Thinking of taking a holiday cruise? Here are ten good reasons why you should

The members of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) celebrate the winter holidays all over the world with style and festive spirit. For those who need a reason to pack up the family and take a Hanukkah, Christmas or New Year’s cruise this holiday season, here are the top ten:

CLIA member cruise lines offer holiday cruises of all lengths on all types of ships, including the world’s newest and largest, in all parts of the world, from Africa to the Caribbean to the Mediterranean to Antarctica.

When quality family time counts the most, a holiday cruise offers flexibility and choice in recreational activities, entertainment, relaxed dining and fun for travelers of all ages.

With special pricing, an abundance of diverse activities and plenty of entertainment, cruising for the holidays is the ideal choice for multigenerational groups or groups of families and friends.

Holiday cruisers do not need to worry about planning and preparing menus, doing the dishes or cleaning the house. On a cruise, you can leave holiday chores behind and concentrate on enjoying time spent with loved ones.

In times of stress, the chance to totally escape is just what the doctor ordered. Vacationing has been proven to be healthy and good for one’s well-being.

With a caring ship’s staff doing all the work, including the entertaining, a holiday cruise means more time to celebrate and enjoy the festivities.

With so many different cruises and cruise ships to choose from, there is a holiday cruise for every budget.

Featuring inclusive pricing, incomparable comfort and convenience, and travel to some of the most popular vacation destinations in the world, no holiday celebration offers more value for money spent than a cruise.

What better or more-appreciated gift could there be than the lifetime memories of a holiday cruise with family or friends?

It’s not too late; many CLIA member lines are waiting to welcome last-minute cruise shoppers for the holidays.

Here is a sampling of what CLIA member cruise lines are offering this year during the holidays:

AMAWATERWAYS

The festive, traditional Christmas Markets of Vienna, Regensburg, Cologne, Prague and Paris are among the highlights of AMAWATERWAYS’ winter holiday voyages on the great rivers of Europe. Strolling through bustling village squares decorated with lights and Christmas trees, passengers can shop for everything from home-made gingerbread to hand-carved wooden toys, returning at the end of the day to a ship festooned with a holiday décor. In addition to such special touches as a formal Christmas Dinner and New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner, the company is offering “wonderful winter savings” with “Companion Cruises Free!” pricing. Passengers traveling in single accommodations may elect to waive the single supplement charge.

AVALON WATERWAYS

Travelers can experience the holiday season the Central European way with Avalon Waterways on deluxe “Christmastime” river cruise vacations on the legendary Danube and Main Rivers. They will enjoy the enchanting atmosphere of 1,000-year-old-Prague and delight in the sights, smells and tastes of local Christmas markets in Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Regensburg, Würzberg, Bamberg, Miltenberg and Vienna. And, when they’re ready to return to the ship after festive sightseeing, they’ll enjoy moving scenery from their spacious staterooms complete with floor-to-ceiling windows and French balconies as well as regionally inspired cuisine aboard award-winning ships. Cruisers booking before November 3, 2009 can receive 50 percent off airfare on already reduced winter savings.

CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES

Throughout the Carnival fleet, the winter holidays are celebrated with Christmas trees, wreaths and mistletoe, seasonal music, holiday entertainment, Christmas-themed movies and more. Santa Claus always makes an appearance toting a bag of gifts and an elaborate production show enables children to participate onstage, showcasing decorations they have made in Camp Carnival. Holiday menus feature such traditional favorites as oven-roasted turkey and pecan pie. On New Year’s Eve, guests are provided with party favors, noise makers and Champagne.

COSTA CRUISES

With Costa Fortuna and Costa Atlantica sailing the Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale, Costa offers a warm and festive Italian style winter holiday experience. The ships are completely decorated with Christmas trees, twinkling lights and beautiful ornaments and, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Santa Claus makes special visits with keepsake gifts. Special holiday dinner and lunch menus offer a mix of the Italian cuisine and traditional favorites. A special New Year’s Eve “gala” night provides the opportunity to dress up for the holidays. Both ships feature holiday sailings from $599, complete with an up-to four category upgrade while kids sail for just $199 on all Caribbean holiday voyages. Deposits have been reduced to $150 on all Caribbean sailings as well.

CRYSTAL CRUISES

This Christmas and New Year, Crystal Symphony will be cruising Antarctica and South America, allowing guests to experience both the South American spring and a white Christmas in Antarctica and Cape Horn. For a warm-weather Christmas, Crystal Serenity will be in the Caribbean for the holidays, sailing roundtrip from Miami on December 21. Ports include Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, St. Barts, Turks & Caicos, Bonaire and Miami. All Crystal Holiday voyages feature more than $100,000 in seasonal décor, handcrafted decorations, lavish feasts and parties and a black tie New Year’s Eve gala. They also offer the Crystal Family Memories program, with special savings, shipboard credits, free fares for children and more for groups.

