Celebrating the holidays often means gathering around the tree singing carols, spending time with family and drinking eggnog. It also typically means shoveling the snow, breaking ice off your windshield and housing your in-laws over a few days. Instead, many people have been celebrating the holidays on a holiday-themed cruise, sipping eggnog on the deck while watching New Year’s fireworks on the horizon.
Along with all the other perks you would typically get on a cruise at any time of the year, at holiday time, you’ll be able to celebrate traditional festivities in a unique way. Many cruise liners celebrate the holiday season with their cruise guests, and embrace the season with jovial intensity that involves much more than your typical turkey dinner, Christmas tree with presents, Santa photos and the countdown of the New Year.
On holiday-themed cruises, you’ll be sure to get the most out of celebrating the holiday season. Forget about cleaning up after large gatherings, or preparing exhausting meals for the whole clan. Instead, you can be celebrating the holiday season by relaxing, having gourmet meals prepared for you, enjoying the sunset on the deck, and engaging in any number of exciting and joyful programs and activities that will be sure to get everyone into the holiday spirit.
Things to Consider When Booking a Holiday Cruise
When to Book a Holiday Cruise
Generally speaking, cruises during the holiday season are usually higher in price than any other time of the year. The reason for this is that many families want to take advantage of the fact that their kids are out of school before they take them on a family vacation, such as a holiday cruise. Cabins are also in greater demand because of the larger size of families that are going on a cruise with their children, who require more space to house everyone comfortably.
However, many times these holiday cruises do not fully book too far in advance. If you wait a little more until you get closer to the date of departure, your chances of booking a family holiday cruise at a last-minute discount rate are quite good. This can mean considerable savings on your holiday trip with the family at Christmas and New Years.
Booking Flights to Your Destination
It is important to keep in mind that the price of flights during this time of the year can be quite expensive. Make sure that the flight rates are affordable enough for you, considering that these are extra costs. Book your flight early enough so that you are able to secure your seats, but late enough so that there is no chance for the flight to be oversold, as this tends to be an issue for airfare during the holiday season.
Onboard Holiday Cruises
Just because you are on a cruise over the holidays does not mean that you have to give up the celebration or the spirit of the holidays. On the contrary – cruise lines take every opportunity to maximize the celebration of the holidays, and really go all out in their decorations, celebrations and activities to keep the holiday spirit alive despite the fact that you are miles from home and even further from any cold, snowy weather.
Oftentimes, cruise liners will offer traditional-type fare that travellers can dine on, such as turkey and cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving, turkey and all the stuffings at Christmas, potato pancakes at Hanukkah, and a midnight buffet on the eve of New Years. To top it all off, you will be surrounded by gorgeous, festive decorations that will get you into the mood and the spirit of the holiday.
Children will have the opportunity to visit with Santa, and whisper into his ear their wishes for Christmas presents. They’ll be able to participate in Christmas and holiday arts and crafts, singing traditional carols, and dining on yummy holiday snacks.
Adults can participate in holiday parties in the lounges of the ship, and may also participate in traditional holiday services led by priests, rabbis and ministers. Passengers of all ages will be able to take advantage of the onboard entertainment, that will encompass holiday performances by entertainment staff and special guests.
In Port Activities and Programs on Holiday Cruises
There are a variety of ports that take the holidays seriously, and as such, create island-wide holiday celebrations, particularly in the Caribbean. These celebrations are extended even to passengers of holiday cruises, who become part of the local holiday celebrations and get a real sense of island life at the same time. For example, in St. Kitts, the national carnival and parades run from mid December to the first week of January. This can truly make a holiday cruise an enjoyable and memorable one.
Celebrate the holidays a different way this year by taking the family on one of the many cruise liners available that truly encompass the spirit of the holiday, and that stop at ports that take the holiday celebrations to the next level. You’ll be able to celebrate the holidays in style, while leaving the snow shovelling and endless entertainment back home!
An expedition cruise is not your typical cruise filled with entertainment shows, casinos, fine dining or bingo. You won’t find any of these typical cruise-type activities onboard an expedition adventure cruise. Instead, you’ll be encountering a variety of adventurous and thrilling activities and experiences that will excite and entice you.
