Christmas is recognised around the world as a grand celebration of love, happiness and hope, with each country rejoicing in their own characteristic way. From the bright festive lights of New York to live Irish music in Dublin, here are six of the most magical destinations for Christmas cruises.

New York, USA

A Christmas tree and Christmas lights in New York

Anthony Quintano /, CC BY 2.0

Spread your festive cheer in the Big Apple, where this city certainly tops the Christmas holiday destination list. With its famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, this destination features in many festive films and seasonal songs, and rightfully so. From the brilliant window displays of Fifth Avenue to the illuminating delights of the Brooklyn neighbourhood, Dyker Heights, New York is a destination that will light-up anyone’s Christmas celebrations. Enjoy a world-class performance of ‘The Nutcracker’ by The New York City Ballet or go ice skating in Central Park to really immerse yourself in the festivities.

Lapland, Finland

A quaint cabin covered in snow in Lapland

Visit the very image of a winter wonderland and sail to Lapland for the Christmas of a lifetime. Here, children can make cookies with Mrs. Claus, enrol in Elf School and go tobogganing in the deep, soft snow. A particular highlight, and the main reason many families choose here as their Christmas destination, is a chance to meet the jolly man himself. A fairytale adventure like no other, you may even catch sight of the Northern Lights.

Dublin, Ireland

A pub in Dublin illuminated by Christmas lights

For a trip closer to home, but certainly no less magical, visit Dublin for a festive break between historic city streets. Walk along Grafton Street beneath the shimmering Christmas lights, before listening to the annual Guinness Choir in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Experience live music in the many authentic Irish bars and enjoy the free festive family fun every Saturday in December, where face painting, elves, a giant snow globe and Santa’s post box make the city ever more magical.

Hamburg, Germany

Tourists walking around a Christmas market in Hamburg

Alan Samuel / , CC BY 2.0

Experience authentic German Christmas markets in the city of Hamburg, where decorated wooden stalls and beautiful bright lights appear around the centre, making it a welcoming and wonderful winter destination. The markets usually open mid-November, with some running as late as New Year’s Eve.

The main market is Weihnachtsmarkt, right in front of the city hall and one of the most popular markets in Germany. Almost three million visitors gather here each year, watching the Santa Claus prop fly over the market each day. Visit every street to find your favourite stall: Handwerkgasse for hand-crafted novelties; Naschgasse for sweets and treats; or Spielzeuggasse, where toy merchants gather to share their Christmas gifts.

The Caribbean

A snowman made out of sand on a beach in the Caribbean

Dreaming of a white Christmas with a difference? Spend the festive season on the soft, white sands of the Caribbean islands, where you can enjoy the sumptuous sea-views, luxurious lifestyle and multi-cultural cuisine. Swap turtle doves for sea turtles and witness hatchlings making their way into the waters at Turtle Beach Resort. Attend St. Lucia’s Festival of Lights and Renewal for lantern-making or watch the Carriacou Parang Festival in Grenada, where fee open-air concerts take place.

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

A snow-covered bridge in Amsterdam at Christmas

Yeray Díaz Zbida /, CC BY 2.0

For an authentic and low-key Christmas celebration, Amsterdam is a mellow yet magical destination for cruises that still manage to capture the festivities of Christmas. Snuggle in cosy cafes or walk around the Museumplein quarter for craft-making displays and ice rink activities. Attend a seasonal concert in one of the many churches around the city, most of which offer free services playing Gregorian music.

Experience one of Amsterdam’s fairytales in person and watch the Dutch National Opera perform Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretal, or watch the award-winning World Christmas Circus at the Royal Carré Theatre which has taken centre-stage here for more than 25 years.

Cruising during Christmas allows us to immerse ourselves in otherworldly wonders and fantastically festive feats. With the holiday celebrated across the globe, you are bound to bump into many traditions and cultures enjoying the festive period, turning your journey of discovery into a merry and magical delight.

For more information on sailing during Christmas and New Year, call our Cruise Concierge team on 0808 202 6105. They will be happy to help with expert advice and award-winning customer service with your booking.

Emma Smith
Emma has more than six years' experience as a writer and has been in the travel industry for over two years. She loves learning of new places and cruise ships coming to market, as well as discovering fun and exciting activities to do while you sail. She has cruised with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises and is looking to get something in diary for 2021! Her favourite things to see on a ship include excellent entertainment, a delicious cocktail menu and extraordinary dining venues.

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