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Many years ago on I took a cruise one Christmas. Living in London at the time, it was a joy to escape the cold, the last minute gift shopping frenzy, and the endless queues at the supermarket days before Christmas Eve. I remember the exact moment that the idea of a Christmas cruise became a good one. Having stood in the freezing cold for an hour to get inside Marks & Spencer, only to find they’d sold out of most of what I needed to buy, I witnessed two retired men fighting over a frozen turkey – the last one.

The following year, when offered the opportunity of cruising the Caribbean for two weeks on the Royal Viking Sky, I jumped at the chance. Long before I headed out to the airport to fly to Miami, the images of what was to come had flooded my head enticingly….hot weather, the sound of steel drums, warm ocean water, and best of all no work or Christmas shenanigans to cope with (coming from an Irish family there was always a drama of one kind or another during the holidays!).

The cruise was great, although I have to admit that some of my fellow passengers brought more than the baggage which carried their clothes on board. I overheard this sad comment in bar on Christmas Eve: “My daughter and her husband bought us this cruise for Christmas. They’re at home with HIS family this year….I reckon they wanted to get rid of us.”

Last year was only the second time I’ve spent Christmas and the New Year holiday on a cruise. With no kids and no families to worry about (they’re mostly in Europe), we had not reason not to go; it was a cruise from Singapore to Hong Kong via Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam on Azamara Quest, the “luxury lite” line which promised much.

For us the cruise was a great success, and we even got into the spirit of things a few times, in particular New Year’s Eve which was spent on the ship in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. In the early part of the evening we drank champagne on our balcony accompanied by some dreadful if highly amusing Vietnamese karaoke coming from across the Saigon River.

Later we had dinner, and later still, donning party hats, we joined most of the rest of the ship’s guests on deck, and thousands of locals on land, to see in 2011 with an impressive fireworks display, music, dancing and more champagne.

This week I was writing up some information about Christmas cruises and it got me thinking how much cruising has evolved. No longer are these cruises ways to get shot of unwanted relatives….on the contrary, it’s now a popular way for families to enjoy the festivities. From couples with kids, to couples with parents, many extended family groups take to the high seas to enjoy the holidays.

And why not? The kids are easily entertained without the need to drag them and everyone else to the beach. Parents get some down time, and women aren’t saddled with cooking the Christmas dinner – on a cruise, some other poor soul has to do it! And if your travelling with your parents or even grandparents, there are early sittings to accommodate them, people to look after the kids, and plenty of activities for everyone to enjoy together, or apart should they choose.

I am an unabashed devotee of cruising, but sometimes all these sorts of attributes still have to be explained to non-cruisers. Sure, there might be rough seas and your with a lot of people, but to anyone who’s considering a cruise this Christmas, why not give it a go? There are so many ships and itineraries to choose from – and no washing up. And what’s not to love about that? Happy cruising!