December is one of the best times to take a cruise. Whether you’re looking to escape the dreary winter weather 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 your worries. Kids will enjoy swimming with dolphins and snorkeling around coral reefs, while adults can relax and read a book while swinging in a hammock.
By December, hurricane season is thankfully over, so most days in the Bahamas consist of clear skies and warm sunshine. Enjoy the perfect weather by kayaking in Balmoral Island Beach, or bathing in the transparent ocean 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 ideal destination to head off to in December if you’re looking to escape the cold, slushy winter. 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.
Take a Southern Caribbean cruise and sightsee the Dutch-inspired pastel cityscape of Curacao, snorkel through 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 are waiting nearby. Swim with stingrays (don’t worry, they’re friendly!) in George Town’s West Bay in the Grand Cayman.
Enjoy fresh seafood and piña colada in the artsy port of Key West, or discover a variety of underwater species while snorkeling in Belize and its world-famous Barrier Reef.
If you choose to go east, there’s St. Maarten, where you can sunbathe on the beach and take in the culinary scene at the island’s Dutch capital, Philipsburg. Schedule a break from lounging on the sand at Tortola and enjoy a rum tasting at a local distillery. Or visit St. Thomas, where you can board a catamaran and sail towards the idyllic Honeymoon Beach, which lives up to its name.
3: 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 it one of the best cruises to take in December.
Soak in some culture in Buenos Aires by visiting the city’s museums, taking in a show at the Teatro Colon, or enjoying a dinner featuring their 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 that was made for Instagramming.
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 entrance to Antarctica. Hike around Tierra del Fuego National Park, where the stunning natural scenery will take your breath away, or hop aboard a catamaran to Beagle Channel, where you can spot Magellanic penguins and sea lions.
On the way to Puerto Montt, Chile, marvel at the beauty of the Patagonian landscape, which includes fjords, volcanoes, and snowy mountains. Once there, hike around a rainforest and take in the Petrohue waterfalls, or if you’re more of a thrill seeker, try whitewater rafting down the Petrohue River.
4: The Galapagos
Thanks to a subtropical location on the equator, the Galapagos Islands 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, and with it comes a high atmosphere mist that curls around the stunning landscape as the cold water meets the warmer air.
This natural phenomenon gives the islands an almost mystical feel, making December an enchanting time of year to go on a cruise to the Galapagos and see the exotic plants and animals that inhabit the archipelago of volcanic islands.
Spot a wide variety of endemic animals that reside in the Galapagos, including tortoises, sea lions, marine lizards, penguins, and Darwin finches, named after evolutionary scientist Charles Darwin, who spent a considerable amount of time on the islands.
December is the last month when you can usually see blue whales, humpback whales, and whale sharks before they migrate elsewhere for the rest of the winter and spring before returning in June to feed in the waters of the Galapagos once again.
5: 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 swelteringly high temperatures. In December, the temperature stays warm and pleasant and rainfall is low.
Read: Best Winter Cruises
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, either by taking a ride on a traditional Chinese junk boat or from high up above on a seaplane. See the landmarks in Bangkok, where there are plenty of ancient ruins, temples, and monuments to discover. Or take in the modern sights of Singapore and snap pictures of the city’s jaw-dropping skyscrapers and architectural jewels.
Other Southeast Asia cruise ports in December include Ho Chi Minh, Hue, Manila, Boracay, and Puerto Princesa.
6: 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, you’ll find sunshine and warm weather during the winter.
Cruising through eastern Australia, you’ll 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.
New Zealand is known for its epic landscapes and rich culture. Depending on the port you’re in, you’ll find fjords, glaciers, beaches, and vineyards—some of the reasons why it’s 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 (a must-visit for water sport enthusiasts); the country’s 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.
7: The South Pacific Islands
The South Pacific Islands are a great destination to cruise to in December because temperatures are still warm and there’s little risk of rain and tropical storms.
Our South Pacific cruises take you to Noumea, New Caledonia, known as “the French Riviera of the Pacific,” where you’ll explore its stunning beaches, French cuisine, and rich colonial history. Later, you’ll step foot in the secluded Mystery Island of Vanuatu, where you can put into practice the phrase “getting away from it all”. In the tiny Isles of Pines, there’s a number of gorgeous grottoes and lagoons to bathe in, while in Lifou, Loyalty Island, the white sand beaches and turquoise 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.