Are Holiday Cruises Worth the Extra Cost?

On the surface, it sounds like an idyllic way to escape from winter’s cold clutches: a holiday cruise. Whether over Christmas or the New Year, holiday cruises offer plenty of benefits for families looking to vacation and celebrate this special time together. Christmas Cruises are stocked with plenty of festive treats and surprises, while New Year’s cruises offer guests the unique opportunity to ring in the New Year at sea.

Are holiday cruises worth the extra cost? Yes – but there are a few factors you’ll want to consider first. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Holiday cruises, however, come with a significant cost – sometimes as much as double or even triple what similar voyages during the first few weeks of December and January go for, depending on availability and destination.

Is a holiday cruise worth the extra cost? Here are a few factors to consider.

Holiday Cruises Can Be Easier to Arrange

A holiday cruise offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy – either together, or separately. Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

One factor that might be worth your while, particularly if you have kids, is that a holiday cruise can be easier for everyone to arrange. The kids are already off school, and if parents can swing a week away from the office, it’s the one time of year that everything falls into place nicely.

Flights Require More Time and More Planning

Snow Delays: they can happen to you, too. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

If you live somewhere that’s graced with snow in the winter months, forget trying to fly in on the day your cruise departs. Mechanical delays, de-icing woes and weather issues can ground flights and that holiday cruise vacation of a lifetime. To be on the safe side, plan to fly into your port of departure at least one day prior to the date your ship embarks. It will give you peace of mind, but you will have to budget the extra cost of a night in a hotel into your budget – and you’ll want to book that well in advance.

The Ship Will Be Full. Very Full.

Holiday cruises are very popular – so expect plenty of like-minded guests to be onboard. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Holiday cruises are popular for very obvious reasons. Expect your ship to be either full or completely full. What’s the difference? A full ship might be filled to its published double-occupancy capacity. For a ship like Disney Cruise Line’s superfun Disney Fantasy, that’s 2,500 guests. But, if the ship is filled to its third-and-fourth-berth capacity (its total capacity), that number rises to 4,000 guests. That, in turn, translates into longer lines for pretty well everything. A ship like Disney Fantasy carries the load well, thanks to Disney’s superb engineering, but not all ships are created equal. Expect your holiday cruise to feel very full, and plan accordingly.

High Expectations, High Stress

Our shipboard friends on the front lines tell us that holiday cruises are some of the most stressful and demanding voyages for the crew. Expectations from guests are sky-high; everyone wants to have “the perfect” holiday voyage, and something as slight as a rain shower in port can set some people off. Keep your expectations in-line, and you shouldn’t have any issues at all. A cruise is fluid, and even holiday cruises are not immune to a few bumps along the way.

An Incredible Experience

msc divina
Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Although there are some important factors to consider, one thing may override the high cost and the increased guests onboard. A holiday voyage offers an incredible experience, the chance to get away from winter and celebrate the holidays as a family aboard a cruise bound for a sunny destination. It can take the place of stressful holiday gift shopping and replace battling it out in the parking lot of your local mall for that last spot.

Sipping cocktails on deck to ring in the New Year while the kids have fun in the youth programs onboard? Sounds pretty good to us.

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