The rise of winter cruising
Cruising and sunshine. The two go almost hand in hand in popular perception, and always have. Broad lido decks, full of people soaking up the indolent seagoing lifestyle has been a focal point of most cruise itinerary planning for decades.
But that is starting to change in the winter months.
Many people are simply put off by the over crowded winter Caribbean cruise circuit, where flotillas of vast, floating theme parks routinely descend on the same circuit of islands. Others simply don’t like the hassle of flying.
The result is that some cruise lines are now getting quite creative with winter itineraries. And, interestingly, warm weather cruises are no longer the holy grail.
Winter cruising in the Mediterranean
The Mediterranean is now a year round cruising region. Both MSC and Costa have a large presence in the seven and twelve day markets, sailing from Barcelona and Venice. Short flights and less crowded sights are both impressive plus points. While the cooler weather is not for everyone, it is still generally sunny, and days are usually clear.
Sun lovers can , of course, still cruise around the Canary Islands. You can neatly avoid the joys of a winter Biscay buffeting by flying to join a ship in one of the Spanish or Italian ports, and sailing from there. Many of these are also served by low frills, low coast air carriers.
Winter cruising in Northern Europe
Most unexpected is the slow, but steady growth in winter cruising to the Baltic and Norwegian areas. Round trip sailings from UK ports by P & O, Fred. Olsen, and even Cunard can take you to some amazing, pre Christmas market cities such as Copenhagen, Hamburg and Oslo. You can count on bitingly cold, often amazingly clear days and nights, less crowds, and an intriguing, alternative view of continental Europe that the summer hordes simply never get to see.
Another growth area is in voyages to see the shimmering, ethereal flourish if the Northern Lights, a spectacular natural panorama that illuminates the north west coast of Norway each winter. Both Cruise and Maritime and, again, Fred. Olsen have found this to be a slow but sure growth area over the winter months.
A growing number of people are willing to exchange a sun tan for a range of more intriguing, diverse adventures as time goes by. The convenience of home departures, coupled with good pricing and simple, nicely tailored marketing has created a series of neat, nicely styled alternative takes for cruisers in winter.
Words by Anthony Nicholas for The Cruise Line. Copyright 2012.
Do you have any winter cruise destinations you’d like to suggest? If so, leave a comment below. If you’re seeking a great winter break on a luxury cruise ship, then give us a call on 0800 008 6677.