Folks who like the anchors aweigh mode of travel are quick to point out that December is the best time of year to take a cruise, especially to the tropics. The winter solstice happening Dec. 21 marks the day with the shortest period of sunlight for more northern vacationers making the sunnier destinations a strong draw, for openers. Additionally, it's also after hurricane season, while the lengthy rainier periods are drawing to a close.

Those are the weather amenities, list toppers when it comes to motives for taking a cruise before Father Time's exit. It also means you'll have to act fast to book an oceanic excursion, so to cut down on the guesswork time, here are three prime choices.


Carnival Cruises - Mexican Riviera

Carnival Cruises offers a seven-day trip to the Mexican Riviera available Dec. 21 and Dec. 28, taking passengers on a round trip from Los Angeles down the Pacific with stops in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. But the big draw apparently has little to do with the destinations, but with the ship itself.

The newest in the Carnival fleet is the Panorama, which already has seafaring aficionados declaring it to be the most fun ship ever to set sail. It boasts a gigantic trampoline complex called the Sky Zone for passengers to bounce along with the waves. The Panorama also added a mini-monorail system dubbed the Sky Ride allowing occupants unique views from the vessel you can't catch anywhere else on board.

Add to that a rock climbing wall, basketball court, a hands-on kitchen workshop and plenty of other attractions and chances are you won't care where the Panorama is headed.

Celebrity Cruise's Flora Liner - Galapagos Islands

With spectacular and rustic scenery of this equatorial spot in the Pacific, it's a wonder that Charles Darwin ever had time to turn his eyes away from his surroundings to work on his theory of evolution. It's the unique wildlife that packs the boat, with visitors hoping for a glance of humpback whales and even rarer species of blue whales. Relatively more abundant are exotic tortoises, penguins, sea lions and lizards unique to the chain of archipelagos.

There's one eight-day cruise departing Dec. 22 from on board Celebrity Cruise's Flora liner. The catch here, is aside from a five-figure cost for the trip, you'll need to get a connecting flight to the main port of Baltra, located on... the Galapagos Islands.

Disney Cruises - The Caribbean

If you've got family, you can't go wrong with Mickey Mouse as your skipper, setting the rudder towards the Caribbean. Disney Cruises are a perennial pick as top family cruise company by the editors of the Cruise Critics awards and a Caribbean outing has long been a passenger favorite.

Disney had three cruises penciled into its itinerary for December, leaving Florida ports with destinations varying between Mexico Cozumel island and longer trips to the British and U.S. Virgin Islands. Between stopovers, folks can enjoy swimming pools and waterslides onboard, check out theatrical presentations of a Disney classic, or take in the Star Wars Day at Sea.