Why not splash out on a holiday to St Kitts? Credit: Shutterstock

Why you should spend Christmas in the Caribbean with Viking

Author: Nicole Carmichael

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Swap snow for sunshine and the UK for the Caribbean on a magical Viking journey around the West Indies

Be honest, have you ever dreamed of skipping the festive season in the UK and leaving behind the cold weather and squabbling siblings for a sun-drenched Caribbean journey?

Well, now’s your chance. With a little planning you could be sailing around some of the world’s most picturesque islands while you celebrate Christmas, and raising a glass to the New Year with the Caribbean sun on your face.

Viking’s 10-night West Indies Explorer voyage on the Viking Sea takes in the very best the Caribbean has to offer, with a port-packed itinerary that will leave you with golden memories.

When it comes to self-gifting, surely this is the ultimate present...

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Paradise found

To kick off this journey in style, you’ll be heading to San Juan on the island of Puerto Rico. Before you set sail, you can immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the Caribbean by joining a walking tour to take in the charming Old Town.

Then it’s full steam ahead to get to the heart of the Caribbean. First stop is Tortola, the largest of the exquisite British Virgin Isles.

With a deep blue sea and pristine beaches, it’s about as far away from turkey and crackers as you could possibly get.

San Juan, Puerto Rico - colourful street. Credit: Shutterstock

Home to cheeky monkeys, banana trees and coconut palms, St Kitts and its companion island of Nevis are next on your itinerary. The compact capital and main port, Basseterre, is one of the oldest towns in the eastern Caribbean, dotted with well-preserved Victorian and Georgian houses.

Then comes St Lucia, arguably the most beautiful of the Caribbean islands, with idyllic beaches, volcanic bays, reef-diving sites and picturesque fishing villages.

The teardrop-shaped island is a sovereign nation but still part of the British Commonwealth - although its spicy cuisine might suggest otherwise.

But even if you’re not a red-hot chilli fan, on Viking’s Explorer Journey there’s a dish to suit every palate, plus you’ll get the chance to make your own chocolate.

Taste the Caribbean in your own home. Credit: Shutterstock

Islands in the sun

Of course, no Caribbean holiday would be complete without a trip to Barbados. This itinerary takes you to the captivating capital, Bridgetown, from where you can explore the tropical gardens and lush forests of this incredible island.

More delights await you in Dominica, famous for rainforests that teem with rare flora and fauna.

All you’ve got to do is decide whether you want to see the magical mangroves on a boat down the Indian River, join a whale and dolphin safari or get a taste for Creole cuisine and traditions.

In Antigua you’ll learn about the island’s turbulent past, and although you won’t have time to visit all of its 365 stunning beaches, you can soak up plenty of its fascinating culture, history and natural beauty in a day.

Whiz down St Maarten zip line. Credit: Shutterstock

Less well known but still fascinating, Philipsburg is where you’ll arrive on St Maarten, a tiny island said to have the best shopping and dining in the Caribbean.

Territorially it’s divided between two nations – France and Holland – and each has left its mark on the local culture and cuisine.

As the trip draws to a close, it’s back to the stunning British Virgin Islands and a chance to visit St Thomas, birthplace of the painter Camille Pissarro, whose childhood home is now a museum.

However, as this is the last island stop before the Viking Sea heads back to Puerto Rico, maybe you’d prefer to relax one last time on a secluded white sandy Caribbean beach.

And let Bob Marley be the soundtrack to your holiday in paradise: ‘Don’t worry, ’bout a thing, cos every little thing’s gonna be alright...’

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