CUNARD LINE

Imagine the winter holidays in picture-perfect Copenhagen and other Scandinavian capitals filled with antiquity and charm. Cunard Line is offering a special “complimentary double upgrade” promotion on Queen Victoria’s December 9, 2009 “Winter Wonderland” voyage. Roundtrip from Southampton, this Scandinavian itinerary includes overnight stays in Hamburg, Germany and Copenhagen, Denmark. Both Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2 will hold Hanukkah services December 21 – 29 and will have kosher culinary offerings available to guests. The ships will also be festooned with greenery, including trees and wreaths, ornaments, nutcrackers, gingerbread cottages and twinkling lights for Christmas, and kids will be delighted to find Father Christmas handing out gifts.

DISNEY CRUISE LINE

The spirit of the season surrounds guests of Disney Cruise Line during the winter holidays. Starting with Disney characters in their finest holiday attire welcoming guests at the decorated cruise terminal in Port Canaveral, the festivities include: “King Triton’s Tree Lighting” ceremony; family crafts such as stocking decorating and building gingerbread houses; holiday storytellers sharing tales of Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwaanza; traditional holiday feasts in three themed dining rooms and “Til We Meet Again,” a special holiday edition of the line’s cheerful farewell on the final night of the voyage. Disney Magic sails on seven-night eastern and western Caribbean holiday cruises; Disney Wonder offers three- and four-night Bahamian holiday cruises.

HOLLAND AMERICA LINE

Holland America offers 20 holiday cruises between December 16 and December 28. The Caribbean beckons with 11 holiday sailings from Fort Lauderdale and Tampa that range from seven to 14 days over one or two holidays. In a new offering for 2009, ms Maasdam will sail a 10-day Western Caribbean itinerary and an 11-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary. Most sailings feature a visit to Half Moon Cay, the line’s award-winning private Bahamian island. Holland America also offers roundtrip seven-day holiday cruises from San Diego to Mexico, three Panama Canal transits between Fort Lauderdale and California, a 15-day Circle Hawaii itinerary and longer cruises in Australia, New Zealand, South America and Antarctica.

HURTIGRUTEN

Hurtigruten is offering an all-inclusive package with all of the trimmings for the Christmas season. The penguins won’t be the only creature wearing a tux as Hurtigruten’s festive 21-Day Christmas and New Years – Antarctica cruise-tour, departing December 19, 2009 celebrates the holiday season with traditional Norwegian Christmas breakfasts and dinners, onboard musicians, Christmas carols, a Santa Claus laden with gifts and a New Year’s Eve dinner and midnight party — all against a backdrop of stunning Antarctic landscapes. This offer can be booked using Hurtigruten’s interest-free “Layaway Getaway” monthly payment plan.

MSC CRUISES

MSC celebrates the winter holidays with an international flair, with festivities and traditions practiced around the world. In the Caribbean, MSC Poesia will offer a seven-night “Happy Holidays, Caribbean-Style” Eastern Caribbean voyage from Fort Lauderdale departing on December 20, and a seven-night “Caribbean & Confetti NewYear’s” Western Caribbean cruise departing December 27. In the Mediterranean, from Genoa to Egypt, guests can celebrate on MSC’s two newest ships, the MSC Splendida and the MSC Fantasia, on Eastern Mediterranean and Western Mediterranean holiday itineraries. Children 17 and under sail free with MSC when sharing a stateroom with two adults paying full fare.

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE

Norwegian makes Christmas at sea an unforgettable experience. All ships are festively decorated, crew members stage an interactive holiday show in the ship’s theater, cruise directors and staff sing carols and Santa takes time out of his busy schedule to hand out gifts on Christmas Day. Holiday-themed menus feature dishes such as honey-glazed black forest ham with sweet potato mash, roasted turkey with apple and apricot stuffing, pumpkin soufflé and a pear and chestnut torte. Hanukkah is celebrated with kosher menus and the lighting of a menorah each day to commemorate the eight-day celebration. While kids enjoy Norwegian’s youth program, parents enjoy the high-energy, festive White Hot New Year’s Eve party.

PRINCESS CRUISES

Princess’ 17-ship fleet offer a wide range of sailings in the Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Panama Canal, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, South America, Hawaii and South Pacific for Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s. Whatever the destination, guests will find Yuletide carolers, waiters wearing Santa hats, festive décor, live seasonal music and films, and special holiday feasts featuring all the traditional favorites. Popular with families, the holiday voyages offer young travelers parties, sing-a-longs, arts and crafts, and the chance to help decorate the ship’s Christmas tree. They also may participate in a holiday theatrical production and, on Christmas Day, Santa Claus makes a surprise appearance, bringing gifts and joy for all.

REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES

The ships of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, beautifully decorated over the holidays with trees, garlands, bunting and ginger bread houses, will be in the Caribbean, French Polynesia and transiting the Panama Canal over the winter holidays this year. A 10-night voyage roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale features many of the Caribbean “Saints”: St. Thomas, St. Barts, St. Kitts, and Saint Maarten as well as the Turks and Caicos Islands. The Panama Canal is the featured attraction of sailings between Fort Lauderdale and California and Papeete is the departure point for sailings in Polynesia. The voyages also offer an ecumenical religious service over the holidays for those guests wishing to attend, and a special Christmas dinner menu in the main dining room.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL

Families will have the opportunity to sail the newest, biggest ship in the world this holiday season when the 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas departs December 19 from Fort Lauderdale to the Caribbean. In addition to seasonal decorations, the entire RCI fleet will offer such holiday favorites as classic movie screenings, caroling, cookie decorating, festive music and readings of classic Christmas stories. The December 12 sailing of Independence of the Seas, also from Fort Lauderdale, will combine the Jewish Festival of Lights, or Hanukkah, with an eight-night Eastern Caribbean cruise. RCI offers holiday sailings from 10 domestic ports, including Bayonne, Baltimore, Port Canaveral, Miami, Port Everglades, Tampa, Galveston, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

SEABOURN CRUISE LINE

Seabourn Legend welcomes guests to a warm, sparkling Caribbean Holiday voyage this winter. Holiday revelers can choose from a seven-day “Legendary Christmas” voyage departing Fort Lauderdale on December 21 and ending at Barbados on December 28, or a “Legendary New Year’s” cruise from Barbados on December 28 ending at Fort Lauderdale on January 4, 2010. Or, they may combine the two voyages and sail on a 14-day round trip voyage to enjoy both the holidays’ festivities and fun. Seven-day fares on Seabourn Legend start from $3,499 per person, double occupancy and the full 14-day cruise starts from $6,999 per person, based on double occupancy. Accommodations are a 277-square foot ocean-view suite.

SEADREAM YACHT CLUB

SeaDream I and SeaDream II, the company’s twin luxury mega-yacht cruisers, will make four Caribbean holiday sailings this year. Offered as a roundtrip voyage from San Juan or one-way between St. Thomas and San Juan, the five-, seven- and nine-day voyages all feature an overnight stay at St. Barts in the French West Indies. Late evening stays in several other Caribbean ports of call allow for holiday shoreside festivities. Ports of call include islands in the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, the French West Indies, the Grenadines, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, depending on the cruise chosen. SeaDream fares include all meals, wine with lunch and dinner, open bar with selected premium brands, plus use of “water toys” from the vessel’s Marina, and gratuities.

SILVERSEA CRUISES

The six globe-trotting Silversea ships, including the brand new Silver Spirit, celebrate the holidays from Antarctica to Zanzibar on itineraries ranging from eight to 17 days. Silver Spirit will holiday in the Mediterranean and North Africa, offering an 11-day maiden voyage from Barcelona to Lisbon. Silver Wind will spend 14 days in Africa and the Seychelle Islands, departing December 20 from Mahe. Prince Albert II departs Ushauaia on December 21 on a 17-day expedition to Antarctica. Silver Shadow departs December 11from Barbados on a nine-day Caribbean itinerary, and on December 20 on a 15-day roundtrip voyage from Fort Lauderdale through the Caribbean. Other voyages over the holidays feature South America and the South Pacific.

UNIWORLD BOUTIQUE RIVER CRUISES

Come one, come all with Uniworld’s 2 for 1 Savings and Single Supplement Waived Offers on 2009 Europe Holiday River Cruises. Cherish all the glory and magic of the season in grand European style as you cruise along the magical rivers during this festive time of the year. Uniworld’s 2 for 1 Savings and Single Supplement Waived offer applies to the following cruises: European Holiday Markets, Vienna to Nuremberg, December 14; Rhine Holiday Markets, Basel to Cologne, December 20; and Rhine & Main Holiday Markets, Nuremberg to Cologne, December 17. Cruises include: elegantly appointed riverview staterooms, meals with complimentary wine, beer, and soft drinks, celebratory events and entertainment, fully escorted shore excursions, and all transfers on arrival and departure days.

WINDSTAR CRUISES

Windstar Cruises offers special rates on holiday and New Year’s cruises in the Caribbean and Costa Rica. Wind Spirit’s holiday sailings feature a new seven-day St. Martin itinerary that includes the British Virgin Islands, St. Barts and Jost Van Dyke. Wind Star offers an in-depth discovery of Costa Rica, and Wind Surf sails roundtrip from Barbados, calling on such islands as St. Lucia, Guadeloupe, Iles Des Saintes, St. Kitts, Bequia and St. Barts. The ships are decorated with beautiful holiday decorations and feature a special holiday menu prepared by the executive chef. New Year’s cruises include a festive New Year’s Eve party including party favors, live music, an official countdown by the captain and a Champagne toast.

For more information on holiday cruises, please visit CLIA’s Website at www.cruising.org.

About CLIA

The nonprofit Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is North America’s largest cruise industry organization. CLIA represents the interests of 24 member lines and participates in the regulatory and policy development process while supporting measures that foster a safe, secure and healthy cruise ship environment. CLIA is also engaged in travel agent training, research and marketing communications to promote the value and desirability of cruise vacations and counts as members 16,000 travel agencies. For more information of CLIA, the cruise industry, and CLIA-member lines and travel agencies, visit www.cruising.org.

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