There’s something oh-so enchanting about spending Christmas surrounded by snow. Whether its building a Snowman or making Snow Angels, warming your hands with a cup of hot chocolate or glass of mulled wine or just exploring a Winter Wonderland full of markets and food stalls, there is an excitement in the idea of having a White Christmas. European cities in Germany, Austria and Hungary truly embrace the Christmas spirit with markets, Christmas lights and carols filling the towns. Shop for traditional handmade gifts and taste some of the local dishes. For those who enjoy winter sports there are often ice skating rinks to be found in the town or head to the Alps for some skiing or snowboarding. For something closer to home, Japan and Northern China have their own take on Christmas festivities with trees, lights and shopping as well as their own unique traditions.
You haven’t done Christmas in Europe until you’ve been to a Christmas market, and you will find some of the best during a river cruise. Every year, market squares are transformed into traditional winter wonderlands. Wooden stalls dressed in lights are set up by locals selling homemade arts and crafts. There’s no shortage of traditional foods like smoky sausage and beer. Some even feature roaming carol singers and nativity plays.
Whilst Vienna is a popular holiday haven for Christmas, smaller Austrian towns are just as mesmerising - and just as likely to receive that sought-after snowfall. The eclectic city of Budapest also offers a unique Christmas ambience. Brimming with ruin bars and thermal baths, where you can spend days hopping from one to the other. When you’re done, soak up the festive plethora of music including the Hungarian folk dance, showcasing the best folk dancers in Hungary, performing at the state Opera house - the home of the National Ballet Institute.
Why not treat yourself to a relaxing getaway on board a luxury cruise ship and spend this festive season surrounded by new found friends for the whole family. Christmas in the southern hemisphere is all about long sunny days, and relaxing by the pool or on a beach. A Christmas cruise beckons quality time with friends and family without the usual hassles and stresses of Christmas. See the look on the kid’s faces when Santa visits with presents, and enjoy delicious Christmas fare with all the trimmings for lunch and dinner on Christmas Day.
Whatever the reason for your festive holiday at sea, it’s all at your fingertips. Number one is no chores or slaving over a stove - meals are cooked for you, and there is an entire crew ready to help you with anything you need. Most ships are decorated for the season, which is perfect for those looking to get into the Christmas spirit. Whatever you decide, embrace the season and treasure every waking moment.
Singapore is well-known for being a shopper’s paradise with Asia’s most famous Orchard Road with its 2.2km shopping district of designer threads, fast fashion, ethnic wares, art galleries and upscale restaurants - the perfect fit for retail splurging. For all things glitz and glam, the Marina Bay Sands, has a huge range of high-end luxury brands as well as celebrity restaurants.
From its grand decorations to Christmas theme presentations at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore never misses a chance to surprise, with its elaborate Christmas displays which stretch for kilometres, adorning building facades and entrances. The ION Orchard, an acclaimed winner of the best dressed mall competition, has created an interactive snowman, and a larger than life Swarovski Christmas tree covered in more than 28,000 crystals.
For something a little different, enjoy a drink amid some of the finest views from Bangkok’swell-feted rooftop bars, a relaxing Chao Phraya river cruise, where you’ll see the riverside temples, among them Wat Arun and the Grand Palace all lit up in their night time finery.
Escape the festive build-up and enjoy a luxury cruise of Indonesia’s dynamic cities, historic ports and idyllic islands, on the tropical island paradise of Bali. December is especially ideal for whale watching, paired with warmer ocean temperatures, whilst cruising to each tropical island. If there were a picture next to the definition of paradise in the dictionary, you’d probably find yourself looking at a South Pacific island. To make that picture-perfect image a reality, these are the best times of the year to set sail to the islands.
Within a day or two’s reach of the east coast of Australia, the South Pacific is a popular destination for cruises from Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns. Its tropical beaches, colourful coral reefs and tropical rainforests are perfect to explore during visits to ports, topped off with lots of sunshine to catch some rays on the cruise deck amid soft gentle tropical breezes.
Escape the rush and hassle of December – leave it all behind and set sail for paradise instead. From the crystal-clear waters of the South Pacific to the ancient streets of Europe, the world is your oyster when you climb on board a Christmas and New Year cruise. Whether you choose to set sail alone or bring your family along for the adventure, every second of your holiday will be filled with fun, love, and laughter.
For those wanting a family holiday, the South Pacific is always a classic choice, along with some great domestic itineraries and trips across the ditch to New Zealand. If you’d rather spend the day itself at home, you can capture the Christmas cruise spirit and enjoy a festively decorated ship with a cruise just before the holiday, returning in time for Santa to come down the chimney. Whether you’re enjoying a leisurely day at sea or waking to an idyllic port with a day of adventure ahead, you will have peace of mind knowing that Christmas is all taken care of.