Plan A Last-Minute Holiday Season Cruise This Year

Plan A Last-Minute Holiday Season Cruise This Year
As the December holidays draw closer, thoughts often turn toward planning a festive getaway with family and friends. Cruises can be a superb choice for a fun-filled holiday vacation or a pre-holiday escape to get in the spirit of the season. These sailings feature special holiday activities, gala events, elaborate decorations, delicious meals, and much more. Ports of call are decorated in holiday finery with lots of shopping opportunities. In addition, it’s easy to find bargains on cruises sailing during the first few weeks of December as well.

Taking a holiday season cruise can eliminate the cost of airfares, which are generally one of the most expensive parts of tropical beach vacations during the holiday season. December cruises from close-to-home U.S. ports take travelers to the same sunny beaches, often for less than the cost of a round-trip international air ticket. Cruise lines have positioned their ships within easy driving distance of major cities, making last-minute festive holiday cruise vacations less expensive and hassle-free.

During the December holiday season, cruises are available from a wide variety of convenient U.S. ports, including New York, New York; Bayonne, New Jersey; Baltimore, Maryland; Charleston, South Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Miami, Florida; Port Canaveral, Florida; Tampa, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; Galveston, Texas; San Diego, California; Long Beach/Los Angeles, California; San Pedro/Los Angeles, California; Honolulu, Hawaii; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Holiday season cruises during December come in a wide variety of lengths and itineraries. Shorter cruises of 3 to 6 nights are offered, while longer itineraries of 7-14 nights are also available. It’s easy to find parking near all of the cruise terminals, and some nearby hotels offer convenient park-and-cruise packages. In addition, there’s no limit to the amount of luggage you can bring onboard other than what can comfortably fit in your cabin.

December cruises are a festive way for families and friends to enjoy the holiday season together. Ships are decked out with evergreen wreaths, colorful poinsettias, elaborate gingerbread villages, oversized twinkling Christmas trees, and plenty of mistletoe. A wide variety of holiday parties and spectacular celebrations are offered on board. Sometimes ships feature Christmas-themed cooking classes and special holiday shows as well. Ships offer festive events and activities such as caroling and sing-alongs, tree lighting ceremonies, Christmas parades, High Teas, New Year’s Eve Holiday Balls, and dance parties.

While tropical ports are always appealing, there are so many ways to have fun on today’s cruise ships. These ships are like floating vacation resorts filled with exciting amenities such as massive water parks with thrilling water slides, multi-level race tracks, glow-in-the-dark laser tag arenas, aerial biking attractions, movie theaters, Broadway-style shows, rock climbing walls, surfing and skydiving simulators, ice skating rinks, arcades and much more. In addition, many newer ships often have well over a dozen specialty dining options and numerous bars and lounges. A wide variety of accommodations choices are available as well.

Cruises from Port Canaveral, Tampa, and other Florida ports can also be combined with several days at one of the state’s popular theme parks. Theme parks like Walt Disney World are a fun choice for pre-holiday getaways if tickets and reservations are available. Walt Disney World’s parks and resorts are spectacularly decorated for the holidays with massive iconic Christmas trees, large gingerbread displays, giant ornaments, colorful garlands, thousands of twinkling lights, and more. Disney’s parks feature special parties, parades, and special events such as Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, the International Festival of the Holidays, and the Candlelight Processional at Epcot. While you’re at Walt Disney World, visit Disney Springs to enjoy fantastic holiday shopping, dining, and entertainment options. It’s a fabulous place to experience the magic of the holidays and take pictures along the Christmas Tree Trail.

Holiday cruise vacations aren’t confined to ocean-going vessels, though. European Christmas markets river cruises are another great way to get in the holiday spirit. These river cruises can be a good option for those located in Europe or with plenty of airline miles to spare. European river cruises allow guests to experience Christmas markets in a number of Europe’s cities and discover new holiday traditions. These Christmas markets river cruises take place from late November through December, and some still have availability.

While airfares are rising as the holidays get closer, there’s good news for last-minute holiday cruise shoppers. There are still some great deals available on holiday cruises this year, so start planning now. Your idyllic holiday tropical vacation may just be a short drive away. Some cruises in early December are over 85% off, with a few short December cruises currently showing rates as low as $119 per person, not including taxes and fees.

Check with your favorite travel advisor and visit sites like,,, and others to find good options. Ask about discounts for military members, seniors, residents of certain states, and other special deals. Many cruise lines offer exceptional Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, so it’s wise to take a look at those as well.

A sample of the many cruise itineraries with great December holiday season discounts include:


Carnival Cruise Line features five-night cruises on Carnival Sunrise, departing from Miami and visiting Half Moon Cay, Bahamas and Grand Turk. Advertised rates started at $294, not including taxes and fees.

Holland America Line features seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruises on Nieuw Statendam, departing from Fort Lauderdale and visiting Half Moon Cay, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Bimini. Advertised rates started at $279 per person, not including taxes and fees.

Royal Caribbean offers six-night Western Caribbean sailings on Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas, departing from Port Canaveral and visiting Costa Maya, Roatan, and Cozumel. Advertised rates started at $272 per person, not including taxes and fees.


Carnival Cruise Line features three-night Bahamas cruises in December on Carnival Conquest, departing from Miami and visiting Nassau, Bahamas. Advertised rates started at $119 per person, not including taxes and fees.

MSC Cruises offers four-night Bahamas cruises on MSC Meraviglia, departing from Port Canaveral Florida and visiting Nassau and Ocean Cay Marine Reserve. Advertised rates started at $279 per person, not including taxes and fees.


Celebrity Cruises features five-night Mexico cruises on Celebrity Summit, departing from Miami and visiting Key West and Cozumel, Mexico. Advertised rates started at $206 per person, not including taxes and fees.

Carnival Cruise Line offers three-night Baja Mexico cruises on Carnival Miracle, departing from Los Angeles and visiting Ensenada, Mexico. Advertised rates started at $157 per person, not including taxes and fees.

Royal Caribbean features seven-night cruises on Radiance of the Seas, departing from New Orleans and visiting Costa Maya, Cozumel, and Merida, Mexico. Advertised rates started at $251 per person, not including taxes and fees.

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