Seek out a new adventure and get ready to leave the unpredictable British weather behind. There’s no better feeling than knowing a new cultural experience is just around the corner.
Winter is a popular time of year to crave a break from everyday life. The idea of swapping a scarf for sun cream appeals to many people which is why cruises to warmer climes such as the Caribbean or Tenerife are popular.
Alternatively, you could wrap up warm in your winter woollies to embrace the cold and get into the festive spirit by embarking on a Northern lights cruise and marvel at the very best flora and fauna the countries close to the Arctic Circle have to offer.
Whether you want to explore the souks of the Middle East or marvel at the architectural ingenuity of Europe’s impressive buildings, you are sure to find a cruise deal to suit. We asked bloggers who have enjoyed a winter cruise for their opinions on why it is something everyone should tick off their travel bucket lists.
Some hotter climates cool down
Visiting a tropical climate during the winter months can mean temperatures drop slightly meaning that you can enjoy balmy, rather than scorching temperatures as Tanner from Cruzely explains: “When it comes to winter cruising, it's actually our favourite time to sail. We sail the Caribbean and there's simply no better time to get on a ship. First, it's colder in the Northern Hemisphere, but the Caribbean is so close to the Equator that it stays warm. The temperatures will cool down somewhat, so the Caribbean isn't as hot as during the summer, but still warm, especially compared to the temperatures back home.”
Don’t worry, you can still pack your t-shirts and shorts for a Caribbean cruise, the weather can still be classed as “hot” compared to the weather people are typically used to in the UK during the winter months as 101 Holidays says: “With more than 700 islands spread across hundreds of miles, Caribbean weather is generally divided into southern and northern regions, with islands in the south a little warmer than those in the north. The southern islands also have the advantage of being generally considered outside the hurricane zone.
“The humidity is less in the northern Caribbean islands which include the Cayman Islands, the Turks and Caicos, and Cuba. As a result, rainfall is also lower and temperatures are near identical to the islands of the south, with peaks of 30°C, night-time lows of 23°C, and eight hours of sunshine per day.”
101 Holidays went on to say that the southern islands typically receive a high UV index and an average of seven hours of sunshine a day. Temperatures can reach 30°C, with sea temperatures of 28°C. Overnight, temperatures don’t tend to drop lower than 23°C.
The same can also be said for Tenerife in the Mediterranean which still boasts long sunshine-filled days and average highs of 25°C in November with a low chance of rain.
In contrast, countries in North-western Europe such as Norway will see temperatures plummet to lows of around -1°C on average in November as snow begins to accumulate. Despite the nip in the air, the scenery is incredibly breath-taking and, if you’re lucky, you might just catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis.
Alyson from My Virtual Vacations told us that she lives on the East Coast of the United States where the weather gets very “cold, wet and dreary” during the winter. To escape this, she enjoys booking a winter cruise to sunnier locations: “It's one of the reasons my family loves cruising during the winter months for a welcomed break to the sunny Caribbean.
“It’s also enchanting to see holiday lights and Caribbean style decor throughout the islands. Plus, the ship is dressed up beautifully. The cruise line and staff make the holidays special with themed food, decorations, and sometimes even characters to entertain the kids. Winter cruises are always a hit with my family and are the most memorable ones.
“A winter cruise is my favourite way to experience tropical palm trees, beautiful beaches, and the vibe of a luxurious cruise in warm weather while escaping chilly winter back home. The ocean views and gorgeous Caribbean islands are what I’m always most excited to see. Having a veranda overlooking a Caribbean island makes it unbelievably special when thinking about our snow-covered patio and driveway back home.”
There are great deals to be had
Embarking on a winter cruise means there are big savings to be had as Cruise Critic explains on their website: “Winter cruises can be a great deal, especially between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is a slow travel period.”
It is best to do some research before booking to see what deals are available, for example, you can bag yourself a bargain by looking into cheap cruises from Southampton. By taking a no-fly cruise you can immediately relax before you set sail because you know you don’t have to think about catching a flight, all you need to do is settle into your cabin and enjoy your cruise.
Tanner told us another appeal of a winter cruise are the great deals: “One big reason we also love winter cruises is that prices are cheaper during this time of year. If you have the flexibility to sail during the winter, then you can find deals that cost less than sailing during the busy summer season.”