Not Your Typical Cruise
What you should expect on an expedition cruise is a little taste of adventure and exploration in places your typical tourist may not necessarily have heard of. These are the types of adventures that would capture the attention of the National Geographic to feature in one of their volumes.
These ships are typically smaller than the average luxury cruise ship, as not all the amenities that luxury cruise ships supply to their guests are necessary nor needed on expedition cruises. The drafts of these ships are shallower, allowing the ship to get that much closer to shore and witness much less-visited scenes and ports. In fact, you’ll spend more time closer to shorelines on an expedition cruise than on any other type of cruise liner out there.
Typical cruises combine both an off-shore experience at various ports, and onboard experiences with activities and programs. Expedition cruises, on the other hand focus more on the off-shore experience at the various exotic and adventurous ports visited.
Expedition cruise liners employ an expedition team of naturalists and science-oriented individuals who lead travelers onboard the cruise line to give presentations on various cultural, ecological, historical and geological lessons on their ship’s destination. Exploration of certain ports are often filled with adventurous activities and programs that have a much more educational and experimental flair than “normal” cruises.
One notable difference between expedition cruises and conventional cruises is the way the ship is boarded. Expedition cruises make use inflatable crafts. Sometimes travelers must make a “wet landing” on shore, where they have to jump over the side of the ship and wade towards the shore.
Travelers are generally grouped according to fitness level and adventure desires. Those who are beginners and are not up to highly adventurous tours will be grouped in one category, where they will partake in activities such as searching for rare birds, or going for a naturalist walk. Those who are more fit and adventurous will stick together and participate in a variety of adventures, be it rock climbing, kayaking or hiking.
Blending Expedition Cruises With The Perks of Civilized Cruising
Certain cruise lines have been successful in merging both the adventurous expedition-type cruises with the perks associated with conventional type cruises. For example, Silversea Cruises launched the “Silver Explorer” that combined both adventurous voyaging with high-end luxury. Imagine the adventure of seeing an Arctic glacier up close, then return to your cruise ship and be greeted by staff that escort you to your luxury suite to get ready for a gourmet meal. On these types of combined cruises, you really can get the best of both worlds.
Some Expedition Adventures to Consider
Here are a few expedition cruise destinations and their associated cruise lines that can provide you with an adventure like no other:
This is one of the more popular destinations among cruisers, whether on a luxury cruise liner or an expedition cruise ship. There really is no better way to experience all of the natural world than on an Alaskan expedition cruise. You’ll be able to see it all: geology, biology, ecology, and so on. These ships are generally smaller than their luxury counterparts, making it easier for the ships to get as close to shore and ports as possible to be able to see some of nature’s magnificence.
When on shore, you’ll do all sorts of hiking, sight-seeing, walking on picturesque trails, or board a craft to get as close to the magnificent glaciers as possible. You’ll be sure to see one of the many amazing animals on shore, such as bears and sea lions.
Cruise lines that take these Alaskan expeditions include Lindblad Expeditions, InnerSea Discoveries and American Safari Cruises.
This is another popular destination for expedition cruises. Peru is the more popular and accessible of the ports; travelers generally fly into Lima before boarding a connecting flight to Iquitos. Considering the fact that the weather and climate are rather consistent throughout the year, you can really go any time of the year you want.
On shore after disembarking at one of the ports, you’ll be able to walk through the rain forest and keep your eye out for exotic animals like monkeys, sloths or insects. Plant life will not go unnoticed, with the amazing and majestic trees and lush bushes that will surround you. You’ll also be participating in motorboat rides along the edge of the river, searching for any sign of exotic and colorful birds.
The Galapagos Islands
This is also a famous destination for those interested in nature and the physical and biological world. The government of Ecuador has actually designated 97% of the islands as a protected national park that strictly controls all tourism. For those who are super eco-friendly, this expedition is mainly about hiking the trails, learning about the biosphere and geology, seeing unique species face to face, and snorkeling among sea lions and whales.
Cruise lines that sail among the Galapagos Islands include Lindblad, International Expeditions, and Celebrity Xpedition, among others.
Cruises are becoming more and more diverse, with something for every interest. If nature and exploring the earth’s wonders peaks your interest, than an expedition cruise just might be the perfect cruise for you.
