There’s a certain magic to cruising in December, a charm that goes beyond the holiday spirit found on land. Imagine drifting on the ocean while sipping mulled wine, exploring historic towns in Europe, or basking in the Caribbean sun. But don’t just dream—do! From the blissful Bahamas to sensational Southeast Asia, we’re here to navigate you through the best December cruises.

Is December a Good Time to Go on a Cruise?

Absolutely, December is a fantastic time to cruise! It’s when ships deck their halls and jingle their bells, offering a unique blend of festive cheer and exciting escape. Whether you’re fleeing the cold for sunnier shores or embracing the winter chill in exotic locales, December cruises provide a special kind of holiday sparkle.

four women in santa hats on a cruise

Plus, there’s nothing like ringing in the New Year in the middle of the sea, under a sky full of stars. So, for unforgettable holiday memories, December cruising is your ticket to a world of wonder! 🎅🛳️✨

11 Best Cruises for December

The Bahamas: A Tropical Haven

There’s a reason the Bahamas tops the list for December cruises: it’s a slice of paradise, perfect for both relaxation and adventure! Imagine sailing into port and being greeted by the turquoise embrace of Blue Lagoon Island’s pristine waters — an ideal spot for family-friendly snorkeling among vibrant coral reefs. Or maybe you’re more into swaying on a hammock, drink in hand, on the sun-drenched sands of Balmoral Island Beach.

Two cruise ship docked by the shore

Craving a bit of action? Why not try kayaking along the shorelines? And for the thrill-seekers, snorkel tours with reef sharks or game fishing in the serene Bimini will pump that adrenaline. Shopping aficionados aren’t left out either; from the local treasures of Nassau Straw Market to the chic boutiques on Paradise Island, there’s something for every taste and budget.

The true charm of the Bahamas is the stark contrast between the bustling streets of Nassau and the tranquil beaches of Bimini. Whether you’re a laid-back sunbather or an eager explorer, the Bahamas serves up a unique cocktail of experiences, making it a top pick for your December cruise itinerary.

South America: A Tapestry of Urban and Natural Beauty

Switch gears and let’s sail south to a continent that weaves a rich tapestry of cultural vibrancy and breathtaking natural wonders: South America. Your cruise can dock in the pulsating heart of Buenos Aires, where a world of experiences awaits. Dive deep into the city’s soul by visiting its revered museums, catching a show at the opulent Teatro Colon, or indulging in a culinary journey at a local parilla.

Aerial photo of the city and the ocean in brazil

Next stop? The sun-kissed beaches of Punta del Este, are perfect for catching waves or simply soaking up some much-needed sunshine. And for the intrepid at heart, Ushuaia calls. Known as the “End of the World,” it’s the gateway to snow-capped adventures in Tierra del Fuego and serene catamaran rides along the Beagle Channel.

From the urban allure of Buenos Aires to the rugged end-of-the-earth feel of Ushuaia, a South American cruise in December is more than a holiday; it’s a journey through a diverse tapestry of unforgettable experiences, tailored to every kind of traveler. So, why wait? The southern hemisphere’s summer beckons! 🌞🌎✨

The Caribbean: A Mosaic of Cultures and Experiences

This region is a patchwork of vibrant cultures and breathtaking natural beauty. Picture yourself in Willemstad, admiring the colorful Dutch architecture along the waterfront, or snorkeling amidst the vivid marine life and mysterious shipwrecks of Aruba.

huts beside a small island on top of the ocean

Adventure more your style? Make unforgettable memories at Stingray City in Grand Cayman or dive into the world’s second-largest barrier reef off the coast of Belize City. Foodies rejoice with fresh seafood and iconic piña coladas in Key West, or perhaps a rum-tasting excursion in the British Virgin Islands.

For the ultimate relaxation, the sun-kissed sands of St. Maarten’s Orient Beach await. Don’t forget to sail to Honeymoon Beach in St. Thomas; it’s a must for any romantic itinerary!

Southeast Asia: From Tranquil Beaches to Bustling Cities

As someone who tours Southeast Asia often, I can truly say it is filled with a mesmerizing cocktail of serene landscapes and dynamic urban centers. Start your journey in Hanoi, absorbing the rich history oozing from its heritage sites. Next, find yourself on a traditional junk boat in Halong Bay, amidst limestone pillars rising from emerald waters — pure magic!

woman in pink standing on the edge of a boat

Venture to Hue and wander the ancient Imperial City before diving into the energy of Ho Chi Minh City. If you want a change of pace, relax on the sun-kissed beaches of Phuket or engage in retail therapy in bustling Bangkok. And just when you think you’ve seen it all, Singapore’s futuristic skyline greets you, followed by the diverse cultural tapestry of Malaysia and Indonesia.

