Winter cruise

Winter Cruise (or Winter Fleet)
The Great Bay is partially ice-locked in the winter, which severely curtails maritime trade by Brecht shipping. Most of the seafaring guilds have made an adjustment to this by sending their hardiest ships on a long cruise around Cerilia's southern coast during the winter. The ships depart before the ice closes in, and return after it lifts, often a trip of up to six months.
Ships engaged on this voyage often carry passengers on a combination pleasure cruise, tourist voyage and speculative trading venture. Ships' captains lease cargo space and cabins to passengers and their goods, and may enter agreements regarding which ports to visit. The Vos coasts are the least popular, and the Anuirean and Khinasi ports most popular to visit.
The Winter Fleet refers to the many ships that often sail together, or at least within sight of each other. It is entirely up to the captains whether they sail all the way around Cerilia, pass east to west or vice versa, or if they travel halfway around and then return. In waters believed to be dangerous, such as near the Yousera Brotherhood's home ports, or off Mieres, the Brecht ships tend to sail together for protection.
Southern Coast port cities know to expect these ships on their annual voyage, and often merchants stock up regional goods to trade for items from farther away. Brecht cities, on the other end, expect a blizzard of trading activity in the late spring, when the fleet's ships return. Grabentod's pirates used to be perfectly placed to ransom well-laden traders as they pushed through the breaking ice of spring. This is one of the reasons Muden worked so hard to suppress their thieving. "First ship into the ice rests easy for the summer," is a Grabentod saying.
Wealthy Brecht families often use the Winter Fleet as a means of educating their young adults, by sending them to see the world. Talk of what they have seen enlivens salons for years to come and a youth who has never been on 'the grand tour' is seen as insular in many of the more well-to-do circles. A precious few scions make the journey to the Royal College of Sorcery, in hopes of obtaining a wizard's education. Those failing to get in to the Anuirean college often sail on to Khinasi cities to apply to wizards there, or travel to the Temple of Mairada to seek tutors.

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