The perfect Christmas present for 2020 – the year that’s seen us endure two lockdowns, travel restrictions and sailings postponed until next year? A Christmas cruise for 2021, of course!
From visiting the world-famous Christmas markets across Europe to celebrating the festivities in the sun or snow further afield, there’s plenty to celebrate on a festive cruise.
And who doesn’t want to wake up to see Santa soaking up the winter sun in Lisbon, or indulge in a river cruise where you can enjoy a glass of hot mulled wine as you wind your way towards the Capital of Christmas?
So why not get into the festive spirit early by planning the perfect yuletide voyage with our pick of the top five Christmas cruises for next year.
Nothing says Christmas more than a waltz down the Danube to see the magical Christmas markets in Vienna where the smell of cinnamon hangs in the air.
This is the highlight of a 14-night cruise onboard Emerald Waterways’ Emerald Destiny, taking in the festive sights through Europe from Amsterdam to Budapest.
Have yourself a very merry Christmas cruise on Emerald Destiny
You’ll be able to visit castles, sip Slovakian warm spiced wine, and explore Budapest, Bratislava, Cologne, and Nuremberg on guided tours. Back on board you can watch the Christmas lights fade into the distance from your suite with floor-to-ceiling windows, or catch a festive movie wrapped in a blanket in the outdoor cinema. Bliss!
Getting there A 14-night Christmas Markets of Europe cruise with Emerald Waterways departing 1 December 2021, starts from £3,645 per person including return flights (Eurostar available), complimentary excursions, an inclusive drinks package, all tips and up to €150 complimentary onboard spend per cabin. The price includes WiFi and a bottle of Veuve Champagne. Visit www.iglucruise.com
Good (Christmas) Morning Vietnam
Spend next Christmas and New Year on a festive adventure exploring Hong Kong, Vietnam and Thailand in style.
After a two-night hotel stay in the heart of Hong Kong, you’ll watch the world’s largest decorative light and sound show, Symphony of Light, on an evening boat trip in Victoria Harbour.
Then you’ll set sail for Hanoi where the streets are lit up with Christmas decorations from the Catholic churches.
‘Tis the season for some sun
Back onboard Celebrity Cruises’ newly refurbished Solstice you can carry on the celebrations in one of the 12 restaurants, unwind in the Persian garden or visit the casino for a festive flutter.
Christmas Day won’t disappoint as you spend it in Chiang Mai, Thailand – home to one of the largest Christmas trees surrounded by fake snow and carol singers.
See in the New Year in Bangkok with a rooftop dinner and firework show, and then explore Singapore with an overnight stay and two-nights hotel stay to end the perfect cruise.
Getting there A 20-night cruise Vietnam and Thailand Christmas from Hong Kong on Celebrity Solstice departing 16 December 2021, starts from £2,879 per person including return flights, hotel stays, port taxes, fees, full board cuisine and a complimentary drinks package. Visit www.planetcruise.com
Festive Fun in the Sun
Who needs snow when you can head for a Christmas full of fun in the sun on board one of the world’s most luxurious ocean liners, Queen Victoria?
With a gala ball, traditional afternoon tea, three-course Christmas dinner and plenty of festive entertainment on board, this Cunard Christmas cruise is the epitome of elegance.
Even Santa will lap up the sophisticated atmosphere along with the winter sunshine – and might even indulge in the champagne served in crystal saucers.
What’s more you won’t even have to fly. Step on board in Southampton and luxuriate in Queen Victoria’s sublime surroundings as you sail to subtropical Madeira, the Canaries and Portugal’s capital, Lisbon.
Getting there A 12-day Canary Islands cruise on Queen Victoria, departing 1 December 2021 starts from £1,139 per person in a Britannia inside stateroom, based on two sharing. That includes a complimentary mini bar and room service 24 hours a day. Visit www.cunard.com
The Capital of Christmas
Revel in Christmas on the Rhine, where snow-dusted storybook towns and more than 40 castles line its banks as you wind your way to the Capital of Noël.
Yule enjoy the traditional festive atmosphere on board one of AmaWaterways’ award-winning ships where the decks really are filled with boughs of holly. Each ship is decorated for the Christmas Markets cruises and it takes the crew approximately seven days to decorate each ship inside and out!
Deck the, er, decks with boughs of holly
And after stepping ashore, you can follow the festive aromas to some of Europe’s longest-running Christmas markets including the grandaddy of them all, Strasbourg, the perfect French Advent destination.
As well as enjoying delicious crepes and fresh bretzels with Emmental cheese in the self-proclaimed Capital of, Noël you’ll discover the Christkindelsmärik dates back to 1570, making it the oldest Christmas market in France.
Getting there A seven night Christmas Markets on the Rhine cruise onboard AmaLucia from Amsterdam to Basel on 14 December 2021, calling at Cologne, Rudesheim, Ludwigshafen, Strasbourg, and Breisach starts from £2766, including free flights and transfers. Visit www.amawaterways.co.uk
Spend a magical Christmas visiting festive hotspots including Amsterdam
The biggest Christmas present ever
Give yourself an early Christmas present with a festive voyage on Britain’s biggest ship, Iona.
Step on board at Southampton and get ready to visit twinkling Christmas markets, indulge in the best chocolates in Zeebrugge and explore Hamburg and Rotterdam as well as P&O Cruises’ new ship.
Promising the wow factor at sea, Iona’s crowning glory, the SkyDome on decks 16 and 17, has a ‘hidden’ nightclub, a four-screen cinema, and pool with a retractable stage. There will also be nightly aerial performances, immersive shows, informal dining and deck parties.
Relax with some festive fizz at The Limelight Club, home to showstopping evenings of entertainment with a three-course dinner, without having to peel a single sprout.
Tired from all that last-minute Christmas shopping? Sip a glass (or two) of Gluhwein as you get your gifts all wrapped up on board.
Getting there A seven-night cruise (G139) to Northern Europe on Iona on 11 December, 2021, calling at Hamburg, Rotterdam, and Zeebrugge starts from £609 per person in an inside cabin. Visit www.pocruises.com