From tranquil beaches to buzzing cities, a cruise through Southeast Asia in December is a traveler’s delight, offering a spectrum of experiences that caters to the wanderlust in everyone! 🌊🏙️✨

The Galapagos: A Unique Ecological Adventure

At the Galapagos Islands, every turn brings a new discovery and nature reigns supreme! Positioned right on the equator, this archipelago is a fantastic year-round destination, with December gifting visitors cooler, misty weather that enhances its mystical charm. Now, imagine sharing your breakfast view with giant tortoises or snorkeling alongside playful sea lions; it’s all in a day’s work here!

cruise ship floating in the galapagos islands

But hold on, December has its special guests: majestic blue whales, humpback whales, and the elusive whale sharks! Talk about a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle. And who can forget the iconic Darwin’s finches? This ecological wonderland is a living testament to evolution, making your cruise both an adventure and an education.

Baja California: The Pacific’s Hidden Gem

Welcome to Baja California’s crown jewel, Cabo San Lucas! This Mexican paradise offers a unique blend of desert landscapes and azure seas. Start with a stroll on the golden beaches, not forgetting to snap a photo of the iconic El Arco.

Baja Lighthouse at night

If you’re someone who always craves adrenaline, hop on a desert ATV ride that will take your breath away. Or you could also go parasailing for an unbeatable aerial view of the coast. For wildlife enthusiasts, the Pacific waters here are perfect for whale and dolphin spotting, especially in December.

After all that excitement, nothing beats the local cuisine. Indulge in fresh lobster, authentic fish tacos, and, of course, a refreshing margarita to toast your incredible journey. 🌮🍹✨

New Zealand: Natural Splendor and Cultural Riches

Who wouldn’t fall in love with New Zealand, the land of endless greenery and cinematic landscapes? Cruise ships make their way through the breathtaking Milford Sound, Dusky Sound, and Doubtful Sound, offering passengers a glimpse of some of the world’s most remote natural wonders.

white sand beach with blue sky and ocean

But the fun doesn’t stop at the shore! Get your legs moving with some countryside hiking or cycling, and don’t forget to treat your taste buds with local flavors like succulent lamb, robust coffee, and world-renowned wines.

Are you a film buff or a fan of rich cultural experiences? You’re in for a treat! Discover the Māori culture and explore various iconic film locations. Who knows, you might just find yourself in the middle of Middle-earth!

Antarctica: Pristine Wilderness and Unique Wildlife

Antarctica is probably the road less traveled, where the chill of the winter months is a year-round affair! Here, cruise ships transform into expedition vessels, navigating through icebergs and frozen seascapes. Witness a world untouched by urban sprawl, home to colonies of playful penguins, majestic whales, and seals.

four seals lying down on a glacier

December offers the surreal experience of perpetual daylight, illuminating the stark beauty of this icy realm. It’s the ideal time for wildlife spotting, photography, and even a historic trek following the footsteps of legendary explorers.

India & Sri Lanka: A Tapestry of Colors and Traditions

Embrace the kaleidoscope of cultures in India and Sri Lanka, two destinations that are as heartwarming as a cup of chai on a chilly December morning. In India, Goa is a hot spot for December cruises, offering a blend of Indian and Portuguese cultures.

You can also wander through the spice-scented streets, explore the vibrant markets for unique handicrafts, and indulge in the local cuisine, rich in flavors and traditions. And while you’re there, don’t miss the chance to visit the stunning churches that dot this coastal paradise, showcasing a different side of the holiday spirit.

palm trees under the sunset

Just a short sail south, Sri Lanka welcomes visitors with open arms and a wealth of experiences. In Colombo, delve into the country’s spiritual heart by visiting the serene Buddhist temples, each a tranquil oasis amidst the city’s hustle.

Then there’s Hambantota, which offers a wilder experience with its wildlife safaris. Keep your eyes peeled for elephants, leopards, and exotic bird species! This island nation is a treasure trove of natural wonders, from its lush jungles to its pristine beaches, making it a perfect winter getaway for any cruise line itinerary.

