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It is hard not to feel festive roaming a ship decked-out in Christmas decorations, sipping eggnog and nibbling on gingerbread.

We don’t need to hop on Christmas cruises to escape the chill of the winter season, but they are still perfect for seeking out festive cheer in the holiday season.

There are also plenty of Christmas themed activities lined up onboard and not to forget the Christmas feast that you get to indulge in without having to lift a finger to prepare.

Think ugly sweater party, Christmas carolling and mingling with Santa and his elves. Rumour has it that Santa once arrived on Royal Caribbean on a water sleigh!

Another quintessential Christmas experience not to miss is river cruising in Europe to visit the Christmas markets. Warm up with hot mulled wine and gourmet foods while shopping for artisan crafted gifts. So, if you are looking to stock up on gifts for the holidays, you could book one that sails slightly before the big day.

Many Christmas cruises departing Sydney are already sold out, but we round up some last-minute deals, interesting options abroad and a few 2019 itineraries so you can save your spot early!

Carnival Australia

12-night Pacific Islands roundtrip from $2,099

Depart Sydney on December 19 on the Carnival Spirit and spend Christmas among the Pacific Islands. The itinerary features five port stops: Noumea, Port Denarau, Suva, Mystery Island and the Isle of Pines.

P&O Australia

10-night Australasia Cruise roundtrip from $1,339

If you want to sail the Pacific Islands but is short on time, get on P&O’s Pacific Explorer which departs Sydney on December 18. This itinerary brings you on a quick zip around the islands to Noumea, Lifou, Port Vila and Mystery Island.

8-night Pacific Cruise roundtrip from $1,150

A similar sailing that departs from Brisbane is also offered onboard Pacific Aria. This itinerary feature four different ports of call including Noumea, Isle of Pines, Lifou and Brisbane.

Princess Cruises

14-night ‘Circle Caribbean’ roundtrip from $2,841

Celebrate Christmas and New Years on the Caribbean Princess while she takes you around the Caribbean to explore from December 19 to January 2. The ship departs from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and stops by eight ports: St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Antigua, Martinique, Barbados, Trinidad, Curacao, Aruba.

10-night, Panama Canal with Costa Rica & Caribbean roundtrip from $2,354

This sailing on Island Princess also departs from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on December 20 and makes her rounds to Jamaica, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Cayman Islands.

Royal Caribbean

12-night New Zealand Cruise roundtrip from $10,621

There are only suites left on this sailing departing Sydney on December 22. The Ovation of the Seas will be making her rounds to Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, Dusky Sound, Dunedin, Picton, Tauranga, Auckland and the Bay of Islands.

Viking River Cruises

8-night ‘Danube Waltz’ from $5,049

Sail from Passau to Budapest on December 19 in Viking’s French balcony cabin through Linz, Krems and Vienna in Austria, Bratislava in Slovakia before finally arriving in Budapest.  Their standard cabins go from $3,795 so get in early for 2019/2020 Christmas sailings.

Uniworld

7-night Nuremberg to Frankfurt from $4,999

The 7-night sailing on the River Queen starts in Nuremberg on December 15 to Unesco Site, Bamberg, where you can taste their specially brewed holiday beer. Sail further down the Main River, along Kitzingen, Wurzburg and Wertheim before arriving at Frankfurt. You will be able to discover villages with fairytale houses and a friendly, festive atmosphere as scents of cinnamon and roasting nuts fill the air.

Avalon Waterways

11-night Prague to Basel from $4,172

This itinerary is offered earlier in the season and is available in 2019, starting on December 9 and concluding on December 20. It begins in Prague, but you will be boarding your ship in Nuremberg, home to one of the oldest Christmas markets and continuing to Bamberg, Wurzburg, Rudesheim, Heidelberg, Speyer, Strasbourg, Breisach before arriving in Basel. There plenty of Christmas markets along the way, offering rows of brightly decorated wooden huts selling ornaments and Czech handicrafts. Explore to your heart’s content and try a traditional hot sausage from one of the stalls.

APT River Cruises

‘12 Days Of Christmas’ Vancouver to Calgary from $7,995

The luxury river cruise line offers a ‘12 Days Of Christmas’ itinerary from Vancouver to Calgary. This itinerary brings you the experience of a Canadian winter. From the Canyon lights at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, a horse-drawn sleigh ride along the lakeside trail at Lake Louise to festive activities at Fairmont Banff Springs. The 2019 itinerary sails from December 16 to 27.