One of the reasons why major centers of travel will spring up in various geographic locales is because of how important the tourism tends to be for the states of such popular destinations. Carriers offering Southwest Airline flights and similar airline options will endeavor to get their aircraft as close to the action as possible as far as destinations and flights are concerned. Being able to drive less than an hour to an important location rather than spending many hours on the road is vitally important for anyone seeking a relaxing vacation or even an efficient business trip.
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You don’t have to be the other half of a couple or part of a large family in order to take advantage of one of the many amazing cruise lines out there. Single cruising is beocming more and more popular, as many solo travelers are removing the stigma of vacationing on their own. As such, cruise lines have recognized these solo travelers and have developed cruise lines specifically tailored to these singles.
Taking That First Step
People who don’t have a significant other – or would just rather travel alone – might find it intimidating to take that first step toward going on a trip or a cruise on their own. Many people feel that it takes a certain amount of bravery to go on a cruise as a single, but really the bravery is only required in taking that first step – booking the trip and stepping foot on a singles’ cruise. Once they are aboard the cruise line, feelings of anxiousness are almost immediately fizzled with the amazing entertainment and experience that singles cruises offer solo travelers.
For those who find that the vacationing world is very “coupled up” or family oriented, it is refreshing to know that there are actually vacations and cruises specifically designed for those who do not fall in one of these categories. Sometimes a solo traveler may find it challenging to negotiate certain obstacles on most larger cruise ships, such as programs and activities that make it hard for a solo to participate in. With the emergence of singles cruises, these obstacles are non-existent.
Mingling Aboard Singles Cruises
Singles cruises are more geared towards those who do not have a significant other, rather than solo travelers who may or may not have a significant other, but just choose to vacation alone once in a while. Singles cruises offer individuals a way to have a great time interacting with other singles to have an enjoyable and memorable time. Many time singles end up leaving their cruise vacation having mustered up a list of new friends that may become long-term friends, or even something more.
The Best Singles Cruise Lines
Many cruise lines offer wonderful singles packages and vacations, such as the following:
This cruise line is one of the more popular choices for singles because of the wide range of programs and activities geared towards singles. In fact, about 15% of all vacationers on Crystal Cruises are singles. Some of the programs and amenities offered for singles on these cruise lines include gentlemen hosts, singles’ parties, single-only dining, and so forth.
Certain Crystal Cruises only have a limited amount of passengers on board, despite the large size of the ship. Because of this, there is a sense of community on board. One of the favorite features of these cruise lines for singles is the use of assigned dining room seating, which means that singles sit with the same people for dinner every night, which is conducive to making friends – or something more – rather quickly.
Single travelers are not overlooked on Seabourn Cruises. The more cozy atmosphere that these cruise lines provide gives singles a better opportunity to get to know other cruise travelers much more easily. Entertainment staff host tables at dinner, and offer special invites to single travelers. Dining alone is unnecessary on these cruise lines. Single ladies will even have the added touch of having a gentleman maitre d’ escort them across the dining room to their table.
This cruise line offers single cabins, which is great for single travelers, including the often reduced price. These single cabin rooms are generally only available within European destinations and ports. Singles will have the advantage of partaking in singles’ meet-and-greet parties, as well as many other onboard activities that facilitate interaction among all the single travelers on board.
This has long been a popular cruise line for single travelers who wish to spend their vacation on board a cruise ship. The atmosphere on board these cruise lines makes it quite easy and conducive to making friends quite easily. Singles will find it rather simple to immediately connect with their shipmates to enjoy a wonderful time on their cruise to various destinations and ports.
Holland America cruise lines are world-renowned to catering to single travelers. They offer a plethora of activities and programs that do not necessitate any partners, as well as programs that are specifically designed for singles to meet and interact with other singles.
If you are single and looking to travel, or just want to meet someone new, singles cruises can be the vacation for you. Abandon the stigma of “vacationing alone” and get aboard one of the many cruise lines specifically geared towards single travellers. Not only will you have a fabulous time, but you might even leave having made lasting friendships and relationships.
Many couples decide to exchange vows on their wedding day abroad, but more and more, couples are choosing to spend their important day on a cruise line. Just about every cruise line offers wedding packages that are quite flexible and can be tailored to suits the couple’s specific needs and desires.
Couples may choose to have the ceremony on board, or else embark at a port and have the ceremony done at some exotic destination. Many ports offer sites for wedding ceremonies, such as on a Caribbean beach, on a rooftop villa in Europe, or even the the peak of an Alaskan glacier!
