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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.


What can be seen on an Alaska Cruise?

18th October 2017

For many people, Alaska remains a far-off land full of mystery and intrigue, and as such, it can be found on many a bucket list. Thankfully, more and more cruise lines are introducing Alaska itineraries, bringing this fascinating destination closer than you might think.

If you have booked, or are thinking of booking an Alaska cruise, you might be wondering just what this northernmost American state has to offer. It is well known that the scenery here is spectacular, but what exactly are you likely to see?

 

 

Stunning Wildlife

Alaska is home to some beautiful creatures, both on land and in the surrounding waters. When cruising in Alaska, ships will stay close to the shore, allowing you the optimum chance to see all kinds of wildlife.

As soon as you begin to approach Alaska, keep your eyes peeled for fantastic animals such as humpback and killer whales, dolphins, porpoises, puffins, and bald eagles. Then, when you get closer to the shore and on any days spent exploring on land, you might see mountain goats, grizzly, brown, and black bears, wolves, moose, porcupines, and salmon among others.

 

 

To see Alaskan wildlife in its natural habitat is a truly wonderful experience. Sightings will help you to appreciate the complexities of the different interactions within the Alaskan environment.

Beautiful Landscapes

Supporting all these creatures is a majestic land which boasts some incredible vistas. Aside from the crystal clear waters that border the region, visitors will come across some very pretty lakes, rivers, and streams – many of which have waterfalls.

 

 

In Alaska, your average view – whether in town or in the countryside - will generally contain commanding mountains, pine tree-filled forests, or extensive green plains, if not all of them. Even when in the centre of a busier area, such as the capital city Juneau, the pretty and colourful buildings only serve to complement the wider scene.

True Wonders of Nature

Visitors to Alaska are often blessed with the sight of some real natural spectacles. There are over 600 official glaciers found all over the state, but in fact, there are an estimated 100,000 altogether. These are breath-taking to see, and it is sometimes even possible to see great portions of ice cascading away. You might also see floating icebergs in the seas around Alaska, which are remarkable to watch.

 

 

Some lucky tourists are fortunate enough to see the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. It is thought that the best time for this is between September and April, and of course, they can be seen on land or from your cruise ship.

Considering everything that can be discovered in this enriching part of the world, it is no wonder that so many people feel the need to explore it. If you are among these, have a look at our Alaska cruises today, or for more information, sign up to receive our new Alaska brochure.

 

Let Norwegian Cruise Line show you Alaska

 

Among the cruise lines visiting this alluring destination is the fantastic Norwegian Cruise Line. This family-friendly line offer a range of itineraries in Alaska across their fleet, with the youngest – Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Joy – among these.

 

 

These state-of-the-art vessels are sister ships and boast many of the same onboard facilities. From a wealth of dining choices to some world-class entertainment options, there is certainly plenty onboard to suit all tastes. Here’s a snippet of what you can find;

 

  • Laser Tag. An activity for cruisers of all ages, laser tag is a great way to meet fellow cruisers or even compete against those you’re travelling with!
  • Aqua Park. Not only will cruisers love the spacious pool area and hot tubs, but it’s also possible to let loose in this fun waterpark complete with slides and a drench bucket.
  • Mandara Spa & Salon. One for the grown-ups, this luxurious space provides the perfect setting to indulge and unwind. The salt room and snow room are particular favourites.
  • Food Republic. One of many restaurants onboard, Food Republic is a great option for a group with a variety of tastes. You’ll find scrumptious cuisine from all over the world.
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    Of course, in addition to enjoying all these onboard treats, your cruise itinerary will incorporate plenty of chances to enjoy the incredible setting that is Alaska. Excursions can include experiences like dog-sledding with Alaskan Huskies, and kayaking to explore glaciers and spot wildlife.

    See our range of Norwegian Cruise Line Alaska itineraries, or talk to our sales team to find out more.


    What happened to the cruise industry in 2014?

