After several weeks of personal trip reports, I get back to the practical this week. Right about now, we receive many general inquiries asking where can we go for Christmas that won't break the bank, or do we know of any deals? Truth be told, these are hard questions to answer. Christmas is always expensive, usually sold out well in advance at properties we recommend, and flights also present an availability issue.
We've learned in the last couple of years that the only real value over holiday dates is to look at cruises. With the increase in new ship supply over the last few years from many different cruise lines, pricing often remains reasonable.
Top 5 - Your Christmas Haven
1. Norwegian Escape, roundtrip Miami Dec 21 to 28
This is a fun Western Caribbean itinerary where you can experience sun and sand in Harvest Caye, the premier resort-style destination in Belize. Cool off with a drink at the swim-up bar or relax in the luxury of your private cabana. In Costa Maya, ponder the lives of the ancient Mayans as you explore fascinating ruins, or opt instead to snorkel the second-largest barrier reef in the world. And in Cozumel, the day is yours to head to the jungle in an ATV, relax poolside at a beach club or visit an ancient Mayan temple.
1 and 2-bedroom Haven Suites (below) are available and this ship is currently ranked as Norwegian's #1.
2. Norwegian Getaway, roundtrip New Orleans Dec 22 to 29
A very similar itinerary to the Escape above, and the Getaway has been refurbished this year.
You can stroll The Waterfront (below), an innovative, industry-first open-air promenade designed to connect guests with the ocean like no other cruise line, indulge in more than 28 dining options, experience the thrill of five water slides, and enjoy three levels of action-packed activities in the sports complex.
3. Norwegian Encore, roundtrip Miami Dec 22 to 29
This one is a little more expensive than those above, and that's because this is Norwegian's newest ship, that is yet to launch. First sailing is at the end of November and it's pretty amazing to have availability on a brand new ship over Christmas just after launching. As I mentioned above, I think this is because of the increased passenger capacity in recent years, and this is wonderful news for consumers. An Eastern Caribbean itinerary will take you to the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Crazy water park and laser tag (above) and go-kart track (below) included.
4. Norwegian Epic, roundtrip San Juan, Puerto Rico Dec 22 to 29
This Southern Caribbean itinerary features only 1 full day at sea with great port visits to Barbados, St Lucia, St Kitts, the BVI and the USVI. On top of all that Caribbean exploration, this is the best value of all the cruises I'm highlighting this week. The Epic is particularly strong on entertainment. Watch the sizzle and passion of ballroom dancing unfold with Ballroom Blitz, be dazzled by Cirque Dreams & Dinner, featuring world-class acrobats and aerialists, or let loose at Howl at the Moon, the a lively Rock N' Roll Dueling Piano Bar.
As you can see below, the Haven Suites can give you quite a view.
5. Norwegian Jade, roundtrip Singapore Dec 21 to Jan 5
And if you want something super special and have the extra week of vacation time, then this SE Asia cruise in the Haven is also possible. The itinerary includes some of our favorite locations anywhere...Bangkok (above), Phuket, Ko Samui, Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), Sihanoukville (Cambodia), plus Penang and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia).
This is one of Norwegian's smaller ships and it has just been upgraded with new venues, modern décor and design, and refurbished staterooms (below).
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