Best Winter Cruise Destinations for 2024

Winter Cruise Destinations: People who live in colder climates intend to spend their holidays sailing away to warmer climates because of the frigid winter months. In addition, travellers who want to take part in winter celebrations frequently take winter cruises. When making travel plans, make sure to include these well-liked winter cruise locations on your bucket list.

2019 saw the introduction of ships that can transport you to the extremities of the planet with elegance and comfort. Ten new adventure ships have been launched into the ocean in just the last year alone. These include Hurtigruten’s Roald Amundsen, the first hybrid ship in the industry, and Scenic Eclipse, an ultra-luxury vessel with two helicopters and a seven-person submarine. These winter cruises are your best option for the season, regardless of whether the destination is an iceberg or a distant island.

Best Winter Cruise Destinations

The Caribbean

The Caribbean island
(Credit: Conde Nest traveller)

Throughout the winter, ports from Boston to Miami fill up with ships sailing south to the Caribbean. The largest cruise ship in the world, Symphony of the Seas from Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Encore, their newest and largest ship, and the avant-garde Celebrity Edge are among the mega-ships entering the competition this season.

The popular cruise ports in the Bahamas, which narrowly avoided severe damage by Hurricane Dorian, are all back and fully operational. When choosing the ideal Caribbean itinerary, the cruise line and ship should be your first choices. Along the eastern and western Caribbean routes, beach quality varies little, and almost every island offers similar thrills like zip-lining, scuba diving, and liquor tastings.

Caribbean itineraries with private cruise line island stops stand out because they offer complimentary shoreside BBQ lunches and immaculate beaches only steps from the ship. Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day CocoCay, which debuted this year, improves the private island experience. This outpost in the Bahamas has a large water park with the biggest water slide in North America, a helium balloon ride that lifts visitors 450 feet into the air, and day-rentable floating cabanas.

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Three of Viking’s sister ships, which are smaller vessels, will be cruising the Caribbean for seven to 21 nights from Miami, San Juan, and New York this winter. Reiterating its annual Caribbean winter itineraries, Silversea’s highlights include swimming with the pigs of Exuma Island, spending a day on the isolated 200-person island of Mayreau, and seeing the astounding 365 beaches of Falmouth, Antigua, and Barbuda. The itineraries range from five to twenty-four days.



Antarctica, the ultimate destination for intrepid tourists worldwide, is now more accessible than ever thanks to an increase in expedition cruising that has opened up new routes south of the continent. Few boats in the world are equipped with hulls made of ice that are robust enough to navigate the waters and passageways surrounded by the icebergs of the vast continent.

There is a wide variety of cruises available, from smaller, more expedition-focused ships that hold 50–100 guests to larger, five-star ships that hold 200 passengers. The main starting points for voyages are Buenos Aires and Ushuaia in Argentina. The Drake Passage’s choppy waters, where whales frequently see whales playing in the wake of ships, follow these ports.

The Antarctic Peninsula, where the majority of cruise ships visit, has the hottest temperatures from December to February, with average highs in the 30s. The weather is more than made up for with nearly 24 hours of daylight, limitless hours of sightseeing, and occasional excursions from the ship on guided Zodiac boats and kayaks.

Fly-cruising is becoming popular, which maximizes your time cruising the Antarctic coast by flying over the challenging swells of the Drake Passage. By plane, you can complete what takes two days by sea in two hours. Antarctica21’s Magellan Explorer, which debuted just last month, is the area’s newest vessel designed specifically to run fly-and cruise-based Antarctic trips.

Silversea’s recently unveiled Antarctica Bridge will be the first to add an ultra-luxury touch to the fly-cruise experience, if you prefer your white ice caps with white glove service. From Punta Arenas, Chile, travelers will board an all-business class private charter flight to board the Silver Explorer, which is scheduled to go on its inaugural expedition in December 2021, and set out to explore the distant paradise.

Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia

Southeast Asian ports for river and ocean cruises have seen a notable increase in cruise traffic in the last year, with ports in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia reporting the largest increases. Most cruise lines concentrate their itineraries on the area in the fall and winter, avoiding the summer heat. Singapore serves as both a significant ocean liner hub and a well-liked port of call for smaller ships that are passing through. The island city-state serves as a seasonal home to the following cruise ships: Princess Cruises’ Sapphire Princess (December through February), which sails a wide variety of Southeast Asia itineraries; Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas (October through April), which primarily operates week-long tours of Malaysia and Thailand; and Costa Cruises’ Costa Fortuna.

