In Cruises, Destinations
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Thinking about taking a cruise? Is going on winter cruises worth it?

It’s time to forget those sun-drenched destinations. Expand your cruise horizons and consider some of the best winter cruises and cold weather cruise destinations as an alternative.

 

Whether it’s glacier cruising in Alaska, penguin sighting in Antarctica or discovering the festive winter delights of Europe’s Christmas Markets on a river cruise.

Rug up and get ready to set sail, these are some of the best destinations for winter cruises and cold weather cruise routes around the world. We’ve found everything from polar expedition cruises, fabulous ferry crossings, even mystical winter junk boat cruises in Asia.

Norway Fjords


Chile Patagonia – Cruise from Isla Navarino – Puerto Williams to Punta Arenas

If you are planning to visit Patagonia, include a side cruise by way of the Yaghan Ferry from Punta Arenas to Puerto Williams – Isla Navarino.

You don’t have to take a dedicated cruise in Patagonia to experience the best sights from the water.

Reasons to visit Patagonia

The Yaghan Ferry Cruise

The Yaghan ferry cruise is the best way to get from Punta Arenas to Isla Navarino in Chile. The ferry crosses the famous Beagle Channel offering beautiful views of Tierra del Fuego’s fantastic landscape and wildlife.

The distance between Punta Arenas and Isla Navarino is not far – only 303 nautical miles but navigation through the Beagle Channel can be tricky. The voyage can take up to 32 hours which means an overnight cruise with the option of a second night on board on arrival with some schedules.

The Yaghan Ferry transports both cargo and passengers so is not a fancy cruise. The ferry offers a more authentic, local experience and a great way to experience some of Patagonia’s best landscapes from the sea without the added expense of a dedicated cruise.

Glaciers seen in Patagonias Tierra del Fuego while sailing on the ferry from Punta Arenas and Isla Navarino

What Will You See On The Yaghan Ferry Cruise

During the Yagan cruise, you will see many small and inhabited islands, scenic canals, breathtaking fjords and some of Patagonia’s most impressive glaciers.

Patagonia Wildlife

The waters of the Beagle Channel are also rich in marine mammals, fish, and various invertebrates such as the Patagonian spider crab found in many popular dishes in the region. The Beagle Channel is also one of the most important areas for the conservation of Chilean birds.

Weather Between Punta Arenas to Puerto Williams

In addition to the diversity of landscapes and wildlife sightings, expect diversity of weather between Punta Arenas and Isla Navarino.

Experiencing four seasons in one voyage between Punta Arenas to Puerto Williams is not unusual so pack for every occasion – warm clothes and a waterproof jacket and don’t forget protection for your camera if you want to take pictures from the deck.

Seals on a rock on the southern coast of patagonia while sailing from Punta Arenas to Puerto Williams

Booking the Puerto Williams to Punta Arenas Yaghan Ferry

Passengers can choose between reclining Pullman seats or the comfort of sofa-bed seats. Included in the price are all meals and drinks.

Bookings must be made at least two days in advance. Some seating is reserved for residents of Puerto Williams up until 24 hrs before departure.

Find more information and schedules for the Punta Arenas – Puerto Williams Crossing here

Elisa | World in Paris.


Winter Cruises in Norway – Northern Lights Cruises

Many are not aware that one of the most spectacular cruise routes is in the middle of winter in one of the coldest winter destinations in the world. The Norwegian cruise from Oslo into the Arctic Circle.

See the Northern Lights

The highlight of this particular cruise route in the middle of winter is the ability to see the Northern Lights from the deck of the ship.

Even for those not willing to brave the cold on deck, there’s always the possibility of viewing the northern hemisphere’s spectacular light show from the comfort of the ship’s lounge.

What could be better than an evening cocktail while enjoying one of the world’s most magical light shows?

As with any natural phenomenon, a view of the northern lights is never guaranteed, however cruising in the Arctic Circle certainly gives you the best chance.

Winter cruises in Norway are a popular way for people to witness the northern lights.

