Top ten: the best cruises for the new year
By Katie McGonagle | 28 Dec 2021
If your new year celebrations aren’t going off with a bang in 2021, why not plan ahead with some of the best new year cruises for December 2022?
There are some incredible spots around the world to see in the new year, from being the first to welcome 2023 in the South Pacific to celebrating with fireworks in Dubai, via winter sunshine in the Caribbean and penguins aplenty in Antarctica.
Take a look at our pick of festive sailings to get your new year off to a spectacular start.
Society Islands with Paul Gauguin Cruises
Being in Bora Bora is pretty special at any time of year, but counting in the first moments of 2023 before almost anyone else in the world makes it an even more enticing choice for a new year cruise.
Paul Gauguin Cruises specialises in this region, and its Society Islands & Tuamotus cruise has guests in Bora Bora on December 31. Spend the day lounging on white-sand beaches, exploring colourful coral reefs or photographing its tree-covered peaks, then get ready for an evening of entertainment as the clock strikes 12.
The cruise also takes in the bustling capital of Tahiti, a black pearl farm in Rangiroa, a private island with a floating bar and a dolphin-spotting excursion in Moorea, along with plenty of chances to go snorkelling or diving in these crystal-clear waters.
The 10-night cruise sails round-trip from Papeete, Tahiti, departing December 28. For more details, visit Paul Gauguin Cruises’ website.
New year in Paris with CroisiEurope
If you don’t fancy flying halfway around the world, why not celebrate new year closer to home with a festive cruise on one of Europe’s grand waterways? CroisiEurope has a host of new year departures on the Rhine, the Loire, the Elbe and the Garonne.
There’s even a Seine sailing that will see you spend New Year’s Eve strolling the streets of Paris followed by a festive dinner back on board. Parisian New Year on the Seine is a leisurely five-day cruise along the French river, visiting Rouen’s famous cathedral and the pretty waterfront at Honfleur, before returning to Paris for a new year to remember.
The five-day sailing departs from Paris on December 28. Go to the CroisiEurope website for more information or to book.
Caribbean with Celebrity Cruises
Soak up some much-needed winter sunshine on an eight-night Western Caribbean Holiday with Celebrity Cruises. Setting sail from Fort Lauderdale on new ship Celebrity Beyond, the journey takes in Bahamian capital Nassau followed by George Town, Grand Cayman, a hit for snorkellers and divers. Explore Second World War vessel the USS Kittiwake, now a shallow artificial reef, or head to the famous Stingray City to see these marine creatures in their natural habitat.
There’s more wildlife on view in Roatan, Honduras, and Cozumel, Mexico, where bright tropical fish and vibrant coloured coral await below the water’s surface, then explore the Mayan ruins of Tulum on this sunny new year cruise.
Round-trip from Fort Lauderdale, departing December 26 for an eight-night sailing. For more information, visit Celebrity Cruises.
Antarctica with Aurora Expeditions
If one of your new year’s resolutions is to start ticking things off your bucket list, then why not get a head start by greeting the new year amid the vast icy expanse of the White Continent?
December and January are right in the midst of the Antarctica sailing season, so you’ll have your pick of voyages, including Aurora Expeditions’ South Georgia & Antarctic Odyssey. On board new ship Sylvia Earle – named after the marine biologist and oceanographer, and with each deck named after female scientists and conservationists – you’ll cross the Drake Passage to the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula, where you’ll celebrate Christmas.
From there, carry on to Elephant Island before spending new year in South Georgia, a remote island with a truly fascinating history as well as some of the biggest king penguin colonies on Earth.
The 21-day sailing, round-trip from Ushuaia, Argentina, departs on December 19. Find out more on the Aurora Expeditions website.
Canary Islands with Ambassador Cruise Line
Spend the festive season enjoying some Spanish hospitality with a Christmas and new year cruise to the Canary Islands.
New British company Ambassador Cruise Line has a Canary Islands sailing departing from Tilbury, which spends Christmas Day at sea, so you can make the most of the entertainment while someone else cooks the turkey.
