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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.


Christmas Market Cruises

10th October 2014

Updated October 2018

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, 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. With some of the best river cruise lines in the industry - Riviera Travel, AmaWaterways and Saga River Cruises, to name a few - offering countless itineraries, whether you're a family of four, a party of two or going solo, you'll find the perfect Christmas cruisefor you!


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