Take a well-deserved break and rejuvenate, far from the din of crowded malls. Whether it’s tropical beaches or European Christmas markets you have in mind, discover a Christmas cruise for your waterborne retreat.
Spend Christmas in the tropics of Costa Rica. Starting in Ft. Lauderdale, this cruise winds down through the Atlantic Ocean, cuts through the Panama Canal and up the Coast of central America. You’ll set foot in sunny Los Angeles just after New Year’s.
Price: From $1,017
Where will I be on Christmas? Puntarenas, Costa Rica
From Miami you’ll depart for lively San Juan, Puerto Rico before spending time in St. Maarten, the Virgin Islands and the Bahamas. Wander through the largest open-air aquarium in the world, indulge in a rum tasting and marvel at Spanish colonial architecture.
You’ll hardly need to use any vacation days on this quick, three-day cruise that launches from Miami, straight for the Bahamas. Maximum beach time beneath balmy palm trees, without a single snowflake in sight.
Is it safe to visit the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian?
Yes. More than $2 billion in reconstruction efforts are under way after Hurricane Dorian swept through two Bahaman islands in September 2019, leaving 14 of the islands untouched and open for business. The Bahamas Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar urges visitors to return in a September 2019 press release. “Maintaining a robust tourism industry will be vital in helping the country to recover and rebuild,” he says, adding for those debating whether to visit, “the best thing they can do for us right now is visit Nassau, Paradise Island and the Out Islands.”
4-night Mediterranean cruise
From picturesque Genoa, Italy, you’ll set sail along the Mediterranean coast, stopping in Marseille, France, and Barcelona, Spain. The cruise concludes in Civitavecchia, Italy, on Christmas. Our recommendation? Enjoy a romantic Italian road trip from there. Can’t get enough? Opt for the 7-night Western Mediterranean Cruise departing from Barcelona.
Price: From $599
Where will I be on Christmas? Civitavecchia, Italy
Prefer white sand beaches to snow banks? Starting in San Francisco, this holiday cruise takes you straight to the Baja Peninsula and Cabo San Lucas, where you can relax on Lover’s Beach, snorkel or have a dolphin encounter. You’ll hit three more Mexican ports before heading back to SF.
If luxury is what you’re after, consider this Pacific adventure, which departs from serene San Diego with relaxing excursions to Oahu, Kauai and Maui in Hawaii plus Ensenada, Mexico. Expect all-inclusive gourmet meals, wines and spirits. Unwind in the onboard spa and enjoy nightly entertainment.
Marvel at sparkling Christmas markets on this iconic river cruise. Taste lebkuchen (gingerbread) at Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, sample steaming pretzels in Regensburg and tour historic palaces and cathedrals on full-day excursions. Childlike wonder recommended, but not included.
Price: From $2,898
Where will I be on Christmas? Wachau Valley, Austria
Experience Asia via the South China Sea. From glamorous, cosmopolitan Hong Kong you’ll sail to Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand before finishing up in vibrant Singapore. Enjoy elegant dining, a lounge with live music and even a casino — between visits to the Greenhouse Spa.
Traveling during COVID-19
The CDC continues to advise caution when traveling within or outside the US, though it no longer requires self-quarantine or a COVID-19 test for fully vaccinated travelers as of April 2021. It recommends that you delay travel if you are not fully vaccinated to protect yourself and your family from getting or spreading the virus.
When traveling, follow safety measures that include wearing a mask in public, social distancing and washing your hands. If you are diagnosed with, have symptoms of or are waiting for COVID-19 test results — or are otherwise at risk of illness — do not attend gatherings or travel for 14 days.
Leave landlocked stress behind for the ultimate holiday break aboard a Christmas cruise. Next, book cheap flights for arrival at your port of departure. If cruises aren’t your thing, consider some other Christmas travel options.
Frequently asked questions
Sometimes, yes. Christmas cruises can be more expensive due to higher demand during vacations. If you’re aching for the open water but are on a tight budget, consider cruising during off-peak times. While the cheapest months can vary by destination, late spring and early fall are generally your best bet for saving money on cruises, as the weather is just beginning to heat but kids are still in school.
If there’s availability — yes! In fact, some cruise lines offer steep discounts right before departure, to fill up empty cabins. If you can hold out, check our cruise deals when December rolls around.
Unfortunately, Christmas market river cruises in the US are rare.
Still, there’s plenty of festivities to enjoy in destinations across the US. Here’s a few we’re keen to:
Amy Stoltenberg is a staff writer covering all things travel, shopping and lifestyle. After earning a BA at Savannah College of Art and Design, she worked as technical designer in corporate fashion before opting for a career with unlimited travel time. When her laptop's closed, you can find her wandering around Los Angeles looking for hole-in-the-wall eateries and plotting her way to all 50 states (she's currently at 28).
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