Christmas and New Year's Eve Travel in the Caribbean

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire may be charming, but for a holiday treat your family will cherish long after the gifts and stockings have been opened, head down to the Caribbean this holiday season. Families will love spending a snow-free vacation in a luxury villa and sharing the Christmas holiday with the friendly folks of the Caribbean, and New Year's Eve in the islands is an unforgettable experience whether you're extending a Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hanukkah stay or looking for a great way to ring in the new year with a lover or friends!

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    ••• Parang Festival parade in Trinidad. © Trinidad Development Co.

    The Caribbean isn't all about beach parties and rum drinks: Caribbean residents are among the most devout Christians in the world, so Christmas on the islands is a joyful time, indeed. Each island has its own spin on the holiday, with special food, traditions, and celebrations. This being the Caribbean, of course, there's always the opportunity for some fun afterward when you join in one of the region's raucous New Year's parties. Whether it's looking back at the Old Year's event in the British Virgin Islands or being among the first to greet the New Year in the U.S. in St. Croix, the Caribbean is the place to be when the clock strikes midnight!

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    A villa in the Caribbean
    ••• Konrad Wothe / LOOK-foto / Getty Images

    Rather than mom slaving over a hot oven this fall, why not rent a staffed luxury villa and let a gourmet chef cook up Christmas dinner for you? The islands of the Caribbean are full of amazing villas that can accommodate groups both large and small, at a price that can easily compete with what you'd pay at a comparable resort. Experienced villa rental companies like ​WheretoStay.com and Wimco can help with stocking the villa with supplies and groceries, hiring a private chef, or making restaurant reservations.

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    ••• Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, two of the Disney Cruise Line ships. © Disney Cruise Line

    Nearly every cruise line in the Caribbean offers special Christmas and New Year's cruises, which include all food and entertainment for one price. Some ships go all out with decorations for the holidays, and at a minimum you can expect a special menu on Christmas Day -- big eating, after all, is something that this holiday and cruise ships definitely have in common -- and a rockin' party to welcome the new year in style. Royal Caribbean is known for being family friendly, and of course for families with small kids it's hard to beat a few days at sea with Mickey Mouse and pals aboard Disney Cruise Line. With the kids out of school, a three- or four-night cruise out of Florida might just be the ideal way to spend the holidays this year.

     

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    Dig Into Some Regional Christmas Treats

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    ••• Egg nog. © izik via Flickr

    Some of our best holiday memories involve food, and it's as true in the Caribbean as it is back home. From pasteles to pork rolls, rice with pigeon peas to rum egg nog, here are some great authentic Latin and Caribbean holiday dishes and recipes for an authentic island holiday feast! 

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    caribbeanchristmasrichiediesterheftflickr.jpg
    ••• © Richie Diesterheft/CC by 2.0

    Learn what to pack besides your Santa hat when you're traveling to the Caribbean in December: check on what you can expect for weather at the holidays, plus get details on all the top events that are happening during this festive month in the islands. 

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    Duty Free store in Pointe Seraphine.
    ••• M Timothy O'Keefe / Getty Images

    The Caribbean is home to a number of duty-free ports like Charlotte Amalie in the U.S. Virgin Islands where you can save big on luxury items like jewelry and perfume as well as rum and other liquor. If you want something with more of an island flavor, check out our list of authentic Caribbean gifts