Experience the Best Norway Activities

The Northen Lights is not the only highlight of cruising in Norway in winter. Excursions in each port are designed to immerse passengers in unique cultural and winter activities such as husky sledding, snowmobile safaris and ice-fishing.

There is also the opportunity to visit fascinating ports such as Bodø and Tromsø to experience typical Norweigan life mid-winter.

Dog sledding under the northern lights is just one activity on winter cruises in Norway

It goes to show, any time of year is a good time to visit Norway, even winter. Winter cruises in Norway allow you to experience almost the whole of Norway in a single visit at one of the most picturesque times of the year.

A cruise ship move though Norwegian towns in a mist of snow. Winter cruising in Norway is quite beautiful.

Norway Cruise Ports and Departures

Coastal winter cruises in Norway mostly depart from Oslo, but you can also join shorter Northern Lights cruises from arctic ports.

Cost of a Norweigan Cruise

Prices will vary according to the length and style of cruise you opt for. While Norway coastal and northern lights cruises tend to err on the pricey side, there are still some great value cruises to be found. Four-day arctic cruises can be enjoyed for as little as $500 USD.

Lavina Dsouza | Continent Hop


Alaskan Cruises

An Alaska glacier cruise might not be the first thing that comes to mind when planning a cruise, but Alaska offers some of the best cold weather cruises you will find in the world.

It’s not just the thousands of miles of scenic coastline that appeal to visitors, Alaska is an intriguing and culturally diverse destination.

Alaskan cruise ships offer everything you could imagine to combine adventure and all the comforts needed for the relaxation time you expect on a cruise.

Pools, spas and live entertainment as well as exciting and unique winter excursions; from whale watching and dog sledding to city tours.

Alaskan winter cruises are a great way to see impressive landscapes like this snowy mountain scene from a cruise ship and see the northern lights.

Alaskan Cruise Destinations

The main destinations Alaskan cruises cover are Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and stunning Glacier Bay National Park, the highlight of the majority of Alaskan itineraries.

Best Time to Take an Alaskan Cruise

While an Alaskan cruise is a fabulous cruise in the warmer months, from late September, it is possible to see the northern lights.

Later in the year is also the best time to snag a good deal on a winter cruise as many tourists choose to cruise Alaska in the peak summer months.

Tourists on the bow of a ship looking at Alaskan glaciers. Alaskan winter cruises are a great way to get up close with impressive glaciers and see the northern lights.

Alaskan Cruise Ports and Departures

Alaskan cruises usually depart from Whittier, Vancouver, Seattle, and Seward. Sometimes, you can also find ships leaving from San Francisco, Juneau or Los Angeles.

Cost of an Alaskan Cruise

While Alaskan winter cruises are rarely on the budget side, they don’t need to be particularly luxurious or as expensive as you think. It is possible to find cruise deals under $1000 for one week in a cabin without a balcony.

Inma | A World to Travel


Antarctic Cruises

Having worked in Antarctica, we know all too well the continents appeal. These days the worlds most remote place is more accessible than ever.

The 7th Continent, the dream destination, and the ultimate winter cruise destination. It may be the most remote place on earth, but Antarctica is loaded with unique wildlife and breathtaking beauty.

Cruising is the most common way to access Antarctica. Many will opt for the two – three week cruises that depart from Punta Arenas, Chile.

One of the best winter cruises happens in summer in Antarctica. Visit the stunning icy landscape on a cruise from chile

Antarctic Cruise Itinerary and Destinations

Cruising through the Chilean Fjords before rounding Cape Horn and on to the Antarctic Peninsula, you can tick off some pretty big ticket cruise destinations.

After spending time in Antarctica, some cruise itineraries will head north to the Falkland Islands before docking in Montevideo, Uruguay for disembarkation.

Antarctic Cruise Highlights

The highlight of this adventure cruise is without a doubt the time spent in Antarctica. Watching penguin colonies on shore while fur and elephant seals jostle for prime position.

And then there is the spectre of the Antarctic landscape which continually reinforces the cost of a trip to Antarctica is worthwhile and a once in a lifetime experience.

The best winter cruise experience is in Antarctica. Take zodiac rides through the ice and realise how small we really are.

