The holiday season can be a hectic time for most with the shopping, parties, family gatherings and all that cooking. If you’re thinking of starting a new tradition during the holidays, or just looking to mix it up, a Christmas cruise may be the answer. Whatever the motivation, here are some tips to help you with your planning.

1. Make sure you book early

Cruise lines publish their holiday itineraries well in advance, so last minute is typically not an option. In fact, many of these voyages either sell out or can become expensive quite quickly as high demand drives up prices. For that reason, getting in early and securing a cabin is key to keeping enjoyment at a maximum and costs at a minimum.

2. What you can expect on a Christmas cruise

Christmas cruises aren’t for everyone. If you are looking for a quiet and relaxing cruise vacation, this won’t be it. Big ships will be sailing at or near their maximum capacity so those looking for a relatively benign cruise with few children will be disappointed. Also, much like summertime cruises, sailings in December will be more expensive overall, with greater costs for airfare and hotel stays. The key is the plan early in order to get the best value.

3. Christmas cruise with young kids

Young child having fun in the Adventure Ocean club on Royal Caribbean

Source: Royal Caribbean International; Christmas crafts with the Adventure Ocean club

Most cruise lines will be festive during the holidays, but Disney Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Lines, and Royal Caribbean International do a fantastic job of establishing an upbeat exuberance during their Christmas sailings. Whether its roving bands of Dickensian characters singing Christmas carols or Santa making a surprise visit, the experience is bound to be magical for kids and adults alike.

4. Experience a Christmas market

View of European Christmas market at night

Source: Shutterstock; Traditional Christmas market in Frankfurt, Germany

While some ocean cruises may come close to key ports, the best way to embrace Christmas in Europe is on a river cruise. These intimate sailings dock right in the center of key European cities, offering unprecedented access. While is port you can attend a market that’s been around for generations, such as the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany. Embrace your wanderlust as you delve into the local cuisine, savour a mug of warm mulled wine and discover new holiday traditions.

5. Ring in the New Year on a cruise

Guests dancing at a deck party

Source: Carnival Cruise Lines; Deck party on Carnival Vista

New Years cruises tend to attract more couples looking to ring in the New Year in a unique way. In warm-weather places like the Caribbean, expect evening parties on deck and elegant cocktail soirees indoors as the clock ticks towards midnight. Also, most itineraries have New Years Eve followed by a sea day, meaning you don’t have to worry about waking up early to go exploring ashore.

Christmas and the holiday season are a time to repeat traditions, start new ones and establish memories that will last a lifetime.  Whether your desire is to be somewhere warm with family, meandering a traditional Christmas market, or ringing in the New Year with your significant other, a cruise can offer something for everyone. Just remember that lots of people may have the same idea, so plan early to get the best possible selection and price.

Book your cruise today!