Canary Islands & Morocco: A Blend of Natural Beauty and Cultural Heritage

Sail further west, and you’ll encounter the Canary Islands and Morocco, a compelling blend of Spanish zest and Moorish mystique. Start your adventure with a thrilling cable car ride in Tenerife, followed by exquisite wine tasting in Lanzarote, an absolute must for any holiday itinerary.

large blue sea with a small mountain

Then, it’s time to swap the sea for the souks as you explore the blue city of Chefchaouen and the bustling markets of Tangier. And for history enthusiasts, Seville awaits with its rich Moorish heritage and vibrant flamenco culture. Don’t forget to pick up some unique holiday gifts for folks back home!

Norway: A Fairy-tale Winter Wonderland

Norway in December is like stepping into a fairy tale. The landscape is a winter wonderland where days are short, and the northern lights dance across the night sky. Winter cruises in Norway offer the unique chance to sail through fjords, with snow-capped mountains and frozen waterfalls serving as a stunning backdrop.

black mountains in norway

Visit quaint villages, partake in sled rides, and don’t forget to warm up with some mulled wine and heartening Norwegian cuisine. For the brave-hearted, take a plunge into the icy waters, an age-old tradition guaranteed to invigorate! Whether it’s the allure of the auroras or the charm of the snowy climes, Norway presents a magical winter cruise destination.

Key Considerations When Cruising in December

  • Climate Factors Based on Destination: The climate is your compass! December weather varies dramatically across cruise destinations. Opt for the Caribbean, Bahamas, or Southeast Asia for some warm winter sunshine, while regions like Europe offer a genuine winter wonderland, perfect for those craving a white Christmas!
  • Types of Cruises: Whether you’re the whole family decked in reindeer antlers, lovebirds escaping under the mistletoe, or solo adventurers with an appetite for exploration, there’s a ship waiting for you! Most cruise ships during the holiday season are in full holiday spirit, catering to all—think Disney characters for the kids and liquor tastings for adults.
  • Duration of Cruise Options: Quick dash or epic voyage? December cruises range from short 3-day jaunts to extensive journeys lasting weeks. Consider your holiday schedule, and don’t forget to factor in round-trip travel to your port of departure, be it Port Canaveral or Fort Lauderdale.
  • Budget Considerations: Santa’s not footing the bill, so plan according to your budget! Prices surge during the holidays, but early birds catch the wallet-friendly deals. Factor in onboard expenses, port expenses, and potential surcharges on these floating resorts.
  • Health and Safety Protocols Onboard: Rudolph’s red nose isn’t the only thing glowing this season—health and safety are in the spotlight, too. Major cruise lines have upped their game: enhanced cleaning, improved air filtration, and updated health protocols.


Sailing into the sunset of the year, December cruises unlock a world of diverse adventures, from the sun-kissed beaches of the Bahamas to the pristine ice expanses of Antarctica. Whether you’re unwinding on a serene Asian beach, delving into rich cultural tapestries, or playing with penguins in the polar south, there’s a unique story waiting for you on the high seas.

Remember, the perfect holiday voyage isn’t one-size-fits-all. Reflect on what lights up your holiday spirit, be it tranquility, adventure, or cultural exploration, and choose a journey that resonates with your soul. Here’s to unforgettable end-of-year escapades! 🚢✨


Are there cruises in December?

Absolutely, cruises set sail in December, and for good reasons! It’s a magical time to cruise, with ships decked out in festive decor and an onboard atmosphere buzzing with holiday spirit. Plus, destinations often have their unique seasonal charms. Whether you’re chasing the winter sun or basking in the holiday festivities, December is a fantastic month to embark on a cruise adventure.

Are cruises more expensive in December?

True, December can see a spike in cruise prices. Families are keen to capitalize on school holidays, making this a prime time for cruising. The festive cheer around Christmas and the excitement of New Year’s celebrations can lead to higher demand, subsequently driving up prices. It’s the classic case of supply and demand, with the holiday season being a hot ticket on the high seas.

Is December a good time to cruise to Europe?

December is a delightful time for a European cruise! The continent transforms into a winter wonderland, with enchanting Christmas markets, twinkling lights, and the chance to experience age-old traditions. Sure, it’s chilly, but the charm of Europe in winter, especially the festive spirit that envelops its historic towns and cities, more than compensates. Plus, fewer tourists mean you can explore iconic sites without the summer crowds.