For many checking off the 7th continent holds the greatest appeal but zodiac cruising around icebergs and kayaking in Antarctic waters will leave you spellbound.

Breaking the thin layer of ice on top of the ocean with your kayak while penguins dart about, we are reminded how small we are in the natural world.

Antarctica is cold, but with the proper gear, not unbearable. Cruise companies will supply appropriate boots and polar jackets that are rarely required on a calm sunny day providing you have adequate under layers.


Essential Clothing for Polar Cruises

Baselayers

Baselayers are so important for keeping you warm in polar climates. Merino wool is the best option. The fabric needs to be close to your skin so it needs to wick moisture away such as sweat when you are being active but also keep you warm when you cool down. Merino is also great for wash and wear as it is quick drying.

There are some great designs around now that don’t have to be worn strictly as “underwear”. Some baselayer tops are fashionable enough to be worn around the ship without having to change everytime you head outside.

One good set of merino baselayers will see you through an entire cruise without issue.


Kayaking in Antarctica is an experience of a lifetime. Is this one of the best winter cruises?

Cost of an Antarctic Cruise

There is no doubt an Antarctic cruise is going to be expensive. Expect anywhere upwards of $6,000 USD for a lower end cruise.

As the market expands, the opportunity to snag some excellent last minute deals are increasing. Deals of up to 50% off are possible if you are flexible.

If you have ever wondered about voyaging to Antarctica, anyone who has been will say – save your pennies and go; you won’t regret it. Antarctica is a once in a lifetime experience.

Lauren Owen | The Traveller’s Guide By #ljojlo


Winter Cruises in Halong Bay

Ha Long and Bai Tu Long Bay, in Vietnam, are among the most incredible places to visit in South East Asia. Going on a cruise in the UNESCO listed bays is one of the ultimate things to do in Vietnam, and one of Asia’s most memorable experiences.

A winter cruise in Halong bay offers beautiful fog drenched landscapes

Why Choose a Winter Cruise in Halong

Most visitors to Vietnam prefer to visit Ha Long Bay during the peak seasons. While fine weather and the chance to swim in the emerald waters of the bay are enticing, cruising Halong Bay in the winter months has its benefits.

During peak season the Halong area is flooded with tourists. In the winter months expect better deals on cruises and less crowded experiences at all major attractions and onboard your cruise vessel. There is even the possibility of upgrades.

Winter Weather in Halong Bay

Halong is one of the most humid cities in Vietnam so it never gets too cold. The winter cool is a welcome change to the typically hot and humid climate, and while temperatures have been known to drop to as low as 5 ℃, one can expect temperatures of around 11 ℃ in peak winter.

Sunset over halong bay is beautiful even on a winter cruise

Winter may not be the best time for swimming, but it is for scenic landscapes and beautiful photographs.

With the cold weather comes overcast skies, light drizzles and often thick fog. It is these conditions that give Ha Long Bay the aura of mystery and dramatic scenes often seen in promotional photographs.

Cruises to Ha Long Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay depart from Ha Long city and usually take either two days with one night on the boat or three days sometimes with one night spent on the boat, and one at an island hotel.

Mist falls over Halong Bay in winter creating a mysterious landscape. Boats anchored in Halong Bay.

Halong Bay Cruise Activities

Activities during the cruise include cave exploration, kayaking, visits to the pearl factories, and biking and hiking on the islands.

You can read more about Halong Bay junk boat cruises here.

Cost of Halong Bay Cruises

Prices will vary depending on the duration of the cruise. A mid-range cruise can cost between $150 USD and $350 USD for two and three day cruises.

Claudia Tavani | My Adventures Across The World


European Christmas Market Cruises

River cruising is one of the best ways to see Europe. Sailing between Europe’s most famous and impressive cities experiencing all the best sights along Europe’s original highways.

However, winter river cruises in Europe take on a whole new allure. Nothing captures the Christmas spirit quite like Europe’s famous Christmas Markets.