Next, it makes the rounds of Portuguese island Madeira, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Tenerife, followed by a fun-packed New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day at sea so you can celebrate back on board.
Newmarket Holidays offers the 16-day sailing, round-trip from British port Tilbury, departing on December 21. Find out more from Newmarket Holidays.
New Zealand with Cunard
Explore the volcanic landscapes seen in The Lord of the Rings with a round-New Zealand sailing over the festive period.
It starts and ends in Melbourne, ideal if you want to extend your holiday with a pre or post-cruise stay shopping along its charming laneways or wine-tasting in the Yarra Valley.
Christmas Day is spent cruising Fiordland National Park for incredible views of New Zealand’s most dramatic coastline, followed by stops in Dunedin, Christchurch and capital Wellington.
But the real standout of this sailing is an overnight stay in Auckland on New Year’s Eve, so you can go out and enjoy the City of Sails’ creative restaurants and buzzing bars after dark.
The 14-night cruise departs Melbourne, Australia, on December 22. Find out more on the Cunard website.
Romantic Danube with AmaWaterways
Ring in the new year in one of Europe’s most enchanting cities with a sailing along the Danube through the Austrian capital, Vienna.
Tag on a few days beforehand to browse Christmas markets in Prague or Munich, then embark on river ship AmaBella for a leisurely cruise along the Danube. Go hiking to Passau’s Castle Hill, take a guided tour through the ‘Culture Mile’ in Linz, or head up to the pretty mountain town of Cesky Krumlov.
Then you’ll spend New Year’s Eve in Vienna, enjoying a spontaneous street concert and a night out in a local tavern, or sip champagne on the sun deck while the fireworks go off along the skyline.
The seven-night Romantic Danube cruise departs December 26 from Vilshofen to Budapest. Find out more on AmaWaterways’ website.
Emirates with MSC Cruises
If the sound of New Year’s Eve fireworks is enough to entice you, there are few displays as fabulous as Dubai. You’ll get a great view from the water onboard MSC Cruises’ new ship MSC World Europa, which is spending December 31 in Dubai on its Emirates itinerary.
The ship departs Abu Dhabi on December 25 for Sir Bani Yas Island, Dammam in Saudi Arabia and Doha in Qatar, before docking in Dubai.
Get some retail therapy in the brand-filled shopping malls downtown, browse the souks in the old quarter or get a view of its famous skyline from new observation wheel Ain Dubai, before ringing in the new year back on board.
MSC World Europa departs Abu Dhabi on December 25 for a seven-night cruise around the Emirates. Get more information on the MSC Cruises website.
Central America with Princess Cruises
Take the chance to experience a transit along the Panama Canal on this Central America sailing from Princess Cruises. You’ll depart from Los Angeles, perfect for a pre-cruise stay, then stop off at Cabo San Lucas and Huatulco in Mexico, followed by ports in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.
Then comes the sailing through the famous Panama Canal and a fun-packed New Year’s Eve celebrating the start of 2023 at sea, before ending the cruise in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The 15-day Panama Canal – Ocean to Ocean sailing departs on December 18 from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale. Get more information about the itinerary on the Princess Cruises website.
Amsterdam to Budapest with Scenic
Enjoy the twinkling lights and festive markets of Europe’s biggest cities with a cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest.
Highlights include Cologne’s Christmas markets, a walking tour around the half-timbered houses of Miltenberg and a Sound of Music-themed trip to Salzburg. You’ll also get a chance to bake German gingerbread with a cooking class in Nuremburg, a schnapps tasting in Melk and a private classical concert at Palais Liechtenstein in Vienna.
New Year’s Eve will be spent in Budapest, where you can choose to mark the occasion on board with an evening of entertainment, or go ashore and ring in the new year at one of Budapest’s bars and restaurants.
The 15-day cruise departs from Amsterdam on December 19 and arrives in Budapest on January 2, 2023. Find out more on the Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours website.
Pictured, top: Cedric Letsch/Unsplash