Emma, who writes for Cruising Isn’t Just For Old People, told us she enjoyed a winter Mediterranean cruise: “The cruise itself was much cheaper and we rarely had to queue for anything. I braved the cruise ships waterslides despite the chilly temperatures, we had so much fun and never had to wait for anybody else to have a go because we were the only ones crazy enough to do so.”
There are fewer crowds
One of the main reasons people book a cruise out of season is to avoid the crowds where it is inevitable that popular hotspots are likely to be calmer outside of the school summer holidays.
Emma also told us that places were “considerably less busy” during a winter cruise compared to the same destinations in the summer.
Exploring everything a city has to offer out of peak season is a great way to make the most out of your port days. You are less likely to spend time queuing for the best visitor attractions during the winter which means you can cram more exciting things into your trip.
Winter travel gives you a different perspective
Places can look very different in winter compared to summer which is another benefit of choosing a winter cruise as Ryazan from Everything Zany explains: “I joined the Norway Arctic Awakening cruise of Hurtigruten and it was a great experience seeing the natural beauty of Norwegian fjords and the Arctic region which I think no adjectives can even justify the beauty of the serene winter scene.
“The Arctic cruise excursions are a truly magnificent experience. Our stay in an ice hotel was truly a once in a lifetime experience. Of course, another main highlight was seeing the Aurora Borealis! It is a superb light show of nature.
“Doing a winter cruise is something that cruise enthusiasts should experience as it gives a different perspective and travel experience. Most especially seeing the Norwegian Arctic region during the winter season will completely change your mind and you will be converted to say that 'the cold never bothered me anyway’.”
Opting to travel to colder locations means you can appreciate a country in a very different light. Snow has a unique way of transforming places into a winter wonderland. Many cities prepare for the Christmas festivities by illuminating shops and restaurants with an array of lights to dazzle and amaze visitors and locals alike.
Alyson also told us that a winter cruise gives her family the perfect chance to relax and unwind as the year draws to a close: “When considering a vacation in the winter, a cruise tops my list. It’s the ideal vacation to get-away from the hustle and bustle of the holidays, stress of work, or busy days at school. We can rejuvenate and be pampered by everything a cruise has to offer during this time of year.
“You don’t have to think about a thing, experience the luxury of enjoying various dining options 24/7, entertainment and activities both on and off the ship and the spectacular service that a cruise delivers.”
Enjoy the best festive markets
The magic of exploring some of the best Christmas markets in the world is a truly memorable experience. You are sure to be greeted with a merry atmosphere, an array of the most incredible locally made items and scrumptious street food.
Richard and Helen from Visit With Us embarked on their first winter cruise during Christmas and New Year a few years ago: “Our first ever winter cruise was on the beautiful Cunard Queen Victoria sailing to the Canary Islands over Christmas and New Year with our three teenage children.
“We had never been away for Christmas before and we were slightly trepidatious about it but we needn’t have worried. Not only was it great to be looked after over what is usually a really busy time of year, the whole family enjoyed the activities and entertainment onboard as well as getting some much-needed sun and warmth at quite a gloomy time of year in the UK.”
The family developed a taste for winter cruising as a result of their inaugural Christmas trip and now they love to spend time soaking up the culture at the many festive markets available during their port days: “We then managed to join two Cunard three-night cruises from Southampton to visit some Christmas markets in Bruges and Amsterdam. They offered an opportunity to ramp up the excitement for Christmas, with lots of mulled wine, hot waffles, gingerbread and Christmas markets, which Northern Europe cities are especially famous for. The seasonal excitement was further enhanced by the ships being adorned with their Christmas decorations.”
The pair also told us why they think everyone should consider booking a winter cruise at some point in their lives: “If it’s warm sun, sea and sand, cold but festive markets and Christmas decorated cities or just the luxury of not lifting a finger for the whole festive period, there’s more than enough to tempt you away from the doldrums of a British winter and onto a ship.”
Whether you want to spend time in your flip flops and enjoy the warm weather of the Caribbean or wrap up to explore the beautiful cities of Europe, a winter cruise has something to suit everyone.