- Seeing the Aurora Borealis in all their glittering green glory is one of the biggest natural thrills in the world, and the best time to see them is from January to March in Norway. Fly to Tromso to board a Hurtigruten working ship for a cruise along the incredible coastline. Along the way you’ll stop at tiny fishing ports and discover idyllic winter wonderland scenery at Kirkenes on the border with Russia, with the opportunity to go husky-sledding on a frozen lake, as well as visit the North Cape. A five-day return journey from Tromso to Kirkenes in February 2017 costs from £799 per person, including flights from the UK.
- Exploring the Christmas markets in Germany, Switzerland and Holland is one of the most enjoyable ways to get into the festive spirit; all that mulled wine, curry wurst and wooden stalls selling pretty hand-crafted gifts will have you feeling warm and fuzzy in no time. And the advantage of a river cruise is that you can get off and explore frequently.
Viking Cruises' eight-day Rhine Getaway cruise departing from Amsterdam from 16 December 2017 costs from £1,645 per person.
- Nothing compares to seeing wild animals including lions, leopards and elephants roaming free in their natural habitat. On this cruise-and-stay adventure on the South African coast, you can visit the Hluhluwe Game Reserve and the Addo Elephant Park, as well as seeing the spectacular scenery of Cape Town, with magnificent Table Mountain. Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines offers a 14-night Cape Town Cruise Safari on 11 January 2018, which includes return flights from London, from £2,949 per person.
- Cuba is the hottest cruise destination in the world right now and on this itinerary you’ll be able to marvel at the crumbling architecture of Havana and explore Cozumel, Mexico (where you can make a trip to the mainland to visit the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza), as well as idyllic Caribbean ports including Georgetown in the Cayman Islands. A 14-night Cuban Fusion fly/cruise with Thomson Cruises departing on 3 January 2017 costs from £1,907 per person.
- Dubai and the UAE are hot cruise destinations (in more ways than one) for 2017; the advantage is that you can experience a stay in the Emirates, with their reasonably-priced luxury hotels, fabulous beaches and superb shopping, while immersing yourself in Arabian culture and of course, trying all that delicious cuisine. MSC Cruises' seven-night fly-cruise departing on 29 January 2017 and calling at Muscat, Sir Bani Yas Island and Dubai on MSC Fantasia costs from £859 per person.
Walt Disney World is particularly magical in December, with Christmas decorations everywhere. While the weather isn’t quite so warm as it is in the spring and summer, the crowds are fewer, making it easier to get on the most popular rides. But the cherry on top has to be combining a stay in the parks with a mini-cruise sailing to the gorgeous islands of the Caribbean, including Disney's very own island Castaway Cay. A three-night Very Merrytime Bahamian Disney Cruise departing from Port Canaveral, Florida on 15 December 2017 starts from £1,431 per person.
- Escape the British winter for caster-sugar sand beaches, azure blue sea, copious cocktails and the laidback lifestyle of a Caribbean cruise. Celebrity Cruises is known for its luxurious, contemporary ships, excellent cuisine and imaginative itineraries. On an eleven-night itinerary on board the beautiful Celebrity Reflection, you’ll sail from Fort Lauderdale to Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Grand Cayman and Mexico. The cruise departs on 22 December 2017 and costs from £3,229 per person, including flights from London Heathrow.
The Canary Islands are known for their winter sunshine, lunar landscapes and incredible wildlife, and on this itinerary you’ll get to visit Gran Canaria, Tenerife and La Palma – but you’ll also have the chance to explore Lisbon, with its wonderful cobbled streets and Madeira, home to some of the most exquisite gardens in the world. A 14-night Canary Islands cruise on P&O Cruises' Ventura departing Southampton on 21 February 2017 costs from £929 per person.
Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas, with its dizzying array of onboard activities including the iFly, bumper cars and North Star, as well as some of the best speciality dining at sea, is homeporting in Shanghai, which means you can experience all the excitement of the Chinese city before sailing to Japan. Royal Caribbean's five-night cruise from 18 February 2017 on board Quantum of the Seas calls at Nagasaki and Fukuoka, and costs £1,050 per person, including flights from London Heathrow.
A cruise from New Zealand to Australia will give you the best of both worlds: the chance to embrace New Zealand and see some of the most incredible scenery in the world, including the Fiordland National Park, with its mind-blowingly vast mountains and valleys, before sailing to Australia's highlights, such as Sydney, with its cool, contemporary vibe and glorious Tasmania. Princess Cruises' 12-day cruise from Auckland on Diamond Princess starts from £1,169 per person and departs on 30 December 2017.