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Summer is quickly coming to an end, and that means autumn and winter cruises are on the horizon. This also means that Halloween, Christmas, and New Year’s voyages are coming up! Cruise Lines International Association has put together seven highlights of winter travel, and why now is the best time to book.
1. Celebrate in the Sunshine
In December, Paul Gauguin is offering a 7-night Tahiti & Society Islands Voyage where guests can explore the best of the South Pacific – stopping in Huahine, Bora Bora, and Moorea. Travelers will spend a relaxing day on Motu Mahana, the line’s private islet with white-sand beaches, a barbecue lunch, drinks served in coconuts, and a floating lagoon bar.
Travelers aboard Crystal Cruises can celebrate the holidays in a variety of destinations, including the West Indies, Vienna, Bora Bora, and more – complete with multi-faith celebrations onboard. The line’s 16-day South African Holidays cruise sails roundtrip from Cape Town, marking the line’s first holiday cruise in Africa. Guests can enjoy safaris in South Africa and Mozambique, while authentic village feasts and visits highlight the rich culture in the region.
MSC Cruises’ upcoming ship MSC Seaside will be christened in Miami in December, and will offer unique Caribbean winter cruises. The vessel was designed with a beach condo in mind, and will connect guests to the sea with a 360 degree outdoor promenade, two glass-floor catwalks, and glass elevators with beautiful ocean views.
2. Seaside Celebrations
Over the holiday season, Uniworld river cruises will offer a variety of festive journeys. The line’s special Holiday Season Cruises allow guests to visit multiple countries and cities during the most magical time of year. Beginning late November, Uniworld offers seven holiday-themed cruises that travel through Germany, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, and France. Of course, visits to different Christmas markets are on the agenda.
Disney Cruise Line celebrates the Christmas season each year with their Very Merrytime Cruises, which begin in early November aboard all four ships. During these voyages, events include “Mickey’s Tree-Lighting Magic” in the atrium, “Santa’s Winter Wonderland Ball” featuring Santa, Mrs. Claus, and Anna and Elsa from “Frozen,” as well as themed activities, carolers, holiday crafts, and a special “Deck the Deck Holiday Party.” There is a three-deck tall Christmas tree i the atrium, “snow” flurries, Christmas island music, and even a decked-out tree on Castaway Cay in the Bahamas.
Azamara Club Cruises brings guests to the other side of the world for the holidays with a sailing from western to southern Australia aboard Azamara Quest. Guests enjoy a Christmas feast at sea, followed by a New Year’s Eve air show and Harbour of Light Parade in Sydney Harbour. When the clock strikes midnight, fireworks explode over the bridge and Sydney Opera House for a once-in-a-lifetime memory.
3. Christmas Market Magic
Guests aboard Tauck’s Christmas Markets Along the Rhine cruise will experience the season’s magic from Cologne, Germany to Basel, Switzerland in an intimate setting. Enjoy guided visits to traditional Christmas markets, walking tours of market towns, visits to Old Town Heidelberg and Heidelberg Castle, a traditional German lunch in Heidelberg, and traditional storytelling in Strasbourg.
Travelers looking for a shorter trip to the markets can hop on Cunard’s Bruges Short Break Getaway aboard Queen Elizabeth for a three-day holiday. Guests can explore Bruges and its famous Christmas market filled with traditional gifts, chocolates, and the scent of waffles wafting through the air. Cruisers can also take advantage of the wooden chalets that surround an ice rink on the cobbles of Grote Market for a unique experience.
4. Special Guests
Seabourn offers a variety of special guests and speakers aboard their ships with the Seabourn Conversations series. For example, Steve Wozniak – designer of the hardware, circuit board designs, and operating system for the Apple I personal computer – will be hosting a conversation aboard Seabourn Quest in December for tech-loving travelers. Fashion-minded cruisers will enjoy a December evening with celebrity stylist and TV personality Brad Goreski on Seabourn Sojourn, and those looking to learn a bit of etiquette can listen in on a conversation with Grant Harold, Britain’s Official Etiquette Expert.
5. Holiday Family Fun
Carnival Cruise Line ships are decked out during the holiday season, and feature Santa Claus with gifts for the kids, Midnight Mass, and a special Christmas Day menu with roasted turkey and pecan pie. Kids will love special guest the Grinch, who, as part of the Seuss at Sea program, will make special appearances for photos, participate in the Christmas show, and join kids doing fun themed activities.
6. Experts at the Helm
In January 2018, cruisers on Windstar Cruises’ President’s Cruise to the Best of the Philippines and Borneo with Windstar President John Delaney, will enjoy a bit of a homecoming for much of the ship’s Philippines-born crew. Guests will be able to explore the country alongside those who love and know it best, while also getting a chance to spend time with Windstar’s president. Travelers will visit islands and beaches like Palawan and Boracay, as well as Hundred Islands National Park. A visit to Brunei will take guests inside one of the richest countries in the world, affording a look at some of the largest and most beautiful mosques in Asia.
7. Deals and Discounts
To help guests experience the holiday season for less, AmaWaterways is currently offering up to $1,500 off per stateroom now through September 30 for select Christmas Markets departure dates. These discounted voyages include trips to the Christmas markets on the Rhine or Danube, cruises from Budapest to Amsterdam, and more.