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Best Winter Destinations for Christmas and New Year

4th December 2017

Updated September 2018

 

Have a Christmas or New Year celebration like no other this year, by visiting a new and exciting destination on a cruise. The world is full of incredible places at every corner, and many of these play host to some wonderful parties and Christmas festivities throughout December and January. Here are our top 5 spots, that we recommend everyone see at this time of year - at least once in their life.

New York

For many people, New York at winter is the epitome of Christmas spirit. This is in no small part thanks to movie classics like Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life, in which New York is the setting for warm Christmas tales. Whether you cruise to New York in the run-up to Christmas or are there for New Year’s Eve, the glittering city that never sleeps will undoubtedly provide you with everything you need to feel like celebrating. From the buzzing atmosphere and lights in Time Square to a frosty, romantic moonlit carriage ride in Central Park, New York offers some truly special experiences.

 

 

Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a fantastic destination for those who want a change of scenery, but don’t want to travel too far. Close to the UK, there are a number of options for a no-fly cruise here. In the winter months, the city comes to life with music, lights, and decorations, and the friendly residents will welcome you with open arms. See the stunning Amsterdam Light Festival, at which global artists put together some beautiful displays through the streets and canals. There are of course Christmas markets as well, and some fabulous parties and fireworks on New Year’s Eve.

 

 

Paris

The famous City of Lights is, of course, a hub of illumination and bustling activity at this time of year, boasting some stunning views and wonderful options when it comes to festive things to do. Revel in Christmas spirit at the Christmas Market on Avenue des Champs-Elysees, where you can also take a spin on the ice rink. If you have time, a visit to Disneyland is an absolute must. Whether you’re 6 or 66, a bit of Disney magic at Christmas is a great recipe to get you feeling merry and bright. Start planning your trip and ask us about our cruises to Paris.

 

 

Norway

Visit the land of Frozen and get lost in a real Winter Wonderland. A cruise in Norway is a great option for this time of year, particularly because of the chance to see the Northern Lights. December and January often have a high number of clear nights, meaning the vibrant lights are more likely to be visible. The sparkling scenery and welcoming ambience in this part of the world is perfect for celebrating during the festive season, simply gazing at the stars with a hot chocolate, sat on the top deck of your cruise ship is truly the stuff of dreams. Find out more about our great range of Norway cruises.

 

 

Sydney

The New Year’s Eve firework display at Sydney Harbour is a well-known event that causes visitors to flock to the city every year. Sydney is a port of call on many world cruises, and if you are lucky enough to be here at the right time, you can have one of the best views of the show available. The famous Sydney Opera House also holds glamourous New Year’s Eve celebrations, giving you the opportunity to get dressed up and enjoy a bit of luxury during your holiday. See the New Year in with style on an Australasia cruise.

 

 

Whether you are considering a cruise during the main events, or are merely seeking a few days away before or after, you can rest assured that there are plenty of options out there. Take a look at all our December and January cruises, and book your next adventure today.


Top tips for LGBT Cruise Travel: Pride parades, ports & ships

26th June 2015

Updated May 2018

As we approach the summer months, we take a look at Pride and how the whole world celebrates lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender culture. Festivals, parades, and parties are taking place all over the world as well as rallies, commemorations, and community days.

 

 

Pride unifies, builds communities, and promotes equal rights worldwide and the travel industry strongly supports this. From Pride parades, to Friends of Dorothy groups and all-gay chartered cruise holidays – cruise travel caters for all holiday preferences; each cruise line is as unique as each itinerary diverse.

Have you considered combining a cruise holiday with some of the most notorious Pride festivities? Or booked your cruise already? Look out for celebrations at just some of our favourite ports below.

Gay Pride Port Calendar for Summer 2018:

 

   
Amsterdam, Netherlands
July 28 - August 5
Las Vegas, Nevada
October 19 - 21
   
   
Barcelona, Spain
June 23 - June 30
Marseille, France
July 7
   
   
Belfast, Northern Ireland
July 27 - August 5
Montreal, Canada
June 22 - 24
   
   
Berlin, Germany
July 28
Mykonos, Greece
August 23 - 30
   
   
Calgary, Canada
August 24 - September 3
New York, USA
June 15 - 24
   
   
Copenhagen, Denmark
August 13 - 19
Oslo, Norway
June 22 - July 1
   
   
Curacao, Caribbean
September 27 - 30
Rome, Italy
June 9
   
   
Dublin, Ireland
June 21 - 30
Stockholm, Sweden
July 27 - August 5
   
   
Ibiza, Spain
June 13 - 16
Tokyo, Japan
April 28 - May 6
   
   
Key West, Florida
June 6 - 10
Vancouver, Canada
August 3 - 5
   

 

And the best ships to take you there…

Whether your preference is modern elegance, family fun, partying all night or being a sophisticated single; all cruise lines have their own unique offerings for the wild to the more discreet traveller.