    16th December 2014

    As the end of 2014 approaches and we frantically panic prepare for next week, let's take a moment to reminisce on all of the things that made this year one of the most memorable for cruise.

    With the cruise industry rapidly growing, it is now one of the fastest growing sectors in the travel industry. 21.3 million people cruised in 2013 and this number is expected to significantly increase for the end of 2014.

    It wasn’t only the growth that made this year so phenomenal, 2014 saw us enjoy new ships, new destinations, incredible refurbishments and a host of breaking cruise news.

    So, was 2014 the year for cruise? Let’s take a look…

    January

    'Kicking off the year in style'

    As everyone packed away their decorations and set their New Year’s resolutions, the cruise industry wasted no time in starting the new year.

    In time for the New Year festivities, P&O’s Arcadia revealed her multi-million pound refurbishment. Showcasing a host of new amenities, newly designed staterooms and the addition of a new 'East' restaurant, the adult-only ship was ready to excite guests once again.

    In other news MSC Cruises announced they will sail to Asia and Australia for the first time in 2015, P&O Cruises revealed they will be adding a large union jack to the hull of all their ships and Carnival Cruise Lines released details on their new 'Concerts At Sea' programme.

    My January highlight: Oceania’s first world cruise sold out in eight hours.

    February

    'Britannia starts to unveil'

    The resolutions were already broken and everyone started to think about their 2014 summer holiday. As cruises were booking out fast and it was looking to be another busy year for the industry, the cruise lines kept whetting our appetites with more news.

    It was announced the world’s largest cruise ship, Allure of the Seas will be coming to Europe in 2015, P&O Cruises opened their upcoming Strictly Come Dancing cruises and Fred Olsen released details that Julian Lloyd Webber will perform onboard Braemar.

    The most exciting announcements were those made by P&O Cruises as they finally revealed details about new ship, Britannia. Unveiling the 'Food Heroes' concept and the five celebrity chefs would be working together onboard.

    My February highlight: The first plate of steel was cut for Carnival Vista.

    March

    'A race to be the best'

    As temperatures started to rise and Spring was in sight, it appeared the cruise lines wanted to heat things up early and a host of cruise news came flooding in.

    Although we were still in the first quarter of 2014, many of the lines started to release their big plans for 2015. It was announced 2015 will see Norwegian Cruise Lines largest ship, Norwegian Epic based year-round in Europe, Cunard will celebrate their 175th anniversary with their entire fleet docking in Liverpool together, Fred Olsen will explore the Arctic and Disney Cruise Line will sail from the UK.

    It was also the month for Royal Caribbean to start revealing plans about their new Quantum-class ships, announcing they will have no main dining room and Jamie Oliver will have his first restaurant at sea.

    An exciting milestone for Norwegian Cruise Line was met as the first piece of steel for Norwegian Escape was cut.

    My March highlight: Sir Richard Branson confirmed he will enter the cruise industry with the launch of 'Virgin Cruises'.

    April

    'Five years since Oasis'

    Spring arrived and it was the busiest month for booking as families, couples and singles put their deposits down on their yearly cruise. The Mediterranean was again a popular choice for families, however Asia and Australia bookings were also proving more popular.

    Royal Caribbean announced new ship Quantum of the Seas will be based in China, as well as the news CATS will replace Hairspray on Oasis of the Seas.

    My April highlight: Carnival Cruise Lines launched their new children’s programme.

    May

    'Confirmed rumours of new ships'

    As the flowers were starting to bloom and we were in touching distance of summer, the cruise lines made some announcements to remind us once again why this industry is a constant excitement.

    Royal Caribbean announced they will build a fourth Oasis-Class ship and MSC Cruises confirmed plans to build two revolutionary new ships.

    After celebrating the Royal Rendezvous, Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth began her multi-million pound refit. After her 16 day refurbishment in Hamburg, she returned with new single cabins, new restaurants, a newly designed casino and new sun awnings on the top deck.

    My May highlight: Princess Cruises announced they will feature in a new documentary on ITV called 'The Cruise Ship' portraying what life is like onboard.

    June

    'Quantum details revealed'

    Summer was in full swing and as thousands of us departed on our summer cruises, Royal Caribbean ensured the only think we were talking about was Quantum of the Seas. Throughout the month they released details of what can be expected onboard.

    It was announced that there would be a revolutionary new entertainment venue called 'Two70' that will feature floor to ceiling windows that change from day to night. The Broadway show will be Mama Mia and a twenties Gatsby’s themed venue will also feature.

    My June highlight: P&O Cruises revealed more about the dining features onboard Britannia, including cheese expert Charlie Turnball will join the five other celebrity chefs onboard.

    July

    '..and more new ships'

    Soaring temperatures hit England, however this did not stop people setting sail for their ultimate summer getaway. Southampton saw thousands of cruisers boarding their ships for Mediterranean adventures and airports were busy with people flying to the likes of Florida and New York to join their ship.

    Royal Caribbean continued to create intrigue around Quantum and Anthem of the Seas as they revealed more news about phenomenal technology onboard. Releasing videos about the new WOWbands, interactive screens and virtual balconies, they branded everything "this changes everything".

    Cruise & Maritime announced they will introduce new ship Azores to the fleet in 2015. Norwegian Cruise Lines also revealed plans for two new ships and Princess Cruises revealed their plans for a third Royal-class ship.

    My July highlight: Fred Olsen launched a Poison, Murder & Mystery cruise where guests can fully immerse themselves in a murder mystery at sea.

    August

    'The return of The Love Boat'

    The month that sees the most sunlight, August had everyone is good spirits. While thousands of us were sipping cocktails on the pooldeck, the rest of us were enjoying days in beer gardens and family BBQ’s.

    Princess Cruises revealed new ship Regal Princess will be named by the original cast of hit US television show, The Love Boat. After completing her summer season in the Mediterranean she will return to Fort Lauderdale for her naming celebrations.

    P&O Cruises and Cunard launched world cruises. For the first time three Cunard ships and three P&O ships will set off on world voyages in 2016.

    My August highlight: P&O Cruises announced Aurora will undergo a £26 million refit.

    September

    'Hello to the Northern Lights promise'

    As we slowly started to wave goodbye to summer, we were not the only ones with chilly temperatures on our minds. Hurtigruten announced their 'Northern Lights Promise'. Never before offered, they launched a promise no other tour operator has ever offered. If guests do not see the Northern Lights, they will be given a free cruise.

    Norwegian Cruise Line agreed a multi-million deal to acquire Prestige Cruises, parent company of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

    My September highlight: Cunard revealed their latest line-up of guest speakers to include Ann Widdecombe and Michael Howard.

    October

    'LEGO, Hollywood Rocks and Elvis'

    The heating was on and summer appeared a distant memory, luckily the cruise lines had a whole host of announcements to stop us feeling anxious about the winter.

    Fred Olsen launched an Elvis Presley 80th birthday cruise, MSC Cruises partnered with LEGO and Cunard were commended for their incredible feedback on Queen Victoria’s performance of Hollywood Rocks.

    Princess Cruises launched their new honeymoon registry system as well as announcing details for their 50th anniversary celebrations in November.

    My October highlight: Princess revealed plans to bring their 50th anniversary celebrations to the whole fleet and will host celebratory parties on all ships.

    November

    'This changes everything'

    As the mild winter continued and everywhere started to set up for Christmas, the cruise industry prepared for one of the most memorable moments of the year – the arrival of Quantum of the Seas.

    After months of speculation and anticipation she arrived into Southampton ready for us to finally put pictures to life. She did not disappoint and living up up to her motto "this changes everything". With robotic bartenders, an indoor skydive, bumper cars and revolutionary dining – she received a thumbs up from all.

    Shortly after Regal Princess was named in Miami following her successful season in Europe, Cruise and Maritime announced the addition of new ship Magellan and Fred Olsen revealed plans to refurbish three of their ships.

