Last updated: 12:27 PM ET, Tue September 13 2016

High Seas' Holidays

Availability is limited - so it's a smart idea to start planning for the 2017 Holiday season now

Vacation Agent | Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Theresa Norton

High Seas' Holidays

Carolers greet passengers on an AmaWaterways Christmas cruise.

Summer flew by, the Halloween displays are out in the stores, and Christmas will be here before you know it. Time flies, and suddenly, some of your clients are thinking about getting away for the winter holidays. Is it too late?

“There is absolutely time to book holiday cruises in September,” says Vicki Freed, senior vice president of sales, trade support and service at Royal Caribbean International. “It will be difficult to secure family staterooms and suites, but if customers are flexible with accommodations, we can usually make it work. We always encourage booking as far out as possible to secure the suites and also specialty dining, etc.”

Concurring is Drew Daly, general manager of network engagement and performance at Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. “It is not too late and there is definitely availability. The biggest struggle is that availability changes daily. If you have customers looking to secure a spot on a holiday cruise they need to book today,” he says. “With more capacity in the Caribbean, there does seem to be more attractive offers this year than in previous years. We are also seeing cruise lines promoting the holiday sailings earlier than normal with the great offers.”

Freed says holiday cruises are priced at a premium “but not excluded from promotions, therefore giving everyone some value-add and some discount.”

Most lines go to great lengths to decorate their ships and plan holiday-related activities. For example, Royal Caribbean ships – which operate holiday sailings on three- to 12- night Caribbean itineraries – feature holiday movies poolside, cookie decorating, caroling, Santa parades, tree- and menorah-lighting ceremonies, and New Year’s Eve parties with live music, balloon drops and champagne toasts at midnight. Ships also serve holiday feasts with all the traditional trimmings.

READ MORE: AmaWaterways Prepare For AmaKristina Debut in 2017

“The cruise lines make sure to decorate accordingly and their ships are very festive. They recognize that not everyone celebrates the same holiday and are respectful to every culture and tastefully ensure that each passenger enjoys their holiday vacation,” Daly says. “They are sensitive to individuals who are looking to attend a holiday service or Mass and provide locations on the ship for those services. Agents should check with each cruise line to see what they offer.”

As you’d suspect, many families choose to travel over Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year’s Eve.

“This is the time of year families try their best to be together. On top of the ease and choice is the value proposition of having so much included in the vacation experience,” Freed says. “My family has made traveling over the holidays a tradition for over 20 years. We always sail at either Christmas or New Year’s. Everyone enjoys being together since no one is bunking on a couch at home, cleaning dishes, etc. This year, we booked the Harmony of the Seas and have 22 people sailing with us.”

Freed adds that in addition to families, couples and singles also want to travel during the holidays. “In my group this year, we have several couples and two single ladies sailing with us,” she says. “Friends like to share the experience together.”

Although you can still book holiday cruises now, for the best selection of staterooms and suites, you should start planning for next year. “Consumers should book their holiday cruise as far in advance as possible – especially if they want a specific cabin or accommodation on board the ship. The holiday cruises are more expensive than a normal cruise and they do sell out,” Daly says. “Cruise lines do offer promotional fares and add-ons, which make it advantageous for a consumer to book early. Now is a great time to start planning and promoting to customers the 2017 holiday season. Agents could capitalize on remaining inventory for this year and, at the same time, encourage people to book early for next year.”

Because the 2017 holidays will be here before you know it.


The Christmas Market river cruises in Europe that operate in November and December are wildly popular. Avalon Waterways has doubled the number of Christmas-themed departures over the past few years.

“Experiencing Europe – and its Christmas markets – during the holiday season offers travelers a magical escape,” says Patrick Clark, managing director of Avalon Waterways. “Travelers can explore Christmas markets in several cities and sample holiday treats like glühwein (mulled wine) and lebkuchen (traditional German baked Christmas cookies). Travelers also enjoy visiting must-see sites in Europe in the winter with fewer crowds.”

Is there still space for this year? “While there are fewer choices of departure dates or cabin categories available, travelers can still book an Avalon Christmas Market cruise in September,” Clark says. “I would, however, encourage prospects to act quickly. Avalon’s 2017 Christmas cruises are also on sale now. In fact, Christmas cruises benefit from off-season pricing and often cost less than a river cruise during peak season.”

Viking River Cruises concurs. The company says it is seeing increased interest in its Christmas Markets cruises because the prices are lower, and travelers with adult children may be looking for new holiday traditions. Viking notes that most of its Christmas Markets sailings are sold out, but there are still some categories of staterooms available on some departures.

For more information on AmaWaterways

For more Cruise Line & Cruise Ship News


You may use your Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook information, including your name, photo & any other personal data you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on Click here to learn more.

Vacation Agent Magazine

A version of this article appears in print in the September 2016 issue of Vacation Agent Magazine.


Latest Travel News

The Best Places for U.S. River Cruising

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship

Who, Exactly, Was Paul Gauguin?

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship

Tips For The Solo Traveler

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship

Journeying Along The Columbia River

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship