When you think about a cruise, it’s often white sand and palm trees that spring to mind – not icebergs and glaciers.
After all, there’s no shortage of commercial cruise liners and travel companies trading on the basis that they regularly set sail to a wide variety of dreamy island locations all over the globe.
Strangely enough though, it seems that there are a growing number of people swapping their bikinis for bobble hats, as they set sail on a slightly different type of holiday experience – the winter cruise.
Therefore, we decided to do our homework on some of the most popular winter cruising locations and assessed the best routes to look out for in 2018…
Adventurous types and nature lovers tend to gravitate towards Antarctic cruises.
The Antarctic Peninsula is a popular site for mini expeditions, as visitors are able to depart the cruise ship aboard smaller zodiac-style boats to get even more up close and personal with the breath-taking surroundings the region has to offer.
The waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula are also home to some of the world’s most endangered and fascinating species – including humpback whales, leopard seals, dolphins and sea lions.
One of the routes that we’d recommend is the Hebridean Sky cruise that embarks from Ushuaia, South Argentina.
This 12-day trip takes you to the white continent along the Drake Passage, where experts provide en-route education about what to expect as you prepare to brave the elements.
Alaskan cruises enable you to explore the North American wilderness at your own pace.
Set sail from Seattle or Vancouver as you take in everything that the Gulf of Alaska has to offer.
Unlike cruises around Antarctica, you can depart the ship and actually set foot on Alaskan soil (or ice) as cruise liners tend to stop at numerous ports of call.
This includes a stop around the fjords and forested islets of the enchanting Glacier Bay National Park and a visit to the Denali National Park – home to the native Athabascan people and the Denali peak.
Princess Cruises have a selection of different Alaskan tours to suit all preferences. This includes roundtrip and one-way options as well as ‘Cruisetours’ that include a few nights stay on land.
Iceland is fast becoming a very popular tourist destination; however, the dramatic landscapes and penguin-crowded shores of Greenland make it a hidden gem for winter cruisers.
Voyages generally include a stop in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, where holiday-makers enjoy bathing in the famous Geysir Hot Springs and can also visit the alluring Gullfoss Waterfall.
The ice-carved Ammassalik Fjord is one of the wonders of Greenland, while the ruggedly beautiful mountainous town of Tasiilaq is a great stop for those on the lookout for arctic foxes and other native species.
Fred.Olsen Cruises run a number of North Atlantic tours from the UK, however the 14-night tour aboard the MS Black Watch includes visits to both Greenland and Iceland and is scheduled to embark in July 2018.
Nordic cruises a far from unheard of – and for good reason.
Every year, tourists flock in their thousands to the top of the northern hemisphere to try and catch a glimpse of the wondrous northern lights.
There’s also a fine collection of some of Europe’s most beautiful cities – separated only by the waters of the Baltic Sea.
Stockholm, Aalborg and Oslo are all potential ports of call should you travel with Fred.Olsen Cruises.
P&O cruises have multiple trips scheduled in 2018 on MS Britannia and MS Arcadia – both embarking from Southampton bound for the scenic Norwegian Fjords.
They also have a scheduled cruise that takes you beyond further afield towards the Arctic Circle where you can marvel in the natural phenomenon that is the northern lights.
Wherever you decide to go, you should consider taking out a cruise travel insurance policy before you embark on your journey. Cruise travel insurance is different from normal medical travel insurance or senior travel insurance, as ‘Cruise Cover’ has to insure you for additional circumstances such as airlifting from ship to mainland and missed port departure.
Winter cruise holidays aren’t cheap, so you will probably require a higher level of cancellation and curtailment cover as well as medical cover in case you get ill before or during your holiday.
It’s also likely that your cruise ship or travel agent will require you to have sufficient cover already in place before you board, so make sure you check if this is required before you leave!