Holiday Travel Roundup

Disney Holiday

With the holiday season just around the corner, a number of cruise and tour operators are gearing up for the festivities by offering a variety of specials and deals. Here's the latest. 

Star Clippers Announces Christmas and New Year's Savings

Tall ship sailing specialist Star Clippers is offering three special holiday gifts: a $200 onboard credit per cabin, champagne and treats, and a 1-hour massage on sailings from December 19, 2015 to January 2, 2016, aboard the Royal Clipper and Star Clipper in the Caribbean

Guests who book by October 31, 2015, will receive a special on six itineraries on Star Clipper, with rates from $1,285 per person, plus port charges:

December 19-26, 2015 and January 2-9, 2016: Leeward Islands (7 nights) St. Maarten to St. Maarten with stops in Nevis, Dominica, Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe, Antigua, and St. Barts.
December 26-January 2, 2016: Treasure Islands (7 nights) St. Maarten to St. Maarten with stops in Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Norman Island, Tortola, St. Kitts, and St. Barts.

On Royal Clipper, with rates from $1,350 per person, plus port charges:

December 19-26, 2015 and January 2-9, 2016: Windward Islands (7 nights) Barbados to Barbados with stops in St. Lucia, Dominica, Antigua, St Kitts, Iles des Saintes, and Martinique.
December 26-January 2, 2016: Grenadine Islands (7 nights) Barbados to Barbados with stops in Grenadines, Grenada, Tobago Cays, St. Vincent, Bequia, Martinique, and St. Lucia.


Special Thanksgiving Voyages From Crystal Cruises

This November, Crystal Cruises is hosting two special trips to celebrate Thanksgiving. While guests cruise the Caribbean or the Mediterranean over the holiday, they can enjoy traditional Turkey Day meals and menus inspired by the local cuisine.

Departing on November 14, 2015, the 14-day roundtrip Miami cruise on Crystal Symphony will travel across the Caribbean to warm weather destinations like Cozumel, Mexico; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Grand Cayman; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; St. Barts; St. Kitts and Turks & Caicos.

During the day, guests will have the opportunity to explore Mayan Ruins, swim with dolphins, ride speed boats, rent catamarans and snorkel. In addition, travelers can enjoy all-inclusive dining, a fitness center, entertainment rooms and more. Rates begin at $3,970 per person for the two-week voyage. 

Guests will also have the opportunity to board Crystal Serenity on November 22, 2015, for the vessel’s Monte Carlo to Marseille cruise, where they will discover the Mediterranean through stops in Genoa, Florence, Rome, Naples, Italy and Corsica, France. This seven-day tour makes stops throughout Mediterranean villages, the Uffizi Gallery, and includes wine and cheese tastings in Nice. Rates begin at $1,895 per person. 


Holiday Cruise Details Released From Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line has announced its lineup of holiday cruises, which kick off this November onboard the Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy.

During these Very Merrytime Cruises, guests can enjoy stem-to-stern holiday events that include:

  • Mickey’s Tree-Lighting Magic” in the atrium lobby on the first night of the cruise, where Disney characters lead holiday carols and the lighting of the glittering, three-deck-tall tree. 
  • Santa’s Winter Wonderland Ball” in the atrium lobby, where Disney cruisers welcome the guests of honor, Santa and Mrs. Claus, with a celebration featuring Broadway-style entertainment, favorite Disney characters and classic holiday tunes. A special pair of royal sisters will join the party and cause a flurry of “frozen” fun as a magical snowfall overtakes the atrium. 
  • Holiday story time beneath the giant tree, where children gather to hear classic tales of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza, include a storytelling with Mrs. Claus as she shares some of her favorite Christmas stories.
  • Dickens-inspired carolers are located throughout the ship, sometimes with favorite Disney friends. At the end of the cruise, children will have the opportunity to join the carolers onstage for a special farewell show. 
  • Family holiday activities including building gingerbread houses and meeting Santa Claus. 
  • Youth holiday crafts such as decorating stockings and gingerbread men cookies, making holiday cards and creating holiday animation cells. 
  • Deck the Deck Holiday Party,” a tropical celebration with Disney friends leading games such as hula hooping and limbo under oversized candy canes, along with dances for the whole family like the “Yuletide Slide” and a conga line around the pool. A special holiday edition of the farewell celebration is included on the final night of each cruise.

