December is one of the best times to take a cruise. Whether you’re looking to escape the winter cold or just prefer to celebrate the holiday season at sea, the end of the year is the perfect opportunity to relax and unwind on a ship.
So what are some of the best December cruise itineraries? Considering the winter season, year-round beach destinations like the Caribbean land at the top of the list. Unexpected locales, such as Australia and Patagonia, are worth considering too.
Whether you’re looking for family-friendly cruises, are planning a romantic couples’ getaway, or looking for a unique adventure, here are some of the best places to cruise in December.
1: The Bahamas
One of the best places to cruise in December is to the Bahamas, where the pristine white sand and turquoise water will melt away any thoughts of chilly weather back home. Kids will enjoy swimming with dolphins and snorkeling around coral reefs, while adults can relax and read a book while swinging in a hammock.
In December, days drift by with clear skies and warm sunshine. Enjoy the perfect weather by kayaking off Balmoral Island Beach, or bathing in the clear waters of Blue Lagoon Island.
If you’re looking for holiday gifts during a Bahamas cruise from Miami or Fort Lauderdale, stop by the Nassau Straw Market, which offers plenty of items made by local vendors such as straw hats, jewelry, and souvenirs. For upscale shopping, head to Paradise Island.
2: The Caribbean
The Caribbean, with its picture-perfect beaches, is another wonderful winter escape. The best places to cruise in December in the Caribbean are practically endless, and all depends on what itinerary you ultimately decide to embark on or what exciting itineraries you find.
Take a Southern Caribbean cruise and admire the Dutch-built waterfront Willemstad, Curaçao’s pastel-colored capital. Snorkel over colorful reefs and old shipwrecks in Aruba, or rest and recharge at Castries in St. Lucia, which was once called “the most beautiful bay in the Caribbean” by novelist James A. Michener.
Plan a Western Caribbean cruise vacation and stop in Cozumel, Mexico, where the beachside restaurants and bustling bars of Playa del Carmen and Tulum beckon. Swim with stingrays (don’t worry, they’re friendly!) in the warm waters off Grand Cayman.
Enjoy fresh seafood and piña colada in the artsy port of Key West, or discover an astonishing variety of marine life as you dive or snorkel the enormous Belize Barrier Reef in Belize City.
If you choose to go east, there’s St. Maarten, divided between France and The Netherlands, where you can sunbathe on Orient Beach and take in the restaurants and patisseries of Marigot, capital of the French side of the island.
In the British Virgin Islands, take a break from lounging on the sand at Tortola and enjoy a rum tasting at a local distillery. Or visit St. Thomas, in the US Virgin Islands, where you can board a catamaran and sail towards the idyllic Honeymoon Beach, regarded as one of the most beautiful in the region.
3: The Mexican Riviera
The Mexican Riviera is truly a feast for the senses, and one of the best places to cruise in December. The weather is warm year-round, and in December, rain is rare and the sun is shining. You’ll enjoy round-the-clock fun, no matter what you choose to do.
Celebrity sails to world-famous ports like Cabo, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Ensenada on Mexican Riviera cruises in December. Here, you can dive in Cabo in some of the clearest waters and reefs, or keep an eye out for whales and dolphins. Try your hand at fishing in Puerto Vallarta, where fresh catch is made into delicious local dishes like Baja tacos or pan-fried Pacific lobster served with seasonal spices.
Take a tequila tasting and pair it with a distillery tour to see where the magic happens. In Mazatlan, visit the aquarium for a unique sea life educational experience you can enjoy as a family. Then, perfect your tan on one of Mazatlan’s “golden zone” beaches.
4: South America
If you want to explore further south, consider a cruise around South America with stops in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. Here you’ll find summer temperatures, making this one of the best cruises to take in December, as well as extraordinary scenery, culture and cuisine.
Soak in the sophisticated vibe of Buenos Aires by visiting the city’s museums, taking in a show at the Teatro Colon, or enjoying a dinner featuring Argentina’s world-famous steaks and red wines. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, take your partner to a milonga and schedule a tango lesson for two.
