Best places to cruise in December

Silly season is set to sizzle. Cool down with a cruise on the high seas.

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Update on cruising destinations

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, most luxury cruises around Australia and abroad have been cancelled.

If an announcement has been made, we'll update this page with any updated details.

With a long Christmas holiday break, New Year's Eve celebrations and hot Australian sunshine, December is a traveller's dream.

Thinking of taking a cruise before the new year rolls in? We know a few places to help you finish it off with a bang.

Top 3 places to cruise in December


1. Great Barrier Reef

Welcome the summer sun with a trip to one of the sunniest states in the nation.

Queensland boasts an impressive number of beach locations where you can pull up in a ship, but if we had to choose one, the Great Barrier Reef is a no-brainer. Sailings usually depart from all across Australia though this year are limited to Queensland-based ports. Either way, you can fly in and you can expect the weather in December is oh-so-fine for the journey.

  • Departures from: Brisbane.
  • Why December? Summer welcomes warm weather and brilliant conditions for sailing. Cruise out early enough and you'll avoid families on holidays or take advantage of the summer break with a family-friendly cruise where the kids will have a seemingly endless number of activities to tuck into.

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New Year's Eve fireworks in Sydney Habrour.

2. Sydney Harbour

Because nobody stops Sydney's famous New Year's Eve fireworks.

After much nail-biting anticipated, Sydney's New Year's Eve fireworks have been given the green light. Sadly, the crowds have not - but the events, including the cruises, have. Book your spot on one of the boats and wine, dine and party 2020 away as you sail into the new year. Literally.

  • Departures from: King Street Wharf, The Rocks, Pyrmont, Casino Wharf Lavendar Bay, Rose Bay and Woolloomooloo wharves.
  • Why December? It's when New Year's Eve is AKA 31 December. So yes, it just inches in there.

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Bruny Island Cruise with Pick up from Kettering

3. Tasmania

Summer = the best time to visit the land under the land Down Under.

Being our southernmost state, if you're seeking sunshine in Tassie you'd best believe December and January are the months to visit. December's come with 17-23°C weather and clear skies and there are more than a handful of cruises to take you around its highlights. This includes Bruny Island, Strahan, Port Arthur and the Derwent River. Choose your adventure.

Also, if you time your trip just right you could be in Hobart for the welcoming of the Sydney to Hobart yachts as they race in.

  • Departures from: Around Tasmania.
  • Why December? This is one of the warmest months of the year for Tasmania, giving you a chance to shed some layers and enjoy being on the deck of the boats. This year, Hobart's predicted to experience 16-26°C highs thoughout the month.

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The best of the rest:

As an international travel ban is still in place, you won't be able to get to these top cruising destinations this December.

However, bookings are being taken for 2022 if you'd like to snatch your spot up early. Here's what you can expect in coming years.

Milford sound cruise

New Zealand

Just a two-day boat ride away.

With beautifully warm temperatures and clear blue skies, summer is the best time to explore New Zealand's diverse landscapes.

Enjoy a cruise through the awe-inspiring Milford Sound, hop off the boat for an adventure-inducing hike through Tongariro National Park and don't forget to visit the famous Windy City AKA Wellington for a flat white that rivals Melbourne's best.

  • Departures from: Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart.
  • Why December? Like Australia, New Zealand's summer runs from December to February. These months offer some of the calmest sea conditions and warmest weather that the country experiences, making it perfect for an unforgettable holiday cruise.

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Antarctica is a thing of beauty.

Teeming with wildlife and covered in clean white ice, travelling through its waters is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure you won't soon forget.

Summer offers early-season conditions leading to better chances for onshore expeditions. During December, you can catch whales migrating and the end of elephant seal mating season.

  • Departures from: Tasmania and New Zealand's South Island.
  • Why December? The summer months from November to March are the only months ships sail through the area. This is due to ice packs in winter that make it unsafe to sail during those months.


Western Europe

Spend Christmas on a cruise of a different kind and float through Europe's extensive network of rivers.

During Christmas, European river cruises take on a different tune. Bedazzled with the twinkle of Christmas lights, the river banks come flecked in snow and the towns shine with the sounds of Christmas carols and the smells of winter spices from within their bespoke Christmas markets. It's a sight you have to see.

  • Departures from: UK, Germany, Austria, France, Hungary and more.
  • Why December? River cruises are available year-round, though for the Christmas markets, you have a tight window between late-November and early-January to experience them by water. This makes December prime Christmas market cruising time.



Take the famous Hurtigruten ship up the coast of Norway into the Arctic for a spectacular sight.

With winter well underway in Europe, the possibilities of seeing the Aurora Borealis increase. Otherwise known as the Northern Lights, these are best seen from November to February in the Arctic Circle. If cruising is the way you want to see them, Norway is the place to be. Hurtigruten travels from Bergen to Kirkenes calling in at Tromso and Hammerfest, which are renowned for their Northern Lights. The ship also offers an alert system if the lights come out while sailing.

  • Departures from: Norway
  • Why December? Bergen, Alesund, Trondheim, Bronnoysund, Bodo, Tromso, Hammerfest and Kirkenes.

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