As gloomy weather, shorter days and longer nights herald the start of winter, we wouldn’t blame you for hopping straight online to book a sun-drenched getaway. But where are the best places to cruise in winter?

Take a look at our seven top picks that will make you forget all about the grey shores of the UK.

Cuba

A pink vintage car parked in a bright side street in Cuba

This intoxicating Caribbean country is the epitome of old school cool. The streets buzz with the sound of salsa music, excited chatter and the engines of stunning 1950s cars. Best of all, however, temperatures rarely drop below 21°C during winter, making Cuba the perfect place to marry a beach holiday and city break in perfect harmony.

This is the joy of the Caribbean; a region of congenial contrasts that will satisfy even the most discerning luxury cruiser. Tranquil breaks with only birdsong in the background await those whose itineraries include ports like St Lucia; cruises to Dominica will satisfy those who want to balance sunbathing with action-packed excursions like mountain hikes; and Jamaica is perfect for high-energy travellers who want to lose themselves in the pulse of the Caribbean.

Galapagos

Mother Galapagos fur seal and pup sitting on a rocky beach during a Galapagos cruise

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.

But this otherworldly landscape isn’t the only winter cruise hotspot in South America. The Amazon is just as spectacular; trees bursting with technicolour birds and rivers teaming with life, including pink river dolphins. You may encounter a few showers, but these provide welcome relief from the heat.

South Pacific

Deep blue water in the To Sua trench in the South Pacific

Virtually unspoiled by tourism and development, there is no better place to get off-grid and indulge your inner explorer.

South Pacific cruises will transport you to island paradises that couldn’t be further removed from the melancholy UK weather. Unforgettable sights and one-of-a-kind experiences wait both above and below the waves. 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

Dubai illuminated at night as the sun sets and bathes the city in purple light

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 Emirates’ sights. Dubai offers endless glamour and innovation; towering skyscrapers and a powerhouse of an economy with unrivalled shopping and nightlife. But Dubai isn’t all palatial shopping malls and sleek rooftop bars – visitors will also find traditional souks, authentic Middle Eastern cuisine and camel excursions into the desert. It’s a great place to enjoy a cruise and stay holidays as there is just so much to see and do.

Abu Dhabi, too, is forging a reputation as a revolutionary nation. The world’s fastest rollercoaster and largest cluster of 21st century cultural buildings offer exciting stops on luxury Emirates cruises, but if you need a break from the hustle and bustle, there are plenty of mangroves, beaches and hidden cafes providing peace and meditative quiet.

Indonesia

Sunlight stretching over lush paddy fields in Indonesia

Made up of around 17,000 islands – of which only 8,000 are inhabited – Indonesia will captivate absolutely every kind of traveller.

Stunning temples and pristine beaches nestle among volcanic landscapes and lush jungles. Colourful birds sing from every tree and, if you are lucky, you may spot an orangutan swinging through the canopy. Komodo National Park supports the world’s population of komodo dragons, and the Raja Ampat islands cast a spell over visitors exploring their hidden lagoons and spooky caves.

Of course, Bali is the premier destination for many cruisers on the run from the UK winter, with Ubud forming the island’s cultural centre. Traditional crafts, dance and cuisine captivate all who visit, and if you want to feel at one with nature, the jungle is never far away.

River Rhine

Heidelberg illuminated at night during winter

Christmas markets are one of the joys of winter, especially when you embark on a luxury river cruise to authentic markets across the pond.

Rhine river cruises with stunning lines like Uniworld, Scenic and Emerald Waterways are the perfect way to sample some of Europe’s most magical Christmas markets. Stroll through cobbled streets as the scent of roasted chestnuts, mulled wine and sizzling sausages drift from the wood-fronted stalls on either side. Lights twinkle overhead and laughter fills the air – the perfect festive atmosphere.

Antarctica

Icebergs bathed in pink light during Antarctica river cruises

Winter cruises needn’t always be about sunshine or Christmas markets – if you are craving a unique escape, why not try something completely different and embark on an expedition cruise to Antarctica?

Earth’s final frontier is an unspoilt paradise; a land of extremes home to looming icebergs, breath-taking glaciers and historic sites vacated by early explorers. An epic Antarctic expedition is the only way to witness the raw beauty of this region in all its glory, from the shimmering midnight sun to breaching humpback whales. The winter months are by far the warmest in Antarctica, with temperatures hovering around -30°C, and the wildlife is at its most active.

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.

If you would like to book a last minute luxury cruise for winter, or a winter getaway you can look forward to in the New Year and beyond, call our Cruise Concierge team on 0808 202 6105.

Charlotte Varela

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