For many, the holiday season is the perfect time to get together with family and friends, share holiday meals, and exchange gifts. However, for those who want to experience something a little different this season, a cruise vacation might be the perfect solution. Instead of battling crowds at the stores and celebrating the same way as always, travelers who cruise during the holidays can make new memories and relax in a less stressful environment.
If you are interested in relaxing on an all-inclusive, holiday-themed cruise, there are many exciting destinations to choose from. You’ll partake in special festive activities, enjoy meals prepared by professional chefs, and leave the chores and cleanup for someone else, all while enjoying your holidays on the sea. Keep reading to find out more about the top holiday cruise destinations.
Whether you cruise to sunny Montego Bay or visit picturesque Ocho Rios, Jamaica remains one of the most popular wintertime cruise destinations. A far cry from the snow and cold of much of the US in December, Jamaica is home to breathtaking waterfalls, crystal clear water, sunny beaches, and limestone caves perfect for shore excursions. Popular Jamaican cruise ports include Falmouth, Ocho Rios, and Montego Bay, but boutique cruises also arrive and depart from the beautiful but lesser-known Port Antonio.
The Bahamas remain one of the top cruise destinations year-round, and the holiday season is no exception. Many Bahamian cruises during this time of year feature festive holiday themes, complimentary perks, and, of course, a great time cruising the Caribbean. As hurricane season officially ends at the end of November, cruisers have the peace of mind of traveling during a time of calm seas and temperate climates. Popular Bahamian cruise port of calls include Nassau and Freeport.
Moving away from uber-popular tropical cruises, Amsterdam is also another sought-after holiday cruise destination. If you’re looking for a Caribbean alternative, Amsterdam is the perfect holiday vacation for you. The holidays are a magical time in the city because it is home to one of Europe’s largest Christmas markets. In addition, top cruise lines sailing to Amsterdam offer an amazing assortment of holiday-themed activities, both onboard and on land. Unlike Caribbean destinations, Amsterdam is home to only one main cruise port, Passenger Terminal Amsterdam, but it is located within walking distance of the city center.
Tips for Booking the Perfect Holiday Cruise
The holidays are a great time to take a cruise and try something new in place of your same-old holiday traditions, but there are a few things to remember to ensure your vacation is stress-free. From having a realistic budget to finding the right holiday gifts while out at sea, keep these helpful tips in mind:
Higher Costs: Cruises during Christmas and New Year’s tend to be more expensive than cruises during the rest of the year. Since many children are on an extended break from school, holiday cruises are in demand for families. Consult with a cruise planner to get the best rates.
Traveling by Air: Along with higher cruise prices, flight prices tend to be higher during the holidays and airports are at their busiest. Consider flying into your departure city a day early to avoid the rush and the risk of arriving late. If you are flying to your departure port from a North American city that typically gets snow in the winter, be prepared for flight delays and long layovers. It’s often helpful to work with a travel agent to find the best direct flights so there’s less chance of delays and lost luggage.
Buy Gifts on the Ship: There are plenty of shopping opportunities aboard larger ships, so you won’t have to worry about buying presents at home and lugging them onboard. If you are low on space, consider purchasing experiences as gifts for family and friends: for example, a paid dinner outside of the cruise package, or a spa day on the ship.
Working with a cruise planner or travel agent can help you know what to expect ahead of time and plan a holiday cruise that goes off without a hitch. Always be sure to ask any pressing questions when working with your cruise planner—he or she will be happy to explain the whole process, especially if you are new to cruising.
Why Travelers Love Holiday Cruises
One of the best things about cruising during the holiday season is the low-stress environment. Instead of rushing around to find the perfect gifts, coordinating holiday parties, and preparing your home for houseguests, you and your family could be relaxing, sightseeing, and enjoying the beauty of the sea. Cruises are perfect for all ages and serve as the perfect way to enjoy the company of family and friends without the pressure typically associated with the holidays. Work with a professional travel agent or cruise planner to create the perfect holiday cruise package with chef-prepared meals, onboard entertainment, and exciting land excursions. By consulting with a cruise planner, you’ll ensure that your holiday cruise experience is unforgettable.