River cruises are mostly available on the Mekong in Vietnam and the Irrawaddy in Myanmar. Every week, Viking Mekong offers a seven-day Mekong river excursion that alternates between a northbound and southbound river expedition. December through March is when the weather is most mild, with lows in the 70s. As one of the sunniest and driest months of the year, December and January are ideal for river cruises in Myanmar, with average riverbank temperatures ranging from 75 degrees in Mandalay to 80 degrees in Bagan. The year-round Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours river cruise on the Scenic Aura between Bagan and Mandalay offers opulent accommodations while you discover one of the world’s most isolated locations.

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Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman

A trip to Grand Cayman will fulfill your fantasies of snorkeling with vibrant marine life, swimming in turquoise seas, and relaxing on the sand. You will even be able to interact closely and personally with stingrays, dolphins, and turtles here. Eager to see the stores? For retail therapy, charming George Town is conveniently located near the cruise dock.

You’ll be able to explore Cayman both on land and in the water when you go on an expedition that includes a deluxe semi-submarine. Explore enigmatic shipwrecks and find lovely angelfish swimming around on coral reefs. The magnificent Governor’s House, the well-known Seven Mile Beach, and the green sea turtles at the Cayman Turtle Center are wonderful sights to behold.

French Polynesia

French Polynesia
(Credit: Nomadic matt)

The main islands that make up French Polynesia are Tahiti, Bora Bora, Rangiroa, Maupiti, and Huahine-Iti. Since the winters on these islands are not as harsh or as hot as those in northern countries, wintertime is a great time to visit.

During this season, the ocean is calm and soothing, and there is little to no rainfall. When visiting the Bora Bora Islands, think about doing scuba diving or snorkeling to see the vibrant corals and swim with sharks and schools of fish.


(Credit: Expedia)

Australia’s most famous port is Sydney Harbour, which is home to the famous Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. The warmest months to travel to Australia are January and February, which have moderate 72-degree days and nine hours of sunshine on average. During their 20/21 season, Royal Caribbean will be operating four ships with over 80 sailings, demonstrating their significant investment in the market.

Returning to Sydney for its fifth winter homeport, Ovation of the Seas offers two- to 19-night itineraries that take in the South Pacific. Choosing a more private and opulent Tasman Sea trip, Seabourn Encore sails from December to March, transporting guests on a 14–16 day itinerary around New Zealand and Australia, one way between Sydney and Auckland. (One word of caution: Be ready with layers and rain gear; sudden changes in weather patterns can occur in a matter of hours.)


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The main reason many choose to coast along the icy waters of Norway during the winter is to see the Northern Lights, even if they can be elusive and magical. As you get closer to the Arctic Circle, temperatures plunge sharply below zero and hardly ever rise beyond 20 degrees. Add five or six hours of daylight on average (or even fewer in the Arctic Circle, where frigid nights result in days without the sun). But the spectacle of seeing the Northern Lights calms the nerves. Norwegians own and run Hurtigruten, one of the most reputable tour companies in the area, which has been operating along the coast since 1893. Hurtigruten, most renowned for ferrying locals about, also takes expedition travelers on low-key Northern Lights tours. The twelve-day voyages depart from October through February.

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They are so sure you’ll see the Northern Lights during this period, thanks to their experience and northernmost-reaching routes, that if you don’t, they’ll give you a complimentary six- or seven-day cruise as payment. The British-based P&O Cruises is one of the major cruise lines that only offers one or two excursions each year to search for the phenomenon, while Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas will only have one route this year that goes to the Arctic Circle. A few smaller lines, such as Cruise & Maritime Voyages, Saga Cruises, and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, cross the Arctic Circle a bit more frequently in the winter.

Galápagos Islands

Galápagos Islands

The most convenient and immersive method to take in the natural wonder of this Pacific Ocean archipelago of volcanic islands that straddles the equator is through cruises. Galápagos National Park has approved uniform routes for smaller, more intimate ships to travel. The islands’ high season, which lasts from December to March, is when temperatures typically reach the upper 70s and low 80s and indigenous species begin their breeding and nesting seasons.

Selecting a Galápagos cruise mostly depends on the level of luxury and activity you are looking for. Celebrity Flora, one of the most opulent and high-tech ships to visit the islands in recent memory, is making her first winter season debut. There are 10- to 16-night trips available on the 100 passenger ship. The all-inclusive Silver Galápagos seven-day voyage aboard Silversea is still offered, but due to high demand, the line is expanding with Silver Origin, which will make its debut in the summer of 2020. Ecoventura offers 7-night excursions on luxurious boats that can accommodate up to 20 persons, making it an eco-friendly and more personal adventure experience.

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