Most people associate cruises with warm weather and cocktail umbrellas, but there are plenty of great options for vacationers who want to hit the water during the winter season. The following list includes voyages to both tropical destinations and chillier climates, offered by some of the world’s most reputable cruise lines.
In Search of the Northern Lights (Hurtigruten)
This frigid excursion allows you to cross the Arctic Circle and spend some time in the pristine fjords of Norway. Along the way, you’ll get the chance to visit the Vesterålen and Lofoten Islands, the Seven Sisters mountains, and the towns of Bergen, Tromsø, Ålesund, and Trondheim. The cruise will last 5-6 days, and tickets start at £1,022 ($1,636).
Baltic Capital Cities Cruise (Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines)
You’ll visit five European countries ― Germany, Estonia, Russia, Finland, and Denmark ― during this 12-day jaunt that embarks from Dover, UK. Explore the cobblestone streets of Tallinn, marvel at the baroque cathedrals and palaces of St. Petersburg, and buy your loved ones a few gifts at Copenhagen’s famous Tivoli Christmas Market. It’s the least you can do after ditching the family get-together for a European adventure. Tickets start at £588 ($945).
7 Night Bahamas Cruise (Quantum of the Seas)
Caribbean cruises are a dime a dozen, so what sets Quantum of the Seas apart? Well, there’s the on-board skydiving simulator, bumper cars, and circus school that adults and kids are welcome to attend. That’s in addition to amenities like a poolside movie theater, adults-only solarium, full-service spa, and fitness center. And don’t forget tons of food, drinks, and live entertainment, as well as the chance to visit two of the Bahamas’ most beautiful ports, Nassau and CocoCay. Tickets start at $1,209 per person.
Voyage 1334: Buenos Aires to Valparaiso (Silversea Cruises)
Sixteen days is a long time to be away at sea, but passengers of the Silver Cloud actually get to spend quite a lot of time on land. Scheduled stops include the Uruguayan colonial city of Punta del Este, the Falkland Islands, and the Argentine city of Ushuaia (reputed to be the southernmost city in the word). But there’s plenty of scenery while the vessel is on the water, particularly the two days spent navigating the picturesque Chilean fjords. Oh, and did we mention this cruise is classified as a ‘Wine Series Voyage’? At this time, the cheapest tickets are priced at $9,450 per person ― though you can hop on the waiting list to see if a less expensive fare becomes available.
Empires of Antiquity (Oceania Cruises)
The bodies of water covered during this 24-day voyage (which sets sail on Nov. 14) are almost as impressive as the ports of call. The route passes through the Mediterranean Sea, Strait of Messina, Suez Canal, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Arabian Sea. But the passengers who stand to get the most out of this trip will have the most fun on land. Scheduled stops include Barcelona; Naples; Rhodes, Greece; Ephesus, Turkey; Jerusalem; Aqaba, Jordan; Muscat; and Dubai. Whether you like to play or marvel at historical remnants, you’re bound to have a blast on this cruise. The cheapest available tickets start at $6,799 ― but there is a wait list for less expensive fares.
Grand Japan and China (Swan Hellenic)
OK, we cheated ― this one won’t cast off until December 2014. But man, is it one for the books. This 37-day voyage has such an extensive itinerary that it’s almost easier to tell you which East Asian locales it won’t visit. Suffice it to say that scheduled stops include Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan by way of the South China Sea and the Sea of Japan. Just don’t wait too long to decided whether or not you want in on this epicness ― booking closes on Oct. 31, 2013. Tickets start at £6812 ($10,951). Yeah, we know.