Friday, December 12, 2014

A Festive Time for Cruising: Holidays at Sea

Snow at sea aboard
Princess Cruises’ ships!
With the holidays fast approaching, it isn't too late to swap home and hearth for staterooms and ocean views. A cruise for the holidays doesn't mean doing away with your favorite family traditions—cruise lines know how meaningful they are and plan accordingly. Plus, on a cruise you can forge new traditions while making memories with your loved ones. With an estimated 46.3 million Americans traveling 50-plus miles from home this holiday season, a holiday at sea is a great option for travelers. Cruise line are showing off their holiday spirit with festive holiday décor, special seasonal entertainment and traditional rituals for passengers to enjoy. Many holiday occasions are celebrated on cruise ships to cater to all passengers.

Holiday Highlights include:
-- Traditional holiday décor is on display across North American-based fleets, with cruise ships decked out with Christmas trees, poinsettias, twinkling lights, wreaths, mistletoe, and extravagant gingerbread houses.
-- Most ships have regular visits from Santa who presents gifts to children.
-- Holiday-themed shows and theater performances are planned, including traditional carol singing.
-- On many ships, vacationers can enjoy Christmas Eve midnight and Christmas Day masses.
-- Holiday-themed menus for travelers to feast on are served featuring traditional oven-roasted turkey, honey baked ham, and all the fixings.
-- For cruisers celebrating Hanukkah, many lines offer traditional celebrations and festive food such as potato latkes, seasonal games like Spin the Dreidel, and Menorah lighting services.
-- On select fleets, storytellers share tales of Hanukkah and Kwanza, as part of their seasonal festivities.
Designed for Holiday Non-Traditionalists & Explorers
For those travelers looking for new adventures this holiday season, many lines are turning their attention to more exotic ports of call to jump start traveler's 2015 bucket list. Highlights include:
-- To celebrate a European Christmas in festive elegance, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise's River Beatric, takes guests on an 11- day river voyage through four countries—Austria, Germany, Hungary and Slovakia. Celebrate holiday musical heritage listening to the largest organ in Europe, lift your voice and sing "Silent Night" in Oberndorf, the birthplace of the beloved Christmas carol, and spend Christmas Day in Salzburg where guests will enjoy a holiday lunch within the walls of St. Peter's Abbey.
-- Windstar Cruises ships will sail to destinations including Southeast Asia, the Caribbean's Windward Islands, and Panama. Guests can celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah while sailing from Singapore to Hong Kong on the line's new ship Star Pride. Highlights include Vietnam, where guests can explore the ancient imperial temples and pagodas of Hue, ride bicycles down the back streets of old Hoi An, and enjoy the countryside.
-- Silversea Cruises' new expedition vessel, Silver Discoverer, will spend the holidays cruising New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic, with an itinerary in a remote area described by the United Nations' Environment Program as "the most diverse and extensive of all Sub-Antarctic archipelagos."
New Year, New Adventures
There is no better way to kick off the new year than visiting off-the-map destinations, cruise lines are offering more exciting itineraries than ever before. Count down to 2015 with these offerings:
-- Crystal Cruises is enticing travelers to fulfill holiday bucket lists with exotic itineraries that include sailing round-trip from Singapore. Embarking Dec 21, the 15-day holiday itinerary includes ringing in the New Year with the Crystal Symphony berthed at Ocean Terminal in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour. Cruisers will enjoy a stunning view of the city's fireworks countdown celebration, specially-illuminated skyscrapers, musical pyrotechnics, and the Symphony of Lights, the world's largest permanent light show. The itinerary also includes Christmas day and night in Ho Chi Minh City, and calls in Sihanoukville, Cambodia (for Angor Wat) and Nha Trang, Vietnam. Shorter 6- and 9-day Christmas/Hanukkah or New Year's "Getaways" segments are also available to/from Ho Chi Minh City.
-- Princess Cruises' Golden Princess Holiday 2014 cruise is a 27-day adventure (shorter segments also available) as the ship repositions from Los Angeles to South America, embarking Dec 23. Guests will celebrate New Year's Eve with a stopover in Montevideo, Uruguay. Other highlights include port calls in Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru, Chile, the Falkland Islands and Argentina.
-- Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Solstice will spend the holidays sailing Australia and New Zealand 14-day cruises between Sydney and Auckland that begin Dec 21. Destinations include Melbourne, Tasmania, Fjordland and Wellington.
-- Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of America will spend New Year's Eve on the Big Island of Hawaii, with potential spottings of natural fireworks courtesy of Kilauea volcano. From Dec 27 to Jan 3, guests can soak up all four Hawaiian Islands including Honolulu, Hawaii; Kahului, Maui; Hilo, Hawaii; and Nawiliwili, Kauai.
-- Royal Caribbean International's Mariner of the Seas will make its way to Asia for a unique and adventurous holiday celebration. Guests can enjoy a 5-night Phuket & Malayasia cruise, including holiday-inspired menus and a stunning New Year's celebration complete with champagne and party favors.
-- Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Freedom will sail to the Caribbean for a family friendly holiday that begins on Dec 28. Families will not only enjoy festive holiday decorations and activities, but Carnival Freedom is the only ship in the fleet to feature the new, marine-themed Camp Ocean children's facility and a Dr. Seuss Bookville family reading venue for the younger set of travelers. Destinations include Aruba, Curacao, Grand Turk and La Romana, Dominican Republic.
Image Courtesy of Princess Cruises

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