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Best Winter Destinations for Christmas and New Year

4th December 2017

Updated July 2022

Have a Christmas or New Year celebration like no other 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 Christmas cruise spots we recommend everyone see at this time of year - at least once in their lives.


New York

For many people New York in 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 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.


The famous City of Lights is, of course, a hub of illumination and bustling activity at this time of year, boasting stunning views and wonderful options when it comes to festive things to do. Revel in the 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 see our cruises to France here.


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, where 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.


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 too, 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 cruises and January cruises, and book your next adventure today.

Top 5 Cities To Visit In December

27th November 2014

Has anyone else looked at the date this week and said "I can’t believe how quick this year has gone?". I am sure we all say it every year, but I really cannot believe how quickly December has crept up on me this year.

As the shops put up their festive displays, Christmas songs blast into our car and we frantically search for the perfect Christmas party outfit…at the blink of an eye it is 'that' time of year again.

Travelling during the festive period is the perfect way to get you in the Christmas mood. With magical decorations, jubilant locals and festive markets, make this year your time to experience Christmas like they do in the movies.

Here are my top 5 cities to visit during December:


I am guilty of forgetting the magical things I have right on my doorstep. I often look at where I want to venture next without thinking about the areas close to me. It wasn’t until I went ice-skating in London last week that I realised how incredible my own city is during Christmas time.

From the famous Oxford Street lights, to the enchanted ice rink at Somerset House every inch of London contributes to the ultimate Winter Wonderland.

With so many history-enriched buildings, they create the perfect setting for magical lights and vibrant decorations. Even a trip to London to simply walk around and see the decorations is worth-while as they transform you into a state of joyous emotion.

For a romantic experience take a stroll along Southbank, for a family adventure enjoy the fun of Hyde park’s Winter Wonderland or if travelling alone stroll through the Christmas Markets in Covent Garden.  Stop over in London before embarking on a cruise from Southampton.


The chocolate box of the world, nowhere else in the world makes you feel as festive as Bruges. Picturesque all year round, however Bruges truly comes alive during December. Home to the best Christmas markets in the world and largest array of Christmas décor, it is the perfect city to prepare you for the big day.

Referred to as the Venice of the North, the winding canals that bisect the quaint streets make this city a unique and magical place that captures the heart of every visitor.

Famous for their Christmas markets, Zeebrugge takes this time of year very seriously. Decorating every building, monument and tree with wonderful lights and extraordinary decorations, you will not want to forget your camera.  Visit Briges on a river cruise.

New York

Everyone watches Home Alone 2 and dreams of visiting New York during the holiday period. Does it really look that spectacular at Christmas? Yes it does.

Home to one of the only Christmas parades, this is something you should experience once in your life. Months of preparing grand floats and costumes all contribute to one of the most magical parades you will ever see, completed with Santa Claus himself closing the parade.

The famous Rockafella Centre is the most popular image used for Christmas and these images can only really be appreciated when you experience them for yourself. The grand ice rink sits in front of the iconic building, lined with hundreds of lights. The icing on the cake is the grandest Christmas tree that stands in front of the rink (the one you see in all the pictures).

Representing everything we love about this time of year, New York is 'the' place to truly warm your heart.


Home to the largest selection of beer, traditional pubs and boutique shopping, Dublin is the number one city for weekend breaks. Popular all year round, it is December that turns this city into a winter playground.  Whether you go to do your Christmas shopping, indulge on some hearty cuisine or simply enjoy a pint in festive surroundings, Dublin has everything you would want for a Christmas getaway.

A city that likes to put on a show, there are a range of Christmas events for you to enjoy. From turning on the lights to the festive street markets and parades, every day during December will be spectacular.  A great city for family fun, Dublin is home to an array of activities for the whole family to enjoy, from Christmas fun fairs, to Santa’s grottos and sing along fetes.


Ok I know it is not technically a city but nowhere else gives me a festive buzz like a cruise ship.  Decked out from bow to stern in Christmas decorations, there is something about being on a cruise ship at Christmas that reflects an atmosphere like nowhere else.

It is not only the décor that make a cruise ship the ultimate Christmas destination, the festive activities, exotic destinations, happy crew and special visits from Santa Claus create everything you need for a Christmas to never forget.  The crew really do want everyone onboard to have the best Christmas and their joyous personalities are extremely infectious. There is something about their mood that can instantly put a smile on your face.

With cruise ships travelling all over the world in December, you can gather around a Christmas tree and celebrate almost anywhere in the world.

By Sally Grimes

Christmas Market Cruises

10th October 2014

Updated August 2022

The Christmas Market Experience

Christmas is the perfect opportunity to get away and experience how other countries celebrate this joyous time of year. Although we have Christmas Markets in England, most would argue that they are not as grand as in other European countries. Various cities all over this historic continent, including Prague, Amsterdam, and Bruges, fill their streets with intriguing market stalls, vibrant lights, and spectacular Christmas trees, making the perfect winter wonderland.

