For those looking to get away to warmer climes and escape the chills of the later months or wanting to spend the festive season somewhere special, there are plenty of destinations to choose from.
Top Winter Sun Destinations
This is a fantastic cruise destination during the winter months, with temperatures still hitting 15°C. It’s still a pleasant port to explore, even more so as the streets are as empty as the azure blue skies which shine down upon them! It is also the best time to join the city’s festivities, with the festival of Santa Eulàlia taking place on 12th February. This is a huge open-air parade complete with concerts, performances and workshops over several days. Barcelona’s seasonal delicacies also come out of the woodwork during winter, with the most popular being churros – often paired with dipping chocolate.
Winter in the Galapagos is close to perfection. Temperatures can reach a heavenly 30°C and you will be treated to some of the most amazing natural events on the islands. December and January are prime months for the hatching of Galapagos giant tortoises; December kicks off the fur seal breeding season; January sees green sea turtles start laying their eggs; penguins migrate to Isabela and Fernandina in February and, towards the end of this month, marine iguanas start nesting on Santa Cruz.
Virtually unspoiled by tourism and development, there is no better place to get off-grid and indulge your inner explorer than the islands in the South Pacific. Cruises here will transport you to island paradises that couldn’t be further removed from the melancholy UK weather. Grab a snorkel or join a scuba diving excursion to explore beautiful coral gardens and mysterious shipwrecks; relax on a bright white beach before savouring the freshest local seafood, and hike to sacred jungle statues and volcanic peaks.
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates is a land of stunning contrasts. Futuristic cities sit alongside vast deserts and ornate mosques, and cosmopolitan playgrounds give way to traditional cultures.
Visiting during winter means you can miss the bulk of the crowds and still enjoy temperatures of around 20°C, but if you want to avoid peak rainfall, cruise in December and January rather than February. Not that a few showers will dampen the splendour of the Emirati sights. Dubai offers endless glamour and innovation, towering skyscrapers, traditional souks and desert landscapes.
Made up of around 17,000 islands – of which only 8,000 are inhabited – Indonesia will captivate absolutely every kind of traveller. A premier destination for many cruisers on the run from the UK winter. Explore the island’s cultural centre, Ubud, and enjoy traditional crafts, dancing and captivating cuisines for all who visit. For those who really want to get away from city life, the jungle is also never far away.
Top Christmas and New Year Destinations
New York, U.S.A.
Spread your festive cheer in the Big Apple, where this city certainly tops the Christmas holiday destination list. With its famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, this destination features in many festive films and seasonal songs, and rightfully so. From the brilliant window displays of Fifth Avenue to the illuminating delights of Dyker Heights, New York is a destination that will light up anyone’s Christmas celebrations. Enjoy a world-class performance of ‘The Nutcracker’ by The New York City Ballet or go ice skating in Central Park to really immerse yourself in the festivities.
Experience authentic German Christmas markets in the city of Hamburg. Here decorated wooden stalls and beautiful bright lights appear around the centre, making it a welcoming and wonderful winter destination. The markets usually open mid-November, with some running as late as New Year’s Eve. The main market is Weihnachtsmarkt, right in front of the city hall and one of the most popular markets in Germany.
One of the best ways to see the Christmas Markets is with a river cruise, sailing along the Rhine or the Danube to enjoy visiting numerous markets along the way.
Visit the very image of a winter wonderland and sail to Lapland for the Christmas of a lifetime. Here, children can make cookies with Mrs Claus, enrol in Elf School and go tobogganing in the deep, soft snow. Of course, the main reason many families choose here as their Christmas destination is for a chance to meet the jolly man himself. A fairytale adventure like no other, you may even catch sight of the Northern Lights.
Hong Kong, China
Enjoy a sailing across Asia and stop in Hong Kong for iconic fireworks over Victoria Harbour. Visitors advise remaining on your ship to watch these, as the views are excellent. Or, if you would like to feel more involved, book a pleasure cruise to get closer to the action! This also means you can explore the parties afterwards with these typically occurring in Times Square and Lan Kwai Fong.
Another bucket-list addition, Sydney offers a New Year’s Eve experience like no other. Enjoy aerial displays, Aboriginal dancing, light parades and the iconic fireworks as they light up Sydney Harbour Bridge. The evening begins with tugboats blasting water as they sail beneath the bridge, followed by an aerial display as flying aces wow the crowds. Later in the evening, the Harbour of Light Parade takes place, illuminating the Sydney Harbour with dazzling colours and unique choreography. Then, it’s all culminated in the iconic fireworks display across the harbour.
Where is your favourite place to cruise in winter? Perhaps we have missed a destination off our list? Tell us all about it using the comment box below.