Cruising during the holidays can be a fun, new tradition for families. // © 2010 Crystal Cruises
With holiday decorations, feasts and festivities from Thanksgiving through Hannukah, Christmas and New Year’s, cruise lines are tempting consumers with freedom from the heavy tasks that can take the pleasure out of seasonal celebrations. The specials currently on offer make it very easy to justify a holiday at sea. What follows is a collection of some of the best holiday cruise deals available.
Holland America Line
Holland America Line is providing 22 signature holiday cruises ranging from seven to 17 days in various regions of the world, including the Caribbean and the Antarctic. Clients can expect to receive savings up to 50 percent, plus special reduced rates for third and fourth guests sharing staterooms, on select sailings. Six departures have free or $199 rates for the third or fourth guest in a stateroom. Double occupancy fares start at $699 per person, plus tax, for a seven-day Caribbean holiday cruise.
Celebrity Cruises offers vacationers a collection of holiday cruises, including two on its newest Solstice-class ship, Celebrity Eclipse, which makes her U.S. debut out of Miami this fall. Eclipse’s eight-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary, sailing roundtrip from Miami, departs on Dec.18 and visits San Juan, Puerto Rico; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; Phillipsburg, St. Maarten; and Labadee, Haiti, with pricing from $999. The seven-night Dec. 26 Western Caribbean cruise sails to George Town, Grand Cayman; Cozumel, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; and Puerto Costa Maya, Mexico, priced from $1,599.
Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean International’s brand-new Allure of the Seas sails from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Dec. 19 for a seven-day cruise calling in Labadee, Costa Maya and Cozumel, priced from $1,349; the Dec. 26 sailing calls in Nassau, the Bahamas; Charlotte Amalie and Philipsburg, St. Maarten from $2,099. Sister ship Oasis of the Seas departs on Dec. 23 for a seven-night cruise calling in Labadee, Costa Maya and Cozumel, priced from $1,599, and on a Dec. 30, nine-night cruise visiting Labadee, Charlotte Amalie, Philipsburg and Nassau, priced from $2,168. Mid-Atlantic guests can sail a nine-day cruise on Enchantment of the Seas, sailing roundtrip from Baltimore, departing on Dec. 18 and calling in Port Canaveral, Nassau, Key West and Cococay, priced from $699.
Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line is offering Thanksgiving cruises on the Disney Magic’s Nov. 20 seven-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary, priced from $1,339, and on the Disney Wonder’s Nov. 24, four-night cruise to the Bahamas from $369.
Other holiday sailings include a seven-night Western Caribbean cruise on the Wonder departing Dec. 23, priced from $1,719, and a Dec. 18, 11-night Southern Caribbean itinerary on the Magic, from $1,499.
For New Year’s, Disney offers a Dec. 29, five-night cruise to the Bahamas on the Magic from $799 and a Dec. 30 seven-night eastern Caribbean sailing on the Wonder from $1,769.
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Cruise Lines is offering a sailing that covers four countries in just a little more than a week. The nine-day cruise on the Carnival Dream departs Port Canaveral, Fla., on Dec. 23 and returns on Jan. 1. Guests can enjoy both Christmas and New Year’s onboard for a rate starting at $1,049 per person. Ports of call include Nassau, the Bahamas; Cozumel, and Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; and Belize.
West Coast holiday choices include the Carnival Splendor’s seven-day holiday cruise departing on Dec. 26 from Los Angeles, calling in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, priced from $809 per person, and the Paradise’s three-day itinerary on Dec. 31, sailing roundtrip from Los Angeles, visiting Ensenada, Mexico, priced from $539.
Oceania Cruises has an ecumenical mix of midnight mass, a rabbi conducting Hanukkah activities, caroling and menorahs onboard during the holiday season. The Regatta sails a 12-day cruise, roundtrip from Miami, departing on Dec. 21, that visits Turks and Caicos, the Dominican Republic, Tortola, Antigua, Barbados, Martinique, St. Barts and St. Croix. Select fares begin at $4,299 per person, based on double occupancy, including airfare.
Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 sails an 11-day Caribbean Delights itinerary roundtrip from New York. The cruise departs on Nov. 27 and calls in Cristobal (for the Panama Canal), Panama; Willemstad, Curacao; St. Georges, Grenada; Bridgetown, Barbados; Basseterre, St. Kitts and Road Town, Tortola, priced from $1,995. A 15-day Festive Caribbean sailing, also sailing roundtrip from New York, is scheduled for departure on Dec. 19, visiting Grand Turk, Tortola, Curacao, Grenada; Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and more, priced from $1,795.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ seven-day holiday sailings onboard Voyager and Mariner are priced from $3,365 per person and include roundtrip airfare; a choice of gourmet, no-fee restaurants; open bars throughout the ship, serving fine wines and premium spirits; unlimited shore excursions and tours; guest enrichment lecturers and nightly entertainment; all staff gratuities; port taxes and any government fees. On select departures, kids sail for $999.