Winter river cruises in Europe are a great way to experience the best Christmas Markets in Europe like the the Ghent christmas markets in Belgium

Take a European river cruise in November or December for the opportunity to incorporate some of Europe’s best Christmas Markets along Europe’s most iconic waterways.

Christmas really is the best time to take a cruise in Europe. Incorporate all your Christmas shopping into a fabulous pre-Christmas cruise experience.

Visit some of Germany's best Christmas markets on a winter river cruise in Europe

Danube Christmas Cruises

Take a Danube cruise and experience the Danube’s most famous festive markets in Budapest the “Little Paris of Middle Europe”. Or see Vienna, one of Europe’s most elegant cities at the most beautiful time of year.

Christmas cruises in Germany or France

Take a river cruise through Germany, a Christmas cruise favourite and the source of many Christmas traditions. Cologne, Berlin and Hamburg boast some of the most impressive Christmas markets in Europe. Or, take a Rhine cruise between Germany and France.

European Christmas market cruises take you to some of the best christmas markets in Europe like these markets in Dusseldorf Germany

Scandinavian Christmas Cruises

Try a festive cruise in Scandinavia for a dash of hygge, the Danish concept of cosiness and contentment.  Indulge in an abundance of seasonal markets offering both traditional and artisanal gifts with a good dose of Scandi chic the region is famous for.

Head to Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen for a Christmas market experience in the second oldest and most beautiful amusement park in the world.

The options are limitless for fabulous winter cruises in Europe.

Cost of European Christmas Cruises

A river cruise in Europe is a very cost effective way to travel in Europe and Christmas is no exception. Cruises range from 4 to 25 days depending on the itinerary and cruise line.

Expect to find cruises for as little as $600 USD all inclusive for four days up to $5,000 USD for a week or more on a higher end cruise line.

There are always plenty of great early bird cruise deals to be found when searching for European river cruises.

Copenhagen waterfront at Christmas time with yachts decorated in lights. A great place to visit on a winter cruise at Christmas.

Greenland and Iceland Cruises

The remote, scenic landscapes of Greenland have plenty to offer as a cold weather cruise destination.

A true wilderness in every respect with coastal villages founded by Vikings, cruising in Greenland is one of the most culturally fascinating awe inspiring natural spectres in the world.

Local villages in Greenland are ports of call on Greenland cruises

Greenland Cruising Seasons

Even summer cruising dates in these polar waters will rarely see temperatures climb above 5 deg. Sail through stunning fjords, see glaciers calve into the sea, retrace the history of Greenland’s Inuit people and visit Greenland National Park, the largest and least visited national park in the world.

In summer, enjoy long days and experience the midnight sun. Alternatively, from the early winter months, the beauty of the northern lights.

Greenland Wildlife

Greenland is also incredibly abundant with wildlife. Polar bears and muskoxen, walruses, whales and birds – there is so much to see on both the land and at sea.

Polar bear swimming in the flat sea. Scenes like this make cold weather cruise destinations so memorable.

For the active cruiser, there are plenty of activities in Greenland to keep you occupied. Hiking, kayaking, snowshoeing, even diving in Greenlands pristine waters.

Many Greenland cruises may be coupled with a visit to Iceland or included as a departure port or final destination.

Peak season for Greenland cruises is June to October.

Cost of Greenland Cruises

Greenland cruises are not easy to find in the budget range although more affordable than an Antarctic cruise. Expect starting prices of around $2500 pp based on a shared cabin. Up to $14,000 pp for an all-inclusive luxury expedition cruise.

You will find many cruise options in the middle $3,500 – $5,000 range. There is also the possibility of early bird specials and last minute deals if you are flexible.

Sailing under icebergs in Greenland is one of the besat winter cruise experiences in the world.

Before you start planning your peak season warm weather cruising, maybe reconsider all the fabulous winter cruising experiences and cold weather cruising destinations. These are just the tip of the iceberg.


Regardless of the Winter Cruise You Choose – Don’t Forget Travel Insurance.

When travelling to remote locations, travel insurance is so important. If anything should happen, you’ll have 24-hour access to the help you need as quickly as possible at little or no cost to you. We always use World Nomads as they are the best value for money with the most flexible plans.



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