This year my husband Bill and I are breaking with our usual holiday tradition. Instead of gathering with family for Christmas and New Year’s, we are boarding a luxury ocean liner and heading south on a 12-day voyage through the West Indies, stopping off at seven islands along the way.
When friends who are elbow deep into gift wrap, decorations and recipes for sumptuous holiday meals ask about our plans their reaction is a mix of dismay and envy. Won’t you miss y
our family? Of course, but with our daughter half a world away and unable to come home until mid-January and our son who’s happy to celebrate with us a week early, we feel no guilt about making our holiday escape.
As I write this the temperature in my northern home is hovering around zero with wind chills well below. Soon I’ll be sunbathing in a deck chair, sipping a cool, tropical drink while deciding in which on-board restaurant to have our Christmas dinner. No cooking for me. No table to clear, dishes to wash.
And when we ring in 2017, no designated driver will be necessary to brave dark, icy roads. The captain will navigate us into the New Year in high style.
Only Santa’s sleigh could be more magical than ours. Upper premium Oceania Cruises operates a fleet of six luxurious ships crisscrossing the globe with stops at 370 ports. Our ship, the 684-passenger Insignia, cruises the Caribbean at this time of year. With 400 professionally trained European staff to take care of us, we expect to be pampered. Though Oceania promises a five-star experience, Bill is happy to leave his tuxedo at home and relax under the ship’s country club-casual dress code.
One of the R-class vessels operated by the former Renaissance Cruises, Insignia is a virtually new ship after a multimillion-dollar transformation. Almost 70 percent of its staterooms have private verandas, including ours. If we tire of dining in its four open-seating restaurants we can order room service and enjoy an intimate meal while watching the ship slice through the Caribbean Sea.
If I overindulge in Insignia’s fine dining—Oceania has a reputation for some of the best cuisine afloat—I can work off calories in the ship’s state-of-the-art fitness center or join an indoor cycling or aerobics class. I can even keep up my yoga practice by joining a group on board. And should I choose more pampering—why not, it’s Christmas!—I can book a massage through the ship’s Canyon Ranch SpaClub® or lower myself into the open-air whirlpool spa for a relaxing soak.
I’ll be thinking of family and friends shivering up north, and yes, I will miss them. But I’ll get over it. Who knows, this may be the start of a new tradition of celebrating the holidays at sea. Come along with me and maybe you’ll be tempted to hop aboard one of Oceania’s sleighs with Santa next season.
|Dec 23 Fri||Miami, Florida, United States||Embark 1 PM||6 PM|
|Dec 24 Sat||Cruising the Atlantic Ocean|
|Dec 25 Sun||Cruising the Atlantic Ocean|
|Dec 26 Mon||San Juan, Puerto Rico||8 AM||5 PM|
|Dec 27 Tue||St. John’s, Antigua, Antigua||10 AM||7 PM|
|Dec 28 Wed||Fort de France, Martinique||8 AM||8 PM|
|Dec 29 Thu||Bridgetown, Barbados||8 AM||6 PM|
|Dec 30 Fri||St. George’s, Grenada||8 AM||6 PM|
|Dec 31 Sat||Roseau, Dominica||7 AM||5 PM|
|Jan 1 Sun||Gustavia, St. Bart’s||7 AM||3 PM|
|Jan 2 Mon||Cruising the Atlantic Ocean|
|Jan 3 Tue||Cruising the Atlantic Ocean|
|Jan 4 Wed||Miami, Florida, United States||Disembark 8 AM|