    My November highlight: Norwegian Cruise Lines announced Norwegian Epic will debut new entertainment aimed at the European market as well as a Beatles Cavern Club.

    December

    'It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas'

    As we put up the tree, search for gifts and indulge on the first mince pie, at the blink of an eye Christmas has arrived once again.

    The month started with more new ship announcements. Luxury line Seabourn confirmed the order of another new ship set for delivery in 2018 and Celebrity Cruises revealed plans to build two new ships under the project name 'Edge' set to debut in 2018 and 2020.

    Sir Richard Branson launched 'Virgin Cruises' and said he will "shake up the cruise industry" with two new purpose built ships.

    My December highlight: P&O Cruises released 'The Great British Beer & Ale Menu' to feature on Britannia. It will be the largest selection of British beers at sea.


    By Sally Grimes


    Walter and Rico's Norwegian Adventure With Hurtigruten

    13th December 2013

    Updated March 2017

     

    Walter from our Commercial Team and Rico from our Sales Team were lucky enough to go onboard Hurtigruten for a Norwegian adventure, here's how they got on...

    Hurtigruten, as the name suggests, is a fast route along Norway's coastline. As a working post ship, these ships fly a split flag, a requirement for all ships delivering mail. You get a sense of this when the ship occasionally docks for only 15 minutes delivering mail to these remote fishing towns. Other stops are considerably longer to allow for sightseeing and excursions. The ease with which these ships dock and depart from each port with minimum fuss took me by surprise. Onboard announcements are made in Norwegian, English and German. Whilst day to day sailing through this region is one breathtaking view after the next, the overall experience is authentically Norwegian including a ceremony on the open deck where shots of schnapps are raised with the ships horn marking the crossing at the Arctic Circle. After announcing the launch of a new programme to source local Norwegian foods, Hurtigruten offer freshly prepared salmon sashimi on the open deck, a welcome accompaniment to the majestic surrounding scenery of waterfalls, snow capped mountains and natural wildlife.

     

    Cruise on Hurtigruten

     

    The impeccable service, friendly & helpful staff and the finest locally sourced cuisine served onboard Hurtigruten stand as proud testament to this great Norwegian brand. If in any doubt, rest assured that a place of honour in the reception area is reserved on the entire fleet of the official portraits of His Majesty King Harald (in Admiral uniform) and Her Majesty Queen Sonja - keeping an eye on the proceedings onboard.


     

    The Northern Lights

    It's not surprising that due to their unpredictability, a great deal of mystery surrounds the Northern Lights, ultimately the prevailing scientific explanation for this natural phenomena is nonetheless interesting and enlightening. Taking memorable photos of the Northern Lights takes some preparation - Hurtigruten supply a flyer onboard with tips and detailed guidelines on how to set your digital camera to take the best pictures. There is much to explore and experience in this largely unspoilt natural wonder beyond the Arctic circle. My suggestion is to go for the destination - the Northern Lights will be an added bonus.

     

    Norwegian Fjords cruise

     

    Dog Sledding

    Finding yourself on the back of a sled attached to a pack of huskies must be the quintessential winter experience. Alaskan huskies are harnessed in prescribed formation. Lead, racing, team, wheel and swing dogs - each with their own specific task working as a team lead by the verbal commands of their musher. A reminder of the partly lost role of mans loyal working companion providing an efficient means of transport across this otherwise impassable wilderness. Avid mushers compete in dog sled races and share interesting stories of their arduous feats of this winter dog sport.

     

    Cruises to the Norwegian Fjords

     

    Bidos - a traditional Sami dinner is served after the dog sledging excursion. Reindeer herding is still central to Sami culture and crucial to their subsistence providing meat, fur and transportation. So it comes as no surprise that Bidos is reindeer stew accompanied by a broth made from the same meat and vegetables.

     

    Norwegian Fjords cruises

     

    View all of our Fjords & Norway adventures.

     

    Related blogs:

    We cruise to Norway and the Arctic Circle with Hurtigruten

    Top 5 Norwegian Fjords


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