Seasoned travelers know winter is one of the fairest seasons for setting sail on a luxury cruise — either from Florida’s shores or somewhere entirely more distant in every way. From popping champagne among the penguins of Antarctica to sailing aboard brand new ships bound for less-trampled Caribbean ports, travelers have more exciting options than ever this winter for setting sail in style.
“The ship is the destination; it’s always a wow experience for me,” says Edward Lydecker, owner of World Class Cruises and Travel, which specializes in booking bespoke itineraries on Celebrity Cruises’ many ships worldwide sailing to diverse destinations such as Bali, New Zealand and Sri Lanka.
Whichever itinerary and ship you choose in Celebrity’s storied fleet, Lydecker recommends upgrading to The Retreat if you’re looking for the most exclusive onboard experience. With the service, style and amenities of a luxury, land-based resort, it’s a ship-within-a-ship experience with dedicated concierges and butlers and a private restaurant, sundeck and lounge.
Read on for some of the best ships and itineraries awaiting you around the world this winter.
The newest ship in Celebrity Cruises’ highly praised and uber-luxe Edge Series, the 3,260-passenger Celebrity Ascent, launches this November and will be cruising out of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale from December 2023 to April 2024 for its inaugural Caribbean season. Seven-night itineraries visit San Juan in Puerto Rico, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands and St. Kitts, among other ports, and are sure to be spectacular.
Scenic Eclipse II (Featured image)
Picture yourself among Antarctica’s penguins and breaching humpbacks aboard this state-of-the-art Polar Class 6 ship that sails with a maximum of 220 passengers in the polar regions, with its own onboard helicopter and submarine in tow. The new 15-day Beyond the Antarctic Circle itinerary, offered in January, aims to take an elite group to seldom-reached latitudes at 66°33’ South.
Insider Tip: the 2,099-square-foot Owners Penthouse Suite, at the bow of the yacht, has its own private spa pool.
The first true superyacht experience for sailing Ecuador’s storied Galapagos Islands, this seven-cabin stunner by Aqua Expeditions sails on seven and 14-night itineraries through UNESCO World Heritage landscapes for up-close animal encounters on remote islands, snorkeling with penguins and so much more.
Insider Tip: Extend your stay in Ecuador on land at the country’s finest rainforest lodge, Mashpi Lodge, in a private reserve northwest of Quito.
If you’re a loyalist of the luxury hotel brand on land, prepare to be wowed at sea by Evrima, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection’s primo 298-passenger yacht sailing from Florida and the Caribbean this winter (departing from Fort Lauderdale, San Juan and Bridgetown in Barbados). Choose from five-to 7-night cruises to coveted ports like Bequia in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Barths and Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands.
Insider Tip: Book a table at S.E.A. The yacht’s specialty restaurant is helmed by Sven Elverfeld, a three-Michelin-star chef from the German restaurant Aqua, located at a Ritz-Carlton property in Wolfsburg.
Le Commandant Charcot
Champagne meets ice(bergs) on the first hybrid-electric polar exploration ship powered by liquefied natural gas. Cruising’s first luxury ice breaker that can plow through ice sheets up to seven feet thick, carrying passengers to the North Pole. Winter is South Pole season, however, with epic adventures to Antarctica and Ponant’s brand new 14-night itinerary, “In the wake of Jean-Baptiste Charcot,” that visits the Bellingshausen Sea, famed for its spectacular biodiversity.
Insider Tip: The Owner’s Suite, with its balneotherapy bathtub, Riedel crystal glassware and outdoor private lounge crowned with a hot tub, is simply epic with Antarctica’s icy wilderness all around.