Winter has barely begun but already many Brits will be dreaming of lazy days in a warm climate. If your head is filled with thoughts of sun and sea, why not combine the two and take a cruise in one of these winter sun hotspots?
It's the ultimate destination for a winter sun cruise, since from December to April, the weather is dry, with low humidity and cooler evenings. There are many firms offering cruises that leave from Florida throughout the winter months, taking in some of the Caribbean's 7,000 islands along the way, and prices start from as little as £393 for a five-night trip, although flights are extra.
Alternatively, fly straight to Barbados, only eight hours by air, with the likes of Virgin or P&O. The former currently has an 11-night cruise in January that will take in Barbados, St Lucia, St Kitts, Puerto Rico and several other islands, with flights included from £1,420 per person. If money and time are no object, P&O even run Caribbean cruises that leave from Southampton and stop at no less than nine countries. A 24-night, full board trip departing in January 2015 costs from £2,029 per person.
The Mekong River
Don't rule out river cruises if you're after a slice of relaxing winter sun. Passing through Vietnam and Cambodia, a river cruise gives passengers a glimpse of both the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and the tranquility of the floating villages of the Mekong River. Uniworld Cruises offer just such a trip, including hotels in port and guided excursions, but the prices aren't for the faint-hearted, starting from around the £5,000 mark for a 15-night trip in the winter months. But then it is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for the adventurous cruiser.
The Panama Canal
One of the seven modern wonders of the world, the Panama Canal runs for 48 miles between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, and you can take full advantage of the winter sunshine by way of a two-week Princess Cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles, taking in Colombia and Costa Rica along the way. A 13-night trip aboard the Coral Princess, with flights from the UK included, costs from £1,874 per person.
An all-round winter sun hotspot, Dubai promises fabulous temperatures and blue skies, and you can enjoy it all from the comfort of a cruise ship. Board the Splendour of the Seas with Royal Caribbean and you'll see not only the best of Abu Dhabi, but also the striking Khasab, historic Muscat, and even wonder at dawn in the desert with a shore excursion that includes a Bedouin breakfast. Prices start from around £990.
The Canary Islands
These islands have long been a winter sun draw for British holidaymakers, but with a cruise you can visit no less than five islands. Fred Olsen Cruises offer a wide range of cruises in the Canaries, but to get a taste of Madeira, La Palma, Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Arrecife, opt for 'The Canary Set'. You'll embark at Southampton for this 14-night cruise, and prices start from £999.
Have you a winter sun cruise regular? What destinations would you recommend to others? Leave your comments below...