From Scuba Diving Spots to Sun-Bathing Havens, 11 Destinations Where Philly Travelers Escape the Cold
If you’ve experienced the colder seasons in Philly before, you know from experience that a vacation from the weather can do wonders for your mindset. But while many of us would like to stay in the tropics from November to March, planning a trip during the busy holiday season can be tricky.
A cruise in the winter months can make for the perfect solution and the ultimate hassle-free vacation. You get to experience a whole new (and warmer) world, with every need taken care of for you, with relatively little planning. Just hop on a plane, board the ship, have an amazing vacation, and then zip back up to Philly fully refreshed.
To make things even easier, we’ve rounded up the most exciting trips from Celebrity Cruises, the preferred choice for cold-weather vacations from Philly, and we’ve ordered them by short, seven-night, and long to fit however many calendar days you can pencil in. Choose from the list below, and you’ll barely have to do a thing besides hit “book.”
November 28, from $199* per person, Cozumel and Nassau
Take this trip just off the shore of Mexico to two incredible Caribbean islands, and you won’t have to experience the first dreary days of December before the holidays really kick in. Instead of treading through cold rain, slush or snow, you’ll be immersed in warm waters around Cozumel, Mexico, an island located above the largest coral reef in the Western hemisphere. It’s a top global destination for anglers and snorkelers alike, so expect to see the stunning colors of tropical fish when you go diving, and get ready to taste some incredibly fresh mahi-mahi tacos after your fishing trip.
Even if you’re a little shy about getting out in the waves, you can still experience some thrills on the water, thanks to twin twister waterslides at Playa Mia Grand Beach Park (It’s located on the island’s biggest beach, so soak up some sun while you’re there). Cozumel is also a destination for holiday gift shopping. Help temper your friend’s and family’s jealousy over your beach pics by bringing back jewelry made with Mexican silver and amber.
Save some of your holiday cash reserves, however, for Nassau. It’s a destination island in the Bahamas, and the Nassau Straw Market offers up some of the greatest treasures of the islands, from Cuban cigars to original artwork and traditional artisan crafts. Once you’ve collected your loot, refuel on the incredible and unique seafood staples of the Bahamas, from conch fritters to fried snapper and grits. Even with some great tastes at play, your most memorable experience might be the chance to commune with nature at Dolphin Cay, where you can wade into the water waist-high and greet a dolphin face to face.
December 18, from $949* per person, Old San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, British Virgin Islands, Nassau
Can you think of a better Christmas gift than the gift of warmth? This trip to the eastern Caribbean is the perfect trip for the holidays because it gives you sunny skies, but still gives you festive vibes.
Culture abounds in the region, with centuries of history mingled with incredible beaches and forests, and there’s nothing like a stop at Philipsburg, St. Maarten, for a cross-current of culture. Head over to the French capitol, Marigot, for adorable streets and cafes and an open-air market, all centered around 18th-century Fort Louis. Both Philipsburg and Marigot also feature an incredible mix of food, from creative French chefs to masterful barbecue.
If you’re interested in history, Old San Juan is one of the first founded in the New World – sail around the island for incredible sunset views of the 500-year-old city. For more historic walls, check out Fort Christian Museum at Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas. Originally built as a Dutch military fort, it hosts the history of the Virgin Islands, from natural history to native art.
Tortola in the British Virgin Islands also gives some scenic insight into history at the Virgin Islands Folk Museum, with a lovely collection of indigenous pottery and stone tools. But you’re also getting scenic natural views at the island, with seven walking trails in Sage Mountain National Park. And to make your trip truly legendary, head over to the ruinous site that is rumored to be the lost city of Atlantis, on Paradise Island during your stop at Nassau. While you’re there, head under the waves for a stunning stroll among the sharks at Predator Lagoon. It all makes for a kind of holiday magic that you’ll certainly have never experienced before.
December 12, from $998* per person, St. Kitts, Antigua, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Marteen
There are too many islands in the Caribbean to experience on one trip, but if you want to get some of the best experiences you can have there, this ultimate exploration of the southern Caribbean is a great pick.
If you want a thrilling adventure, you’ll find it in Bridgetown, Barbados, and St. Johns, Antigua. Bridgetown excels at water sports, from jet skiing to paddle boarding to surfing to spearfishing. St. Johns is the spot for beaches (it has 365) but not just for lounging in the sun. They’re hidden among cliffs, bays, and rainforest, which make incredible environments for zip-liners, swimmers, snorkelers and more.
For incredible shopping, in addition to St. Maarten, you can’t go wrong with Castries, St. Lucia. Castries Central Market offers up hard-to-find spices and handmade crafts, Pointe Seraphine sells duty-free selections, and Caribelle Batik is famous for its carefully made garments.
Basseterre in St. Kitts also features great shopping at The Circus, a classic roundabout with local clothing shops that sell some of the best examples of Caribbean style. But most stunning are the views: a 3,792-foot-high dormant volcano rises from the center of the island, and built around it are fascinating historic structures. Of particular note is UNESCO World Heritage site Brimstone Hill Fortress, which rises 750 feet above the sea. To take it all in, hop on the St. Kitts Scenic Railway tour, a narrow-gauge train which gives you picturesque views of the highlights of the island. Altogether, it makes for the adventure of a lifetime–and the memories will help keep you warm through even the coldest Philly days.
Ready to escape the cold? It’s a great time to book, as Celebrity Cruises is currently offering a flash sale with steep price drops and 75 percent off a second guest. Book now.
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*Prices are per person, cruise only, for stateroom category 12, select sailings and based on double occupancy.This is a paid partnership between Celebrity Cruises and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio