Christmas cheer on a Caribbean cruise

London - Christmas is just over six weeks away. And if the prospect of turkey followed by more turkey, darkness before teatime, and all those sitcom specials on television makes your heart sink, then it isn't too late to plan your escape. Book a cruise now and, rather than peeling sprouts on Christmas morning, you could have a leisurely breakfast in the sunshine and then do only what you want to all day long.

In the Caribbean, there's a variety of ships to choose from in winter, and, at first glance, some bargain-basement prices. However, a word of caution: American websites tend to quote prices excluding unavoidable extras such as port taxes and charges, and are invariably cruise-only.

Join Celebrity Eclipse on her 13-night transatlantic journey from Fort Lauderdale to her summer base in Southampton. Credit: REUTERS

Booking flights separately has its problems. Firstly, seats on flights to Barbados and Florida, where most cruises start, are scarce and expensive over the Christmas period. There is also another peril. Andrew Davies of Go Cruise (01952 402301; warns: “Booking your cruise and flight separately could mean missing the ship with no compensation if your UK airport is closed by snow. It is really worth seeking out a fly-cruise package. Or avoid airports altogether. There are at least half a dozen ships sailing out of the UK with cabins still available.”