CLIA Cruise Lines Celebrate the Holidays with Festive Seasonal Specials

Experience the holiday spirit southern style with American Cruise Lines' 7-night “Historic South & Golden Isles” cruise, departing from Jacksonville, December 21, that features a holiday décor tour of Charleston’s famous mansions and a traditional Sapelo Island holiday oyster roast on the beach © 2013 Karen Rubin/

Experience the holiday spirit southern style with American Cruise Lines’ 7-night “Historic South & Golden Isles” cruise, departing from Jacksonville, December 21, that features a holiday décor tour of Charleston’s famous mansions and a traditional Sapelo Island holiday oyster roast on the beach © 2013 Karen Rubin/

Whether cruising to Tahiti or Tanzania, Argentina or Antarctica, celebrating the winter holidays at sea is a very special way to get away with family and friends.

Here is a sampling of cruises from the North American fleet of Cruise Lines International Association members for Christmas and New Year’s guaranteed to bring tidings of comfort and joy with familiar traditions in far-flung locations:

Go where few will ever venture. Have a winter wonderland Christmas as Seabourn sails to Antarctica for the first time this fall. On December 11, the Seabourn Quest 24-day cruise departs from Santiago, Chile, sailing to Buenos Aires, Argentina, with a Christmas Day landing on the “White Continent”; enjoy two days at South Georgia Island, with its vast rookeries of king penguins and other seabirds, as well as breeding elephant and fur seals.  Crystal Cruises’ new 17-night Antarctica cruise on the Crystal Symphony, departs December 21, visiting Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Falkland Islands, Drake Passage, Cape Horn and the Chilean Fjords, offering chances to fly, hike and zodiac over and on the icy continent and to view the gorgeous glacial scenery of both King George and Ardley Island.

Celebrate ancient traditions. Holiday markets, with hand-crafted toys, crafts and festive holiday food and drinks are a tradition dating back centuries and a special treat on many northern European cruises between November and January. Avalon Waterways invites travelers to spend Christmas in Prague and New Year’s in Vienna on its 9-day “Christmastime on the Danube” voyage departing December 25. Experience charming Christmas markets with AmaWaterways, which is offering four land-and-cruise itineraries on the Danube River, the Rhine and the legendary canals of Amsterdam. Uniworld Boutique River Cruises is offering seven holiday cruises ranging from 8 to 13 days, taking travelers along Europe’s great rivers. And Hurtigruten offers itineraries with a chance to experience Norway’s natural beauty and holiday traditions such as indulging in local foods, visits from “Norway’s Father Christmas” and the chance to see “The Northern Lights” of the Aurora Borealis.

Discover delightful regional differences. Experience the holiday spirit—southern or Cajun style with American Cruise Lines. The seven-night “Historic South & Golden Isles” cruise, departing from Jacksonville, Florida on December 21, features a holiday décor tour of Charleston’s famous mansions and a traditional Sapelo Island holiday oyster roast on the beach, while the December 28 New Year’s Eve sailing, departing from Charleston, South Carolina,  features fireworks over Savannah.  The seven-night “Cajun Christmas” cruise on the Lower Mississippi River, departing from New Orleans on December 21, features Oak Alley Plantation in its holiday finery, Christmas Eve bonfires along the levee lighting the way for Santa and a traditional Reveillon-style feast. Or celebrate Christmas and New Year’s in Hawai`i with hula and ukuleles on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America seven-day Hawai`i cruise, departing December 21 and December 28 from Honolulu.

Find serenity on the South Seas. A seven-night Tahiti & the Society Islands voyage with Paul Gauguin Cruises onboard the m/s Paul Gauguin departs on December 21 and features a holiday celebration while the New Year’s voyage, departing December 28, picks up the tempo with rock ’n’ roll classics, jazz and original compositions played by musician Robert Thomas as well as a lecture and wine tasting led by vintner Judy Jordan of J. Vineyards & Winery. Holland America Line features in-depth cultural experiences as part of its new fleet-wide “On Location” immersion program on a 28-day “New Zealand and Pacific Treasures Collector Holiday” cruise on the ms Oosterdam departing December 8 from Sydney that explores New Zealand, Fiji and New Caledonia.

Experience exotic Asia and beyond. A 14-night Myanmar, Malaysia and Sumatra voyage with Azamara Club Cruises departing December 23 from Singapore combines a festive Christmas at sea with exotic ports and a relaxing New Year’s Day on the beaches of Phuket, Thailand.  SeaDream Yacht Club offers a seven-night journey departing from Singapore on December 21 on its elegant mega-yacht SeaDream II, featuring golfing, diving and beach time. Oceania Cruises’ 30-day Lands of Grandeur sailing aboard Nautica departing on December 8 from Dubai visits ports in Oman, India, the Maldives and Seychelles as well as Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Mozambique and South Africa.

Home for the holidays. Why stay at home when CLIA-member cruise lines are bringing the holidays to you onboard?  Each in its own way, cruise ships are incorporating the traditions and décor of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve into décor, dining and activities.  For example: Carnival Cruise Lines has occasional “snowfalls” in the ships’ atriums, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is known for its magnificent gingerbread house displays, American Cruise Lines has ornament making as well as gift giving and Celebrity Cruises will hold pre-Christmas trunk shows in its boutiques, which are tax-and duty-free.  Starting with November 9 departures, Disney Cruise Line’s “Very Merrytime” Cruises feature a “deck the deck holiday party” with Disney friends.  In addition to holiday themed entertainment, many cruise lines offer special concerts, caroling and festive receptions as well as religious services. Princess Cruises features a tree lighting ceremony and a holiday themed variety show. For families, most lines feature special holiday crafts sessions, parties for kids along with visits from Santa and surprise gifts.

‘Tis the season to book early. Many cruise lines offer early booking specials and discounted pricing on select holiday cruises. For instance, for bookings through December 31, Oceania Cruises offers 2-for-1 cruise fares, free airfare from 26 North American gateways and bonus savings up to $4,500 per stateroom and Uniworld Boutique River Cruises is waiving or reducing its single supplement on select holiday cruises to make your Christmas vacation even merrier.

For expert advice, travelers can turn to a CLIA Cruise Agent, who stays current on the latest offerings and trends and is an expert in helping clients select a cruise of their dreams.   To find a CLIA Cruise Agent or Agency in your area, visit and click on Vacations and use our Cruise Expert Finder.

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