Whether you need a break from holiday overkill or are thinking of a new family travel tradition, cruising for Christmas may be what you need. You can use the kids’ Christmas break to traverse new cultures or escape on your own while allowing the cruise line to handle the party planning.
Here are five selections to consider as you initiate your holiday cruising plans:
The top-of-mind voyages for rejoicing in Christmas are likely to be those that call upon European Christmas markets in the weeks leading up to December 25.
There are various river cruises dedicated to exploring the markets and even several sailings that incorporate ports known for their Christmas markets.
The river cruises navigating during the holiday season typically engage you in the traditions of each country on the route with food, music, and decorations. The outdoor markets themselves introduce a variety of handmade items, as well as a bounty of food and beverage.
The atmosphere is far more relaxed and friendly than your normal crowded shopping mall at home, making it easy to drop holiday stress and slip into a jolly attitude.
For a little more enthusiasm during the holiday season, you can escape either north or south for an experience that includes wildlife viewing, striking scenery, and possibly even the northern lights.
Arctic cruises are more attractive during the summer months, but a few select voyages are now possible during the holiday season, particularly designed for viewing the northern lights. Cruises to Antarctica start from November to March — the only time of year when travel to the region is easy.
In addition to the adventure, you can anticipate some holiday decorations and festivities onboard most ships.
Christmas in the South Pacific
If your aim for Christmas is skipping the kitchen, a relaxing cruise in the South Pacific might be to your desire. The weather is warm, although you should expect the probability of rough seas on your way out of and back into Australia.
Several cruise lines make their way into the Australia-Pacific region (from Europe and Alaska) prior to the holiday season. Hence there is an abundance of opportunities, ranging from small to mega-ships, with cruises in almost all price ranges.
Unless you cruise with an adult-only cruise line, such as Viking Ocean Cruises, there will be a number of children onboard for the week of Christmas. Count on holiday decoration throughout the ship plus traditional feasts and treats served onboard.
A complete escape might include beaches a little farther from home. Some far-flung destinations will feature Christmas celebrations like those at home, while others (like those in Asia) may have few or no signs of the Christmas holiday. Either way, you’ll encounter celebrations on board and lots of amusement, away from the cold.
Christmas and New Year’s Combo Cruises
You can opt to party all week on a cruise for the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. There are 10-day cruises that take both December 25 and January 1 in almost every region of the world, including Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Asia.
Cruise lines sail between the two holidays seamlessly, allowing you to concentrate on enjoying the fun without the burdens of taking down decorations and planning the New Year’s Eve party.
Best Christmas Holiday Cruises
If you’re looking for a holiday break getaway that offers quality family time as well as value, consider selecting a Christmas cruise for your family vacation.
Cruising is absolutely perfect for a family vacation. That’s because there is onsite childcare for young children, adults can spend time together, and off-ship tours create wonderful family-bonding experiences.
These warm-weather vacations are very nice because sailing over Christmas break suggests that your children won’t miss school. That said, we have listed 17 Christmas holiday cruises that you and your family might enjoy.
For families visiting Europe, Adventures by Disney offer its holiday version of the Danube River cruise. You can spend your Christmas day at Vienna’s Hofburg Palace for a concert by the Vienna Boys Choir, followed by a holiday lunch at Griechenbeisl, the oldest restaurant in the city.
This week long cruise voyage from Germany to Hungary comes with Christmas markets at nearly every port for last-minute gifts and exclusive souvenirs. Onboard activities incorporate a mulled wine tasting, and Disney’s Adventure Guides accompany younger travelers in decorating gingerbread houses and a gift exchange.
If you wish to spend your holidays at sea this year, consider taking the Disney Fantasy cruise. There’s no lack of Christmas fun aboard the ship including decorations, a grand 3-deck tree, and holiday-themed events every day.
This is a perfect time to watch your children and grandchildren wonder at the seasonal festivities. There is also enough time to spend with your spouse. This superb ship flaunts two adult-only restaurants, an adult-only pool, and a couple of massages at the extravagant spa.
Disney is a trailblazer for family cruising, and the holidays are a moment when this marvelous cruise line really shines. Special events incorporate Mickey’s Tree-Lighting Magic, where Mickey and his brilliant friends lead carols and turn on the lights of the grand Christmas tree in the atrium.
Your kids will surely love Santa’s Winter Wonderland Ball, a welcome party honoring Santa and Mrs. Claus, with cheerful music and of course snow! Another young cruiser pick is the trademark Deck the Deck Holiday Party, a celebration where Disney friends limbo under enormous candy canes and dance to the “Yuletide Slide”.
Everyone with an interest in the natural environment wouldn’t want to miss a journey to the Galapagos. That’s because this is where the extraordinary abundance of creatures in the air, on land, and in the ocean makes every single day a magical event.
