Cruise West (www.cruisewest.com), one of the world’s leading providers of small-ship explorations will offer four holiday itineraries in 2009 and 2010. Sailing into the firecracker lavish spectacle of Sydney’s Harbor on New Year’s Eve; bidding farewell to 2009 in the wilds of Costa Rica; savoring a traditional Nochebuena Christmas Eve feast in Mexico’s Sea of Cortes; or satisfying all the senses in Vietnam on Thanksgiving.
Exotic, culturally fascinating and stunning scenery describes the 11-night Vietnam voyage that commences in Hanoi aboard the all-suite Spirit of Oceanus on November 21, 2009, and ends in Ho Chi Minh City. Spend the Thanksgiving holiday discovering Hue, the Imperial City on the Perfume River including the Forbidden Purple City and the Imperial Citadel, followed by a traditional thanksgiving feast prepared by the onboard chef. The itinerary will give travelers the chance to explore Vietnam’s architecture, art, and ancient shrines in Hoi An; bustling Hanoi; the Gulf of Tonkin; the temples and picturesque fishing boats of Nha Trang; the Cham Museum and a special private performance of traditional martial arts in Qui Nhon; and UNESCO World Heritage Site Ha Long Bay. Prices start at $5,649 on this last chance to explore Vietnam aboard the Oceanus before it departs on the Voyages of the Great Explorers in March 2010.
Sun, sea, sand, wildlife and rich Latin culture are featured on the December 18, 2009 Holiday, and December 27, 2009 New Year’s Eve cruises of the nine-night Between Two Seas itinerary traveling between Panama City and San Jose, Costa Rica. Festivities include a special Costa Rican and Panamanian dinner featuring delicious traditional cuisine; and a New Year’s Captain’s Dinner, followed by “Carnival,” a lively evening of music and drinks. The warmth of the people of the Emberá Village is highlighted on December 25 when the guests will deliver gifts to the local children; and on December 31 when they board the ship to perform a special dance presentation. The 100-guest Pacific Explorer offers a casual environment and robust Naturalist program. Additional highlights include Portobelo; traversing the entire Panama Canal; UNESCO World Heritage Site Coiba National Park; Golfo Dulce; Caletas Beach; and Manuel Antonio National Park, known for its prolific wildlife and bird viewing. Prices start at $4,399 ($4199 when you book and pay in full by September 11, 2009).
Serenity-seekers will enjoy the seven-night Sea of Cortés Whales & Wildlife cruise, round trip Cabo San Lucas, on board the 102-guest Spirit of Endeavour. The December 19, 2009, Feliz Navidad Holiday sailing will offer a traditional Nochebuena Christmas Eve feast as well as Mexican holiday activities on a lovely remote beach. Or celebrate Feliz Año Nuevo on the December 26, 2009 departure complete with a midnight toast and late night buffet. Port calls include the picturesque seaside village and mission town Loreto; La Paz; and Isla Espiritú Santo, home to several plant and animal species only found on this island. Active guests will enjoy kayaking, snorkeling and nature walks at the serene islands Los Islotes and Isla Partida. Add on a spectacular four-night Copper Canyon post-cruise land tour. Prices start at $2,599 ($2399 when you book and pay in full by September 11, 2009).
Planning ahead, the 17-night Discovering the Maori Coast, traveling from Auckland to Sydney, departing December 15, 2010 – the 24th itinerary of the Voyages of the Great Explorers epic world cruise – offers noteworthy extravaganzas for both Christmas and New Years’ Eve. Spend Christmas day in the undisturbed wilderness of Stewart Island, the most southern island of New Zealand, discovering penguins and other marvelous creatures including wekas, kākās, albatross, tokoekas and silvereyes. A dinner feast welcomes guests back onboard the 120-guest Spirit of Oceanus. The ship makes a grand entry into Sydney Harbor on News Year’s Eve in time to enjoy the annual celebratory fireworks display. Prices start at $14,395. Save up to 20 percent by booking and paying in full by October 15, 2009.