Will there be decorations? How about a tree? Is Santa going to make a stop on board? Here's just a sampling of what major cruise lines are offering this year during the holidays:
CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES: Throughout the Carnival fleet, the winter holidays are celebrated with Christmas trees, wreaths and mistletoe, seasonal music, holiday entertainment, Christmas-themed movies and more. Santa Claus always makes an appearance toting a bag of gifts and an elaborate production show enables children to participate onstage, showcasing decorations they have made in Camp Carnival. Holiday menus feature such traditional favorites as oven-roasted turkey and pecan pie. On New Year's Eve, guests are provided with party favors, noise makers and Champagne.
COSTA CRUISES: With Costa Fortuna and Costa Atlantica sailing the Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale, Costa offers a warm and festive Italian style winter holiday experience. The ships are completely decorated with Christmas trees, twinkling lights and beautiful ornaments and, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Santa Claus makes special visits with keepsake gifts. Special holiday dinner and lunch menus offer a mix of the Italian cuisine and traditional favorites. A special New Year’s Eve “gala” night provides the opportunity to dress up for the holidays.
CRYSTAL CRUISES: This Christmas and New Year, Crystal Symphony will be cruising Antarctica and South America, allowing guests to experience both the South American spring and a white Christmas in Antarctica and Cape Horn. For a warm-weather Christmas, Crystal Serenity will be in the Caribbean for the holidays, sailing roundtrip from Miami on December 21. Ports include Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, St. Barts, Turks & Caicos, Bonaire and Miami. All Crystal Holiday voyages feature more than $100,000 in seasonal décor, handcrafted decorations, lavish feasts and parties and a black tie New Year’s Eve gala. They also offer the Crystal Family Memories program, with special savings, shipboard credits, free fares for children and more for groups.
CUNARD LINE: Imagine the winter holidays in picture-perfect Copenhagen and other Scandinavian capitals filled with antiquity and charm. Cunard Line is offering a special "complimentary double upgrade" promotion on Queen Victoria’s Dec 9, 2009 “Winter Wonderland” voyage. Roundtrip from Southampton, this Scandinavian itinerary includes overnight stays in Hamburg, Germany and Copenhagen, Denmark. Both Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2 will hold Hanukkah services Dec 21-29 and will have kosher culinary offerings available to guests. The ships will also be festooned with greenery, including trees and wreaths, ornaments, nutcrackers, gingerbread cottages and twinkling lights for Christmas, and kids will be delighted to find Father Christmas handing out gifts.
DISNEY CRUISE LINE: The spirit of the season surrounds guests of Disney Cruise Line during the winter holidays. Starting with Disney characters in their finest holiday attire welcoming guests at the decorated cruise terminal in Port Canaveral, the festivities include: “King Triton’s Tree Lighting” ceremony; family crafts such as stocking decorating and building gingerbread houses; holiday storytellers sharing tales of Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwaanza; traditional holiday feasts in three themed dining rooms and “Til We Meet Again,” a special holiday edition of the line’s cheerful farewell on the final night of the voyage. Disney Magic sails on 7-night eastern and western Caribbean holiday cruises; Disney Wonder offers 3- and 4-night Bahamian holiday cruises.
HOLLAND AMERICA LINE: Holland America offers 20 holiday cruises between Dec 16 and Dec 28. The Caribbean beckons with 11 holiday sailings from Fort Lauderdale and Tampa that range from 7- to 14-days over one or two holidays. In a new offering for 2009, ms Maasdam will sail a 10-day Western Caribbean itinerary and an 11-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary. Most sailings feature a visit to Half Moon Cay, the line’s award-winning private Bahamian island. Holland America also offers roundtrip 7-day holiday cruises from San Diego to Mexico, three Panama Canal transits between Fort Lauderdale and California, a 15-day Circle Hawaii itinerary and longer cruises in Australia, New Zealand, South America and Antarctica.
MSC CRUISES: MSC celebrates the winter holidays with an international flair, with festivities and traditions practiced around the world. In the Caribbean, MSC Poesia will offer a 7-night “Happy Holidays, Caribbean-Style” Eastern Caribbean voyage from Fort Lauderdale departing on Dec 20, and a 7-night “Caribbean & Confetti NewYear’s” Western Caribbean cruise departing Dec 27. In the Mediterranean, from Genoa to Egypt, guests can celebrate on MSC’s two newest ships, the MSC Splendida and the MSC Fantasia, on Eastern Mediterranean and Western Mediterranean holiday itineraries. Children 17 and under sail free with MSC when sharing a stateroom with two adults paying full fare.
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE: Norwegian makes Christmas at sea an unforgettable experience. All ships are festively decorated, crew members stage an interactive holiday show in the ship's theater, cruise directors and staff sing carols and Santa takes time out of his busy schedule to hand out gifts on Christmas Day. Holiday-themed menus feature dishes such as honey-glazed black forest ham with sweet potato mash, roasted turkey with apple and apricot stuffing, pumpkin soufflé and a pear and chestnut torte. Hanukkah is celebrated with kosher menus and the lighting of a menorah each day to commemorate the eight-day celebration. While kids enjoy Norwegian's youth program, parents enjoy the high-energy, festive White Hot New Year's Eve party.
