Australia & New Zealand
One of the best cruises to take in December sails around Australia and New Zealand. Thanks to their location in the Southern Hemisphere, youll find sunshine and warm weather during the winter.
Cruising through eastern Australia, youll find vibrant cities like Sydney and Brisbane, wine tastings in Newcastle, jungle waterfalls in Cairns, and the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef, which is the largest living thing on the planet.
Australian cruises also visit the island state of Tasmania. Some of the best things to do in Hobart, the capital, include getting up close to exotic wildlife like Tasmanian devils, kangaroos, and koala bears.
Watch: New Zealand Cruises with Celebrity Cruises
New Zealand is known for its epic landscapes and rich culture. Depending on the port youre in, youll find fjords, glaciers, beaches, and vineyardssome of the reasons why its one of the best honeymoon destinations in December. The South Island is more famous for its charming mountain towns, exhilarating extreme sports excursions, and scenic hiking trails.
The North Island is home to the Bay of Islands ; the countrys largest city, Auckland, where you can journey into the Ruakuri Caves and see glow worms light up the dark; and the capital city of Wellington, where foodies might have a hard time choosing between taking a gourmet food, beer, or chocolate tour.
Which Cruises Are Sailing And Where
At present, U.S. port departures remain a no-go under CDC guidelines, despite calls to restart by July 1. That includes large cruise excursions to Alaska, where governor Mike Dunleavy is threatening legal action.
The Caribbean, however, is full steam ahead so long as passengers depart from the isles.
From June, Royal Caribbean will run a series of routes around the region starting in the Bahamas and Sint Maarten. Crystal Cruises will commence from the Bahamas in June, while Norwegian will begin in August, with departures from Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.
Europe, too, is cruising on.
Greece is the destination of choice for many operators, with Norwegian and luxury liners Celebrity Cruises, Seaborn and Ponant all planning routes with port calls around the Greek Isles this summer. MSC Cruises will also be running a series of itineraries across Europe from May, with calls at locations in Italy, Malta, France, Spain, Greece, Croatia and Montenegro.
Venice is included in MSC Cruises’ routes, though embarkment from the city’s historic port will soon be a thing of the past as Italian officials have indicated cruise ships will be rerouted to the nearby industrial port under a new environmental ruling.
However, some operators including MSC Cruises cater only to passengers living within the European Union’s Schengen zone. International visitors should take note of any restrictions around residency and flying into the country of embarkment prior to booking.
What Is The Current Situation
CDC has released all the necessary information that cruise ship operators need to resume passenger operations under the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order , originally issued ). The CSO is a phased approach to resuming passenger operations on cruise ships. CDC may adjust these requirements and recommendations based on public health considerations and other factors. Information about the COVID-19 status of ships sailing under the CSO is available on CDC’s website.
Recommended Reading: When Is Jungle Cruise Coming Out
Best December Cruises Destinations
December is winter in Europe and North America, traditionally popular cruise destinations. However, that doesnt mean those places cant be visited on a cruise ship. Europe in particular is phenomenally atmospheric in December, while the Caribbean attracts sunbathers with its always-delightful weather. On the other side of the equator, December is the warmest time of the year, so you can expect superb conditions in places like Australia and New Zealand.
Antarctica Cruises Travel Tips
- Make sure you bring some medicine for seasickness. You’ll most likely cruise through the Drake Passage on your way to Antarctica , but if the water is a bit crazy during your visit, you may get seasick. Come prepared!
- Try to shower earlier in the morning during your cruise. The water can get bumpy, which can make it hard to shower. The second that the seas are calm take that shower!
- Bring lots of layers. It can be freezing the farther south you go, but it’s best to wear layers if you get a bit warmer at different times of the day. Be sure also to pack rain gear!
- Even though it’s cold, you’ll want to pack and put sunscreen on. The sun can still burn you because it can bounce off the light of the snow!
- Don’t forget to pack your camera. Antarctica is truly filled with so many sights that you’ll want to take a photo of. Don’t worry; a basic camera on your phone will suffice!
Read Also: What Cruise Lines Go To Mexico
Cheap Destinations In 2021 With Great Weather In December
The final month of the year marks the time when people in northern climates start looking around for an escape to the sun. Fortunately, there are big parts of the world that have their best weather of the year at this time, and are very cheap as well, once you get there. The best places to visit in December are of course close to the equator or even below it.
Most of the destinations below are in Latin America and Southeast Asia, so depending on where you are starting from it might be a rather long flight to get there. Many of us can take two weeks or even more around this time of year, but that fact means that all of these places do get crowded and raise hotel prices for the weeks around Christmas and New Year’s. Speaking of that, we have a separate list of cheap and warm places to go over Christmas and New Year’s, only listing beach areas around the world with affordable hotels during that period.
It’s best to book as far in advance as possible for both your flights and hotels, since so many people have the same idea and prices generally just keep going up as it gets closer.
Sailing To Europe In December
Away from the Caribbean, there are numerous cruises around Europe during December. Unlike the summer months, more of the cruises are tailored towards the northern region rather than the Mediterranean although voyages to both are available. December is one of the better times of the year for possibly seeing the Northern Lights in Norway, while a city break to France, Holland or Belgium is ideal if you want a mini cruise with the option to visit nearby Christmas markets.
