. Holiday Cruises Offer Quality Time with Family : ROAD & TRAVEL Magazine

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The Holiday Seasons on the High Seas

Enjoy the Holidays with a Winter Cruise

Imagine the fun of Christmas, Chanukah or New Year’s Eve without the scurrying around and hard work. Imagine discovering the great Christmas markets of Europe, waltzing to Strauss in Vienna or toasting with Champagne on an impossibly, elegant beach in St. Barts. Picture parasailing Santas and snow on tropical beaches. Think about the satisfying, memorable pleasure of having the entire family together in a spirit of enjoyment and total relaxation. Cruising during the holiday season can offer all this and more.

Cruise lines will keep you busy.
Cruise lines will keep you busy.

There are as many reasons to take a winter holiday cruise as there are holiday cruises to choose from. An escape from all the holiday preparations and the stress of entertaining, can give you the chance to share quality time with your family and friends. Let someone else do all the work. A cruise offers the opportunity to combine the holidays with the chance to share new places, experiences and great shopping with loved ones. Winter cruises can not only be relaxing, but just as memorable as the holidays at home. From the Caribbean to Antarctica, from the Mexican Riviera to South America, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) member cruise lines are offering holiday excitement this year with tips on selecting dazzling and festive holiday voyages.

There are week-long roundtrip itineraries in the Caribbean from Miami, Fort Lauderdale or San Juan. Those wanting a longer sailing experience can opt for a trip around Cape Horn in South America.

There are cruises in Hawaii and the South Pacific, and leisurely river cruises throughout the heart of Europe where you can tour the famous Christmas markets for your holiday shopping needs. There are voyages along the mighty Mississippi, the Columbia and the Snake rivers. Most importantly of all, there are holiday cruises that emphasize the good cheer of the season wherever you
may be.

What all these cruises do have in common, however, are plenty of seasonal decorations, religious services, music, holiday entertainment, bountiful feasts and that important visit from Santa Claus. In some cases, these holiday cruises can also offer a great bargain for young couples, families with younger children or extended families seeking a new holiday tradition.

Here are just some examples of cruises and the special places you can go to celebrate the holiday season with your loved ones.

Thanksgiving and New Year’s will be celebrated on the “Great Rivers of Florida” by passengers of the American Glory. With departures from Jacksonville, the holidays are marked by festive decorations and traditional celebratory menus. The ship will meander along the magnificent St. Johns River through the Ocala National Forest, calling on St. Augustine, Palatka, Sanford, Green Cove Springs and Amelia Island during its seven-night voyage.

All 22 of Carnival’s ships will offer holiday cruises this year, with each vessel featuring an oversized Christmas tree, wreaths and other traditional touches. Special entertainment and programming will also be created for the occasion. Evoking a “home away from home” atmosphere, elaborate holiday revues in each ship’s main lounge will feature cozy sets decorated with oversized fireplaces, large comfortable chairs and Christmas trees decorated by children aboard the ship. In addition to caroling, holiday menus, themed movies and a visit from Santa will mark the holiday season. New Year’s cruises are just as memorable, with the traditional countdown highlighting of one of the biggest celebrations at sea.

This holiday season, guests sailing on Celebrity Cruises' ships can choose from a range of activities that offer not only holiday merriment, but fun. From decorations, to caroling, to holiday-themed meals and movies, Celebrity will give guests the chance to sail the high seas in the spirit of the season. Kids and teens sailing during the holidays will have the opportunity to spend time with Santa Claus, as well as receive special holiday gifts. Celebrity also provides a holiday gift to all guests in its suites. A priest, reverend and rabbi will be on board to perform religious services for passengers as well.

In the Caribbean, Mediterranean and South America, Costa celebrates the holidays in festive Italian style. The Costa Mediterreanea and Costa Fortuna in the Caribbean will be decorated with lavish Christmas trees filled with bright twinkling lights and beautiful ornaments. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Santa Claus will make a special visit, giving all children on board a special keepsake. Special holiday dinner and lunch menus, combined with traditional holiday favorites and Italian classics, will be served. The annual New Year’s Eve Gala also gives guests an opportunity to dress up for the holidays.

Crystal Cruises celebrates the holidays with all the holiday trimmings, including a Christmas tree lighting, carols and holiday tunes and the arrival of Santa Claus. Holiday-themed films, gifts, gingerbread houses and extravagant Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve dinners will also mark the season.


Holidays on the Disney Cruise Line comes with an extra dose of pixie dust this year, as snow flurries blow through tropical islands. Offering the option of a seven-day Caribbean cruise or a four-night Bahamian itinerary, the voyages are highlighted by Disney’s private Castaway Cay island, which is transformed into a Magical Wonderland complete with snow, Christmas trees and a sleigh full of presents. Other festive touches on board include a three-deck-tall tree, caroling, gingerbread making and traditional feasts. Ship-wide parties will also help ring in New Year's this year.

Holland America wraps up the holidays with cruises ranging from seven to 21 days, and include the beaches and azure waters of the Caribbean, the mystery and beauty of the Mexican Riviera and the Panama Canal. Guests on all the cruise are sure to enjoy holiday decorations, special movies, traditional dinner selections and a visit from Santa. Additionally, the cruises offer tree lighting, caroling, late-night snacks and gala feasts worthy of Christmas, Chanukah and New Year’s Eve. Extended families are sure to appreciate special group fares for the holidays.

From Thanksgiving through New Year's, Norwegian Cruise Line makes the holidays at sea an unforgettable Freestyle Cruising experience. Among the Christmas festivities are an interactive holiday show performed by the crew, caroling, an appearance by Santa and holiday-themed menus. On New Year's Eve, each ship's captain leads a special countdown from the bridge, ushering in the New Year after a gala dinner featuring caviar, foie gras and more. NCL's ships can be found in the Caribbean, Mexico, South America, the Bahamas and Hawaii this holiday season.

Princess passengers can try their hand at a gingerbread house building competition, or test their craft skills by making a personalized photo ornament this holiday season. Families can have fun decorating Christmas cookies or listen to a reading of “The Night Before Christmas” by the ship's captain. Holiday menus and culinary displays will offer traditional goodies, while Santa makes a quick stop to wish the children Happy Holidays. The ships will even sport a Christmas tree on their masts. Princess’ 16-ship fleet will offer celebrations around the world with sailings to the Caribbean, Mexico, the Panama Canal, Australia, South America, Hawaii and the South Pacific.

Offering holiday sailings in the Caribbean, South Pacific, South America and through the Panama Canal, Regent Seven Seas ensures that guests will enjoy the holidays with Christmas trees, menorahs, gingerbread houses and an abundance of children’s activities, which includes a visit from Santa Claus. Many of the holiday itineraries will also feature the company’s complimentary Club Mariner Youth Program.

From “Twas The Night Before Christmas” readings, to the Teen New Year’s Eve party, the entire fleet of Royal Caribbean rings in the holidays with flair and fun. There are holiday shows, seasonal music, Santa visits, a holiday parade talent shows. There’s also gingerbread house displays, holiday movies and Christmas Adventure Family activities. For New Year’s Eve, the cruise line offers themed parties in all the ships’ lounges, including special celebrations for kids and teens. Special holiday menus and gala dinners are also served.

Designed to offer an escape from the pressure planning holiday parties and preparing meals, Silversea holiday voyages will feature all the food and fun you need complete with holiday decorations, eggnog, hot chocolate, mulled wine and a visit from Santa. New Year’s celebrations feature party hats, noisemakers and streamers with complimentary champagne.

Source: CLIA, Cruising.org

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