Friday, January 9, 2009

Where to Cruise in the Winter: Three Warm Cruise Destinations

For those of us who live in the northern latitudes, winter is upon us, and all that snow and rain can be quite dreary. And let's not forget the short days. It's pitch black outside as I write this at 5:30 pm. Ick.

A cruise to some place warm can be a great way to beat the winter blues--just last month, I took a cruise of the Mexican Riviera. The seven days of sun were fantastic--I just wish I were still down there.

If you're reading this in the winter months, you might be thinking to yourself that it's too late to book a cruise for this year. But you'd be wrong. As I've written about before, last minute sailings are not only a possibility, but booking a cruise last minute can even save you money. So, it's not too late to get yourself on board a ship sailing some place warm!

Here are three cruise destinations you might want to visit this winter:

Australia & New Zealand Cruises

If you don't mind the idea of a long plane ride, winter (in the northern hemisphere) can be a great time to visit the southern hemisphere, since it's summer down there!

While it's possible to find cruises that visit just one of these places, combination cruises that check out both countries are most common, and they can last anywhere from a week to four weeks, with 12-14 days being pretty common. I know I'd want to stay for more than a week if I flew all the way down there!

While itineraries change depending on the length of the cruise, some of the destinations you might visit are the Great Barrier Reef, Fjordland National Park, and beautiful Sydney, Australia.

Wondering just how warm it is down there during our dreary winters? Average summer (December 1st through February) temperatures in Sydney run around 26°C (79°F).

The Caribbean Islands

If you live in the United States, especially if you're on the east coast, it's not far at all to fly down to the Carribean Islands. Winter is past the hurricane season, so it can be a fabulous time to enjoy the tropical climate.

Cruises typically leave out of Florida, but it's possible to find other ports of call in Texas and up and down the Atlantic Coast. (Personally, I'd rather fly to some place that's already sunny and warm than have to sail a day or two to get to that weather.)

Typically, you'll sign up for an Eastern, Western, or Southern Caribbean cruise, which will spend about a week focusing on islands in their respective areas. The Southern Islands, such as Aruba, tend to be less overrun with tourists, since they're farther away (it's typical for a cruise of the southern Carribean to leave from an island instead of one of the states).

While week long cruises are pretty standard, you can also find longer and shorter sailings. You can even take 3- or 4- day "weekend" cruises leaving from Florida.

South America

For the same reason as Australia (it lies in the Southern Hemisphere), South America is a warm spot to visit when it's winter for all of us up north.

This can be a fabulous cruise experience if you've ever dreamed of seeing Inca ruins or traipsing through a real jungle (don't worry: I hear the machetes are provided). You can even find a ship that will take you down to see the scientifically important Galapagos Islands.

What to do?

"See the tallest waterfall in the world in Venezuela, take a tango lesson in Buenos Aires, visit the disputed Falkland Islands, follow in the path of famous explorers as you round Cape Horn." And, yes, there are some great beaches for lounging in the sun too.

Just check the different itineraries, because South America is a big place! Figure out where you want to go, and then find the cruise that will take you there.

No comments: