7 Cruise Lines Offering Festive Holiday Cruises in 2022

Celebrate the festive season on the high seas with these New Year's, Hanukkah, and Christmas cruises.

Tropical Winter Wonderland at Castaway Cay

Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

If never-ending shrimp and beautiful coastlines weren’t enticing enough, cruise lines go above and beyond each winter as they haul out the holly for holiday celebrations. These specialty sailings bring cheer to the high seas with seasonal activities, festive décor, and even more delicious treats than usual. ‘Tis the season to indulge, after all. 

Whether you’re interested in dashing through the Caribbean Sea with Mickey Mouse on a Disney Christmas cruise or embarking on a lavish and intimate experience aboard a European river cruise, there’s something for every travel style and budget. Here are 7 of the best cruise lines for holiday cruises in 2022.

Related: 7 Best Cruise Lines for Families

Viking River Cruises 

Christmas decorations aboard Viking River Cruises

Courtesy of Viking

Viking River Cruises, a Switzerland-based luxury cruise line, is known for the distinct modern touches it brings to river sailings. The intimate ships have around 100 rooms on board, and the excellence is in the detail and attention to service — and the ships are pure bliss during the holidays. European Christmas market cruises celebrate that old-world holiday feel as you stop in historic cities, like Vienna and Budapest. 

Onboard you can enjoy live performances, regional specialties, tree trimming, and freshly baked yuletide cookies and cakes. See the City of Lights, Paris, in an entirely new way as you glide along the Seine or enjoy lively Berlin along the Elbe. In the U.S., the Mississippi River cruise offers unparalleled views of stunning Christmas light displays adorning the historic homes of Baton Rouge and exclusive access to Graceland all aglow for the season. 

Disney Cruise Line

Magical Winter Holidays Aboard the Disney Dream

Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line takes magic to an entirely new level during their holiday sailings. Departing from ports in Florida and Texas, a flurry of fun enhances visits to the likes of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Grand Cayman, and other locales. With a stunning 24-foot Christmas tree as its centerpiece, ships see the addition of garlands, poinsettias, and holiday-themed entertainment and activities. The best part? This is all in addition to the line’s plentiful year-round offerings.

As the only cruise line offering fireworks at sea, ships light up the sky with a special nighttime spectacular sure to get anyone in the holiday spirit. Beloved Disney characters don their adorable holiday attire, and there may even be appearances from Kris Kringle himself. 

The fun extends on cruises visiting Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island, as the paradise in the Bahamas is transformed with a Christmas tree and snow flurries. 

Norwegian Cruise Line

Exterior view of Norwegian Epic

Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

With cruises to Europe, Mexico, and South America, Norwegian Cruise Line welcomes guests to take the guesswork out of the holidays this year. In addition to Christmas cruises, they offer New Year, Hanukkah, and even Thanksgiving sailings. On the latter, guests can sit back and relax as someone else prepares an unforgettable turkey dinner. Now that is a reason to be thankful. 

Christmas cruises add awe-inspiring décor, live performances, and a slew of on-board activities, like an ugly sweater contest and holly, jolly-themed trivia. No matter if you’re interested in simply sipping eggnog by the pool or looking to attend an onboard Christmas mass, they deliver the reason for the season. 

Princess Cruises

Exterior view of Princess Discovery

Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Whether you're sailing to sunny Sydney, Australia, or the Mexican Riviera, Princess Cruises promises a forecast that includes a daily snowfall. Don’t worry— these flurries aren't real, but they have become a staple of their holiday celebration.

After you’ve gotten in the spirit with your in-room virtual yule log, mingle with Santa Claus or be enchanted with holiday classics performed by the Yuletide Carolers. Guests can enjoy designing special keepsake ornaments or competing in a gingerbread house-making contest while the youth and teen centers host their very own holiday parties. 

Their Hanukkah sailings bring extra fun like menorah-lighting ceremonies, festive décor, themed crafts, and a reading of "Sammy Spider’s First Hanukkah." For Thanksgiving, guests can watch the biggest football games from their outdoor movie screen. Autumn décor is throughout, and annual activities include a turkey calling contest and adding a special message to their Tree of Thanks.

Adventures by Disney River Cruises

Illuminated cityscape of Budapest with snowy winter landscape at dusk

_ultraforma_/Getty Images

River cruises are no longer reserved for a specific demographic as companies are tapping into the widespread appeal of visiting a range of destinations on one vacation. Adventures by Disney has teamed up with AmaWaterways to offer two cruise itineraries dedicated to exploring Europe's historic Christmas markets. All the complexities of a Euro trip disappear as you glide along the Danube visiting stops in Germany, Austria, and Hungary. Ships cruising the Rhine River can enjoy stops in Germany, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. This is an opportunity to see the canals of Amsterdam — complete with twinkling lights — or enjoy the wonder of these historic markets like never before. All meals are included and onboard activities include a mulled wine tasting and gingerbread cookie decorating. 

Cunard Cruise Line

Christmas decorations and tree in the Grand Lobby of the Cunard flagship Queen Mary 2

Courtesy of Cunard Line

The sophisticated British cruise line takes an elevated approach to the holidays. Here, champagne is served in elegant crystal, and afternoon tea is festively infused with stollen and other traditional European Christmas cakes. Enjoy the splendor of the gingerbread village or sip on eggnog as you savor traditions like Christmas carolers, mince pies, and visits from Santa. 

After you gawk at the stunning Christmas tree in the Grand Lobby, you can visit the onboard luxury shops and surprise that special someone back home. Itineraries include transatlantic journeys aboard the Queen Mary 2 or an exploration of the shores of Western Europe in Portugal and Spain. 

Royal Caribbean

Santa zip-lining in front of Royal Caribbean International ship

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

From the moment you step onboard, Royal Caribbean kicks the holidays into overdrive and the cheer is in abundance. Sailing to more than 300 destinations, from the South Pacific to the Caribbean, the line gets the entire family involved with a range of activities, like gingerbread decorating classes and an ugly sweater party. There are special Christmas menus and a cookies-and-milk corner, plus holiday classics shown on the poolside screen. The traditional lighting of the ship’s massive tree has become a mainstay of the celebration, while many can’t get enough of the annual holiday-themed version of their famous Bottomless Galley Brunch.  Have fun and know you’re doing good by participating in a special walk for polar bears on the ship’s deck in support of the World Wildlife Fund’s arctic program. 

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