Christmas Travel

You can spend 14 days on the Statendam, sailing from San Diego Dec. 21 for a Panama Canal cruise stopping at Puerto Vallarta (pictured above), Huatulco, Puerto Quetzal, Puerto Chipas, Panama City, Cartagena to Ft. Lauderdale

You can spend 14 days on the Statendam, sailing from San Diego Dec. 21 for a Panama Canal cruise stopping at Puerto Vallarta (pictured above), Huatulco, Puerto Quetzal, Puerto Chipas, Panama City, Cartagena to Ft. Lauderdale


Christmas and New Year’s are a long way off, but if this is a time when you choose to travel, you should start making arrangements now.

Many people want to travel over the holidays because they are not close to their families, others have lost their spouses and some just want to celebrate with a fine cruise or tour and make new friends.

On these cruises and tours it is easy to meet new friends who also want to celebrate the holidays away from home. Cruises are already beginning to fill as are many tours and that is why I thought we should discuss what you might consider for travel at the end of the year.

Most of the lines send their ships to the various popular parts of the globe and I have picked those offered by Holland America Line as an example. Princess, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Azamara Club Cruises, Oceania and others will offer similar cruises at the same time of year. You can consult your travel agent for information and brochures to plan holiday travel.

Here is one that I like: a 21-day cruise doing the Western and Southern Caribbean on the Ryndam, departing Dec. 9. It sails from Tampa and makes calls in Central America, Mahogany Bay, Roatan, Santo Tomas de Castilla, Grand Cayman, Aruba, Curacao, St. Lucia, St. Johns, St. Thomas, San Juan and Half Moon Cay and Key West before returning to Tampa. Fares begin at $2,949 if you book early.

You can sail from Ft. Lauderdale Dec. 27 and be gone during the New Year holiday, which will be celebrated at sea on the Noordam. The 11-day cruise visits St. Maarten, Dominica, Martinique, Barbados, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay.

Fares begin at $1,299 with early booking.

You can spend 14 days on the Statendam, sailing from San Diego Dec. 21 for a Panama Canal cruise stopping at Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco, Puerto Quetzal, Puerto Chipas, Panama City, Cartagena to Ft. Lauderdale. Fares begin at $1,799 if you book early.

Here is one that will fill fast, a Hawaiian cruise departing from San Diego Dec. 8 on the Zaandam calling at Nawiliwili Bay, Honolulu, Lahaina and Hilo before returning to San Diego. You can enjoy nine days at sea sailing to and from Hawaii. This will be a very relaxing cruise filled with the pleasures of the Hawaiian Islands. Fares begin at $1,699 if you book early.

For some, a Mexican Riviera cruise is a choice for holiday travel. A 7-day cruise departing on the Zaandam Dec. 22 visits Loreto, Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta out of San Diego. Fares begin at $799 with early booking.

How about a cruise to Asia sailing on the Volendam Dec. 10? The ports of call include Singapore, Bangkok, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City, Kompong Som, Halong Bay to Hong Kong, China. This 14-day cruise is priced from $1,699 for early booking.

The Oosterdam makes a South Pacific cruise, sailing from Sydney, Australia on a 14-day itinerary to Bay of Islands in New Zealand along with Auckland, Auranga, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and cruising through Milford Sound before returning to Sydney. This will give you a good look at New Zealand with all of its beauty — and it will be summer time down there. The cruise departs Dec. 19 with fares beginning at $1,999 with early booking.

When we say “book early,” that means Holland America Line wants you to reserve your cruise by Sept. 15 to get the low rates. Consult your travel agent or call 1-877-724-5425. The other popular cruise lines will probably offer their lower rates if you book early also.

I realize there are those who will not take a cruise regardless of price, so we offer the following tour ideas for the Christmas and New Year holidays. How about the Middle East and Jordan? On The Go Tours offers a departure Dec. 22 flying to Amman, Jordan. Sightseeing will include Jerash, arguably the world’s best preserved Roman provincial city with almost perfect acoustics in the South Theater, chariot-wheel marks in the paving stones of the Cardo and an exciting chariot race in the 2,000-year-old Hippodrome. You will then drive on to Umm Qais to visit the dramatic black-basalt Roman Decapolis city featuring great views over the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights.

Following this, you will have days at Mt. Nebo; a visit to the Citadel and Archaeological Museum; a visit a souk, a popular street market; and dining at several interesting restaurants. You will also drive up to the Sea of Galilee for photos and shopping and see the site from which Moses saw the Promised Land. As you drive through the Jordan River Valley you will see the Dead Sea, Jericho and the spires of domes of the Mount of Olives and Bethlehem in the Judean Hills.

You will have Christmas day at the Rose City, Petra and the surrounding area. Later there will be a visit to Karak Castle and a day at Wadi Rum. You will see Mojsaics of Madaba and many other treasures in Jordan before you depart for home.

Another On The Go Tour visits Russia; another Egypt; and there is also a tour of Morocco on the north/west African Coast available.

The Morocco tour begins in Marrakech. From there, it goes to Dades Gorge, an interesting valley that extends from the High Atlas to the Jebel Sarhro range in the south. The Berbers built many Kasbahs in the vicinity of gorges for defense purposes. This is a stunning setting in a beautiful region.

Then, the Morocco tour offers Christmas dinner at Todra Gorge. Here, you can relax and later visit a traditional Berber home where the semi nomadic family have set up a cooperative for the trade of carpets and handicrafts for all the rural communities across the Atlas. You could also do some rock climbing if the mood hits you. You will also visit villages on the Sahara desert, perhaps ride a camel and view the area made famous by Lawrence of Arabia. You will also visit the medieval medina and see markets where spices and all types of items are sold and traded just as they were in the old times. You will see snake charmers, food stalls, dancers, acrobats, fortunetellers, musicians and henna artists.

The tour is back in Marrakech to celebrate the New Year with a rock band in the Kasbah.

Another tour flies to Beijing, China for a complete tour of this most interesting and fascinating country.

You would spend Christmas at the Great Wall near Beijing for starters. Also included is a tour of the Forbidden City; Zian to see the Terracotta Warriors; and New Year’s at the Harbin Snow and Ice World; followed by more sightseeing of some of the major sights in the country before returning home. This would be a very different Christmas and New Year’s adventure staying at the best hotels with a tour guide all the way.

All of the tours discussed are put together by On The Go Tours, which can be contacted at 1-866-377-6147.

If you do not wish to travel far from home, consider flying to Hawaii for a two-week visit, perhaps taking a friend or relative with you.

Many people still travel to Mexico for a 7-day stay at one of the very deluxe all-inclusive hotels. Again, your travel agent will be able to help with suggestions and can supply you with brochures to study. The travel agent can also make the bookings for you at no extra charge.

Happy investigating where to travel and may it be a good choice for you.


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