Cruise Lines Offering a Variety of Packages for the Holidays

By Kimberly Scholz

NEW YORK -- Cruise companies are decking the halls, or rather the decks, offering a variety of holiday packages this year.

A sampling follows:

* Holland America Line is offering a variety of Caribbean and Panama Canal itineraries for the holidays, all featuring a visit to its private island, Half Moon Cay. The cruises range in length from six to 13 nights and are priced from $1,234 to $2,696 per person, double. The line's ships will feature fresh trees and decorations as well as dinner tables brimming with pheasant, turkey and plum pudding. Aboard all ships will be clergy from Catholic, Protestant and Jewish denominations to conduct holiday services. To book, call (800) 426-0327.

* Bergen Line is featuring two Norwegian Christmas voyages along Norway's coast, complete with Christmas Eve services and a Christmas Day buffet. A nine-night package departs Dec. 20 and features a six-night sailing aboard the Nordkaap. The ship sails from Bergen to Kirkenes, Norway. A 10-night plan includes five nights aboard the Polarlys. The ship sails from Kirkenes to Bergen, departing Dec. 18. Rates are from $2,038 for the nine-night plan and $2,129 for the 10-night plan. The line provides clients age 67 and older with a discount on each voyage. Ports of call in Norway include Alesund, Trondheim, Hammerfest, Tromso and villages in the Lofoten Islands. Packages provide roundtrip air from New York; the voyage with three meals daily; hotel accommodations with breakfast daily and transportation en route to and from the ship. For information, call (800) 323-7436.

* Costa Cruises is offering 10-night holiday journeys aboard the CostaRiviera. The Christmas journey departs from Savona, Italy, on Dec. 17 and sails to Malaga, Spain; Funchal, Madeira; St. Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas, Canary Islands, and Barcelona, Spain. The New Year's cruise also departs from Savona, Italy, on Dec. 27 en route to Naples, Italy; Athens, Greece; Limassol, Cyprus; Port Said, Egypt, and Yithion, Greece. Holiday rates are from $2,109 per person, double, and cover roundtrip air from Boston, Chicago, Miami and New York (Kennedy or Newark). Air add-ons are available from 30 gateways across the country through New York (Kennedy). Guests can extend their vacations with an optional pre- or post-cruise hotel and tour package to Rome. A two-night plan starts at $269 per person, double; a three-night deal is from $368 per person, double. To book, call Costa's reservations department at (800) 462-6782.

* Sea Air Holidays is hosting Danube River cruises for the holidays aboard Amadeus. The ship will feature four seven-night sailings from Vienna, Austria, with ample time for holiday shopping al-ong the way. The Dec. 5 and 12 departures sail from Vienna to Nuremberg, Germany. The Christmas journey, departing Dec. 21, sails roundtrip from Vienna and stops at Budapest, Hungary. The New Year's voyage sails roundtrip from Vienna with port calls at Budapest and Bratislava, Slovakia, on Dec. 28. Fares are priced from $1,895 per person, double, covering roundtrip air from gateway cities (served by KLM and Northwest Airlines); all onboard meals; entertainment; transfers, and port calls. For a brochure or more information, call (800) 732-6247.

* KD River Cruises of Europe is offering Christmas and New Year's cruises on three European rivers -- the Rhine, the Danube and the Elbe. The six-night cruises on the Rhine depart Dec. 20 and Dec. 27 from Cologne, Germany, on the Britannia, KD's flagship. Fares begin at $1,330, per person, double. The six-night Danube Christmas and New Year's cruises depart Dec. 20 and 27 and are offered aboard the 104-passenger Heinrich Heine. The Dec. 20 sailing is from Regensburg, Germany, to Vienna, with the Dec. 27 sailing from Vienna back to Regensburg. Fares for both begin at $1,240. Christmas and New Year's excursions to Prague, in the Czech Republic, are offered as four-night cruises on the Elbe aboard the 124-passenger Clara Schumann. The cruises leave from Dresden, Germany, and depart Dec. 22 and Dec. 29. Fares start at $875. For reservations call (800) 346-6525 from the eastern U.S., (800) 858-8587 from the West.

* The Delta Queen is including the annual Dickens on the Strand Festival in Galveston, Texas, in its Dec. 1 and Dec. 6 sailings. Each year, visitors from all over come to the town to attend the holiday festival. The first of the two voyages departs from New Orleans en route to Galveston along the Intracoastal Waterway. It includes a five-night cruise and a two-night stay aboard the steamboat in Galveston. Prices begin at $990 per person, double. The second trip includes a two-night stay at the Hotel Galvez in Galveston as well as a five-night cruise from Galveston to New Orleans. Rates start at $1,290 per person, double. For reservations, call (800) 458-6789.

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