Choose the fashionable Silver Origin for the very best Galapagos experience, cruising from San Cristóbal on 18th December 2021.
Those who truly want a getaway should check Regent Seven Seas’ 21-night sailing from Singapore to Sydney.
Passengers are allowed 13 days on land, including stops in Bali, Komodo, Cairns, and Brisbane, and up to 34 shore excursions. The excursion features a visit to magnificent temples in Bali, Komodo National Park, the Great Barrier Reef, and an off-road experience in Brisbane.
At Disney Dream, adults can unwind at the Quiet Cove Pool, an adult-only area where you can swim, dip in the whirlpool spas, and bask in the glorious sun. Another area where kids aren’t allowed is Remy, a sophisticated French dining experience often preferred to mark a special anniversary.
Adults can also go to Palo, a northern Italian-themed restaurant. After dinner, jive the night away in the 18+ nightclub where your older grandchildren can inform you about the latest music trends. Disney Cruise Line also provides itineraries that emphasize adults-only excursions.
There are holiday activities for the whole family like constructing gingerbread houses, meeting Santa Claus, and singing along with carolers. Plus, special activities just for kids involve creating holiday cards and decorating stockings and cookies.
Make sure your little ones don’t miss the “Story Time with Mrs. Claus”, as she unravels Christmas stories from a rocking chair set near the grand tree.
Sometimes sailing days can be rough, but make sure your children stay up the first night as Mickey, Minnie, and all the characters walk with their festive attire and light up the tree. The whole ship is decorated with wreaths and garland so young cruisers will know that Christmas is near!
If your cruise includes a tour at Disney’s private island Castaway Cay, the celebration continues with “snow flurries,” a Christmas tree, Disney character’s meet-and-greets, and festive music.
Cruising from the UK in the winter months can be tricky, but choose this long journey to the Caribbean and back on board Saga’s pretty new boutique ship Spirit of Adventure. It will leave from Southampton on 6th December 2021, and you will surely enjoy 30 luxurious days away from it all, with loads of sunshine too.
Crashing through the seas sailing on this amazing ship will be a gift for everyone in your family. There are phenomenal kid’s clubs that host and supervise children all day and night. That way, adults can still enjoy a well-earned vacation time.
One great idea for adults is the Vitality Spa, which has dedicated couples suites. Another area that is child-free is the Solarium, where there is an adults-only swimming pool and whirlpools. For a special dinner, grant a late reservation at Chops Grille, Royal Caribbean’s trademark steakhouse, located in Central Park.
This ship is distinguished for the thrilling Ultimate Abyss, a slide that carries thrill-seekers 150 feet above sea level. Other adventurous cruisers can surf on two FlowRider simulators or slide down through multi-story water slides.
During the holiday sailings, young cruisers can see special presentations by Santa’s elves, and participate in gingerbread cookie decorating, family storytime, and much more. The ship also hosts tree and menorah-lighting ceremonies, and the whole ship is transformed into a winter wonderland.
While onboard, watch out for the Holly Jolly Holiday Parade, joyful photo opportunities, caroling, holiday movie screenings, and holiday craft-making for all ages.
This is a journey of a lifetime, a circumnavigation of Australia on board the unique Golden Horizon, the world’s biggest tall ship. The 72-day circumnavigation, which begins in Bali on 8th December and coming back on 18th February 2022, can be split into shorter 14 to 16-day sectors if you have less time available.
Seabourn’s 14-day Northern Lights, North Cape, and Norway cruise will connect the comfort and extravagance of Seabourn at its best!
Boarding the recently launched Seabourn Venture, it will depart from Tromso on 23rd December 2021. It will feature activities like sledding, cross country skiing, traversing by Zodiac, and a journey to see the Aurora Borealis.
Sailing on the Norwegian Encore will make your set a new holiday tradition for your family. Relish tons of holiday activities like a Broadway show, a sumptuous dinner in the classic main dining room, or prefer one of the ship’s signature dining experiences while the children are engaged in their own activities.
Norwegian Encore will debut Onda by Scarpetta, which designates the Italian restaurant’s initial venture at sea. Onda boasts house-made pasta and seafood specialties. The highlight is Scarpetta’s popular Spaghetti Tomato and Basil, which aims to provide guests with a genuine dolce vita experience.
When the kids aren’t wandering at the decorated tree, savoring special meals, and attending holiday happenings, they can still enjoy all the fun this cruise line has to offer. This includes the largest race track at sea that has over 1,100 feet of pedal-to-the-metal speed. There’s also a laser tag which passengers can play day or night under the open sky.
Your family will also enjoy the aqua park where adventurous cruisers can mount slides that reach 11 feet off the side of the ship and a breathtaking twin loop. Plus, the multi-story AquaRacer is built for dare-devil fun.
