CruiseCompete offers top reasons to enjoy a cruise during 2008 holidays

Enjoying summer weather? Come November and December, cold and snow will be here just in time for the holidays – and a Caribbean cruise vacation.

Whether traveling as a couple, with friends or family, holiday cruises over Thanksgiving and the December holidays are some of the most popular offered by the cruise lines. Rather than wait to book these vacations, the cruise specialists at encourage travelers, especially those in groups, to plan and book their holiday cruises now. This will help assure the best selection of ships, itineraries and cabin choices – not to mention best deals.

“For many people, a holiday cruise is not traditional, but it can also provide their vacation budgets with a break, considering the great value of a cruise,” said Bob Levinstein, CEO of CruiseCompete. “Cruises feature all-inclusive pricing, with ship accommodations, food, entertainment and other amenities included. Plus, people of all ages and interests find plenty to do aboard a holiday cruise.”

For those still looking for a reason to cruise over the holidays, here are several:

Truly festive atmosphere – After Thanksgiving, the cruise lines get in the holiday spirit by decorating their ships from bow to stern. Some cruise lines spend in excess of $100,000 annually on holiday decorations. Christmas trees, lights, garland and even artificial snow bring the festive season alive at sea. Hanukkah celebrations also are observed. Religious services are held aboard each ship.

Special guests – Christmas-time cruises would not be complete without guest appearances from Santa, Mrs. Claus and their elf friends. They make appearances on many ships during the holiday season for fun and relaxation leading up to Christmas Day. As expected, Santa’s bag of goodies is full for the kids on board.

New Year’s fun – Ringing in the New Year is a splash aboard a cruise ship. Elaborate parties take place at sea for persons of all ages and tastes. Special food, entertainment, toasts, party favors and more make the night memorable. For sports fans, many of the cruise lines offer special all-day tailgate parties to watch New Year’s Day football.

No snow – A holiday cruise is ideal for persons looking for a change of scenery as colder weather moves in at home. With Caribbean temperatures in the low 80s during this time of year, the closest one will come to cold weather on a cruise ship is the air conditioning. Some ships do feature snow falling in the ship’s atrium, but it is manmade and designed to melt before hitting the floor.

Great food – Nobody goes hungry on a cruise vacation, especially during the holidays. A variety of eats are available 24/7. Cruise menus fit the season, with world-class chefs preparing traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, plus special kosher foods during Hanukkah. There are no shortages of gingerbread, cookies, pies and other deserts.

Kid’s activities galore – With children on holiday break from school, many families love to cruise during December. There is so much to do on a cruise, including a range of supervised activities for kids ages 3-17, pool activities, special lounges and dedicated nightclubs for tweens and teens. Vacation with your children yet without any stress.

True relaxation – Leave the hustle and bustle (and accompanying stress) of the holidays behind and enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere with the family on a cruise vacation. There is no better way to spend an afternoon in December than lying poolside instead of cooking, while sailing across the ocean or snorkeling through a secluded reef on a cruise line private island.

Unique gifts – A cruise vacation is one holiday gift that will be truly appreciated. Plus, there is world-class shopping onboard the ship and in various ports. Special shipping arrangements can be made to get the gifts home. If Santa is going to visit the kids, the cruise lines recommend small token gifts that are easy to hide and transport. Leave big gifts at home to open before or after the trip.

In addition to one’s own family, larger groups of extended families – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and others – are enjoying holiday cruises in growing numbers. Careful planning is necessary Levinstein said. Plan well in advance – at least several months out, if possible.

“Holiday cruises tend to fill up quickly – right now we have an incredible seven-night cruise special departing December 21 from Miami for just $599 per person (,” Levinstein added.

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