What are the advantages of taking a winter themed cruise in the UK?

Cruising, a travel style once associated with the summer months and exotic locales, has rapidly evolved to embrace the chill of winter. In recent years, cruise lines operating out of Southampton, UK, have introduced an array of winter-themed cruises, transforming the colder months into a prime time for setting sail. But what makes these winter cruises so unique, and why should you consider booking one for your next holiday? This article will delve into the array of advantages that come with choosing a winter-themed cruise in the UK.

Embracing the Festive Spirit onboard

When the holiday season rolls around, cruise ships transform into floating winter wonderlands. This magical transformation is one of the prime reasons why winter cruising is becoming increasingly popular. Onboard, the decor reflects the festive spirit with twinkling lights, Christmas trees, and wreaths adorning the common areas, creating a cozy and enchanting atmosphere.

The holiday cheer extends beyond the decor with a plethora of Christmas-themed activities onboard. Traditional carol singing, gingerbread house making, and even visits from Santa Claus himself are regular features on these cruises. Some cruise lines put on special holiday shows, and others offer festive workshops where you can make your own Christmas decorations.

Dining onboard during the holiday season is a particular delight. Cruise lines pull out all the stops, serving traditional Christmas meals with all the trimmings. You'll find roast turkey, mince pies, mulled wine, and a range of other festive treats on the menu.

Winter Itineraries and Destinations

Winter-themed cruises offer a unique opportunity to explore destinations in a new light. Many of these cruises set sail from Southampton, UK, venturing to picturesque destinations within the UK and Europe. The beauty of winter landscapes, dusted with snow or adorned with holiday lights, is unparalleled.

Many winter cruises journey to the Christmas markets of Europe. The markets in Germany, France, and Belgium are particularly renowned. Here, you can stroll through rows of festive stalls, sipping hot chocolate or mulled wine, and soaking up the holiday atmosphere. In cities such as Bruges and Copenhagen, the markets are a sight to behold, with historic buildings providing a charming backdrop to the festive festivities.

Winter cruises also offer unique opportunities to experience cultural celebrations like the Northern Lights in Norway or the Ice Festival in Harbin, China. These are experiences that are exclusive to the winter months and offer an added layer of excitement to your holiday.

Onboard Winter Activities and Amenities

Winter cruises are designed to ensure guests can enjoy their time onboard, regardless of the weather. Ships are equipped with indoor pools, spas, and gyms, allowing you to stay active and pampered.

Onboard entertainment is aplenty on winter cruises. In addition to performances and shows, many ships have cinemas showing the latest films and classic Christmas movies. Some cruise lines also organise themed parties and quizzes, ensuring there's never a dull moment.

Winter cruising also offers a unique chance to learn new skills. Many ships offer enrichment programs featuring guest lecturers and classes ranging from cooking to dance to language learning. You can find something that piques your interest and makes your time onboard even more fulfilling.

The benefits of Cruising in Winter

Winter-themed cruises come with several practical benefits as well. For one, they tend to be more affordable than their summer counterparts. This is due to the lower demand during the winter months, making it an ideal time for budget-conscious travelers to take a cruise holiday.

Another significant advantage of winter cruising is the fewer crowds. The ships are less likely to be at full capacity, and the destinations visited are less crowded. This means you can explore your destinations more leisurely and enjoy a more relaxed and personal experience onboard.

Lastly, the timing of winter-themed cruises often coincides with the holiday season. This allows you to celebrate the holidays in a unique way, free from the usual stresses of hosting, cooking, and cleaning.

Booking Your Winter Cruise: Things to Consider

When booking your winter-themed cruise, there are a few things to keep in mind. Before you book, research the cruise lines and ships thoroughly. Each cruise line offers a unique experience, and the ships vary significantly in terms of size, facilities, and onboard activities.

Consider the itinerary carefully. Make sure the destinations appeal to you and that you're comfortable with the amount of time at sea. If you're keen to visit the Christmas markets in Europe, for instance, ensure your cruise includes stops at cities with notable markets.

Lastly, check what's included in the cruise price. Some cruise lines include meals and certain activities in the price, while others charge extra. It's also worth considering travel insurance, especially given the potential for weather-related disruptions in winter.

In conclusion, winter-themed cruises offer a unique, festive, and affordable holiday option. With a wide range of onboard activities, festive celebrations, and unique winter destinations to explore, you will find much to enjoy on these cruises. Regardless of the chill in the air, the warmth and festivity onboard are sure to make your cruise holiday a memorable one.

The Joys of Cruising the British Isles

The British Isles are a stunning destination any time of the year, but the winter months provide a truly unique perspective on their charm and beauty. Setting sail from Southampton, most winter cruises offer itineraries that include stops in several towns and cities throughout the British Isles. The crisp, clear winter air combined with the breathtaking scenery of snow-capped mountains, ancient castles, and charming villages, offer an unmatched cruising experience.

The UK is well-known for its festive celebrations, and these are experienced in their full glory during a winter cruise. Ports of call such as Edinburgh, Belfast, and Dublin are renowned for their Christmas markets, offering a variety of traditional crafts, warming foods, and mulled wine. The experience of strolling through these markets, bundled up against the chill, with the smell of roasting chestnuts and the sound of carolers in the air, is nothing short of magical.

A stop in the Orkney Islands provides a chance to see the Northern Lights – a vision of ethereal beauty that is sure to be a highlight of any winter cruise. The Isle of Skye, with its rugged landscapes, is a must-visit for nature lovers and photographers alike.

Additionally, cruise lines such as P&O Cruises, offer special sightseeing tours, allowing you to explore the British Isles' rich history, culture, and heritage, ensuring an enriching and memorable trip.

A Smooth Sailing Experience: Ensuring a Hassle-Free Winter Cruise

While a winter cruise in the UK offers numerous advantages, it's crucial to keep a few factors in mind to ensure a hassle-free experience. Weather conditions during winter can be unpredictable, and it's essential to pack appropriate clothing. Layered clothing, a sturdy pair of waterproof shoes, gloves, and a good quality coat are recommended.

Given that winter weather can sometimes cause sailing disruptions, it's prudent to have comprehensive travel insurance that covers any potential cruise-related issues. Also, remember that daylight hours are shorter during winter, so plan your on-shore activities accordingly to make the most of your time at each destination.

Taking care of practicalities such as car parking at the port of departure is also crucial. Most cruise lines offer convenient car parking facilities, either onsite or nearby. For instance, Queen Mary provides secure car parking at Southampton, ensuring your vehicle is safe during your cruise.

Lastly, remember that the best time to book your winter cruise is usually several months in advance. This allows you to secure the best deals and choose the cabin type and location that suits your preferences.


A winter-themed cruise in the UK offers a unique blend of festive cheer, stunning winter landscapes, enriching cultural experiences, and a respite from the usual holiday stress. Whether it's the allure of Christmas markets, the chance to witness the Northern Lights, or the cozy and festive atmosphere onboard, there's something about a winter cruise that feels extra special.

It provides an opportunity to embrace the festive spirit in a unique setting, explore the enchanting British Isles, and indulge in a range of onboard activities and amenities. While the winter chill might be in the air, the warmth of the experiences and memories you'll create on a winter cruise are sure to keep you warm for years to come.

So next time you're considering a winter vacation, why not opt for a cruise? The ships will be ready and waiting to welcome you aboard for an unforgettable journey, and with a little preparation, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable cruising experience.