If like many of us you’re still deciding where to spend Christmas, who will do the cooking (and the dishes afterward), or where you should see in the New Year then there’s still time to book yourself onto a Christmas or New Year cruise somewhere exotic and far-flung… and leave the dishes to someone else. Embarking on a cruise at this time of year brings with it celebratory meals, twinkling decorations, and that all-important festive feeling. But you also get to swap a game of Trivial Pursuit and holiday television shows for swimming in clear Caribbean waters, exploring cultural treasures in Mexico, exploring the Christmas markets of Europe or venturing on an expedition to the White Continent of Antarctica.
Here we bring you some of our favourite Christmas and New Year cruise destinations:
Tropical Bliss in New Zealand and the South Pacific
What could banish the winter blues more than a trip to the sunny Southern Hemisphere? Embark on an itinerary filled with natural beauty as you visit New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands of New Caledonia and Vanuatu. Begin in vibrant Sydney, where you can explore the iconic sights or enjoy seaside restaurants in Circular Quay or Darling Harbour. From there it’s into the great Pacific Ocean, where Noumea, New Caledonia dazzles with its French colonial architecture and picture-perfect beaches. Vanuatu’s Mystery Island exemplifies tropical bliss, where healthy coral reefs teem with iridescent fish and snorkelling, scuba diving and swimming will transport you to another world. The last stop on this South Pacific itinerary is New Zealand’s Bay of Islands where 140 isles are steeped in Maori culture and a long whaling and colonial history. Set off to find whales, dolphins, and penguins as you cruise through waters once sailed by Captain Cook.
Fireworks in South East Asia
For a truly exotic Christmas or New Year break then a cruise around South East Asia will fill your stocking with dynamic cities, dreamy turquoise waters, fascinating history and some of the best fireworks displays on the planet. Begin in the urban metropolis of Singapore, whose iconic skyscrapers and lights fill the skyline. From there, Thailand’s Ko Samui and Laem Chabang fulfil idylls of palm-fringed beaches, scuba diving on coral reefs and exploring lush rainforests. Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City fascinates with its French colonial landmarks, as well as its poignant Vietnam War history, while in the north of the country the natural beauty of Ha Long Bay is truly astounding. Emerald waters and thousands of forest-topped towering islands create a surreal landscape. Finish a cruise filled with wonder and beauty in Hong Kong, where the New Year fireworks are legendary.
A river cruise along the Danube
What could evoke the spirit of Christmas better than a serene cruise along the River Danube? Europe’s northern cities promise beautiful frosty days, traditional Christmas markets and a festive vibe of yesteryear. Embark on a Danube cruise and be transported on a festive journey beginning in Passau, Germany, making your first stop in Emmersdorf, Austria, set in the heart of the UNESCO-protected Wachau Valley. Travel to nearby Melk to see the largest Benedictine Abbey in Austria as you soak up the small-town atmosphere. In beautiful Vienna, culture abounds, with classical music performances, a fascinating Museums Quarter and the grandeur of the Schönbrunn Palace. Hungary’s capital, with its fairy tale old town, is festooned with Christmas decorations, while Bratislava’s Christmas markets are a true highlight and the perfect place to stock up on hand-made gifts.
The Caribbean is a melting pot of cultures, perfect sandy beaches, and tropical isles. Steam out of vibrant Miami and get a taste of the diversity of the region on this perfect itinerary. From the Bahamas, with its pastel-pink colonial buildings and thriving underwater coral reefs, it’s on to San Juan, Puerto Rico where flamboyant bars sit alongside cobbled streets and impressive fortresses. In Philipsburg, St Maarten powder-white beaches are lapped by the clearest of seas, while in Castries, St Lucia you can lounge on the palm-lined Vigie Beach or head off to visit the spectacular cathedral and bustling markets. Your last stop before heading back to Miami will be St Barths, famed the world over for its lavish New Year’s Eve parties where you can rub shoulders with the rich and famous and dance the night away.
White Christmas in Antarctica
If you want to feel as though you’ve stepped foot in a Christmas card, then Antarctica will guarantee snow, penguins and maybe even the swirling southern lights. Departing from Ushuaia at the very foot of South America, it is a short voyage across the legendary Drake Passage to the White Continent, one of the world’s last untouched wildernesses. On this staggering adventure you’ll encounter seals and puffing whales, watch glaciers calve great chunks of ice into frigid seas and step foot on the Antarctic Sound. Make a final stop in the South Shetland isles to meet elephant seals and crowds of Gentoo, Chinstrap and Adelie penguins before making your way back to Ushuaia after an adventure-filled Christmas you’ll never forget.
A Patagonian Odyssey
On this epic voyage, you begin in passionate, flamboyant Buenos Aires and make your way past some of the most breathtaking landscapes on the planet on route to Valparaiso, Chile. You’ll cruise along the wild coast of Patagonia, stopping in the wildlife-laden lands of Puerto Madryn and the Valdes Peninsula, where orcas and elephant seals, penguins and guanacos congregate is vast numbers. Ushuaia marks the southernmost point of South America, a starkly beautiful landscape once visited by Charles Darwin aboard his ship the HMS Beagle. From there it’s on to the Straits of Magellan and the city of Punta Arenas, the gateway to Patagonia’s frontier regions. Explore this vast land, where snow-capped peaks and turquoise lakes are home to hardy farmers and headdress-toting alpacas. End your Christmas or New Year adventure in Chile’s Valparaiso, where a jumble of pastel-hued buildings and cobbled streets offer charm and culture in abundance. Check all boats for sale in the USA by States
Underwater in Miami, Mexico, and Honduras
With sunny days and warm waters, Mexico and Central America make for delightful Christmas and New Year cruise destinations, especially for those who love the underwater world. Leaving Miami behind you’ll likely venture to the turquoise waters of Grand Cayman before continuing on to the island of Cozumel off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, famed for its world-class scuba diving and flamboyant Latin vibe. On the Costa Maya, head ashore to explore dense jungle biosphere reserves inhabited by jaguars, monkeys, and birds, or stay on the coast and dive into waters teeming with sharks, dolphins and turtles. The island of Roatan belongs to Honduras’ Bay Islands, a mere blip of sand ringed by coral reefs. The scuba diving and snorkelling are first-rate, and there is the chance to see the enormous whale sharks which pass by here. A quick stop in Key West winds up a spectacular cruise filled with adventure, nature and abounding natural beauty.
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