is like to live in the port as a local.

Celestyal Cruises Olympia Lindos Excursion Rhodes

The Weather is Still Warm

‘Warm’ is, of course, a subjective word, to the locals the weather in the shoulder season could be described as getting chilly but for me, it was glorious.

The weather is fairly consistent in Greece, at least compared to the weather in the UK. Most of the time in May, June, September, and October the weather will range from around 20-25c.

Although it does rain on occasion the typical rainfall of October in a place like Mykonos is only 8 days a month totally roughly 2 inches of rainfall.

What are The Drawbacks of Cruising to The Greek Islands in The Shoulder Months (May, June, September, October)?

There May be Less Choice of Cruise Lines

The majority of cruise lines that visit the Greek Islands do so for multiple months at a time.

That said, many of the larger cruise lines will start to reposition their ships in October/November and you may not have as much choice as you would in peak season.

It may be that a cruise line will reposition one of its ships and will leave another behind.

This could mean that you may be able to cruise with the cruise line that you wanted, but may not have a choice when it comes to the ship.

You May be Unable to Bring The Family

If you do have children you may be unable to bring them on a cruise outside of the peak season.

That said many schools in Europe have a smaller break in October time and cruising at this time can be a great idea.

It’s also a good idea to check if your school holidays are the same as those in the country that you are visiting. If you are from the UK and the school holidays start on July 15th but in the country that you’re visiting the kids are still at school for another week, this can be a great way to get a cheaper price.

When is The Low Season for Cruising to The Greek Islands?

The least popular time to visit the Greek Islands on a cruise is November-April. The temperature is lowest during this season and there is less choice of cruise lines as many reposition their ships to warmer climates.

The Greek Island cruising season does continue year-round.

Low Season (November – April)Lowest Prices, Temperature, Quieter PortsLess Choice, Temperature, Closed Attractions

What are The Benefits of Cruising to The Greek Islands in Low Season (November-April)?

The Prices Are Lowest

If you are on a budget there is no cheaper time to cruise to the Greek Islands than the autumn/winter season. Due to the fact that demand is lower, it’s often possible to find a very cheap cruise during this time of year.

One of the few cruise lines that sails to the Greek Islands year-round is Costa Cruises. Costa are very much a budget Italian cruise line and it’s possible to cruise with Costa for under £50 per night if planned well.

It’s important to note that Costa aren’t a Greek cruise line and as a result, their itineraries usually include other ports in places like Turkey.

If you are looking to cruise solely to the Greek Islands the Greek cruise line Celestyal are best for this.

What are The Drawbacks of Cruising to The Greek Islands in Low Season (November-April)?

There’s Less Choice of Cruise Lines

Most cruise lines will reposition their ships away from the Greek Islands in winter.

Many of the cruise lines that stay behind are luxury cruise lines such as Viking so if you are looking for a mainstream American cruise line you may want to avoid this time of year.

viking cruises umbrella
Me with the Viking Sea in Norway

Some Main Attractions May be Closed

It isn’t abnormal to find tourist attractions closed during the winter months. Smaller cafes/restaurants may also close as well as som smaller shops.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the quieter towns can have their own charms but it does mean that a little more pre planning is required in order to make sure that the things that you would like to see are open during your visit.

This does also apply to days of the week. I recently visited Hamburg in Germany on a Sunday and the majority of attractions and shops were closed. It was very strange to walk around the deserted streets.

The Weather Could be Poor

Travelling in low season does give you a higher chance of encountering bad weather.

If you’re from somewhere like the UK it’s likely that the weather will be better than at home but Mykonos for example has an average February temperature of 10c (50f).

December through until March is described as the cool season.

When is The Best Time to Take a Greek Island Cruise?

The peak season for Greek Island cruises is July – August. During this period the temperatures are highest. Cruising in the shoulder season of May, June, September and October can be considerably cheaper than the peak season but there may be a reduced amount of cruise line choice.

There are a few cruise lines that sail to the Greek Islands year round.

The below table details the pros and cons of each season along with who would enjoy each month the most.

BenefitsDrawbacksIdeal Customers
Peak Season (July/August)School Holidays, Temperature, Availability on LandBusy Destinations, ExpensiveSun Seakers, Families
Shoulder Months (May, June, September, October)Lower Prices, Temperature, Quieter PortsLess Choice, Out of School HolidaysBudget Cruisers, Relaxed Cruisers
Low Season (November – April)Lowest Prices, Temperature, Quieter PortsLess Choice, Temperature, Closed AttractionsWinter Sun Seakers, Budget Cruisers

To find out how my Greek Island cruise with Celestyal went, check out this video next:

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