Travel restrictions across the globe and constant changes to the UK’s safe travel list have quashed most people’s hopes of a 2020 Christmas cruise … but it’s a great time to pre-plan for 2021.
There are multiple festive holiday cruises to consider, but here are top picks recommended by Iglu Cruise and Planet Cruise.
Christmas Markets of Europe, Emerald Waterways, departs December 1, 2021
This 14-night cruise through Europe begins with an overnight stay in Budapest and a day exploring the ancient Castle district. Then guests set sail for Bratislava, to browse and buy handcrafted festive ornaments and warm up with traditional Slovakian spiced wine.
In Vienna there is an exclusive tour of Ringstrasse, dotted with decorations and markets bursting with baked goods and hot chocolate. Then it’s on to the quaint German town of Rudesheim, with an overnight stay in Amsterdam, a visit to Wurzburg’s Bishops’ Residenz and a chance to hike to Durnstein and Wertheim’s castles.
While onboard Emerald Waterways Destiny, guests can watch city life drift by from floor-to-ceiling windows, or head to the outdoor cinema for a cosy evening watching Christmas picks.
With up to £500 savings per person and a deposit protection programme, Iglu offers this cruise from £3,645 per person including return flights (Eurostar available), complimentary excursions, an inclusive drinks package, all tips, up to €150 onboard spend per cabin, free WiFi and Veuve Champagne.
Danube Christmas Markets with Scenic River Cruises, departs December 6, 2021.
Get set to join this seven-night cruise ticking off eight festive cities dotted along the magical Rhine. An overnight onboard stay in Nuremberg includes gingerbread baking in the city. Then it’s Regensburg, home to enchanting lantern-lit Christmas markets.
Later in the week, guests visit Passau, with market shopping and World Heritage sites. Durnstein is a picture book village, then en-route to the final overnight stop of Budapest, guests have a full day in Vienna where they can join a morning bicycle tour of the market stalls and spend the evening sipping Austrian wine at a private classical concert.
On board Scenic River Cruises Amber, guests can unwind in the spa or indulge their taste buds in one of six restaurants offering seasonal dishes. With a saving of up to £1,200 per cabin, Iglu offers this cruise from £2,270 per person including return flights (Eurostar available), complimentary excursions, an inclusive food and drink package, all tips, free WiFi, a bottle of Veuve Champagne and private door-to-door chauffeur transfers.
Vietnam and Thailand Christmas with Celebrity Cruises, departs December 16, 2021.
This is a 20-night cruise, taking guests through to New Year. Following two-nights in Hong Kong, experience a Symphony of Light evening boat trip in Victoria Harbour, the world’s largest light and sound show.
Next is Hanoi where streets are lit up by the Catholic churches. Christmas Day in Chiang Mai includes a huge Christmas tree with fake snow and carol singers.
New Year’s Eve is onboard in Bangkok, with rooftop dinners, fireworks and romantic river cruises. Before flying home, guests can explore Singapore at their leisure.
On the newly refurbished ship ‘Solstice’, guests can relax in the ship’s art gallery, unwind in the Persian garden or dine in one of 12 restaurants.
Planet Cruise offers this trip from £2,879 per person including return flights, hotel stays, port taxes, fees, full board cuisine and a complimentary drinks package.