Most cruise lines offer LGBT meet-ups and casual cocktail parties for anyone who wants to identify and socialise with other gay passengers on large ships. These are otherwise known as ‘Friends of Dorothy’ (FOD) meetings; usually held at one of the bars or public rooms onboard – you’ll find these advertised either in the ship’s daily programme or bulletin board.

 

 

Thinking about arranging your own meet up onboard your cruise? MeetMeOnBoard.com is a great platform for solo travellers and couples alike; enabling cruisers to connect with each other before boarding, or even find cabin-mates to avoid a single supplement.

Gay and lesbian guests can feel welcome onboard any cruise sailing by all staff and passengers; and faced with unlimited cruise choices, it can be difficult to decide which cruise line is right for you. Below are just a few of our favourite cruise lines who are popular within the LGBT community.

Celebrity Cruises

Modern and elegant, Celebrity Cruise ships have a cool vibe with 5* service. There is a huge mix of passengers onboard and their varied dining options, state-of-the-art activities and luxurious spa facilities caters for all of them. If there is not a FOD meeting included in a daily programme, check the community ‘bulletin board’ which can be found near Guest Relations.

Norwegian Cruise Line

A Norwegian cruise is casual, great fun and excellent value for money. Norwegian’s ‘Freestyle Cruising’ appeals to many lesbian and gay passengers due to its informal feel, anytime dining and open seating. NCL hold at least one FOD meeting on every ship, on every cruise.

Royal Caribbean

Creator of the largest ships at sea, Royal Caribbean attracts an adventurous, fun-loving and diverse crowd; it’s popular with gay and lesbian travellers, singles, families and couples alike. With some Royal ships holding up to 6,000 passengers, they truly are ‘cities at sea’. Activities include a zipline, surf simulators, sky diving simulators as well as Broadway shows including Cats, Mamma Mia and We Will Rock You.

 

 

Cunard Cruise Line

Traditionally British, formal, and oozing with luxury, Cunard attracts the more conservative traveller. With White Glove service, 5* cuisine and diverse itineraries, the three Queens definitely embody the finer things in life. All ships are very gay-friendly with LGBT meet-ups on every cruise.

Crystal Cruises

Sophisticated travellers flock to Crystal Cruises’ ultra-luxury ships. You can expect first-class cuisine, Broadway singers and a fantastic variety of entertainment. The Perfect Choice Dining programme appeals to those who want the flexibility of dining when and with whom they wish. Crystal also offers a Friends of Dorothy meeting on every itinerary.

Carnival

Colourful, casual and vibrant cruises – Carnival ships are FUN for all and suitable for couples and families alike. LGBT meet-ups are frequent onboard most of their ships, sometimes one a day. Refer to your Carnival Hub mobile app for the day’s itinerary which tells you when gatherings will be held. The app is also a forum for you to connect with and ‘chat’ with other passengers you’ve met onboard

 

 

All-gay cruises

There are a number of ships chartered specifically for LGBT travellers over the year through companies including Atlantis Events, Source Events and R Family Vacations.

Please share any comments or questions you may have about LGBT cruise travel below – we’d love to hear from you.

Happy Pride!

 

By Chloe


Best Places To Celebrate Chinese New Year

13th February 2015

Also known as Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year celebrates the start of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. This year, it falls at the beginning of February, with vibrant festivals, fairs and parades taking place worldwide. Here, we take a look at the biggest and best Chinese New Year celebrations across the globe!

 

Beijing, China


Must visit:

  • Spring Festival Temple Fairs - A great opportunity to try traditional food, drink and gifts
  • Longtan Fair - For fantastic sporting events with audience participation

Chinese New Year in Beijing

Traditionally, residents of Beijing will begin by enjoying a family dinner at home. For this reason, many restaurants and shops are closed to allow staff the time to visit relatives but after this quieter time, the vibrantly-decorated streets of China come alive with the arrival of numerous firework displays. These displays are thought to chase away evil spirits and last the whole week. Beijing’s temples and parks are buzzing with fairs, carnivals and parades. Circus-style acrobats fill the streets alongside lion and dragon dancers as well as families celebrating alongside.