Yachts of Seabourn
The Yachts of Seabourn’s holiday cruises are all being offered at Seabourn Value Fares. For example, Seabourn Pride’s 16-day Singapore to Hong Kong cruise, calling in Vietnam and Thailand, is priced from $5,999, while the new Seabourn Odyssey offers a 16-day Caribbean itinerary, sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, priced from $7,499. And this year’s debut ship, Seabourn Sojourn, has a 16-day Panama Canal cruise, priced from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles from $7,299.
Variety Cruises’ Kings & Pharaohs cruise sails along the Red Sea coast, including Egypt, Jordan and other gateway ports to famous sites of ancient history. A one-way cruise between Aqaba, Jordan, and Suez, Egypt, sails from Dec. 24-29. The reverse (from Suez to Aqaba) sails from Dec. 29 through Jan. 3. Fares begin at $1,490 per person, per week.
Crystal Cruises offers opportunities to enjoy the holidays without stress from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. Crystal Symphony’s Thanksgiving cruise sails roundtrip from Los Angeles on Nov. 21 on a seven-day Mexican Riviera itinerary. The Christmas/New Year’s voyage also sails roundtrip from Los Angeles, departing on Dec. 21 and sailing to the Hawaiian Islands for a 14-day voyage.
Crystal Serenity’s Christmas/New Year cruise sails roundtrip from Miami on Dec. 21, on a 14-day Caribbean itinerary, visiting St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten, Curacao and Grand Turk.
New for 2010: All-Inclusive, As You Wish spending credits of $1,000 per couple. And for six full-fare berths, clients receive a $500 credit toward a Crystal Private Adventure, a free sailing for kids under the age of 17 (in the third berth), prepaid gratuities, shipboard credits and family portraits. For 10 full-fare berths, clients also receive one complimentary berth.
Movie buffs will find paradise during the holidays with Princess Cruises’ Dec. 15 holiday sailing onboard Coral Princess. The 15-day Panama Canal cruise, priced from $1,299, features film critic Leonard Maltin, presenting his favorite films of 2010 and leading a discussion about Hollywood. The Leonard Maltin Movie Channel on the ship’s television system will feature a selection of contemporary, classic and animated movies specially selected by Maltin.
Azamara Club Cruises
Azamara Club Cruises’ Journey departs on Dec. 23 on a 16-night Panama Canal cruise sailing from Miami to San Diego, specially priced from $3,199. The line’s18-night Southeast Asia cruise onboard the Quest sails from Singapore to Hong Kong on Dec. 21, with special pricing from $3,499.
Paul Gauguin Cruises
On its Dec. 18 and Dec. 27 sailings, Paul Gauguin Cruises is offering children free access to the Ambassadors of the Environment Youth Program, usually available for a fee of $269 per child. Explorer and environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau created this program to introduce travelers to the extraordinary natural wonders of French Polynesia. Participants ages 9 to 17 get hands-on, interactive experience with marine and island ecosystems, learn how black pearls and vanilla are cultivated, learn how volcanic islands become coral atolls and paddle an outrigger canoe. Parents are encouraged to join children on eco-excursions and other activities aboard and ashore, making the program a great activity for families.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line has weeklong cruises scheduled during the holidays aboard the new Norwegian Epic, with a seven-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary on Dec. 18, sailing roundtrip from Miami and calling in St. Maarten, Saint Thomas and Nassau, priced from $719. On Christmas day, the ship sails to Costa Maya, Roatan and Cozumel with pricing from $549.
Windstar Cruises has a number of holiday itineraries in the Caribbean. The Wind Star’s seven-day Costa Rica Holiday cruise departs on Dec. 19, and its New Year’s cruise departs on Dec. 26. Both sail roundtrip from Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, and visit the Costa Rican ports of Curu, Tortgua Island, Bahia Drake, Quepos and Playas del Coco, along with the Nicaraguan port of San Juan del Sur, priced from $1,635.
Wind Spirit’s seven-day holiday cruise sails roundtrip from St. Martin departing on Dec, 19, calling in Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke and St. Barts, with fares priced from $1,635. Wind Surf also offers a seven-day Dec. 19 departure priced from $1,625 and a Dec. 26 New Year’s sailing from $1,675, both from Bridgetown, Barbados.
Silversea Cruises’ Silver Shadow departs on Dec. 21 for a 14-day Australia cruise from Sydney to Auckland with calls in Melbourne, Tasmania, Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Napier and Tauranga. Fares start at $8,188, reflecting a 55 percent Silver Savings discount. A complimentary Edwardian tea party will be held in Christchurch, complete with punting on the river and Maori entertainment.
Compagnie du Ponant
French luxury line Compagnie du Ponant has a special offer on Le Diamant’s 12-night cruise departing on Dec. 16 from Hong Kong and sailing to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Rates start at $2,434. Clients can also book a five-night ocean voyage under sail on Le Ponant (no ports of call) from Muscat, Oman, to Kochi, India, departing on Dec. 22 from $1,120. Another option is the seven-night Orinoco: Gateway to the Amazon itinerary on Le Levant, sailing roundtrip from Martinique and departing on Dec. 20. The itinerary is priced from $3,040.