Read Also: What Cruise Lines Offer Dialysis
Christmas & New Year Cruises
Fred. Olsen offers a range of fantastic Christmas and New Year cruises so you can enjoy the holiday season whilst sailing to spectacular destinations in the comfort of our ocean-going ships.
Celebrate the festive frivolities aboard Fred. Olsens smaller, friendlier fleet while you relax far away from the usual stress and strain you may endure back home. Fred. Olsens Christmas cruises offer guests the chance to celebrate with all the trimmings, including traditional Christmas food and thrilling on board entertainment, as our friendly, attentive staff take care of everything, while our New Year cruises guarantee an unforgettable experience, with opportunities to join some of the worlds most famous and awe-inspiring festive celebrations.
Whether youre looking to escape to the sunshine or experience the stunning winter vistas of Europe, Fred. Olsen has the perfect trip for you. Explore the exotic shores of the Pacific islands and arrive in Sydney in time for the stunning New Year fireworks; or perhaps take in the charming Christmas markets of Germany and Denmark. Whichever cruise you choose, you can count on our friendly, attentive staff to take care of everything so you can sit back, relax and revel in the festivities of the holiday season.
More Major Cruise Lines Cancel Sailings Until At Least December
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
The parent company of the three brands, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, on Monday said it would extend its halt to cruise operations through at least Nov. 30.
Until today, the company only had canceled sailings through the end of October.
For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPGs new cruise newsletter.
The Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announcement comes just four days after one of the lines biggest rivals, cruise giant Carnival, canceled most departures through January. Carnival still hopes to operate some sailings in November and December out of just two ports: PortMiami and Port Canaveral.
The Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announcement comes as COVID-19 case counts in North America the biggest market for the company plateau at relatively high levels. The U.S. this month has been recording around 35,000 to 50,000 new coronavirus cases on most days.
In extending the order, the CDC suggested there was a danger to allowing cruising to resume while the new coronavirus remained widespread in society.
Don’t Miss: Where Is Port Canaveral Cruise Terminal
Christmas Holiday Cruise Travel Deals
Xmas-NYE mini cruise deals are Holiday travel specials and pretty hard to find. They are offered mainly in Europe, with roundtrip departures mostly from large port cities in England . The best chance to book Xmas short-breaks is via P&O Ferries UK. The company owns numerous large-sized Ro-Pax ships with regularly scheduled roundtrips from UK ports to France, Holland and Belgium as most preferable shopping and Christmas Market destinations from England. In the Caribbean, mini-cruises are operated from Florida ports to Bahamas, and from Texas to Mexico .
Fly-cruise deals are relatively inexpensive Holiday travel package deals. They provide discounted airfare mostly to airport destinations in Caribbean and to USA , as well as to big Mediterranean port cities .
Caribbean “flight and cruise” deals are travel packages with 1-week roundtrip voyages from Florida, Puerto Rico or Barbados. The itineraries often visit Bahamas , also Jamaica, Puerto Rico, BVI. Caribbean fly cruise deals from UK to Barbados are P&O UK’s top-seller during the Christmas Holidays.
Each year, the Cunard liner RMS Queen Mary 2 offers for Christmas and New Year roundtrips from NYC New York to Canada and Caribbean. Carnival Cruise Lines is the only company with roundtrips from Charleston SC.
The Best Cruises In December
The Caribbean is a popular winter cruise destination from Florida.
A winter cruise on turquoise seas fanned by gentle ocean breezes certainly beats shoveling snow from the driveway. Choose a departure date that returns before Christmas and New Year’s or opt to celebrate the holidays onboard. The best December cruises are bound for warmer ports throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii and Central America where sunshine is guaranteed. Travelers with more time and an exotic destination in mind can set sail for the Galapagos Islands, an archipelago of volcanic islands straddling the equator.
Recommended Reading: What’s Included On Disney Cruise
Best For Wildlife: Silversea
Everyone with an interest in the natural world is going toprioritise a trip to the Galapagos, where the extraordinary wealthof creatures in the air, on land and in the ocean makes everysingle day a magical experience. Choose the new Silver Origin forthe very best Galapagos experience, sailing from San Cristóbal on18th December 2021.
Dresden Christmas Market Striezelmarkt
The popular Christmas market in Dresden transforms the city into winter wonderland on River Elbe. The city of Dresden is filled with festivities and sparkling lights. Traditionally known as ‘Striezelmarkt’, Dresden Christmas market is the oldest in Germany, as it dates back to 1434. It’s named after city’s famous culinary creation – Christmas Stollen, sweet fruitcake in the shape of loaf, dusted with icing sugar. The highlight of Dresden Christmas annual market is the Stollen Festival, which is held in December, on the second Sunday – a giant Stollen weighing 3,000 kg is carried to the market where it’s ceremonially sliced and then distributed to the visitors. The parade is presided by “Miss Cake” . Dresden Christmas market is old fashioned and pretty, with more than 250 stalls that sell traditional wares and festive arts and crafts. Regional vendors display pottery and indigo-printed textiles from Lusatia; wooden ornaments from Erzgebirge mountain villages; paper advent stars, wickerwork and Plauen lace from Herrnhut.