 

Singapore


Must visit:

  • Chingay Parade – A once-in-a-lifetime experience of Asia’s biggest celebration
  • River Hongbao Celebration – A perfect alternative to the above for those travelling with children

Chinese New Year in Singapore is an event everyone should have on their bucket list. The annual Chingay Parade, Asia’s largest street procession, is a spectacle of music, dancers, lights, acrobats and more, and is a mass celebration of good health, prosperity and luck for the coming year. The River Hongbao celebration is also considered one of the main festivities of Chinese New Year, as well as an ideal family event, with culture and entertainment for all ages. Huge lanterns illuminate the route and depict ancient myths and legends of China, while there are plenty of carnival games and amusement rides to enjoy.

 

Hong Kong


Must visit:

  • Chinese New Year Cup Horserace – An exhilarating experience for keen fans of racing
  • Victoria Harbour fireworks and lights show – This fascinatingly choreographed display is a must-see for all ages

Hong Kong Light Show

With one of the loudest and most lively celebrations of all, Hong Kong brings in lively crowds from all over the world to experince its Chinese New Year celebrations. Combining tradition with modern twists, this region brings exciting parades, spectacular firework and light displays, and hugely popular horse racing. The first three days of Chinese New Year are the primetime to visit Hong Kong to make the most of the celebrations. Visitors are guaranteed to enjoy authentic, delicious street food at the Temple Street night market before watching countless floats, acrobats and dragons dance well into midnight.

 

Penang, Malaysia


Must visit:

  • Kek Lok Si Temple – A stunning illumination of the temple and surrounding area
  • Penang Hot Air Balloon Fiesta – An incredible sight to behold as many hot air balloons take to the skies over Penang

For traditional Chinese performing arts, Penang, Malaysia is the place to visit. Temples, which are otherwise closed to the public, open their doors to visitors for lion dances and performances. Kek Lok Si Temple in Georgetown lights up with over 200,000 lights around the beginning of Chinese New Year, illuminating the area throughout the night. During the fifteenth night of Lantern Festival, single women and girls throw oranges into the sea in the belief that this will help them find good husbands. They write their contact details on the fruit, and the men scour the water for the oranges in the hope of finding ‘the one’.

 

London, Chinatown


Must visit:

  • Shaftsbury Avenue – For expertly-crafted martial arts, taekwondo and music demonstrations.
  • Leicester Square – The perfect destination for families and kids, with workshops and performances that all ages will enjoy

Lanterns in Chinatown

It’s not always possible to get to the other side of the globe for Chinese New Year. Fortunately, London is renowned for hosting fun, vibrant events for all ages in the city centre, saving you the journey! Boasting one of the biggest and best Chinese New Year celebrations outside Asia, you can expect inspiring performances, arts and crafts stools and hundreds of bars and restaurants with open doors. Events take place across the West End with Trafalgar Square providing the main stage performances, including a thanksgiving ceremony, dragon and lion dances, Chinese rock hits and so much more.

 

Our top tips:

  • Wherever you choose to celebrate Chinese New Year, remember – it will be very busy! To make your time as stress-free as possible and ensure you get to the events and restaurants you want to visit, try and book ahead.
  • Many restaurants close for the holidays, giving staff time to see their families. In the busiest areas, some may remain open but it’s always a good idea to contact them beforehand and book a table where possible.
  • Not all festivities will require tickets, but arriving to events early will ensure the best vantage point and optimal viewing opportunities.
  • It’s good to keep in mind that fireworks last all week. For very young children, bringing ear-guards allows them to enjoy the stunning displays without the concern of too much noise.
  • If you’re staying with friends or hosts throughout the festivities, bringing a small, modest gift is a great idea! Red, yellow and gold are all symbols of good luck, health and prosperity, while tea, fruit, health foods and healthcare products are widely-enjoyed as gifts for the new year.

Chinese New Year is a celebration of new beginnings, with fun for all the family. Whether you choose to join the festivities in China, Malaysia or at home in the UK, it promises to be an experience to remember for years to come. Combine a stop in Beijing with the gems of Japan, Australia or South Korea, and cross off multiple items on your bucket list – the possibilities are endless! Check out our Asia cruises, or contact one our friendly experts.


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