On Thanksgiving Day, guests will enjoy a special Thanksgiving Day feast, as well as visits from Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse dressed in traditional Thanksgiving attire. Additionally, NFL football games will be broadcast live on the ships’ outdoor, jumbo LED screens – Funnel Vision – located near the family pool.

Christmas morning at the atrium lobby tree Santa Claus and his helpers will have a surprise for all the kids, as well as a special musical performance from the children. A traditional Christmas Dinner will be served that night in the dining rooms, and Christmas services will also be provided. In addition, Hanukkah services will be held each day, December 6 to December 14.

When the ships stop at Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay, during the holidays, guests will be greeted by “snow flurries,” a decked-out Christmas tree, Disney character meet-and-greets and holiday island music.

Onboard the ship, special amenities are available for stateroom delivery, including holiday-themed gift packages and treat baskets and even mini Christmas trees decorated with ornaments, red berries, mini carnations and a bow topper. Plus, during the holiday cruises, the Disney Cruise Line holiday merchandise collection and Disney Cruise Line ornaments will be available in the gift shops.

Disney Magic sails four- and five-night Bahamian and Caribbean cruises departing November 11 to December 23. The Disney Wonder sails four-, six- and seven-night Bahamian and Caribbean cruises departing November 6 to December 24. The Disney Dream sails three- and four-night Bahamian cruises departing November 9 to December 24. Finally, the Disney Fantasy sails seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruises departing November 14 to December 19.


Christmas Tree Decoration

New Christmas Market Sailings From American Queen Steamboat Company

The American Queen Steamboat Company has announced its lineup of holiday sailings onboard the American Queen for 2015, including new Christmas Market sailings and entertainment options on nine-day cruises between Memphis and New Orleans beginning this Thanksgiving. 

New this year are Christmas markets along the river in ports, offering music as well as seasonal and locally produced crafts and goods. All old-fashioned holiday themed sailings include special entertainment such as strolling carolers in St. Francisville, LA, departure serenades from the levees of Vicksburg and Natchez, MS, and the favorite Steamboat Syncopators singing holiday favorites throughout the journey, as well as Christmas markets in Greenville, MS, and Nottoway Plantation.

Holiday sailings on the American Queen include:

  • Memphis to New Orleans, November 21 – 29, December 5 – 13 and December 19 – 27, 2015: Guests will explore cotton fields, sugar cane plantations and pillared mansions. A highlight of the late-November voyage includes a Thanksgiving feast and celebration onboard the boat.
  • New Orleans to Memphis, November 28 – December 6 and December 12 – 20, 2015: As an exclusive event on the December 12 sailing, travelers will enjoy a Christmas Ball at the historic Nottoway plantation in Nottoway, LA. The “White Castle of Louisiana” will be adorned with complete Christmas décor and lighting throughout the grounds, public spaces, and mansion for this festive evening. Guests may enjoy costumed carolers and dancers as they stroll the gardens and front lawn before entering the mansion for a private dinner featuring a combination of Cajun cuisine. 
  • Roundtrip New Orleans, December 26, 2015 – January 3, 2016: Travelers can ring in the New Year on the Lower Mississippi while discovering famous plantations like Oak Alley, located in the Saint James Parish.

Fares on the American Queen begin at $2,699 based on double occupancy. All journeys include a one-night pre-voyage hotel stay, shore tours in all ports, complimentary wine and beer with dinner and other amenities.  


