Many current or future cruisers instinctively associate going on a cruise with sun, sea and sand. Ask those who have already cruised multiple times where they went and most likely you’ll hear of destinations in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, the Mediterranean and to a lesser extent South-East Asia or Australia.
Statistically xyz % of cruise itineraries go to warm climates. It’s only natural- it’s the ocean equivalent to summer vacations on the beach and in our minds the freedom of the high seas is best enjoyed on deck with the warm breeze gently blowing around us.
However, there are a few reasons why you may want to warm up to the idea of cruising in the cold.
Navigating the northern hemisphere by ship holds some fantastic itineraries, wonderful surprises and beautiful revelations.
I myself love cruising the islands of the Caribbean and had long been hesitant to trade this type of vacation for one going further north. However, after one miserable summer heatwave without air conditioning in Europe I recently decided to give it a shot and sailed along the western cost of Norway past the North Cape all the way up to the Svalbard archipelago, a group of islands in the arctic circle and the last inhabited area just below the North Pole. It was a truly breathtaking journey exposing a kaleidoscope of natural wonders I otherwise would have never been exposed to.
We passed magnificent fjords, hugging the cruise ship and surrounding it with beautiful mountains, iridescent clouds and stunning views. We experienced the midnight sun – the phenomenon where in northern latitudes the sun does not set for several months in summer. For two days we were anchored in longyeabyen, the land of arctic solitude, polar bears and bone chilling cold where we found majestic glaciers and an other worldly type of natural beauty unlike anything we’d ever encountered before.
There are of course a few things to be mindful of when cruising in colder climates. For one, most of your time on board will be spent indoors as the low temperatures will render many of your cruise liners wonderful outside areas unusable. Even the biggest of cruise ships will inevitably feel a lot smaller and constrained under these circumstances. Pools, water parks and other outside activities won’t be an option so be sure you plan alternatives for yourself and your kids, especially for sea days. In addition to reading material, board games etc, we have found the spas on board to be a nice alternative
You may also want to think about your choice of cabin. We’ve often had balcony cabins on cruises but given the colder temperatures this did not seem necessary to us. We very comfortably sailed in inside cabins for our cruises to the Baltic’s, Scandinavia and Norway and can recommend this or oceanview rooms for similar itineraries. The saving from this downgrade we were able to use for activities on board and ashore.
It may sound counterintuitive but you should give cruising in the cold a shot – like us it may make you fall in love even more with traveling by sea and with the fascinating destinations revealing themselves to you.