Planning a Christmas and New Year’s getaway

The period around Christmas and New Year is notoriously hectic and, while it’s meant to be fun, we all know that the stress of planning combined with the cold weather can make the reality somewhat different. So, I think this is the perfect time for a holiday – especially something relaxing in the sun, like a cruise to the Canaries.

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Why go away at Christmas?

Avoiding the icy winds and having to brave the crowds on the high street aren’t the only reasons to have a Christmas getaway (though, let’s be honest, they certainly don’t hurt!). Personally, I think the chance to do something a bit different is a key reason to go away at this time of year.

For instance, it’s not every Christmas that you can sit on the beach in the baking sun or enjoy a traditional turkey dinner while working on your tan. Plus, depending on the type of holiday you choose, there’ll be scope to do and see all kinds of different things.

I’ll talk about this in more detail in a moment, but a cruise definitely fits the bill if it’s sunshine and variety you’re after. The Canaries is a good destination not only because you can visit lots of different islands, but also because you can cruise from Southampton – boarding here in the UK makes life much easier than itineraries that require you to fly overseas first.

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How to make the most of your break

Before we get bogged down in practicalities, let’s take a look at how to make the most of your break. I’ve talked briefly about why cruises are well suited to Christmas and New Year holidays, but now I want to focus on how you can make this a particularly memorable trip.

The first step is to treat yourself and go for luxury. Of course, cruises are generally quite a luxurious form of transport, so if you do decide to travel in this way then you’ll have that box ticked from the outset – just remember to take advantage of all the great facilities, like spas and swish bars.

You should also have a good look through the excursions available on your cruise and book ahead to avoid disappointment. I’ll talk about the types of things you can in a moment, but these kinds of trips will help you see the best of the islands you visit and give you the chance to explore without having to lift a finger yourself.

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What to do while you’re away

The main Canary Islands your cruise is likely to call in at are Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Tenerife, though the smaller isles of La Palma and La Gomera are also firm favourites. Lanzarote is the most volcanic-looking Canary Island, and it’s one of the most exciting for nature lovers, thanks to its unusual landscapes.

Come here and you can go on a trip around the amazing Timanfaya National Park, where fields of solidified lava stretch out to the sea. Art lovers are bound to adore this island too, since it was the birthplace and home of artist Cesar Manrique – visit places like the Cactus Garden and Cesar Manrique Foundation to see his work.

Over on Gran Canaria, meanwhile, you can discover stunning wildlife by going dolphin spotting and visiting the ever-popular Palmitos Park. This attraction is home to orangutans, toucans, coral fishes and more than 200 bird species.

When you arrive at Tenerife the temptation will, no doubt, be to lounge on the beach, but don’t forget to check out the vibrant capital, Santa Cruz, as well. Other must-sees are Teide National Park and Loro Parque, which is home to the world’s largest collection of parrots.