In Punta Del Este, surf at Playa Brava—one of the best beaches in South America—and enjoy a cocktail at one of the many bars in La Barra neighborhood. Don’t forget to take a photo at La Mano, a massive hand-shaped sculpture on the beach, almost made for Instagram.
A trip to South America is incomplete without going to some of the best places to visit in Patagonia.
Adventurers will love Ushuaia, a town at the southern tip of South America that is considered the gateway to Antarctica. Hike around Tierra del Fuego National Park, where the jagged, snow-capped mountain scenery will take your breath away, or hop aboard a catamaran to Beagle Channel, where you can spot Magellanic penguins and sea lions.
5: The Galapagos
Thanks to its location on the equator, the Galapagos archipelago and its unique flora and fauna can be enjoyed year-round, making it one of the best cruise destinations in the world. In December, the cooler season is approaching its end. Sometimes, as cool water and warm air meet, the islands are draped in a light mist, creating an almost mystical feel.
December is an enchanting time of year to go on a cruise to the Galapagos and see the exotic plants and animals that inhabit this volcanic archipelago. This being the equator, the sea will be warm enough for swimming and the days sunny for hiking and exploring by Zodiac inflatable.
Spot a wide variety of endemic animals, from giant tortoises to land and marine iguanas, Galapagos penguins, lava lizards and Darwin’s finches, named after scientist Charles Darwin, who formulated his theory of evolution based on his time here.
December is the last month when you can usually see blue whales, humpback whales, and whale sharks in the Galapagos before they migrate to different feeding grounds, another reason to visit now.
6: Southeast Asia
December is a great time to take a cruise to Southeast Asia because the winter months are cooler. During the summer, Southeast Asia’s monsoon season brings heavy rainfall and humidity. In December, the temperature stays warm and pleasant and you’ll have more energy for sightseeing.
A December cruise to Southeast Asia will take you to the best ports in the region. Shop until you drop in Hong Kong, and then fuel up for some more sightseeing with a traditional dim sum lunch.
Explore the wonders of Hanoi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and cruise on a traditional junk boat among the mystical limestone rock stacks of Halong Bay. In the ancient Vietnamese city of Hue, tour the walled Imperial City and Citadel, built over 200 years ago when Hue was the country’s capital.
In the south, cosmopolitan Ho Chi Minh City, on the Saigon River, shimmers with energy. You’ll find thought-provoking museums, sizzling Vietnamese food and serene temples wafting incense, all against a backdrop of futuristic skyscrapers. End your stay with a warm bowl of pho or a full-body massage before returning to the ship.
See the landmarks in Bangkok, where there are dazzling floating markets and lavish temples to discover. Or take in the ultramodern architecture of Singapore and snap pictures of the city’s jaw-dropping giant “trees” at the Gardens By The Bay.
In Manila, take your taste buds on a journey with a street food tour that’s sure to wow even an expert foodie. Then learn about the country’s indigenous and colonial past at the San Agustin Museum of history and culture. Or stretch your legs on a hike along the Santa Inez trail to discover tumbling waterfalls and tropical flora and fauna.
7: The South Pacific Islands
The balmy South Pacific Islands are a great destination to cruise to in December for limpid seas and soft tropical breezes.
Our South Pacific cruises take you to Noumea, New Caledonia, known as “the French Riviera of the Pacific”, where you’ll explore its gorgeous beaches, French cuisine, and rich colonial history. Later, you’ll step foot in the secluded Mystery Island of Vanuatu, where you can perfect the art of getting away from it all.
In the tiny Isles of Pines, there are shady grottoes and turquoise lagoons to bathe in, while in Lifou, Loyalty Island, the white sand beaches and jade-green ocean are the definition of paradise.
Book Your December Cruise with Celebrity Cruises
Celebrity Cruises makes it easy to find the right December cruise for you. Browse our December cruise itineraries or call one of our vacation specialists today.