Fancy escaping the bleak winter days in the UK for some winter sun? Keen to get into the festive spirit with a mini trip to the Christmas Markets? Have a look at the range of winter cruises on offer. There is such a large number to choose from, and something for everybody from food lover culinary experiences with world famous chefs like Marco Pierre White or master baker Eric Lanlard, to amazing 4 month long Grand Voyages.
If you have the time and the budget, you can escape the UK for far away destinations and tour some of the most marvellous places on earth with a winter cruise, all at once. And you won't have to organise a thing either. Just imagine the amount of planning and connections you would need to sort out yourself a trip taking you through Greece, Egypt, Jordan, Oman, India, the Maldives, Ski Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Burma, Mauritius, The Seychelles, Reunion, South Africa, Cape Verde, Morocco and Spain.
Voyage To Antiquity - Grand Odyssey - delivers this itinerary on a plate for you.
There are others of course. Check out cruise specialist Planet Cruise for more ideas of long haul winter cruises. And P&O world cruises, included a 55 nights cruise taking you around the Amazon, the Caribbean and Central America.
And if you really fancy going away for a long time (until next year's winter cruises kick off), board Viking's ultimate cruise. 930 passengers, 245 day, 113 port calls and 59 countries. From a cool....£66,990 per person?
Where ever you're planning on going, especially for a long number of weeks (or months potentially), make sure that you:
check out how to keep your personal possessions safe - both the ones you are taking with you and the ones you are leaving at home.
brush up on cruise cancellation rules - how late can you cancel and what you can claim for on your travel insurance
If you love to get into a festive mood early on, then this type of cruise should be perfect for you. Build up the excitement, shop around for a few new Christmas decorations for your home, look for unusual gifts at artisan markets whilst sipping a glass of mulled wine. Christmas market cruises can take you to a market in France, Germany, Holland, Belgium or even Austria. You could have a brilliant time, combining a little time off relaxing on a boat with ticking off a few gift purchases, and soaking up the pre Christmas atmosphere.
Check out The River Cruise Line 5 days German Christmas Markets mini cruise from £549 per person.
Scenic River Cruises offers a 8 days Festive River Cruise with flight transfers from the UK, from £2120 per person.
Some of the cruise programs focus on specific hobbies or lifestyle. For example, in the same way you might enjoy eating out, drinking fine wine or learning new cooking skills when you're on terra firma, you could indulge in your favourite pastime whilst on board.
Check out P&O Food Heroes cruises onboard ship Britannia, featuring its own cookery school. Join a masterclass with Eric Lanlard or Marco Pierre White, enjoy a shore excursion guided by a food expert or a hosted dinner with them.
Silversea Culinary Cruises
One way to make new and magical memories for Christmas could be to spend it aboard a large cruise ship. And what better stop to have en route than New York!
A longer cruise that not only takes you to New York (twice) but also shows you around Antigua, Barbuda, Barbados, Sint Marteens and Saint Lucia. You will depart after Christmas (meaning you can still plan a family celebration at home) and celebrate New Year in style during your cruise. Best of both worlds?
If you are thinking of booking a winter cruise on your own, check out websites like RivieraTravel.
They offer a large selection of cruise destinations and duration for solo travellers from 4 days in Bruges to 15 day through India.
Riviera Travel also offers a handy forum area where single travellers can start chatting about their oncoming trips and find other people booked on the same cruise as them. From what we read on the forum, Riviera Travel staff appears to be really helpful at helping people safely connect by email or mobile number exchange.
We have looked around and to be fair, you've got a lot to pick from if you are after some winter sun for your next (or first) cruise. You could opt to travel through the Caribbean seas; perhaps with a stop over night in dreamy Bermuda with its pink sand, Rum swizzle cocktails and turquoise blue sea. Or pick a cruise marrying modern and traditional architecture and lifestyle, around Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman.
There are even options for no flight cruises leaving from and returning to the UK.
Here are a couple of suggestions to get you started:
Have a look at P&O range of winter sun cruises.
Check Royal Caribbean - they have got an extensive list of winter sun cruises too, starting from just £242 for a 3 nights break in Bahamas.
Wherever you are heading, make sure you plan ahead with regards to your travel insurance. You really want to book it as soon as you've paid the first instalment for your cruise. That way you will be covered even if something like an injury or illness suddenly forces you to cancel your trip. Of course we all wish we won't ever have to use our travel insurance, but it might happen.