December is the end of the year and one of the most popular times of the year to take a cruise vacation.
This article is an effort to share what you need to know about going on a Royal Caribbean cruise in the month of December, with important news, tips, and helpful information along the way.
Just like November, December is a story of two halves: the first two weeks are usually less in-demand because most families either just took a vacation over Thanksgiving or will wait until Christmas. Then, the last two weeks are the most popular time to go on a cruise over Christmas and New Years holidays.
If you are looking for a bargain, the first half of December is a great time to snag a last-minute cruise deal. Otherwise, penny-pinchers will need to wait until January.
Christmas week is an incredibly popular time to go on a cruise, because families have off from school and their parents largely have a break from work.
Coinciding with the Christmas holiday is Royal Caribbean's next push to get more passengers onboard their ships.
If you're reading this article in December, it's likely too late to book a Christmas or New Years Eve cruise, but you might be able to find a few cabins left if you act quickly and sail from ports such as Tampa or Galveston.
Ships sailing in December 2022
All of Royal Caribbean's cruise ships are back in service.
Here's where you can find each ship this month.
- Freedom of the Seas from Miami, Florida
- Anthem of the Seas from Cape Liberty, New Jersey
- Allure of the Seas from Galveston, Texas
- Symphony of the Seas from Miami, Florida
- Independence of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
- Harmony of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Mariner of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
- Liberty of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Adventure of the Seas from Galveston, Texas
- Explorer of the Seas from Miami, Florida
- Navigator of the Seas from Los Angeles, California
- Spectrum of the Seas from Singapore
- Grandeur of the Seas from Miami, Florida
- Enchantment of the Seas from Baltimore, Maryland
- Radiance of the Seas from New Orleans, Louisiana
- Serenade of the Seas from Tampa, Florida
- Voyager of the Seas from San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Quantum of the Seas from Brisbane, Australia
- Ovation of the Seas from Sydney, Australia
- Oasis of the Seas from Miami, Florida
- Brilliance of the Seas from Tampa, Florida
- Wonder of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
- Odyssey of the Seas from from Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Vision of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Rhapsody of the Seas from Bridgetown, Barbados
- Jewel of the Seas from Port Canaveral, Florida
The notable event happening in December 2022 will be the official christening of Wonder of the Seas.
Marie McCrea has been named the Godmother to Wonder of the Seas and will accept the honor of blessing Wonder during a celebratory naming ceremony at its first year-round homeport of Port Canaveral, Florida, on Dec. 9, 2022.
Health protocols for December 2022 cruises
Royal Caribbean's health protocols for December are now the simplest they've ever been, with few requirements left.
If your cruise doesn't visit Colombia or sail from Australia, pre-cruise testing is no longer required to sail.
At this time, only the following sailings have pre-cruise testing requirements:
Cruises from the U.S. and Caribbean with stops in Colombia
Guests age 18 and up who are not fully vaccinated will need to present a negative result for a PCR test taken within 3 days or an antigen test taken within 2 days prior to sailing.
Guests under the age of 17 and fully vaccinated guests do not have have any testing requirements.
Tests must be arranged on your own and are at your own expense.
Cruises from Australia
All guests aged 2 and above, regardless of vaccination status, must present a negative test result for a COVID-19 PCR test taken within 2 days before boarding day, or a self-administered Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) within 1 day before boarding, for sailings of any length.
December weather on a cruise
First and foremost, December marks the official end of hurricane season. That's good news for your sailings in the Caribbean, however winter storms can still be disruptive to travel around the United States. Don't assume since hurricanes are unlikely that you can be cavalier about when you arrive to your cruise port.
As always, it is a good idea to give yourself a buffer and arrive at least one day before your cruise so that if your travel plans are interrupted, you don't miss your cruise.
While it can be downright frigid where you live, the Caribbean remains mostly temperate during December. The tropics generally do not experience large temperature swings, although an occasional cold front can sometimes penetrate far south.
As an example, in the month of December, average highs and low temperatures in St. Kitts are 85 and 74 degrees, respectively.
In The Bahamas, the average high and low temperature is 80 and 66 degrees, respectively.
Will it be warm enough to swim? Probably, although it depends how sensitive you are to "colder" water. The ocean remains warmer longer because it takes longer for it to cool down despite lower temperatures. Pools, however, can cool down quickly. In my experience, it is warm enough to swim, but you may need to "get used to" the cooler water temperature rather than in summer when you can barrel in immediately.
The best part about a December cruise is the comfortable temperatures and lower humidity, which makes it ideal for outdoor excursions without instantly sweating profusely.
Christmas on a cruise
What is it like to celebrate Christmas on a cruise ship?
Royal Caribbean gets into the holiday spirit right after Thanksgiving, with holiday decorations around the ship for the month of December.
If your cruise actually sails over the Christmas holiday, then you can expect certain special activities and offerings.
The restaurants will offer holiday menus with seasonal favorites: roast turkey or ham on Christmas (with eggnog to drink).
Passengers can enjoy special activities, such as caroling, tree- and menorah-lighting ceremonies and seasonal movies shown on in-room TVs and onboard movie screens.
On some sailings, there may even be a priest or minister onboard to lead services with passengers on Christmas. Keep an eye on the Cruise Compass for a midnight mass.
New Years Eve on a cruise
Traditionally, celebrating the New Year on a cruise ship is one big party.
It remains to be seen what special protocols may be in place this year due to Covid-19, but in the past, Royal Caribbean has gone all-out with New Year's Eve parties.
Around the ship, you will find different parties to cater to different types of celebrations. The Royal Promenade had that Times Square ball drop feel, while various bars and lounges offer their own take on the new year festivities.
In addition, Royal Caribbean usually reserves certain areas of the ship for purchase to guarantee a spot in the middle of the action. These are usually chairs and tables you can book that provide a reserved spot near the main party.