Pick AmaWaterways’ latest AmaDahlia cruising the Nile in Upper Egypt and you can visit the amazing treasures of the Nile Valley, along with the chance of visiting the pyramids and the magnificent Egyptian Museum in Cairo. You can also take a pre-cruise extension to Jordan to witness the Red Rose city of Petra, and a post-cruise visit to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Masada.
If your conception of a white Christmas is a more of a white sand beach, less a range of snow, Royal Caribbean’s 3 to 12-night Caribbean trips may be what you’re looking for.
Dubbed as the “greatest holiday celebration at sea,” 16 of Royal Caribbean’s vessels will celebrate the holidays and the New Year with poolside carolers, tree and Menorah lighting ceremonies, and cookie decorating. Passengers cruising on New Year’s Eve will be shaking confetti out of their hair completely into January, after experiencing live music, balloon drops, and a champagne toast.
Norwegian Cruise Line offers the only cruise ship traveling to four Hawaiian Islands during its seven-day, year-round course. You can marvel at Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai that includes two overnight stays to maximize your time in paradise. This is an excellent time to prolong your cruise vacation in Hawaii by combining a pre-or post-cruise stay.
During Christmas, the enchantment of the holiday will fill the air on the ship with cheerful décor which includes poinsettias, Christmas trees, glimmering lights, and beautiful seasonal decorations. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, crew members entertain guests with carols and children will be greeted by Santa.
Guests will also experience a specialty dinner menu and sweet goodies including special holiday cookies, yule logs, pumpkin pie, and much more. Don’t forget to carry your camera with you to take snapshots of a Gingerbread House and Holiday Village that will be placed in the ship’s atrium.
Pride of America Cruises navigate year-round from Honolulu, Oahu on a seven-day inter-island cruise with almost 100 hours in port, providing your children adequate time to experience Hawaii. A unique treat is the Kilohana Manor House & Kalamaku Show excursion, where guests will witness torches blaze, hulas, and dynamic fire dances. Lastly,you can plan pre-cruise tours in Honolulu, Oahu to visit the Polynesian Culture Center & Kualoa Ranch.
The intimate al fresco yachts of SeaDream marries the pleasures of outdoor living with the ideal food and service of a luxury yacht.
A comfortable flight to Barbados is followed by 15 days of beach parties, snorkeling, hiking in the lush hills, and absolute relaxation in the West Indies and the Virgin Islands. Flight is from Bridgetown on 19th December 2021, then stay on board for the return voyage departing Marigot on 27th December 2021.
What’s very nice about Carnival Panorama is that the whole ship is “decked out” in holiday brightness. The ship’s grand atrium is furnished like a Christmas Wonderland, and there are numerous opportunities for professional photographers to capture photos of the whole family in their holiday outfits.
While your children are having fun in their supervised children’s clubs, parents can see the amazing Playlist Productions shows, check out the awesome Alchemy Bar, or make plans to indulge in great dining spots. This includes Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse, Cucina del Capitano, and Ji Ji Asian Kitchen. For daytime recreation, head to Serenity, an adults-only retreat.
If there are adventurers in your family, the first-ever Sky Zone® at sea presents Carnival Panorama as a winner with this indoor trampoline park and challenge zone. Here, the kids can play gravity-defying dodgeball or slam-dunk basketball.
The holidays are what truly sparkle aboard Carnival Panorama as there’s a huge Christmas tree outfitted with customized lighting and synchronized music. There are also roaming carolers, holiday music fused into the live entertainment, and “snow falls” in the atrium.
There’s even an extravagant holiday show with performances by children from Camp Ocean, and appearances by Santa Claus and The Grinch, which is part of the line’s fleet-wide Seuss at Sea program.
This 15-day cruise on the Crystal Symphony starts in Auckland and travels the coast of New Zealand before passing the Tasman Sea for Sydney and Melbourne.
You can take a helicopter tour of New Zealand’s only active volcano and visit the adorable fur seals in Wellington. Another thing you can do is journey to Middle-earth to see filming locations of the hit trilogy film the Lord of the Rings, and explore Melbourne as you sip champagne aboard the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant.
The best part? You’ll be among the first in the world to celebrate the New Year, parked beneath Sydney’s Harbour Bridge with one of the world’s grandest fireworks displays loading the night sky overhead.
If culture, history, and exquisite architecture are your thing, move close to home on a Danube river cruise. The luxurious Crystal Ravel traverses on an 11-day journey from Budapest to Regensburg leaving on 22nd December 2021. It includes overnight stays in Budapest, Vienna, and Regensburg, as well as magnificent scenery, and captivating ports of call.
Taking a cruise with your family over the winter holidays is something extraordinary. A warm cruise break from school and work is something your family will look forward to every December.