PRINCESS CRUISES: Princess’ 17-ship fleet offer a wide range of sailings in the Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Panama Canal, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, South America, Hawaii and South Pacific for Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s. Whatever the destination, guests will find Yuletide carolers, waiters wearing Santa hats, festive décor, live seasonal music and films, and special holiday feasts featuring all the traditional favorites. Popular with families, the holiday voyages offer young travelers parties, sing-a-longs, arts and crafts, and the chance to help decorate the ship’s Christmas tree. They also may participate in a holiday theatrical production and, on Christmas Day, Santa Claus makes a surprise appearance, bringing gifts and joy for all.
REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES: The ships of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, beautifully decorated over the holidays with trees, garlands, bunting and ginger bread houses, will be in the Caribbean, French Polynesia, and transiting the Panama Canal over the winter holidays this year. A 10-night voyage roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale features many of the Caribbean “Saints”: St. Thomas, St. Barts, St. Kitts, and Saint Maarten as well as the Turks and Caicos Islands. The Panama Canal is the featured attraction of sailings between Fort Lauderdale and California and Papeete is the departure point for sailings in Polynesia. The voyages also offer an ecumenical religious service over the holidays for those guests wishing to attend, and a special Christmas dinner menu in the main dining room.
ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTL: Families will have the opportunity to sail the newest, biggest ship in the world this holiday season when the 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas departs Dec 19 from Fort Lauderdale to the Caribbean. In addition to seasonal decorations, the entire RCI fleet will offer such holiday favorites as classic movie screenings, caroling, cookie decorating, festive music and readings of classic Christmas stories. The Dec 12 sailing of Independence of the Seas, also from Fort Lauderdale, will combine the Jewish Festival of Lights, or Hanukkah, with an 8-night Eastern Caribbean cruise. RCI offers holiday sailings from 10 domestic ports, including Bayonne, Baltimore, Port Canaveral, Miami, Port Everglades, Tampa, Galveston, San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
SEABOURN CRUISE LINE: Seabourn Legend welcomes guests to a warm, sparkling Caribbean Holiday voyage this winter. Holiday revelers can choose from a 7-day "Legendary Christmas" voyage departing Fort Lauderdale on Dec 21 and ending at Barbados on Dec 28, or a "Legendary New Year's" cruise from Barbados on Dec 28 ending at Fort Lauderdale on Jan 4, 2010. Or, they may combine the two voyages and sail on a 14-day round trip voyage to enjoy both the holidays’ festivities and fun.
SEADREAM YACHT CLUB: SeaDream I and SeaDream II, the company’s twin luxury mega-yacht cruisers, will make four Caribbean holiday sailings this year. Offered as a roundtrip voyage from San Juan or one-way between St. Thomas and San Juan, the 5-, 7- and 9-day voyages all feature an overnight stay at St. Barts in the French West Indies. Late evening stays in several other Caribbean ports of call allow for holiday shoreside festivities. Ports of call include islands in the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, the French West Indies, the Grenadines, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, depending on the cruise chosen. SeaDream fares include all meals, wine with lunch and dinner, open bar with selected premium brands, plus use of “water toys” from the vessel’s Marina, and gratuities.
SILVERSEA CRUISES: The six globe-trotting Silversea ships, including the brand new Silver Spirit, celebrate the holidays from Antarctica to Zanzibar on itineraries ranging from 8- to 17-days. Silver Spirit will holiday in the Mediterranean and North Africa, offering an 11-day maiden voyage from Barcelona to Lisbon. Silver Wind will spend 14 days in Africa and the Seychelle Islands, departing Dec 20 from Mahe. Prince Albert II departs Ushauaia on Dec 21 on a 17-day expedition to Antarctica. Silver Shadow departs Dec 11 from Barbados on a 9-day Caribbean itinerary, and on Dec 20 on a 15-day roundtrip voyage from Fort Lauderdale through the Caribbean. Other voyages over the holidays feature South America and the South Pacific.
WINDSTAR CRUISES: Windstar Cruises offers special rates on holiday and New Year's cruises in the Caribbean and Costa Rica. Wind Spirit's holiday sailings feature a new 7-day St. Martin itinerary that includes the British Virgin Islands, St. Barts and Jost Van Dyke. Wind Star offers an in-depth discovery of Costa Rica, and Wind Surf sails roundtrip from Barbados, calling on such islands as St. Lucia, Guadeloupe, Iles Des Saintes, St. Kitts, Bequia and St. Barts. The ships are decorated with beautiful holiday decorations and feature a special holiday menu prepared by the executive chef. New Year's cruises include a festive New Year's Eve party including party favors, live music, an official countdown by the captain and a Champagne toast.
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