Tauck Introduces Holiday Departures to Family Travel Portfolio

Tauck has announced the addition of a number of enhancements to its 2016 portfolio of Tauck Bridges family travel itineraries.

Among the enhancements for 2016 is a special winter holiday departure of Tauck’s popular “Alpine Adventure” exploration of Switzerland, Austria and Germany, with the itinerary modified to take full advantage of one of the world’s most sought-after winter sports destinations.

The eight-day itinerary (from $4,913 per person, triple occupancy, plus airfare) begins in Zurich on December 19 with a cable car ride to the top of nearby Mount Pilatus.

Over subsequent days, guests will have the opportunity to pursue winter activities including sledding and tobogganing, downhill or cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice-climbing on the face of a frozen waterfall. Other special experiences include a rail journey aboard the Glacier Express train to St. Moritz, a visit to an Olympic ski jumping site, a horse-drawn carriage ride to Hohenschwangau Castle, and a five-course gala Christmas dinner. The all-inclusive itinerary includes two nights at Hotel Schweizerhof Luzern, two nights at the Hotel Schweizerhof St. Moritz in Switzerland, two nights at the Aqua Dome Hotel in Austria’s Otztal Valley, and a final night at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich, where guests will enjoy a farewell dinner in 15th-century vaults once used to store salt.

Elsewhere in Europe, Tauck has added new small group departures to two popular eight-day Bridges itineraries, “Italia Bella: Rome to Venice” (June 20 and July 12) and “Castles & Kings: London to Paris” (June 24 and July 18). The four departures will average 24 passengers each, with additional departures to two of its three Bridges European river cruises, “Blue Danube: Family Riverboat Adventure” and “Castles on the Rhine: Family Riverboat Adventure.”

In addition, the “Galápagos: Wildlife Wonderland” itinerary is being enhanced for 2016 with a new vessel, the 90-passenger expedition ship Santa Cruz II. The vessel has 36 interconnecting cabins, making it particularly family-friendly, and it boasts a range of amenities (including an observation platform for dolphin and whale watching) tailored for Galápagos exploration.

Also in Latin America, Tauck’s “Costa Rica: Jungles & Rainforests” family itinerary has been enhanced through Tauck’s partnership with the nature documentary filmmakers at BBC Earth. The partnership will provide Tauck Bridges guests with a new perspective on Costa Rica’s flora and fauna through the use of filmmaking technologies such as underwater microphones and motion-activated camera traps. Over the course of their journey, Tauck guests will also view a series of short nature documentary films produced by the team at BBC Earth exclusively for Tauck travelers.


Andre Rochat Thanksgiving

Andre's Restaurant & Lounge Announces Thanksgiving Dinner

Chef Andre Rochat's Andre's Restaurant & Lounge will serve a traditional Thanksgiving dinner on November 26. This is a one-night event being held between five and nine p.m. 

The Thanksgiving-themed meal will have six courses, including dishes like squash soup, king crab croquettes, traditional turkey, salmon, pork chops, sorbet and spice cake. 

The meal is $90 per person. Tax, gratuity and beverages are not included. 

Reservations should be made with the restaurant directly by calling (702) 798-7151.

London Releases New Year's Eve Fireworks Theme

Tickets for London's New Year's Eve fireworks display are now on sale. This year the event will have a partnership with Unicef, creating the "Big Resolution" theme. The theme will bring attention and raise awareness to the lives of vulnerable children around the world. 

"Our stunning fireworks display is seen by millions of people across the globe, celebrating the successes of the last year and looking ahead with optimism and positivity to the new one. I am thrilled that we are linking up with a global organization like Unicef to mark the start of 2016 by bringing people together for a shared moment of goodwill to raise awareness and benefit children around the world," said Boris Johnson, the mayor of London. 

A total of 100,000 ticketed guests will be able to attend the event. Ticketing was introduced last year as an attempt to increase the safety of the event. Each tick costs £10.