Every year sees an increasing amount of people travel to these enchanted cities during winter, and it wasn’t long before cruise lines saw a great opportunity in offering short itineraries to give guests the chance to sail the ultimate Christmas experience.

Top 5 Christmas Market Ports

Zeebrugge/Bruges, Belgium

A quaint village nestled in the picturesque coastline of Belgium, Zeebrugge has a charming character that boasts some of the most sensational Christmas Markets in the world.

Although a fairly small port, once covered in all of its Christmas glory visitors feel like they are are standing in the middle of a huge city. With attractive canals, historic buildings, and narrow streets, every corner you turn presents a new surprise.

belgian chocolates

Famous for its divine homemade chocolate, local beers, and unique lacework, it is not only the sights that will make you fall in love with this city. Belgium allows you to immerse yourself into a fascinating storybook.

December is the best time to visit Zeebrugge and from the moment your eyes catch sight of the Christmas decorations you are transformed into a magical wonderland that instantly fills your heart with glee. From the sweet aroma of mulled wine to the sight of locals huddled around their favourite market stall, Christmas is certainly not just one day here.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Although one of the most popular cities for weekend breaks, Amsterdam has managed to retain its charismatic charm and pristine scenery. With its quintessentially Dutch feel, quirky architecture, and picturesque canals, nowhere else in the world compares. This completely unique city will open you up to a whole new world.

From mid-November, Amsterdam looks like a Christmas postcard with perfectly decorated trees, lights hanging from every building and rows of market stalls. The large city squares make it the perfect place to hold Christmas markets with excessive areas of intriguing stalls and fresh food and drink stands. Even away from the main squares, the narrow streets and winding canals are lined with festive treats.

It is not only the Christmas markets that allure you to visit Amsterdam, but the museums, restaurants, and famous canals offer a jam-packed visit of unique exploration. 

Dublin, Ireland

Undergoing a huge transformation in the last decade, Dublin is a city where old meets new. The historic buildings and ancient history sit next to modern shopping malls and vibrant bars. With something for every type of traveller, Dublin welcomes you any time of year but takes Christmas to a whole new level.

Famous for its pubs and bars, there is nowhere else in the world to offer a better place to enjoy cosy time sampling local ales as the chill from outside creeps in every time somebody opens a door. Even for a none drinker, it is hard to not stop in the local whilst exploring the city.

dublin in winter

Although home to a shoppers paradise, it is the December Christmas markets where you will want to spend your money. From handcrafted gifts, local foods, and unusual creations, the market stalls that come to Dublin in December are among the most appealing.

Tallinn, Estonia

At any time of year Tallin is a fairytale city, and even more so at Christmas time. Every medieval wall, soaring building and narrow street is covered with enchanting lights and festive glory. A glamorous winter wonderland, you can expect to find ice rinks, magical markets, and stalls brewing fresh mulled wine – what more could you want to get you in the festive mood?

Tallin’s atmosphere is typical of an Eastern European city – mysterious and unforgettable. Stroll through enraptured sidewalks, sip coffee in the market square, or explore the medieval history that makes this city so unique. Perfect for the relaxer and adventurer, Tallinn leaves a lasting impact on every visitor.

As the winter season approaches, Tallinn starts to prepare for a busy season, with Christmas being the number one priority. Every street is covered with festive market stalls, every café rivals to have the best Christmas menu, and every building is covered top to bottom in lights. Local choirs will perform Christmas displays and encourage spectators to join in, ensuring the festive spirit is spread from all around.

A trip to Tallinn will turn even the worst kind of Grinch into a joyous bundle of Christmas smiles.

Antwerp, Belgium

Home to the best chocolate in the world, the finest cut diamonds, and many religious buildings, Antwerp is certainly a hidden gem with more than meets the eye. Although fairly small in size, it boasts more than twenty museums, extensive shopping, and delightful parks.

Belgium is the trendsetter for Christmas markets, and Antwerp is no exception with December turning the city into a huge festival. With a backdrop of The Cathedral of our Lady, the Christmas markets here are among the most attractive of all the markets. Radiant Christmas lights can be seen from miles around as the whole city is illuminated with some of the most breathtaking Christmas decorations you will ever see.

antwerp christmas market

With a large influence on cuisine, the streets of Antwerp ooze with aromas of freshly baked pastries and melting chocolate. Everyone should take a minute out to sit and enjoy a coffee and sweet treat whilst watching the festive fun going on all around.

After visiting Belgium during Christmas time, the memories are sure to return every year.

Sailing from convenient UK ports including Tilbury and Southampton, you can experience some of Europe's best Christmas markets without the hassle of flying, offering countless itineraries, whether you're a family of four, a party of two or going solo, you'll find the perfect Christmas cruise for you!

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