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High Seas Holidays

Apr 29, 2008
Cruise lines will be welcoming merry travelers like never before this holiday season. Whether they celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza, guests of all faiths will feel right at home on the high seas.

Holiday spirit

Cruise lines do things in more than their usually fine style during the holiday season. Many spend thousands of dollars transforming their ships into Yuletide fun palaces, with huge Christmas trees, menorahs, mistletoe, garlands, wreaths, ornate sleighs, handcrafted ornaments and gingerbread villages. Princess Cruises' ships even feature a magical snowfall several times a day in the atriums and sport Christmas trees on their masts! And that's just for starters. Then there are the carol concerts, choirs, holiday shows, films and gala dinners, along with Christian and Jewish services. On some ships, Santa pops in with presents for every passenger.

Time with loved ones

Cruise vacationers reap all the benefits of holiday cheer without the hassles of cleaning house, preparing meals and hosting visitors. These tasks are relegated to the ship's staff, allowing passengers to spend quality time with loved ones. Isn't that what the holidays are all about?

There is something for everyone on a holiday cruise. Whether traveling independently, with their spouse or as part of a large, multi-generational group, guests will find innovative facilities, amenities and services aboard today's cruise ships. Passenger-pleasing amenities include elegant public rooms, balcony staterooms, gourmet and casual dining options, live nightly entertainment, state-of-the-art spas and fitness centers, casinos, video arcades and more. There's plenty to do , everything from exercise classes to golf instruction, art auctions to cooking demonstrations, enrichment lectures to computer learning workshops.

This holiday season, Princess passengers can compete in a gingerbread house building contest and make personalized photo ornaments. Families can have fun decorating Christmas cookies or listening to a reading of 'The Night Before Christmas' by the captain or cruise director.

Holiday adventure

Holiday voyages are designed to offer an escape from holiday stresses while allowing guests to focus on authentic pleasures like making new friends and discovering new places. Princess' 16-ship fleet will be celebrating the holidays around the globe with Christmas and New Year's cruises in the Caribbean, Mexico, the Panama Canal, Australia, Asia, South America, Hawaii and the South Pacific.

Another benefit of cruising during the holiday season is the opportunity to visit other lands and witness their holiday traditions. For example, on Grand Cayman, people decorate their yards using white sand for snow, and Christmas trees, decorations and displays can be seen throughout the island. In Tahiti, people weave palm fronds into garlands and add sparkling lights to decorate their homes. In Mexico, Christmas is one of the biggest fiestas of the year; you might be fortunate enough to witness a local posada, a re-creation of Mary (on donkey) and Joseph searching for a "room at the inn."

Holiday cruises provide travelers with a chance to thoroughly revel in the holidays, leaving the hassles of everyday life behind. Best of all, there's a joyful energy on board that will captivate everyone from grandparents to toddlers.

Happy holidays and bon voyage!
About the Author
Anita Dunham-Potter is a Pittsburgh-based travel journalist specializing in cruise travel. Anita is a weekly travel columnist for http://MSNBC.com and Tripso, and she is a contributor to Fodor's "Complete Guide to Caribbean Cruises 2007".
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