You might be gearing up for the first snowfall or decorating for the holidays, but escaping to a destination with warmer weather where you can shovel sand as opposed to snow may also be on your mind. Short days and cold nights often make vacation daydreaming a habit during the winter. You can make your winter a bit shorter by jetting off to the best cruise destinations in the world.
Warm your bones and relax your mind with these top five winter cruise destinations.
1. The Panama Canal
It’s a must to visit the Panama Canal at least once in your lifetime. This engineering marvel literally links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans for rapid cargo transport. Your cruise can take you right through this canal, so you can see all of the locks that lift and drop ships by using appropriate water levels to move huge vessels across the canal.
Go even further with your canal adventure and visit Panama on foot. You’ll marvel at its amazing wildlife as you enjoy a hike or other adventure guided by local companies.
2. Rio de Janeiro and Beyond
Even further south from Central America is Brazil‘s gorgeous Rio de Janeiro. Many cruise lines visit this area because of its dramatic hillsides, architecture and friendly atmosphere. In fact, this city is just one stop on several cruise itineraries around South America.
Other cruises head out to Buenos Aires, Argentina and even down to the Falkland Islands. Experience warmer climates along South America’s tip, but also take a peek at elephant seals and emperor penguins as they enjoy their summertime closer to the South Pole. These animals are often farther north than most people realize.
3. The Mexican Riviera
Experience Mexico from a different perspective than the Yucatan that’s found on the Caribbean side of the country. The Mexican Rivera extends along the west coast between Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. Take a cruise down from California and pass the Tropic of Cancer to really feel that warm weather setting in.
You won’t lose your luggage either because of convenient tracking tags added to each bag as you check in. Cruise ship technology complements your adventure as you experience different adventures, tours, shopping and even types of food along the way. Take advantage of local tour guides to immerse yourself in the Mexican culture, where you can learn about the creation of tortillas in addition to other delicacies.
Don’t forget your swimsuits either because Cabo San Lucas offers some of the most beautiful, clear waters for snorkeling, diving and recreational swimming too.
Hawaii is a unique cruising destination because you have several days of being exclusively at sea. Ships must cruise out of the West Coast of the U.S., so four to five days of being at sea is normal. You can spend that time relaxing, reading and enjoying all of the ship’s many amenities.
When you arrive in Hawaii, you’ll usually visit three or four different islands before heading back to the mainland. Be sure to leave the ship as soon as possible at each island port in order to make the most of your time.
Each island offers its own unique attractions, including beach life, exciting surfing, gorgeous hikes, and a fascinating, albeit tragic, history.
Going “down under” is a classic way to escape the Northern Hemisphere winter. Cruises are perfect for this area because of all of the features that the coastlines have to offer. The most popular destination tends to be the Great Barrier Reef. Although cruise ships can’t access the Reef with their large vessels, smaller boats can take visitors closer to all of the wildlife.
Snorkel and dive among some of the most unusual creatures in the world then hop back onto the cruise ship and visit other distinct Australian locations.
While here, you must also visit the famous Outback where you can take day trips with locals who know where all of the indigenous wildlife reside. From kangaroos to crocodiles, Australia has a host of different animals to please (or terrify) everyone on the cruise.
According to TripAdvisor, a whopping 43 percent of winter travelers in 2014 were merely trying to escape their everyday cold weather for a short time period. In fact, the time is ripe to start that vacation planning now, so that winter can be complete with one getaway to an exotic locale. Shorts and t-shirts should be the only uniform required on these winter trips.