It’s chilly back home, so all you need is a little bit of sunshine in December. If you like your Christmas to be more exotic than the norm, we have some interesting ports to consider celebrating it in. When deciding where to go in December, we’ve factored in the dry season in tropical climates, some amazing events and the chance to spot wildlife that you can’t see during other times of the year. Read on for our rundown of top choices for December cruises.
When asking yourself ‘Where is hot in December in Europe?’ there’s really only one answer – the Canary Islands. In December, you can do a tour of the main islands in temperatures of around 17⁰C. A cruise will take you to the main ports of each island, from which you can start your exploration.
Arriving in Gran Canaria’s capital, Las Palmas, you might not want to leave the beautiful old town, with attractions like the Christopher Columbus Museum. But if you venture further, you can visit places such as the vast dune landscape of Maspalomas, in the south.
Over in Tenerife, the beautiful capital, Santa Cruz, is the gateway to Mount Teide, the third largest volcano in the world. It’s so big that the top of Teide will be covered in snow in December. You can also visit the animals and parrots at Loro Parque and have the option to shop in Las Americas or relax on the long beach. Other island stops are Arrecife in Lanzarote, Puerto Del Rosario in Fuerteventura and the smaller La Palma and La Gomera isles.
The Canaries are a magical place to spend Christmas, with a few unusual traditions thrown in. Gran Canaria mixes Canarian customs with Swedish ones, illuminating churches and houses in the run-up to Christmas. At midnight on Christmas Eve, in many churches across the Canaries, you can witness Baile del Nino, or Dance of the Child, where families in traditional attire dance before an image of baby Jesus. And, after midnight mass, in La Palma you can hear the sound of castanets in many places, which local men perform skits to.
The Caribbean is a perfect place to spend December, with temperatures staying around 25⁰C and rainfall lower than the summer and autumn months. There are a couple of different options for how to enjoy a December cruise to the Caribbean. If you don’t want to fly too far, some cruises, like those on the Marella Celebration, start from European ports like Malaga, going on to Madeira’s Funchal, before crossing over the Atlantic.
Once in the Caribbean, you can take in ports across Antigua, St Lucia, Barbados and the Grenadines’ St Vincent, as well as smaller islands like St Kitts, St Barts and the British Virgin Islands. A visit to Antigua has to involve its beaches – there’s supposedly one for every day of the year. You can take a beach excursion with inclusive rum or punch, or go on a horseback ride. Other Antigua highlights include swimming with stingrays and visiting Nelson’s dockyard.
While you’re in St Kitts, you can’t miss the national carnival, quite literally, as it runs throughout the whole of December. You’ll also get the chance to ride on the St Kitts Scenic railway and go on a rainforest hike, to spot wildlife.
There are a couple of top musical events happening in the Caribbean in December – Classical Pops Barbados and St Lucia’s Kalalu World Music Festival. St Lucia also has its National Day on 13th December, with sports, music and food events that actually spread throughout the month.
It’s not all about where is hot in December, as the weather in Southeast Asian countries like Sri Lanka and Thailand, is cooler in December, but in a good way. Saying that, it still averages 27⁰C, as these are tropical countries, after all. December is just after the monsoon season, so you don’t get the heavy rains either.
A big plus of going to this area in December is that it’s the start of whale spotting season in Sri Lanka. Sailing into the capital, Colombo, you can head to the southern tip of the country, which is where blue whales swim closer to land than anywhere else in the world.
Other ports include Sabang in Indonesia, with white sand beaches and, surprisingly, numerous Japanese bunkers leftover from World War II. Malaysia’s islands each have a very individual ambience, from the UNESCO old town site of Georgetown in Penang to the idyllic beaches, caves, waterfalls and cable cars of Langkawi.
In complete contrast, the bustling city of Singapore celebrates Christmas in a big way. You can visit a Christmas wonderland of lights, sculptures, skating, fairground rides, markets and circus performances at Garden by the Bay. Or do some Christmas shopping at the seasonal village on Orchard Road. Then, why not just chill out on some amazing beaches in Thailand’s premier destinations of Ko Samui and Laem Chabang?
Taking a December cruise to the Caribbean coast of Central America provides a diverse holiday filled with rainforest adventures, colonial history and man-made marvels. This is the start of the dry season, so you can bask in around 26⁰C, with a lower chance of rain, although still take some waterproofs for your trip to Costa Rica, where showers are frequent in December.
Walking through Costa Rica’s rainforests, you won’t mind the drizle one bit, as you visit a Sloth Sanctuary, zipline through the treetops or take a river tour of the Tortuguero Canals to see monkeys, iguanas and crocodiles. You’ll then travel on to Colon, which is the starting point for Panama Canal tours. Be prepared to be in awe of the engineering involved in creating this 80-kilometre-long waterway that links the Pacific to the Atlantic.
Over in Colombia, Cartagena is an immensely beautiful colonial city with a UNESCO-rated old town. There are many ways to see the city, including in a horse-drawn carriage or via a walking tour, or panoramic sightseeing trip. Visiting in early December means you can also enjoy the Festival of Lights, which happens during the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Whether you want to stay close to home or travel to the other side of the world in December, these cruise hotspots provide charming and toasty warm destinations.
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