Imagine waking up Christmas morning to a view of a medieval European village—its spires and 12th-century bridge dusted with snow—or instead, spending the day transiting the balmy Panama Canal.
These are just two of the memorable holiday vacations that the best cruises deliver, along with the pleasure of having the feasts cooked and the halls decked for you. Towering Christmas trees fill cruise ship atriums; carolers stroll through promenades and lounges; and the air is filled with the scents of cinnamon and gingerbread.
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Guests aboard the Azamara Quest will have a front-row view of the New Year’s fireworks that light up the harbor in St. Bart’s. They’ll kick off 2014 with stops in St. Maarten, Nevis, and Virgin Gorda.
Such celebrations do come at a premium. Because cruises over Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s are in high demand, they usually cost slightly more than the same itineraries on non-holiday weeks. And like the holidays themselves, bookings for such voyages go fast.
For those who can’t snag a holiday berth or prefer to spend those days at home, river cruises to Europe’s traditional Christmas markets offer a cheery start to the season. Read on for a selection of the best holiday cruise vacations.
All prices are per person, based on double occupancy; unless otherwise stated, fares include the cruise, on-board entertainment, and main dining room meals, but do not include beverages, tips, excursions, Internet, or other extras.