Many other markets can be found around Dresden, and each of them has its own attractions and intimate flair. The popular Frauenkirche, Loschwitz, and especially the charming Residenzschloss Christmas markets are worth mentioning.
Recommended Reading: Should I Buy Cruise Insurance
Which Cruise Lines Require Vaccinations
For the most part, cruises will only be available to those who have been vaccinated.
In January, British operator Saga Cruises faced consternation when it became the first cruise line to introduce mandatory vaccination. But now, companies are recognizing it as the norm, said Tom McAlpin, CEO and president of Virgin Voyages, Richard Branson’s adults-only cruise line.
“We know this is the future,” McAlpin said. “As an adult-only cruise line, we’re able to offer a highly-controlled, safe environment for everyone on board.”
Crystal Cruises, Norwegian, P&O, Viking, and Celebrity Cruises, have all followed suit, introducing vaccine requirements for adult passengers. Royal Caribbean has made vaccines compulsory for some routes, including the Caribbean, while Carnival Cruises has yet to announce any such measures.
Where Else To Go
Cruises to the Panama Canal in Central America, as well as around the continent of South America, are more readily available in December than in many other months, including a mix of mini cruises and those lasting a week or two. See stunning wildlife around Brazil, Peru and the Galapagos Islands along with lively and interesting cities.
Other cruises in December visit the wonders of the Far East, as well as destinations around Africa and Australia, while transatlantic options let you spend more time at sea if you’re more interested in the cruising side of your holiday and spending days at sea.
Read Also: What Night Is Pirate Night On Disney Cruise
Munich Christmas Market Marienplatz
Many people associate the Bavarian capital with Oktoberfest, but Munich also holds fantastic Christmas market in center of the city on Marienplatz. The Munich market surrounds enormous Christmas tree with 2,500 lights. Visitors can find traditional Bavarian gifts – wood carvings or gingerbread called lebkuchen, while sipping on beer or gluhwein .
Throughout the city there are smaller markets – one unique is Manger Market, selling the components for those who try to build authentic manger.
What The Onboard Experience Will Be Like
The emphasis on health and safety will extend to the onboard experience too. Buffets will be no more and entertainment may be limited, as cleanliness takes center stage.
“While traditionally, the act of keeping a ship clean would have been done in the background … ‘housekeeping theatre’ will be of greater consumer interest and hospitality brands will have their cleaning protocols front and center,” said Elle Kross, director of strategy at digital marketing firm Movable Ink.
Meanwhile, passengers can expect new technologies, from virtual queues and contactless payments to thermal temperature checks and UV sanitization, to reduce in-person contact on board.
“Operators have done a lot of work … leveraging modern technology, implementing new processes, and training employees to work with new policies and guidelines,” said Vijay Achanti, principal of hospitality for North America at global consulting firm Capgemini.
Don’t Miss: What Cruise Ships Go To The Galapagos Islands
European Christmas Market River Cruises
“Christmas Market” themed cruises are Europe’s best Holiday travel deals. They offer ship travel on the largest European rivers and major inland waterways , as well as France’s rivers and navigational canals .
All larger-sized European riverboats dock in big cities and visit some of the most popular ports in France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Czechia. Deals are generally all-inclusive – pre- and post-cruise hotel stays, ship transfers, coach travel , gratuities, staterooms with luxury amenities, gourmet meals , 24-hour specialty tea-coffee bar with snacks, complimentary city tours , themed onboard enrichment and live entertainment , complimentary use of walking sticks and bicycles. Some deals are also inclusive of international flights.
Another reason to choose Christmas Market travel is the opportunity to see some of Europe’s largest cities in their glorious snow-cover. Unlike the full-body contact USA Christmas shopping frenzy, Europeans prefer shopping at open-air markets, opposed to the shopping malls. Christmas Market cruising in Europe perfectly combines luxury travel with the traditional Xmas shopping. Dining options ashore feature the seasonal specialties apple cider, mulled wine , sweet gingerbread, all kinds of handmade sweets, chocolate and cookies, the perfectly cold beer and the steaming hot sausages.
Next are listed itineraries that visit some of the best European Christmas Market cities.
Best For The Other Side Of The World: Tradewind Voyages
This is a voyage of a lifetime, a circumnavigation of Australiaon board the unique Golden Horizon, the world’s largest tall ship,under sail when conditions permit. The 72-day circumnavigation, which starts in Balion 8th December, returning on 18th February 2022, can be brokeninto shorter 14- to 16-day sectors if you have less timeavailable.
You May Like: What Is Disney’s Newest Cruise Ship
Best For Culture: Crystal River Cruises
If culture, history and beautiful architecture is your thing,travel close to home on a Danube river cruise. The lovely CrystalRavel sails on an 11-day journey from Budapest to Regensburgdeparting 22nd December 2021, including overnights inBudapest, Vienna and Regensburg, beautiful scenery and fascinatingports of call.