The successful 2013 cruise season with approximately 2.5 million cruise passengers for the Atlantic Alliance member ports has nearly come to an end.

Though, some member ports are awaiting a few special cruise calls in December solely focusing on the festive season. These ports look forward to welcoming passengers longing to experience the festive atmosphere of the cities.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines will send two of its ships to German member ports in December. “Balmoral” (1350 passengers) will call in Hamburg on December 18 before sailing to Bremerhaven (19th). Coming from Southampton, the cruise ship will be calling at five different European ports within nine days on its ‘Christmas Markets of Northern Europe Cruise’ before returning to Southampton again.

During this cruise, passengers can explore the various Christmas markets in Hamburg and Bremerhaven, feel the festive spirit in the cities or simply enjoy the winter time in German wrapped up in warm winter clothes. Its sister ship “Boudicca” (880 passengers) will visit Bremerhaven twice; first on December 20/21 and again on December 29/30 on a ‘Christmas Cruise’ before spending New Year’s Eve in Hamburg. Even though Christmas will have already passed by then, the popular German hot spiced wine can be enjoyed at several places within the cities and the New Year can be welcomed in Hamburg with a spectacular view from the upper decks.

The British seaport Dover will be turnaround port of “Black Watch” (804 passengers) at the beginning of December (Dec 6 and 10). Starting in Dover, the cruise ship of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines is calling at Rouen (for Paris) and Zeebrugge (for Bruges) as a ‘pre-Christmas getaway’ and a perfect opportunity for Christmas shopping. Passengers are also invited to take part in several Christmas events in Dover before embarking “Black Watch” or driving home afterwards.

Amsterdam will be port of call for “Marco Polo” (800 passengers) on its Christmas cruises (17th) taking passengers to the famous Dutch city for joyful Christmas shopping. The popular Dutch city will also welcome “Aurora” (P&O Cruises, 1870 passengers) on December 11 and Cunard’s “Queen Mary 2” (2620 passengers) a few days later. Amsterdam offers 26 neighborhoods markets where people are invited to taste typical snacks or simply complete the yearly Christmas shopping for the beloved ones back home. Guests of “Oceana” (P&O Cruises, 2016 passengers) will spend New Year’s Eve in the lovely Dutch city.

Rotterdam, European’s largest sea port, will be port of call for the “Rotterdam” (Holland America Line, 1404 passengers) right before Christmas on (Dec 22) after having called at Lisbon before (Dec 16). Beautifully decorated, the city encourages guests to experience a romantic Christmas atmosphere on different spots within the city center.

“Marco Polo” will also visit Antwerp on December 19 in the course of another Christmas cruise showing passengers around Belgium Christmas Markets. Passengers are invited to feel the spirit of Christmas in Belgium and to savour the diverse chocolate varieties the country is known for.

The Southernmost member port is also port of call for several Christmas cruises starting directly at the very beginning of December with “Zenith” (1828 passengers). After having visited Hamburg and Bremerhaven; Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ “Balmoral” will make its way into the warmth starting in Southampton for a 15-night journey. Passengers can escape cold weathers and swap warm winter jackets and pullovers with t-shirts when visiting Lisbon first on Christmas Eve before taking their way along the Canary Islands. With Lisbon being turnaround port, Portuscale Cruises takes its guests with its ship “Funchal” (481 passengers) on a seven-night ‘New Year Cruise’ to have a wonderful start into the New Year before returning to Portugal on 5th of January. Cunard Cruise Line is sending its Queens to Lisbon quite often in December starting with “Queen Mary 2” on December 3, followed by “Queen Elizabeth” (2068 passengers) on December 10. Besides a call on December 18, Lisbon will also welcome “Queen Victoria” (1990 passengers) on its twelve-night ‘Christmas and New Year Cruise’ to and from its homeport Southampton on December 30. This call might also please people shore side as Cunard’s ships are always gazed at from hundreds of tourists whenever in port.  P&O Cruises will send its passengers on seven dates to the Portuguese capital; “Oceana” on December 5, 16 and on Boxing Day; “Aurora” on December 6 and Christmas Eve and “Oriana” (1818 passengers) on December 12 and New Year’s Eve. After having taken its passengers on a mystery cruise through Europe, “Saga Sapphire” (Saga Cruises, 752 passengers) makes its way to Lisbon on December 20.

“AIDAsol” (AIDA Cruises, 2174 passengers) will be a frequent guest at different Atlantic Alliance member ports during the festive season. On its Northern Europe tours, “AIDAsol” will call in Amsterdam (Dec 5, 19, 21), Hamburg (Dec 7, 14, 21), Dover (Dec 13) and Le Havre (Dec 2, 16) before sailing into warmer areas calling again in Le Havre on Christmas Eve, Santander on Boxing Day and Lisbon just before the New Year is about to start (Dec 29).

Le Havre, which will also welcome “Queen Mary 2”, invites all cruise passengers to warm up with mulled wine and hot chocolate in the cruise terminals before exploring the city in the North of France. Le Havre has set up different festive activities, such as a Christmas market and decorated shopping streets. Families might enjoy the merry-go-round as well as animations and shows before embarking the ship again.

Christmas Cruises as theme cruises enable cruise lines to see Northern Europe as a year-round destination and extend the season in Northern Europe also in winter. This is a chance for cruise lines to reduce the need for repositioning-cruises.