Holiday Boating Experiences Around the World

While some people love to be home for Christmas and the holidays around the end of the year, there are others who crave squeezing in one last adventure before the clock strikes midnight on December 31st. Traveling around the holidays offers unique experiences and sights to see all around the world, and there’s no limit to the festive fun that you can have, no matter where you’re going.

Boat Cruises & Christmas Markets

Sure, shopping at a Christmas market is primarily a land activity. You need time to walk past hundreds of artisan stalls, admiring the handmade gifts, getting your shopping done, and tasting the delicious holiday food. Many cities that host charming Christmas markets, however, are full of opportunities for boat cruises once you’ve had your fill of mulled wine and retail therapy.

Newport Beach Holiday Christmas light boat parade

Hamburg, Germany

Hamburg is a city of canals, created by the flow of the Elbe river. It branches into little waterways, surrounding the city. The river provides endless boating opportunities around some of the highlights of the city, including the favorite Christmas Markets of Hamburg. Charter a canal boat and you can stop off at the City Hall Christmas Market, Fleet Island Christmas Market, and  Weisser Zauber Christmas Market on the Binnenalster, the large artificial lake in the city.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

With the miles and miles of canals that shape this city, Amsterdam is an excellent place to rent or charter a canal or electric boat. Climb onboard these romantic little vessels and relax as a guide takes you through the picturesque waterways, under bridges, and past some of the stunning Dutch architecture that composes the city. From Amsterdam, you can cruise all the way to Haarlem on the water, and visit the most famous Christmas market of the Netherlands. Don’t forget to bundle up before climbing onboard during a winter cruise!

Amsterdam canal boat rental

Copenhagen, Denmark

Another city of canals, Copenhagen is a cozy haven for Christmas lovers looking to enjoy the festivities during their travels. With Christmas Markets throughout the city, festive decorations on the waterfront at Nyhavn, and fun things to see and do, there’s no excuse not to be in the holiday spirit during a visit to Copenhagen at Christmas. For cold weather cruising, book a covered canal boat to stay nice and warm as you tour through Copenhagen.

Hong Kong

While it may seem an unusual place to visit for Christmas, Hong Kong is a picturesque spot for the holidays. Not only do the skyscrapers glitter in the night with a light show you can watch cruising on the bay, but also admire the decorations out for Winterfest. It’s also a warmer place to visit than most at this time of year, which is great if you’re looking to escape frigid temperatures.

The Best Holiday Boat Parades

If you don’t own a boat to decorate but still want to get in on the action of holiday boat parades, rent or charter one and watch from the water. You can see the procession from the other perspective, instead of trying to find a seat in the crowds. Some of the best cities in the United States for holiday boat parades include Newport Beach, Annapolis, San Diego, San Francisco, and Fort Lauderdale. Bring some food and drinks onboard and admire sparkling boats as they float past.

New Year’s Eve Fireworks Cruises

Watching fireworks from the deck of a boat is an unforgettable and romantic experience. Not only do you get to arrange to have a front-row seat, but there’s also no pushing your way through crowds or getting stuck with a bad viewing spot. On a boat, you’re in control of the vantage point, and watching the explosions over the water, reflecting in the waves makes it all the more special.

new years eve fireworks cruise

While you can book tickets on a public cruise to see the fireworks in cities all around the world, making it extra special by gathering your friends and loved ones to have a private, chartered cruise is something worth splashing out for.


With stunning fireworks displays along the Victoria Embankment and South Bank of the River Thames in London, there’s no shortage of viewing opportunities if you choose a boat cruise to watch the show. While on land during New Year’s Eve in London, be sure to visit the winter wonderland in Hyde Park and admire the decorations of the windows at Harrods.


Sydney is considered one of the best places in the world to spend New Year’s. Since it’s summer in the southern hemisphere at this time, there's no need to bundle up! Grab your bikini and get onboard a boat, cruise into the Sydney Harbour for a spectacular show of lights over the opera house.

New York City

Famous for the glittery ball drop over Times Square, New York City is one of the ultimate places to spend New Year’s Eve. Ditch the chaos and the crowds in the city streets and watch the fireworks displays from the water instead.

fireworks cruise fo new years eve new york

Hogmanay in Scotland

One of the most famous New Year’s Eve celebrations in the world takes place annually in Scotland. Hogmanay is a tradition dating back to the age of the Vikings. It’s full of fireworks, parties, and fun for both locals and visitors alike.

If you have an epic holiday boating experience over Christmas or New Year’s, we want to hear about it! Send photos & stories to our Facebook or get in touch on Instagram to be featured!