Wedding Ceremony Planning Made Simple
Planning a wedding onboard a cruise line is incredibly simple. All you have to do is make a phone and literally all your organizing will be taken care of for you. Wedding coordinators are on hand with these cruise lines to start arranging your ceremony for you, including taking care of the wedding cake, photographer, florist, music, chapel, and more to make the experience a hassle-free and memorable one. Some of them will handle even more tasks for an added fee, such as sending out invitations and renting tuxedos. This added fee really is worth it considering how much less works it leaves on your plate.
Considering the cost of a typical wedding held in a banquet hall and all the bells and whistles that go along with it, having a wedding ceremony onboard a cruise liner really provides some great value. Prices begin around $800 and up, on top of the cruise trip itself. You can choose to have your vows exchanged in the ship’s chapel, lounge, library, or anywhere you desire. Just about every cruise line allows wedding guests who are not passengers on the cruise to board the ship for a couple of hours at a port in order for them to be present and celebrate the ceremony with the couple.
Factors to Consider When Booking a Wedding Cruise
Legal Officiators – It’s important to make sure that the cruise line you select has a wedding ceremony officiator that is legally capable of marrying a couple. Certain cruise lines have these officiators, like Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, Princess Cruises and Cunard Cruises. If not, all the legal paperwork will have to be done off-shore prior to the wedding.
Private Islands – Many cruise lines also have private islands that can be the venue for the wedding ceremony. Disney Cruise Lines offers wedding ceremonies that can take place at their Castaway Cay, and Holland America offers their private island called Half Moon Cay for wedding ceremonies as well.
Mass-Market Ships – Generally, the larger cruise liners, like Seaborn, Carnival, Azamara and Celebrity, have no problem with onboard weddings. Most of the bigger ships that embrace a wider market of travelers have onboard wedding packages that offer coordinators to plan a wedding on board. However, there are many other smaller, more specific type cruise liners who don’t allow wedding ceremonies to take place onboard. Onboard wedding haves become so popular that some cruise lines actually charge passengers a surcharge during certain times of the year when onboard wedding ceremonies are more frequent.
Making it Legal – There may be certain stipulations in order to make your marriage official or legal. While some at-sea captains and officiators are legally capable of making the marriage legal, certain officiators do not have this legal privilege. As such, the legal paperwork must be filed prior to the ceremony off board in order to make the ceremony official and legally binding.
Some of the Best Cruise Lines For Exchanging Wedding Vows
Many cruise liners already have a romantic feel to them – some more than others. Here are some of the best cruise liners for couples wishing to exchange wedding vows:
Celebrity Cruises – These cruise liners offer a lot for their couples looking to get married onboard. They offer “deck weddings”, which feature white canopies that are dressed in fresh flowers and flowing white sheers of material. There are a variety of wedding packages offered that allows the couple to make the ceremony as tailored to their tastes as possible.
Princess Cruises – This is the only cruise line that allows captains to legally marry couples at sea. They offer harbor-side ceremonies in various ports, or onboard ceremonies in their shipboard chapels. They even have live wedding cams in order for friends and family back home to share in the couple’s special day.
Seabourn Cruise Lines – These cruise lines offer all sorts of romantic perks for the newly married couple, including romantic dinners served in their own private suites course by course. The couple can then share some champagne and caviar on the deck later on in the evening. A stewardess will then prepare a romantic couples bath with therapeutic oils and flower petals.
Carnival – These cruise lines offers destination weddings, chapels on certain ships, and wedding ceremonies at almost all of their embarkment ports.
Costa Cruises – This cruise line offers wedding packages in most of their Caribbean ports of calls, which allows couples to select the perfect destination that suits their needs. They may also choose to have their ceremony conducted in a romantic shipboard chapel.
There are so many options for couples to consider when getting married on a cruise ship or at one of its ports. Weddings on cruise ships are becoming more and more popular, and as such, they are becoming more flexible and are offering more packages and features. Having onboard staff and coordinators help organize your ceremony can take a load off your shoulders. You can be sure that having your wedding done with a cruise line will make it a memorable one.
When deciding on a family vacation, more and more families seem to be opting for a cruise to spend quality time with one another. There are a variety of reasons why families are choosing cruises as their destination of choice, including having all the amenities you can possibly think of at your fingertips, while stopping at a variety of desirable ports along the way.
All That Family Cruises Have to Offer
There are so many things to see and do on a family cruise ship. Cruises for families offer something for everyone – young toddlers, older tweens, and the parents themselves will all have something to entertain themselves with on a variety of family cruise lines available. Activities can be done separately depending on the age group targeted, or altogether as a family. You’d be amazed at some of the activities available on some cruise lines – ice skating, surfing in the ocean, on-board swimming pools, Wii games, aqua parks and more are just some of the amenities available to those who board a family cruise ship for their family vacation.
Considering all the activities and destinations that cruises have to offer families of all ages, it is no wonder that the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has reported that families are one of the fastest growing vacationers to be taking part in cruise vacations. Some cruise liners house more than half a million children annually, making it obvious that cruises are definitely becoming one of the more popular vacation choices among families across the world.
The Evolution of the Family Cruise
Thanks to the incredible boom of families partaking in cruise vacations, the cruise travel world has made a few recent additions to their cruise liners over the past few years. These few deserve notable mention:
More Space For Teens and ‘Tweens – Many family cruise liners had bulked teenagers into the ’13-17′ year old category. As of recently, this group has been further broken down into the 12-14 year olds (‘tweens’) and 15-17 year olds who may have more mature interests.
Cruise Liners Are Expanding in Size – Megaships are making a splash on the cruise scene due to the spiked demand of vacationers wanting to spend their family holidays on a cruise line. More space allows for more activities and incredible features that may not have been feasible only a few years back. Nowadays it is not uncommon to find water parks, surfing simulators, bowling alleys and rock walls on these massive cruise liners.
New Heights of Entertainment – Many cruise liners offer themed cruises. Whether you are looking for a “DreamWorks experience” on Royal Caribbean Cruiselines or Nickelodeon-themed cruises from Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Jewel, there is no shortage of entertainment on these majestic ships.
Growth of Family-Sized Suites – Typical rooms on cruise ships were generally small and didn’t accommodate a lot of people. Nowadays you’ll find suites that are quite large and are able to accommodate families.
More Age Groups Catered To – A short while ago children were all grouped into a wide range of ages. Nowadays, cruise line entertainment and activity coordinators are recognizing that activities need to be more focused on smaller age ranges. For example, what may excite 3-4 year-olds may be a bit boring for those between the ages of 8-10.
More Emphasis Placed on Onboard Activities – Although the allure of off-shore activities still maintains its importance and enjoyment, many cruise lines are also offering an abundance of amazing onboard activities, such as mini-golf, rope courses and water slides.
More Food Choices – Because of the sudden spike in families and children joining the cruise scene, food choices have expanded to accommodate picky little eaters who may not necessarily enjoy the same types of foods as adults.
Onboard Amenities to Take Advantage Of
Many cruise liners that are recognizing the emergence of families going on cruise vacations have offered many of the following onboard activities to participate in:
- Basketball Courts
- Science Labs
- Rock Climbing
- Surf Simulators
- Cooking Classes
- Water Parks
- Water Slides
- Bike Courses
There really is something for everyone on these majestic cruise lines.
Popular Family Cruise Lines
Some of the more popular family cruise lines available for your next family vacations includes the following:
- Royal Caribbean, who offer the following family cruise lines: Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas and Independence of the Seas
- Carnival, who offers Carnival Dream and Carnival Magic family-oriented cruise lines
- NCL’s Norwegian Epic
- Disney’s Disney Dream
- Princess Cruises, who offer Ruby Princess, Crown Princess and Emerald Princess
Cruise ships offer a variety of lengths of stay, depending on your needs and your budget. You can choose a 3-day cruise, or even choose to stay on one of these cruises for several weeks. There are certain cruise lines that offer special packages for family groups, including the booming growth of multigenerational families joining their families on cruises for family reunions, anniversaries and other special events.
You’ll be able to navigate to all parts of world on a variety of cruise lines, which can be a wonderful way to both see the world and bond with your family. Cruises are a great way to avoid airport hassles, troublesome travel arrangements and hotel reservations. All you have to do is pack and unpack, and enjoy your vacation with your family on a gorgeous and memorable cruise.
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